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Materialist Poofery

From time to time we see materialists raising the “poof objection” against ID. The poof objection goes something like this: An ID theorist claims that a given organic system (the bacterial flagellum perhaps) is irreducibly complex or that it displays functional complex specified information. In a sneering and condescending tone the materialist dismisses the claim, saying something like “Your claim amounts to nothing more than ‘Poof! the designer did it.’”

I have always thought the poof objection coming from a materialist is particularly ironic, because materialists have “poofery” built into their science at a very basic level. Of course, they don’t use the term “poof.” They use a functional synonym of poof – the word “emergent.”

What do I mean? Consider the hard problem of consciousness. We all believe we are conscious, and consciousness must be accounted for. For the ID theorists, this is easy. The mind is a real phenomenon that cannot be reduced to the properties of the brain. Obviously, this is not so easy for the materialist who, by definition, must come up with a theory that reduces the mind to an epiphenomenon of the electro-chemical processes of the brain. What do they do? They say the mind is an “emergent property” of the brain. Huh? Wazzat? That means that the brain system has properties that cannot be reduced to its individual components. The system is said to “supervene” (I’m not making this up) on its components causing the whole to be greater than the sum of the parts.

And what evidence do we have that “emergence” is a real phenomenon? Absolutely none. Emergence is materialist poofery. Take the mind-brain problem again. The materialist knows that his claim that the mind does not exist is patently absurd. Yet, given his premises it simply cannot exist. So what is a materialist to do? Easy. Poof – the mind is an emergent property of the brain system that otherwise cannot be accounted for on materialist grounds.

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200 Responses to Materialist Poofery

  1. BarryA:

    Very significant observation; yet another instance of self-referentially inconsistent selective hyperskepticism on the part of evolutionary materialists.

    As we have seen in recent days, such materialists cannot ground morality per their worldview premises, leading to an inherently amoral system that sits ill with the massively observed fact that we are mutually morally bound. Somewhere out there, there is an IS that properly entails the OUGHT. And there is just one credible candidate for that is.

    Now, we see that the is a key inconsistency in the objection to the observed fact of design, that it is a “poof.” [But, properly, science starts form describing the facts of reality and sets out to explain the facts. If you don't acknowledge the facts, you are not going to seek their correct explanation.]

    As an apt case in point . . .

    the materialist . . . by definition, must come up with a theory that reduces the mind to an epiphenomenon of the electro-chemical processes of the brain. What do they do? They say the mind is an “emergent property” of the brain . . . That means that the brain system has properties that cannot be reduced to its individual components. The system is said to “supervene” (I’m not making this up) on its components causing the whole to be greater than the sum of the parts . . .

    1 –> But, plainly, we already know that mechanical forces as such do not lead to high contingency, whether chance based or choice based. [That is, once circumstances and environment are set up and gigven dynamics are at work, the oputcome unfolds along a mechanistically necessary path.]

    2 –> Of course, chance circumstances (internal and environmental) will affect outcomes by varying the conditions so that divergent outcomes become possible. But, of course, that is by definition a matter of STOCHASTIC variability. (In short, up to a relevant statistical or probability distribution, it is a matter of what happens happens, without purpose or intent.)

    3 –> However, neither chance nor necessity is relevant to logic, purpose, or validity. (This is why the attempted reduction of mind to matter runs into insuperable difficulty, thence the resort to “poof”: “emergence” and “supervening” by happy accident, presumably.)

    4 –> In short, we see here evolutionary materialist faith in action; in the teeth of the evidence on what chance and necessity do.

    5 –> the alrternative is to look seriously at the thrid major causal force: design based on intelligence. We observe intelligence (we are examples) and we know that reasoning and purpose are core to such.

    6 –> So, could our minds and our brains [the i/o processors used by our minds to interface to the meat robots we use from day to day] be the products of other Minds, and in a contingent cosmos that looks designed, perhaps of a Mind belonging to a supremely intelligent and powerful necessary being?

    7 –> And if Mind(s) can make minds, would it not then stand to reason that we too might one day make minds, too? [As in R Daneel Olivaaw, here we come!]

    Thanks again

    GEM of TKI

  2. Barry,

    While it’s true that materialists have not explained how consciousness arises, neither have non-materialists.

    How does a physical brain give rise to consciousness?

    How does a nonphysical entity give rise to consciousness?

    It is an unsolved problem for both camps.

  3. Onlookers:

    To understand that chance + necessity are practically speaking incapable of giving rise to a mind capable of credible knowledge and reasoning, is a MAJOR advance.

    And, that is precisely what the resort to “emergence” is about. (Which in turn leads to the exposure of the self-referentially inconsistent selective hyperskepticism in the objection that design thought is appealing to “poof.” Au contraire: we routinely experience adn observe the facts of design and of logical thought and of credible knowledge. manifested in artifacts. So, to infer to the presence of such in light of reliable signs of mind at work — signs of design — is reasonable. Later on, we may yet figure out “how ’twere dun,” but “THAT ’twere dun” has to be acknowledged first. And evo mat agendas and tactics stand int eh way of that — up to and including censorship harassment, career busting and expulsion. Not to mention just plain old slander and false accusations or assertions. one of which the WAC 4 above responds to.]

    Let me illustrate my point by citing a remark I have used in training contexts over the years:

    ____________________

    . . . [evolutionary] materialism [a worldview that often likes to wear the mantle of "science"] . . . argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature. Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of chance.

    But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. Thus, what we subjectively experience as “thoughts” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as unintended by-products of the natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains. (These forces are viewed as ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance ["nature"] and psycho-social conditioning ["nurture"], within the framework of human culture [i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism].)

    Therefore, if materialism is true, the “thoughts” we have and the “conclusions” we reach, without residue, are produced and controlled by forces that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or validity. Of course, the conclusions of such arguments may still happen to be true, by lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” them. And, if our materialist friends then say: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must note that to demonstrate that such tests provide empirical support to their theories requires the use of the very process of reasoning which they have discredited!

    Thus, evolutionary materialism reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, immediately, that includes “Materialism.” For instance, Marxists commonly deride opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismiss qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? And, should we not simply ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is simply another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze?

    In the end, materialism is based on self-defeating logic . . . .
    ___________________

    Let’s see if we can go beyond the evo mat talking points spin games level on this one.

    GEM of TKI

  4. KF,

    I see that you have tried to change the subject from consciousness to reason.

    Unfortunately for you, that doesn’t help your case. In fact, it undermines it, for while the materialist can explain how reason can arise in a physical brain, you as a non-materalist have no explanation for how a nonphysical soul/spirit/mind/whatchamacallit can give rise to reason.

    You merely assert that it does, magically. Poof!

  5. A while back Bill Dembski made a point that Behe’s definition of irreducibly complexity was that if any piece from say the bacterial flagellum was removed that the flagellum would no longer function as a propulsion device although it might have some other function. Could someone please explain (or point me at an explaniation) of why this is significant. That is to say how would a flagellum with one extra piece by any more or less improbable to produce than one that is irreducibly complex?

    Dave

  6. Strawman, again.

  7. I object to Barry’s freewheeling use of the word “materialist.” I regard myself as a “materialist,” Everything in the world is “material” or it wouldn’t be there. The only place the nonmaterial should ever be invoked is in the matter of first causes which will always remain a mystery.

    Every scientist worth his salt is a “materialist.” That is why we know that Darwinians are not scientists. They subscribe to nothing but an idea which is hardly material being only a figment of the imagination of a Victorian mystic we all know as Charles Robert Darwin.

    Words have meaning and they should be used with caution.

  8. KF,

    Do you have an explanation for how a nonphysical soul/spirit/mind/whatchamacallit can give rise to reason?

    If so, let’s hear it.

    If not, then don’t you regret changing the subject from consciousness to reason? At least with consciousness, you were on an equal footing with the materialist in being unable to explain it. With reason, you are at a decided disadvantage, because while the materialist can explain it, you cannot.

  9. Just a quick question to Mr. M.

    Would you accept that a fair synonym for selective hyper-scepticism is intolerance?

  10. Amazingly, I find I quite agree with John Davison’s

    I object to Barry’s freewheeling use of the word “materialist.” I regard myself as a “materialist,” Everything in the world is “material” or it wouldn’t be there. The only place the nonmaterial should ever be invoked is in the matter of first causes which will always remain a mystery.

  11. Onlookers:

    Insistent strawman, ignoring relevant remarks, and distracting attention from the decisive issue as outlined in this excerpt from the main challenge to evolutionary materialism as presented in the original post ansd excerpted in comment no 1:

    the materialist . . . by definition, must come up with a theory that reduces the mind to an epiphenomenon of the electro-chemical processes of the brain. What do they do? They say the mind is an “emergent property” of the brain . . . That means that the brain system has properties that cannot be reduced to its individual components. The system is said to “supervene” (I’m not making this up) on its components causing the whole to be greater than the sum of the parts . . .

    When there is no responsiveness ont eh material issue, a question of selecrtive hyperskepticism in the onward context of a self-referetynial incoherence in the underlying worldview of evolutionary materialism [cf excerpt at 3, noting the common point on having to reduce to brain electrochemistry and failing], that is telling on the force of the main point.

    Let us see if, onward, we will get a more serious response.

    Distractive (& too often toxic) talking points, insistently reiterated ad nauseum are simply not good enough.

    GEM of TKI

  12. <blockquoteConsider the hard problem of consciousness. We all believe we are conscious, and consciousness must be accounted for. For the ID theorists, this is easy. The mind is a real phenomenon that cannot be reduced to the properties of the brain. Obviously, this is not so easy for the materialist who, by definition, must come up with a theory that reduces the mind to an epiphenomenon of the electro-chemical processes of the brain.Brain activity, the firing of neurons, etc.? can be observed. Are you saying that the mind and consciousness reside elsewhere? I guess you can believe it but it is not in the realm of science, unless, maybe you could show brain activity was somehow an insufficient process to account for conscious thought. As we are far from being able to relate brain activity to thought in a precise way (yet), I am not sure you have the easier task.

  13. Sorry about messed up tags. trying again:

    Consider the hard problem of consciousness. We all believe we are conscious, and consciousness must be accounted for. For the ID theorists, this is easy. The mind is a real phenomenon that cannot be reduced to the properties of the brain. Obviously, this is not so easy for the materialist who, by definition, must come up with a theory that reduces the mind to an epiphenomenon of the electro-chemical processes of the brain.

    Brain activity, the firing of neurons, etc.? can be observed. Are you saying that the mind and consciousness reside elsewhere? I guess you can believe it but it is not in the realm of science, unless, maybe you could show brain activity was somehow an insufficient process to account for conscious thought. As we are far from being able to relate brain activity to thought in a precise way (yet), I am not sure you have the easier task.

  14. Let us see if, onward, we will get a more serious response.

    You may be more successful if you try to be more tolerant of alternative views. Why would anyone want to respond here when you and Barry have a prioriscoffed at the rationalists.

  15. Mr Fox:

    Have a look at Eng. Derek Smith’s very interesting discussion on cybernetic systems capable of learning and planning. (I think MIMO cybernetic systems sets a context in which we can all discuss the prospects for our developing such entities with profit. And, eventually towards BUILDING real artificial intelligences; i.e a design challenge. I propose the name R Daneel Olivaaw for the first full-fledged one, though I doubt that we will need to implement positronics systems! Opto-electronics will probably be good enough, maybe with a bit of quantum bits incorporated [if we can tame the energy-time uncertainty issues].)

    Also, at my discussion on the general theme here.

    But, let us not lose sight of the key issue for the thread: there is an issue of selectively hyperskeptical self-referential incoherence, compounded with a question of the implications for reductionism for the credibility of mind on evo mat premises.

    Evo mat advocates cannot consistently dismissively accuse design thinkers of “saying poof” when they are saying “emergence.” (And, we all routinely experience and observe minded entities in action; we have no experience or observation of the claimed evo mat emergence of mind from the suitably spontaneously arranged patterns — human engineering of a real AI would demonstrate ID, not spontaneous emergence . . . — of matter. That is, there is a serious empirical gap here, and it is not in favour of the evo mat thinkers.)

    GEM of TKI

  16. Mr Fox:

    I am pretty sure — cf no 1 above — I have not merely scoffed:

    scoff 1 (skf, skôf)
    v. scoffed, scoff·ing, scoffs
    v.tr.
    To mock at or treat with derision.
    v.intr.
    To show or express derision or scorn.
    n.
    An expression of derision or scorn. [Am H Dict]

    Instead, I have put up substantial responses, with onward specific warrant in summary, and now with even more details in links.

    I have of course also pointed out (with reasons) that some responses above were distractive on the part of a certain commenter. this was in response to such distractive behaviour, and in light of a growing track record of such behaviour.

    Should that commenter or others now respond substantially, I would be happy to remark on that.

    As to Mr BarryA, I do not find scoffing either, but a substantial response to a problem that IS often presented in exactly a supercilious and contemptuous fashion as he describes. {For many examples in point, a trip to Anti Evo would be more than enough illustration.]

    GEM of TKI

  17. 17

    I have addressed the question of materialism, divine intervention and the role of an unknown number of Creators in my essay – “The Age of Denial,” available by pushing the Essays button on my opening page. If you want some real heresy try that on for size. I challenge anyone to prove that anything I present there can be shown to be in error. For that matter, what have I published, since my first paper in 1954, that has ever been proven to be without firm foundation? Absolutely nothing.

    And what have my many vocal adversaries ever published of significance anywhere?

    Absolutely nothing.

    jadavison.wordpress.com

  18. Mr. M:

    I am not sure what point you are making in your first paragraph. Cybernetics is a good way I am sure of modelling brain processes and may lead to insights into how the brain works.

    …there is an issue of selectively hyperskeptical self-referential incoherence, compounded with a question of the implications for reductionism for the credibility of mind on evo mat premises.

    There is also an issue of communication. What do you mean here? This is why I mentioned tolerance. You may discount the idea that brain activity is all there is to consciousness, but unless you are able to tolerate the fact that many do believe such ideas, you are not going to make much headway.

  19. …I have not merely scoffed…

    It’s implicit at least!

  20. KF,

    Let’s tally up the score:

    1a. Materialists haven’t explained how consciousness can arise from a physical brain.

    1b. Nonmaterialists haven’t explained how consciousness can arise from an immaterial entity.

    Result: Tie

    2a. We know that the brain exists, and we know that messing with the brain can affect consciousness or make it disappear altogether.

    2b. We don’t know that the putative immaterial entity exists, and if it does exist, we don’t know if it is involved with or has any effect on consciousness.

    Advantage: materialist

    3a. We know that reasoning can be mechanized, as in theorem-proving systems.

    3b. We don’t know that immaterial entities can reason.

    Advantage: materialist

    4a. Natural selection gives the materialist a plausible basis for the reliability of brain-based reasoning.

    4b. Nonmaterialists have no plausible basis for arguing that their reason is reliable.

    Advantage: materialist

    On 3 out of 4 issues, the advantage is with the materialist.

    On 0 out of 4 issues, the advantage is with the nonmaterialist.

    Materialism fits the facts better.

  21. Mr Fox:

    1] Look up Eng Smith’s two-tier controller. observe thatt he lower tier controller that directly interfaces to the plant is not the locus of intelligent direction. So, by extension, we have a model for the brain as an I/O front-end processor. [My own suggestion based on Penrose et al is that we should look at quantum level influences on the brain for an interface tot eh intelligent directing controller, the mind.]

    2] Whatever you may choose to infer from my remarks above, they are very explicitly, principally and substantially focussed on the question on the merits; WITHOUT resort to cruel mockery. your onward “implicit” claim begins to look like a strained attempt at a turnabout [im-]moral equivalency accusation, esp given the longstanding patterns of Anti Evo [which have included privacy violation and gleeful citation of unsubstantiated criticisms in the media that the newspaper in question had to allow a correction of].

    3] When it comes to Mr BarryA, I do not find cruel mockery the focus of his remarks. So, again, we are seeing what looks like a turnabout play.

    4] Please, substantially address the matter on the merits, if you can:

    An ID theorist claims that a given organic system (the bacterial flagellum perhaps) is irreducibly complex or that it displays functional complex specified information. In a sneering and condescending tone the materialist dismisses the claim, saying something like “Your claim amounts to nothing more than ‘Poof! the designer did it.’”

    I have always thought the poof objection coming from a materialist is particularly ironic, because materialists have “poofery” built into their science at a very basic level. Of course, they don’t use the term “poof.” They use a functional synonym of poof – the word “emergent.”

    What do I mean? Consider the hard problem of consciousness. We all believe we are conscious, and consciousness must be accounted for. For the ID theorists, this is easy. The mind is a real phenomenon that cannot be reduced to the properties of the brain. Obviously, this is not so easy for the materialist who, by definition, must come up with a theory that reduces the mind to an epiphenomenon of the electro-chemical processes of the brain. What do they do? They say the mind is an “emergent property” of the brain. Huh? Wazzat? That means that the brain system has properties that cannot be reduced to its individual components. The system is said to “supervene” (I’m not making this up) on its components causing the whole to be greater than the sum of the parts.

    And what evidence do we have that “emergence” is a real phenomenon? Absolutely none. Emergence is materialist poofery. Take the mind-brain problem again. The materialist knows that his claim that the mind does not exist is patently absurd. Yet, given his premises it simply cannot exist. So what is a materialist to do? Easy. Poof – the mind is an emergent property of the brain system that otherwise cannot be accounted for on materialist grounds.

    5] Now, I would not use language like next time you hear a materialist dismissing an ID claim as poofery, point out an example of materialist poofery and watch them squirm, but right now, that looks all too accurate to the responses above.

    6] But — if you have it in hand — a simple cogent rebuttal on the merits would more than suffice to turn the tables . . . “no squirming here.”

    So, if you have a cogent reply on the merits, why not give it a good shot?

    GEM of TKI

  22. PS: Cf my response at length on Weasel 86, here, to see what I mean. [Contrast this to the tone and substance of remarks -- with a lot of personalities including violation of privacy, slanderous equation of design thought and biblical Creationism, gleeful batting into the air of accusations against me in Caribbean media that had to be corrected, etc -- made over many weeks at Anti Evo; a site with which If i recall correctly, you seem to be at least somewhat associated as a participant. I won't even bother to link what was said at that site about a respectable Grandmother, Mrs O'Leary, at the same site -- there is utterly no excuse whatsoever for reprobate and utterly disgracefully uncivil behaviour like that.]

  23. Until one of you gentlemen can predict the properties of table salt from the properties of sodium and chlorine, I wouldn’t criticize emergence.

    Until then, as Mauka has pointed out, the advantage is overwhelmingly for materialism.

  24. Barry is spot on.

    Materialists believe in just as many “miracles” as creationists/IDists do. They must, because the universe itself is a miracle, as in came out of nothing. All the chemicals and physical laws of nature somehow poofed from non-chemicals and non-laws —– and that is a miracle.

    And let’s face it, the idea that the physical (as in physical brain matter) can produce something non-physical (the mind, thoughts, beliefs, emotions) is miraculous. Likewise it is a miracle that trillions of separate physical “things” can work together to create a singular experience is also a miracle……Of course materialists refuse to call it “miraculous,” and instead just refer to it as “spooky,” like they do everything they can’t understand (dark matter, quantum physics, action-at-a-distance, etc)

  25. Onlookers:

    Evolutionary materialism, as shown in summary at 3 above, is credibly self referentially incoherent. It thus has no credible explanatory power — unless it can be shown that it is not self-refuting.

    GEM of TKI

  26. If a property is defined and meaningful only across an aggregate assemblage of entities, either in space or in time, then “emergent” is the correct way to express the relation of the property to the individual entities. Temperature is an emergent property of an assemblage of atoms. Pseudo-randomness is an emergent property of the history of the central cell state of Rule 30 CA, given simple initial conditions.
    A person who posits that a property is emergent is merely stating that it is statistical in nature. The choice to analyze the material world in terms of aggregate behavior does not contradict the belief that the material world is the proper subject of scientific investigation. Similarly, Hamlet is much better off soliloquizing about sleep and dreams than about the state of each synapse in his hippocampus, pontine tegmentum, and visual cortex. It certainly makes for a shorter play. :)

  27. Would you accept that a fair synonym for selective hyper-scepticism is intolerance?

    Willful ignorance might be a better description.

  28. Mr Kairosfocus,

    Thank you for the references to Mr Smith’s pages on cybernetics. Given your enthusiasm for the prospect of an “R Daneel Olivaaw”, isn’t it clear that this stage will be accomplished when someone flips a switch, not when they finish praying over the inert body? There is nothing in what you reference to support the thesis that something immaterial will need to be added to make a mind from a brain, no elan vital.

  29. The choice to analyze the material world in terms of aggregate behavior does not contradict the belief that the material world is the proper subject of scientific investigation.

    And that’s fine. The problems start when this method claims to find answers it hasn’t and to insist/imply that other means of inquiry cannot be authoritative in describing reality with regard to circumstances that science by definition cannot address.

    IOW, if one insists that all is material and science can address all, then one destroys science by turning it into a religion AND by pinning it to a logically inconsistent (i.e. delusional) philosophy.

  30. My objection to the “Poof” objection is much simpler. To accuse an ID supporter of believing that “Poof” is how it happened is simply a category mistake, as “Poof” implies the lack of intelligent process, and intelligent process is what ID’ers (IDists?) believe. Although emergence may have its flaws, a better example of “Poofery” is the standard Darwinian explanation for extraordinary natural systems, e.g. “The bat has evolved remarkable sonar capabilities”, which can be re-written: “The bats’ ancestors once lacked sonar capabilities, but “poof” now they have them”.

  31. …continuing. In other words, the process is never explained; no fossil record, no diagram showing the changes in all the necessary sub-systems, no step-by-step evolution of the DNA instructions to produce all the proteins and components and chemicals necessary to make the thing work. No process = “poof”. ID IS process. Not always a determinable process after the fact, but still a process, implying forethought, direction and purpose, and the concious marshalling of all the resources necessary to bring about the effect. That’s simply not “poof”, any more than “parts go in, car comes out” is “poof”.

  32. We don’t know that the putative immaterial entity exists,

    You should write that in the first person singular, mauka.

    I know God exists. You refuse to accept my testimony about it — which is not an unreasonable thing to do, btw, being as how I’m an anonymous poster on the internet and all.

    OTOH, most people believe in God — or something beyond the material anyway. Your illogic starts when you dismiss this statistical aggregate (i.e. calling this belief genetic programming, cultural baggage, evolutionary baggage etc.) on the basis that because you don’t believe in it it can’t be true.

  33. ID, btw, does not imply cause. It simply describes phenomena. Maybe wrongly. Go ahead and show how.

  34. Mr Tribune7,

    Speaking for myself, I do not refuse to accept your testimony. I simply accept it at face value as a description of an internal state of your experience. Indeed, many people use the same word to describe their own internal experiences. However, the summation of these testimonies does not convert these disparate internal experiences into an external reality. It merely confirms that ‘God’ is an emergent property of a society.

  35. 35

    Emergence is not something that materialists just made up in order to solve the problem of consciousness. Emergence is a way of thinking about all sorts of things that can’t be reduced to their individual components. In fluidic systems, turbulence and convection can be thought of in emergent terms. Nobody claims that turbulence and convection don’t result from material properties (including the movements and temperatures of all the individual parts of the system) but you can’t fully describe it simply by describing all those properties. Even if you could, it does not reduce to those properties because the behavior (turbulence or convection) emergence at a different, more macroscopic level.

    So it’s simply not true that “emergence” is without evidence or a materialist invention. It’s an explanatory tool that helps describe the behavior of systems we know are material. Whether the mind is an emergent property of a material system (as I believe) or not, attacking emergence as such is simply ignorant.

  36. 36

    Correction: “the behavior (turbulence or convection) emerges at a different, more macroscopic level.”

  37. Willful ignorance might be a better description.

    I am sure you are more familiar than me with the parable of the mote and the beam. :)

  38. So, if you have a cogent reply on the merits, why not give it a good shot?

    To whether a material explanation will be sufficient to account for consciousness? Not being a scientist, as you are not, I am not really qualified to assess the merits of current research into consciousness. I strongly doubt there is much to be gained from attempting to include the supernatural. I have no idea how that could be done.

  39. 39

    mauka writes: “While it’s true that materialists have not explained how consciousness arises, neither have non-materialists.”

    I do not agree with this statement. But let it’s grant it for the sake of argument. An important distinction remains. If their premises are correct, materialists can NEVER account for consciousness. The emergence of emergence is a tacit acknowledgement of that fact. Emergence is materialist magic, and materialist magic is self-referentially incoherent. There are limits to the creative power that can reasonably be ascribed to the operation of chance and necessity on particles in motion.

    On the other hand, ID theorists face no such limits. They may not at any given time know the details of how a designer designed a particular thing such as an embodied mind. Yet they know that, in principle, a designer can design massively complex and information rich things. They know this by just looking around and observing the massively complex and information rich things designed by intelligent agents that happen to be laying around all over the place.

    Conclusion: When it comes to explaining the mind, materialism is a dead end. We may someday understand how the mind came about, but only under a design paradigm.

  40. 40

    “Emergence is materialist magic.” Untrue, as I explained above. Unless convection is a magical phenomenon.

  41. However, the summation of these testimonies does not convert these disparate internal experiences into an external reality.

    Nakashima-san, you are quite right in that you cannot use science to prove God. OTOH, you should not use science to dismiss God either.

  42. to Barry: Emergent – you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  43. Good comeback, Alan :-)

  44. 44

    Alan Fox “Why would anyone want to respond here when [Barry has] a priori scoffed at the rationalists.”

    Alan, you are quite mistaken. The OP is not based on any a priori conclusion. The reasoning is entirely a posteriori.

    The tone of the original post is part of an my attempt to prompt a discussion. I figure that if I can get the materialists “riled up” as we say in Texas, they will come in here and give arguments for why emergence is not “materialist poofery.” Far from intolerant, my approach is very risky. I risk being made to look foolish if a materialist is able to come in and give persuasive arguments for why I am all wet. So far, no one has done that, but in principle it is possible. An intolerant poster, on the other hand, would attempt to shield his conclusion from criticism. I have not.

  45. BarryA:

    What do I mean? Consider the hard problem of consciousness. We all believe we are conscious, and consciousness must be accounted for. For the ID theorists, this is easy. The mind is a real phenomenon that cannot be reduced to the properties of the brain.

    I don’t anybody here is denying that it is indeed a (very) hard problem. But how is it easy for ID theorists? I have yet to see anybody here explain this. All I’ve seen so far is a critique of the materialism approach.

    I believe Mauka is right in 19 when he/she states it is equally hard for both sides.

  46. 46

    Then by all means tell us what it means Hazel.

  47. BarryA:

    On the other hand, ID theorists face no such limits. They may not at any given time know the details of how a designer designed a particular thing such as an embodied mind. Yet they know that, in principle, a designer can design massively complex and information rich things. They know this by just looking around and observing the massively complex and information rich things designed by intelligent agents that happen to be laying around all over the place.

    I’m wondering if this is Barry’s explanation of “For the ID theorists, this is is easy”

    Is it Barry, or can we expect more? If you are saying “They may not at any given time know the details of how a designer designed a particular thing such as an embodied mind.”, then I’m not sure you are any further along in understanding this than the materialist (actually, do you have in fact any details at all of how the designer designed an embodied mind?)

  48. 48

    JTaylor, re your [47]. In my [39] I demonstrate that explaining the existence of the mind is impossible even in principle for the materialist but not for the ID theorist. You do not offer even a scintilla of a rebuttal to that claim. Instead, you change the subject. Is that all you’ve got? Can I conclude from your silence regarding the basic premise of the original post and your attempt to change the subject, that you’ve got nothing to say, that you’ve been struck dumb by the scintillating brilliance of my reasoning [it’s a joke, lighten up will ya]?

  49. Barry: David gave you an example of an emergent property in 35 above. Is that “poofery?”

  50. 50

    More examples of emergent systems: hurricanes, sand dunes, termite mounds, flocks of birds. Can’t be reduced to their components: must be designed! Saying they’re emergent is materialist poofery!

  51. BarryA:

    JTaylor, re your [47]. In my [39] I demonstrate that explaining the existence of the mind is impossible even in principle for the materialist but not for the ID theorist. You do not offer even a scintilla of a rebuttal to that claim. Instead, you change the subject. Is that all you’ve got? Can I conclude from your silence regarding the basic premise of the original post and your attempt to change the subject, that you’ve got nothing to say, that you’ve been struck dumb by the scintillating brilliance of my reasoning [it’s a joke, lighten up will ya]?

    I wasn’t offering a rebuttal; I was asking why you think the problem of consciousness for the ID theorist is easy.

    How was I changing the subject if all I was doing was asking questions on the very things that you yourself said?

    Secondly I was asking for information on how the designer designs the embodied mind (because you said: “They may not at any given time know the details of how a designer designed a particular thing such as an embodied mind”, which implies that they must know at least something.

    It’s true that I’m frequently struck dumb by reading this site, but not for the reasons you cite.

  52. “Silence is golden.”
    Thomas Carlyle.

    I have done all I can do with this thread. I have infected it with my convictions only to be ignored so I will bid this thread adieu and, like Diogenes, looking for an honest man, try to find another “author’s” private sanctuary were he and he alone can dictate the progress of the discussion.

    “You can lead a persron to the literature but you cannot make him comprehend it.”
    John A. Davison

    Besides, I have no intention of further sharing this thread with Alan Fox.

    “When you lie down with dogs you run the risk of getting up with sarcoptic mange or maybe rabies.”
    anonymouus old proverb

  53. —–David Kellogg: “Emergence is a way of thinking about all sorts of things that can’t be reduced to their individual components. In fluidic systems, turbulence and convection can be thought of in emergent terms. Nobody claims that turbulence and convection don’t result from material properties (including the movements and temperatures of all the individual parts of the system) but you can’t fully describe it simply by describing all those properties.”

    Here is the point that you are missing. In all cases that we know of, when something seems to emerge, that is, when we cannot trace its cause, we discover each time that something knowable really did cause it to happen. The mystery becomes solved. Meanwhile, we acknowledge that we don’t know what we don’t know. The principle may be summarized as follows: There is a big difference between coming from the “unknown”[design theory] and coming from “nowhere” [materialism]

    When a design theorist cannot explain an event, he assumes that some existing property or thing caused it to happen, and confesses his ignorance, in other words, he says that it came out of the “unknown.” He understands that to maintain a rational framework, he must retain the principle of cause and effect, which stands on the axiom that something cannot come from nothing. On the other hand, when the materialist cannot explain this new development, he rules out design, abandons causation, and proposes that it just came out of nowhere. He refuses to say, “I don’t know.” Quite the contrary, he says, “I do know; it was “emergence.” For him, things just go poof!

    The theist, for example, has no difficulty explaining the existence of a mind. God created the human soul, complete with the faculties of intellect and will. He recognizes that [A] cannot give to [B] something that [A] does not have to give, another axiom by the way. The materialist, however, has another explanation. He thinks that not only can [A] give something to {B] that that [A] doesn’t have, he takes it one step further and declares that [A] need not exist at all. Still, he senses that this is madness, so he calls [A] “poof.” One day, poof made a universe; then poof made brains; then poof converted brains into minds. Poof is a spoof!

  54. 54

    StephenB, you write:

    In all cases that we know of, when something seems to emerge, that is, when we cannot trace its cause, we discover each time that something knowable really did cause it to happen. The mystery becomes solved. Meanwhile, we acknowledge that we don’t know what we don’t know.

    OK, fine. But first, we don’t fully understand any of the phenomena I mentioned. Second, in no case would it be a scientific explanation to say that (in the absence of such an explanation) hurricanes, bird flocks, termite mounds, convection, turbulence, sand dunes must be designed or have a nonmaterial source.

  55. 55

    Further, I don’t know of anybody who says we know the mind is an emergent property. It seems likely, however, and it’s a useful framework that leads to very helpful results (in cognitive science and elsewhere). For example, we don’t fully know how the visual system works. But thinking about visual perception as an emergent system has had practical results: it has helped people model facial recognition software even before we have a full account of how the visual receptors, the optic nerve, the visual cortex, and the LGN work together to produce recognizable images.

  56. 56

    An interesting side note: what we know about evolution fits very nicely with what we know about differences in brain architecture. See the work of Sam Wang’s group:

    Clark, Damon A., Partha P. Mitra, and Samuel S. H. Wang. “Scalable Architecture in Mammalian Brains.” Nature 411, no. 6834 (2001): 189-193.

    Burish, M. J., H. Y. Kueh, and S. S. H. Wang. “Brain Architecture and Social Complexity in Modern and Ancient Birds.” Brain Behavior And Evolution 63, no. 2 (2004): 107-124.

  57. JohnADavison:

    have done all I can do with this thread. I have infected it with my convictions only to be ignored so I will bid this thread adieu and, like Diogenes, looking for an honest man, try to find another “author’s” private sanctuary were he and he alone can dictate the progress of the discussion.

    You made two posts; one was basically a definition of what a materialist; the other was a plug for a paper which you think we should all stop what we are doing and immediately go read (you could at least provide us with the abstract). You really are a legend in your own mind aren’t you?

  58. Stephen re 53, your explanation about what emergence means is not at all correct: emergence is not saying that something came out of nowhere, nor that we don’t know its cause. It is revealing that you think it means these things, though, as that explains a great deal about the confusion in this discussion.

    Emergence means that the interaction of simpler constituent parts creates new properties that apply to those parts taken as an interactive whole – properties which do not apply to the constituent parts taken individually.

    David mentioned hurricanes as an emergent phenomenon. Individual air molecules have fairly simple properties (from one point of view – from the point of view of quantum physics, air molecules themselves are emergent phenomena). When you put a whole bunch of air molecules on a planet covered by a fairly random combination of ocean and land masses, and then tilt the axis of that planet and revolve it around the sun, the interaction of all those air molecules on that planet exhibit patterns – emergent phenomena – that are not a property of any one air molecule itself.

    Climate and weather are thus emergent phenomena. Even more so is a hurricane. A hurricane is a highly organized and structured weather phenomena. It has properties that are unique to it, and which vanish when the hurricane dissipate.

    No one says that hurricanes “come out of nowhere” or that they are uncaused. Rather we mean that the cause can only be found by understanding the complex interplay of the parts – the cause can not be found by merely studying the constituent parts individually. The system has properties that the parts don’t.

    Note well that in this post I am not addressing the issue of consciousness at all. However, to the extent that the opening post is based on an inaccurate understanding of what emergent means, it seems like we ought to clear up this misunderstanding first.

  59. This is similar to hazel at 35.

    Is emergence a real phenomenon? It clearly is, although what is less clear is whether emergence has bearing upon the hard problem of consciousness. As examples, the liquidity of water emerges from molecules that are themselves neither wet nor liquids. Similarly, living organisms are composed of physical components that are themselves not alive. No one who understands the basis of wetness or the physical basis of life asserts that water isn’t wet and organisms are not alive.

    The parallel assertion at question is: can experiential phenomena arise from the aggregation and interaction of components that that are themselves not characterized by experience? If so, how? Arguably, the wetness of water is ultimately predictable from, and supervenes upon, the properties of water molecules, which are such that they slide by one another rather than forming a lattice. It is not at all clear that first person subjectivity and experience necessarily arise from the interaction of non-conscious components (such as neurons – although I personally believe that it does). Indeed, we are not at all sure how to think about the problem (which is probably a major component of the problem). Thomas Nagel’s book “The View From Nowhere” underscored the paradoxes that arise when attempting to give objective explanations (describable from an stance of abstraction that is independent of subjective or first person dependencies) of subjective phenomena.

    What we do know is that virtually all phenomena we understand as “mental” or “experiential” are intimately tied to the organization and functioning of the brain, such as specific disruption of that functioning disrupts specific mental processes, including (in some instances) global consciousness. With respect to the latter, bilateral damage to the Intra-Laminar Nuclei of the thalamus – small clusters of neurons about the size of a pencil eraser located on either side of the brain’s midline – completely and permanently abolishes consciousness. Therefore there are strong reasons to believe that brain functioning and consciousness are intimately intertwined.

    It doesn’t follow that “mind doesn’t exist,” which is itself a philosophical rather than scientific assertion, although some certainly do assert it (e.g. “neurophilosophers” such as the Paul and Patricia Churchland, among others). It may follow that “mind is what brains do” (among other things), and as John Searle once asserted, the “mind-brain problem is as vexing as the “stomach – digestion” problem. Yet even Searle doesn’t assert that “digestion” is an illusion, or an epiphenomenon.

    I also would argue that Barry’s characterization of “materialists” as simply claiming “emergence” and stopping there is inaccurate. There is a huge philosophical literature conducted among philosophers of all stripes, arguing everything from eliminative materialism to panpsychism (e.g. Galen Strawson), and it is quite a struggle. That is why we call the problem “hard.”

    The problem with “The mind is a real phenomenon that cannot be reduced to the properties of the brain” is that one may reply, “OK. Where do you go with that?” It turns out not to be a very useful conceptual tool for doing science addressing the question. Nor does it really explain much: The question, “how are non-corporeal entities conscious” has a whack of a lot less going for it than models that assume that consciousness is emergent from living processes (including social processes), and work from there.

  60. 60

    hazel,

    No one says that hurricanes “come out of nowhere” or that they are uncaused.

    True. But they could be designed:

    But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and such a mighty storm came upon the sea that the ship threatened to break up. (Jonah 1:4)

  61. I wrote:

    While it’s true that materialists have not explained how consciousness arises, neither have non-materialists.

    Barry replied:

    I do not agree with this statement.

    Then by all means, explain to us how consciousness arises in immaterial entities.

    Barry:

    But let it’s grant it for the sake of argument. An important distinction remains. If their premises are correct, materialists can NEVER account for consciousness.

    Can you demonstrate the truth of that assertion?

    On the other hand, ID theorists face no such limits. They may not at any given time know the details of how a designer designed a particular thing such as an embodied mind. Yet they know that, in principle, a designer can design massively complex and information rich things. They know this by just looking around and observing the massively complex and information rich things designed by intelligent agents that happen to be laying around all over the place.

    Look closely at your argument, Barry. It boils down to this:

    1. Humans have designed massively complex and information-rich things.

    2. Therefore we know that it is possible for massively complex, information-rich things to be designed.

    3. An embodied immaterial mind is a massively complex, information-rich thing.

    4. Therefore it is possible for an embodied immaterial mind to be designed.

    That argument is flawed. First, note that if the argument were true, then it would necessarily mean that humans can currently design embodied immaterial minds, which I’m sure you didn’t intend. Observe:

    1. Humans have designed massively complex and information-rich things.

    2. Therefore we know that humans can design massively complex, information-rich things.

    3. An embodied immaterial mind is a massively complex, information-rich thing.

    4. Therefore humans can design embodied immaterial minds.

    The flaw, of course, is that #2 is being interpreted as if it meant this…

    2. Therefore we know that humans can design all possible massively complex, information-rich things.

    …when it really means this:

    2. Therefore we know that humans can design at least some massively complex, information-rich things.

    The same flaw applies to your original argument, and so your conclusion — that it must be possible in principle for a designer to create an embodied, immaterial mind — is invalid.

    Like it or not, you and I are in the same boat with respect to consciousness. We both know that consciousness is possible, because it exists. However, neither of us can explain it (yet) within his own worldview.

    So on that particular issue, neither worldview has an advantage. On the other issues, materialism has the overwhelming advantage (as I pointed out in comment #20).

    Funny how that worked out.

  62. 62

    mauka, perhaps Barry’s non-materialist “explanation” is like StephenB’s:

    The theist, for example, has no difficulty explaining the existence of a mind. God created the human soul, complete with the faculties of intellect and will.

    If by “explanation” you mean scientific or just non-religious, methinks you’ll be waiting a while.

  63. I’d amplify “it is not at all clear that first person subjectivity and experience necessarily arise from the interaction of non-conscious components (such as neurons – although I personally believe that it does)” by stating that I believe that subjectivity necessarily arises from very particular forms of organization and interaction of non-conscious components. Kidneys are complex, but presumably do not give rise to conscious experience; the difference between kidneys and brain, with respect to consciousness, lies in the specifics of their physical organization, not a differences of a metaphysical kind.

  64. David Kellogg wrote:

    mauka, perhaps Barry’s non-materialist “explanation” is like StephenB’s:

    The theist, for example, has no difficulty explaining the existence of a mind. God created the human soul, complete with the faculties of intellect and will.

    Heh. It apparently hasn’t occurred to Stephen that if that is a legitimate “explanation”, then so is this:

    The physical brain gives rise to consciousness.

  65. —-David Kellogg: “If by “explanation” (minds) you mean scientific or just non-religious, methinks you’ll be waiting a while.”

    I expect that no scientific explanation will be forthcoming inasmuch as it is hard to reduce creativity to a scientific paradigm. Meanwhile, you have two choices, God, and Poof. I choose god; you choose poof.

  66. Stephen – do you accept that the word emergence doesn’t mean uncaused or out of nowhere, and that phenomena like hurricanes are emergent.

    That is. leaving consciousness out of it, do you accept that our universe displays emergent properties as I described them above?

  67. Hazel, mauka, David, I don’t have time to answer you all, but I need not do so anyway. All your claims are statments of faith. You have no idea about the causes of any of the events you describe. You just say they “emgerge.”

  68. StephenB: “I choose god; you choose poof.”

    Are you calling us a bunch of poofters? But does not God himself delight in the act of poofting from time to time – e.g., turning water into wine, burning bush, walking on water etc?

  69. 69

    Question for the ID supporters here: Do non-human animals have minds? If so, are their minds material, or do they have souls as well?

  70. From time to time we see materialists raising the “poof objection” against ID. The poof objection goes something like this: An ID theorist claims that a given organic system (the bacterial flagellum perhaps) is irreducibly complex or that it displays functional complex specified information. In a sneering and condescending tone the materialist dismisses the claim, saying something like “Your claim amounts to nothing more than ‘Poof! the designer did it.’”

    The argument against irreducible complexity was that it was an insupportable claim of certainty. Saying that something absolutely could not have evolved through small incremental steps is a lot different from saying that we cannot imagine how it formed. When biologists suggested possible evolutionary pathways to allegedly IC structures they completely undermined the original claim.

    That said, Barry Arrington has a good point. It is a fascinating topic and he is right, calling something an emergent property does not tell us how it emerged. It is just a placeholder for a presumed causal connection that we have yet to observe and explain.

    However, we should be wary of viewing this gap in our knowledge as another opening through which to squeeze a supernatural explanation like God. Does our inability to deduce the properties of water from our knowledge of elementary hydrogen and oxygen mean that no naturalistic explanation exists or that it does but we just have not found it yet?

    In the absence of any demonstrable supernatural explanations and based on the relative success of naturalistic explanations we can argue that that the latter is more likely to be true but we cannot claim the certainty that some people crave.

  71. 71

    “All your claims are statments of faith.” The claim that emergence is real is not a statement of faith. Barry’s claim that emergence is without support, on the other hand, is an outright falsehood.

    StephenB, I don’t choose “poof.” I choose to think that describing the mind scientifically is not encroaching on God’s territory.

  72. —–mauka: “It apparently hasn’t occurred to Stephen that if that is a legitimate “explanation”, then so is this: the brain gives rise to consciousness.”

    Apparently, he hasn’t occurred to mauka that his account has occurred to me.

  73. —-David: “StephenB, I don’t choose “poof.” I choose to think that describing the mind scientifically is not encroaching on God’s territory.”

    I agree. So, what’s the problem.

  74. 74

    The problem is that emergence (which is a legitimate way of describing complex phenomena) is dismissed by Barry as “poof.” A scientific description of the mind (as emergent or not) is of course incomplete. Barry would prefer that it not even be attempted.

  75. 75

    Also, as the original post shows, Barry doesn’t understand the first thing about emergence in any case.

  76. StephenB: “Meanwhile, you have two choices, God, and Poof. I choose god; you choose poof.”

    Seriously, is there any difference? If we postulate God, and that there is some kind of embodied mind (soul? spirit? that inhabits the physical brain – how did it get there?

    After all if we follow what David K is saying, most Christians would assume that this embodied soul is probably not present in animals.

    We could also likely assume that this embodied non-materialist mind is irreducible complex, fair?

    Since then we there are no known physical processes for which such an embodiment that could occur, the likely scenario is that God installed these ‘souls’ onto the mind. If that isn’t the very definition of ‘poof’ I’m not sure what is.

  77. JTaylor:

    StephenB: “Meanwhile, you have two choices, God, and Poof. I choose god; you choose poof.”

    Seriously, is there any difference?

    I see one difference:

    While both our nouns, one is a mechanism and the other is a proper name.

  78. We have no idea about the causes of hurricanes?

    Is this a serious statement, Stephen?

  79. —-David: “Second, in no case would it be a scientific explanation to say that (in the absence of such an explanation) hurricanes, bird flocks, termite mounds, convection, turbulence, sand dunes must be designed or have a nonmaterial source.”

    I agree again. We should not assume a non-material cause. On the other hand, we should not assume that we know the cause when we don’t, much less should not up our ignorance with the word “emergence.” We should simply say, “I don’t know.”

    Example: In the field of psychology, we have the principle called “synergy,” in which it appears that “whole is greater than the sum of all the parts.” When several individuals plan together, the result often surpasses the collective wisdom of the group.” However, we should not assume that the difference comes from something like “emergence.” We could explain the increased whole by added information coming from the unconscious mind, which, if taken into account, would mean that the whole was not greater than the sum of the parts after all.

    If we just assume “emergence,” we will not probe for the added causes. The irony is that ID is not the science stopper; it is the materialist concept of emergence that grinds things to a halt.

    Similary, thinking of God as the ultimate cause does not intrude on science at all. The question remains, “How did he do it.” Materialism, on the other hand, is a science stopper, becuase it rules out that which is obvious—Someone made it all happen. If you begin with the “poof” premise, you will always err both philosophically and scientifically.

  80. Hazel, we know what causes hurricanes, that is, we know about low pressure, condensation, and all that, but we don’t know everything. The point is that the term “emergence,” in my judgment, is a science stopper. I don’t think we need to resort to such explanations. No doubt, multiple causes generate hurricanes, but “emergence,” doesn’t count as a cause.

  81. —David: “The problem is that emergence (which is a legitimate way of describing complex phenomena) is dismissed by Barry as “poof.”

    Yes, but that is what all the fuss is about. Is “emergence” really a scientific explanation.” Again, I submit that “I don’t know,” is a better answer than it “emerged.” It emerged is a weasel phrase for its more honest expression, “it just happened.”

  82. 82

    “Emergence” produces practical, useful results in numerous fields, including in hurricane prediction and modeling and (as I said before) modeling of the visual system. Some science stopper.

  83. Emergent properties exist at every level of organization in nature.

    For example, if one only knew about the properties of protons and neutrons in isolation, it would be impossible to predict the properties of atomic nuclei. This is because when protons and neutrons are very close together, a new physical force (the strong nuclear force) comes into play that was not observable in the protons and neutrons in isolation.

    The same is the case for molecules. T. H. Huxley pointed out that water has various properties that are essential for life (which he summed up as water’s “aquasity”). None of these properties are predictable based on the behavior of hydrogen or oxygen atoms taken in isolation. Ergo, the properties of water are a result of the organization of its parts, which (taken in isolation) do not have those properties.

    I could cite examples from every level of biological organization, from biomolecules (carbohydrates, proteins, etc.) through cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, multicellular organisms, populations, communities, ecosystems, and (ultimately) the biosphere. At every one of these levels of organization (and at multiple points within them as well), there are aggregates of the components of those levels (and lower levels) that interact in such a way as to produce properties that are not “reducible” to the properties at other levels.

    Some neuroscientists extend this paradigm to consciousness. While this extension has currently not been directly empirically verified, it is an interesting and potentially testable hypothesis. Furthermore, the empirical fact that many aspects of consciousness can be altered or abolished by lesions to specific brain regions, and that specific types of thoughts can be correlated with changes in the metabolism of specific regions of the brain (as indicated by positron emission tomography), implies that there is indeed a causal connection between consciousness and brain activity.

    Based on many of the previous threads at this website that have dealt with these questions, the ID approach to the foregoing is essentially to say “no, god did it” and go off to debate which version of god is the absolutely, positively correct one.

  84. Strictly speaking, “emergence” is not a scientific explanation, it’s an empirically based (i.e. scientific) description of what we observe when we compare the properties of various levels of organization in nature. We observe that populations of organisms have properties that we do not observe in the individual organisms themselves, taken in isolation. We call these new properties “emergent” to indicate that they have “emerged” out of the interactions between entities at particular levels of organization.

    Ergo, when we say that consciousness is an “emergent” property of brain organization and function, we are simply referring to our observation that consciousness is correlated with a particular level of nervous system organization, but we have not explained how this has happened.

  85. 85

    True enough, Allen, but there is explanatory value in a precise enough description of emergent systems, because it helps direct the attention to the appropriate level of explanation.

    An interesting feature of this discussion is that advocates of emergence in cognitive science are typically arguing against strong reductionists. On this thread, StephenB, Barry, and kairosfocus are implicitly taking the side of reductionism: that if it ain’t reductionist, it ain’t science.

  86. StephenB: “If we just assume “emergence,” we will not probe for the added causes. The irony is that ID is not the science stopper; it is the materialist concept of emergence that grinds things to a halt.”

    But far from halting further study, I think the scientific community is actively pursuing this to understand more about what “emergence” really means and how it works. I’m not a scientist myself, let alone a neuroscientist, but it isn’t hard to find evidence that there is considerable experimental research in this area, and that things are far from grinding to a halt.

  87. 87

    JTaylor, you are correct. In fact, when scientists think a system is emergent, they then try to determine how emergence happens. That happens in every field where emergence is used as a concept. Further, emergence offers useful modeling information even in the absence of a complete explanation. It’s just flat-out wrong to say emergence is a science stopper.

  88. I agree with Allen – and I think this is where part of the confusion lies: emergence is not a cause but rather a description of what happens when known causes have new effects based on complex interactions with other known causes. (I think IDists make this same mistake when they think of “natural selection” as a cause, but that’s another story.)

    And David is right, also, about Stephen et al siding with the reductionists. Ultimately one could, in theory, trace an event like a hurricane back to the root quantum level causes, but such an explanation would be a) profoundly unwieldy, b) quite unenlightening for any practical purpose, and c) most importantly for this discussion, a product of hindsight. That is, we can often explain the story behind something after it has happened that we could have never predicted from the original conditions.

  89. David:

    An interesting feature of this discussion is that advocates of emergence in cognitive science are typically arguing against strong reductionists. On this thread, StephenB, Barry, and kairosfocus are implicitly taking the side of reductionism: that if it ain’t reductionist, it ain’t science.

    This peculiarity is also true of their understanding of culture and cultural evolution, which (in at least Clive’s case and IIRC others) is strictly reductionistic: “culture is the sum of what individuals do, and nothing more.” This turns back on this discussion, in that features of human cognition (particularly those that are socially and linguistically based) are crucially dependent upon the immersion of human individuals in their surrounding culture from birth. Human cognition in some sense is emergent from the evolutionary invention of brains (persons) immersed in culture – as, all the while, culture is itself modified and further elaborated by persons and their myriad interactions. Hence we have a positive feedback loop that accounts for the explosive rate of change and astounding variety and innovation that is apparent in human life.

  90. As in so many discussions, I find that we wind up arguing against simplistic caricatures of what science really is all about. It’s discouraging.

  91. In #83 David Kellogg points out:

    “StephenB, Barry, and kairosfocus are implicitly taking the side of reductionism”

    No, they’re explicitly taking the side of reductionism, as they do in virtually all other discussions on this website. However, their version of reductionism is fundamentally different than the one usually applied to the empirical sciences. Their version of reductionism is essentially this:

    “There is one and only one absolute Truth, of which God is the one and only Author”.

    All observations, all discoveries, all ideas, all arguments, indeed all of human thought and intellectual aspirations reduce to that simple declarative, unsupported assertion. Ergo, further observations, discoveries, ideas, arguments, thoughts and any other form of intellectual aspirations are frivolous, pointless, and potentially dangerous.

  92. Science actually points to a transcendent “mind” behind the material universe: 1.Materialism predicted an eternal universe, Theism predicted a created universe. – Big Bang points to a creation event

    —– 2. Materialism predicted that time had an infinite past, Theism predicted time had a creation – Time was created in Big Bang

    ———– 3. Materialism predicted that space was infinite in all directions, Theism predicted space had a creation (Psalm 89:12) – Space was created in the Big Bang

    ————— 4. Materialism predicted that at the base of this material reality would a solid indestructible material particle that rigidly obeyed the rules of time and space, Theism predicted that the basis of this “material reality” was created by a being who is not limited by time and space – Quantum mechanics reveals a wave/particle duality for the basis of our material reality that blatantly defies our concepts of time and space

    ————— 5. Materialism predicted that the rate at which time passed was constant everywhere in the universe, Theism predicted that God is eternal and is thus outside of time – Special Relativity has shown that time, as we understand it, comes to a complete stop at the speed of light

    —————- 6. Materialism predicted that the universe did not have life in mind and that life is ultimately “an accident” of time and chance. Theism predicted this universe was purposely created by God with man in mind – Every universal constant that scientists can measure is exquisitely finely-tuned for life to exist in this universe.

    —————– 7. Materialism predicted that complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Theism predicted that this Earth is unique in this universe —— Statistical analysis of the hundreds of required parameters that enable complex life to be possible on earth reveals that the earth is extremely unique in its ability to support complex life in this universe. (Rare Earth; Brownlee, Privileged Planet; Gonzalez) ….as well if we look for “transcendent truth” we find what is actually controlling the universe.

    Please bear out my essay: ———- What Is Truth? ——— To varying degrees everyone looks for truth. A few people have traveled to distant lands seeking gurus in their quest to find “Truth”. People are happy when they discover a new truth into the mysteries of life. People who have deep insights into the truth of how things actually work are considered wise. In the bible Jesus says “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” So, since truth is considered such a good thing, let us look for truth in a common object; a simple rock.

    Few people would try to argue that a rock is not real. Someone who would argue that it is not real could bang his head on the rock until he was satisfied the rock is real. A blind man in a darkened cave would feel the rock hitting his head just as well as a sighted man who saw the rock coming. The rock is real and its reality is not dependent on our observation, contrary to the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (Anton Zeilinger).

    Having stated the obvious lets look at what the rock is actually made of.A rock is composed of three basic ingredients; energy, force and truth. From Einstein’s famous equation (e=mc2) we know that all matter (solids, liquids and gases) of the universe is ultimately made up of energy and therefore the entire rock can “theoretically” be reduced to energy. This energy is “woven” by various complex, unchanging, universal forces into the atoms of the rock. The amount of energy woven by these complex interactions of various, unchanging, universal forces into the rock is tremendous. This tremendous energy that is in the rock is clearly demonstrated by the detonation of nuclear bombs. This woven energy is found in each and every individual “particle/wave” of every atom in the trillions upon trillions of atoms in the rock. While energy can be said to be what gives “substance” of the rock, energy in and of itself is not a “solid” entity. Thus, the unchanging, transcendent, universal constants/forces can be said to be what actually gives the rock its physicality of being solid; Gives the rock “solidness even though constants/forces are turning out to be transcendent of any known material/energy basis. In fact transcendent universal constants/forces can be said to be the ONLY solid, uncompromising “thing” in the rock.

    Yet there is another ingredient which went into making the rock that is often neglected to be looked at as a “real” component of the rock. It is the transcendent and spiritual component of truth. If truth did not exist the rock would not exist. This is as obvious as the fact that the rock would not exist if energy and/or unchanging force did not exist. It is the truth in and of the logical laws of the unchanging forces of the universal constants that govern the energy that enable the rock to be a rock in the first place.

    Is truth independent and dominant of the energy and force? Yes of course, there are many philosophical truths that are not dependent on energy or force for them to still be true. Yet energy and unchanging force are precisely subject to what the “truth” tells them they can and cannot do (Anthropic Principle). To put it another way, the rock cannot exist without truth yet truth can exist without the rock. Energy and force must obey the truth that is above them or else the rock can’t possibly exist. Since truth apparently dictates what energy and/or unchanging force can or cannot do in order that life may exist in this universe, it follows that truth dominates energy and force (multi-verse not withstanding). Energy and force do not dominate truth.

    It is also obvious that if all energy and/or force stopped existing in this universe, the truth that ruled the energy and force in the rock would still be logically true. Thus, truth can be said to be eternal, or timeless in nature. It is also obvious that truth is omnipresent. That is to say, the truth that is in the rock on this world is the same truth that is in a rock on the other side of the universe on another world. Thus, truth is present everywhere at all times in this universe (Indeed, Science would be extremely difficult, to put it mildly, if this uniformity of truth were not so).

    It has also been scientifically proven, by quantum non-locality, that whenever something becomes physically “real” (wave collapse of entangled electron, photon) in any part of the universe, this “truth” is instantaneously communicated anywhere/everywhere in the universe to its corresponding “particle”. Thus, truth is “aware” of everything that goes on in the universe instantaneously. This universal awareness of transcendent truth also gives truth the vital characteristic of being omniscient (All knowing).

    This instantaneous communication of truth to all points in the universe also happens to defy the speed of light; a “truth” that energy and even the force of gravity happen to be subject to (I believe all fundamental forces are shown to be subject to this “truth’ of the speed of light). This scientific proof of quantum non-locality also proves that truth is not a “passive” component of this universe. Truth is actually scientifically demonstrated, by quantum non-locality and quantum teleportation, to be the “active” dominant component of this universe.

    Thus, truth is not a passive set of rules written on a sheet of paper somewhere. Truth is the “living governor” of this universe that has dominion over all other components of this universe and is not bound by any of the laws that “truth” has subjected all the other components of the universe to. Truth is in fact a tangible entity that enables and dictates our reality in this universe to exist in a overarching non-chaotic form so as to enable life to exist (Anthropic Principle).

    Thus eternal transcendent truth has demonstrated foresight and purpose in this temporal universe and as such can be said to be “alive” from the fact that a “decision” had to be made from the timeless/spaceless dimension that truth inhabits in order for this temporal reality to be real in the first place. i.e. the transcendent embodiment of all truth is a major characteristic of the necessary Being or “uncaused-cause”, which is elucidated in philosophy, that created all reality.

    The fact that quantum teleportation shows an exact “specified dominion” of energy by “a truth” satisfies a major requirement for the entity needed to explain the “missing Dark Matter” in that the needed explanation would have to dominate energy in just such a fashion as is demonstrated by teleportation. The fact that quantum entanglement shows a “coherent long-range universal” control of energy, by “a truth”, satisfies a major requirement for the “Dark Energy” entity which must explain why the universe is expanding at such a finely-tuned degree. Thus the “transcendent eternal truth” provides a coherent picture that could possibly unify all of physics upon further elucidation.

    Well, lets see what we have so far; Truth is eternal (it has always existed and will always exist); Truth is omnipresent (it is present everywhere in the universe at all times); Truth is omnipotent (it has dominion over everything else in the universe, yet is not subject to any physical laws); Truth has a vital characteristic of omniscience (it is aware of everything that is happening everywhere in the universe); Truth is active (it is aware of everything that is happening and instantaneously makes appropriate adjustments); and Truth is alive (it has created a temporal universe from a reality not subject to any physical laws of time, for the express purpose of creating life; Anthropic Principle) Surprisingly, being eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, active and alive are the foundational characteristics that are used by theologians to describe God. Thus, logically speaking, spiritual/transcendent truth emanates directly from God.

    So in answer to our question “What is Truth?” we can answer that truth comes from, or is, God as far as the scientific method is concerned. To bring this into the focus of the Christian perspective, Jesus says that He is “The Truth”. In regards to what is currently revealed in our scientific knowledge, this is a VERY, VERY fantastic claim! If Jesus is speaking the truth, which I believe He is from the personal miracles I’ve seen in my own life, then by the rules of logic this makes Jesus exactly equivalent to God Almighty as far as this universe is concerned.

    Well,,, Is Jesus the author of this universe and all life in it??? Though this is somewhat difficult to bear out scientifically, Personally I believe He is, since all the foundational truths in what could be termed the “transcendent” philosophy of human character and behavior (i.e.Love your neighbor as yourself, Don’t bear false witness etc..etc..), have found their ultimate authority and expression in Jesus Christ. i.e. by his “sinless life” and by his resurrection from the dead he has indeed testified to truth’s primacy and authority over the material realm. Plus, I find it extremely poetic that Jesus has overcome death and entropy by leading a sinless, decay-free, life and which was testified to by his resurrection from the dead by the Shroud. (of note: entropy is the law of universal decay; it is also known as the second law of thermodynamics) I also find it extremely satisfying and poetic that we too can escape death by accepting this “transcendent eternal truth” of Jesus atoning sacrifice for us into our hearts.

    of note: (In regards to the argument that some universal constants “may change” over time, It should be noted that the four primary forces/constants of the universe are said to be “mediated at the speed of light” by massless “mediator bosons”. And thus, since time as we know it comes to a complete stop at the speed of light, this gives the universal constants the characteristic of being timeless, and thus unchanging, as far as the mass/matter of this universe is concerned. i.e. We should never expect something that is “timeless” to ever change in regards to the mass/matter of this universe which is itself subject to time and is thus obviously subject to change.

    Many interesting insights. Please use paragraphs in the future. In its original form, your work was all but unreadable.

  93. In #88 hazel observes:

    “As in so many discussions, I find that we wind up arguing against simplistic caricatures of what science really is all about. It’s discouraging.”

    I agree. However, it’s not really surprising, when one considers that the “regulars” here defending ID are neither trained in any of the empirical sciences, nor aware of most of its dimensions and traditions.

    This is also why the majority of the soi dissant “scientists” who have signed the Discovery Institute’s notorious list of “scientists” who disagree with evolution aren’t empirical scientists. They’re engineers, computer programmers, and medical doctors.

    As to the latter, I was married to a medical doctor for almost twenty years and got to know many of her colleagues quite well. Many of them were very bright, very dedicated professionals, but very few of them had any real understanding of the empirical sciences in general, and evolutionary biology in particular. No, I wouldn’t like to have an evolutionary biologist cut out my appendix, but by the same reasoning I wouldn’t necessarily take a surgeon’s opinion of what constitutes a valid science as representing what the practitioners of science take it to be.

  94. 94

    Barry Arrington:

    The system is said to “supervene” (I’m not making this up) on its components causing the whole to be greater than the sum of the parts.

    I’m curious where you got this from.

    Also:

    Conclusion: When it comes to explaining the mind, materialism is a dead end. We may someday understand how the mind came about, but only under a design paradigm.

    Can you give us an example from the history of science of when some phenomenon of nature has been explained by the “design paradigm”.

  95. The OP does not make a careful distinction between using ‘emergent’ as an adjective to describe a property (such as temperature), and ‘emergence’ as a noun meant to be a causal explanation.
    There is plenty of woo-peddling around ‘emergence’. Replacing ‘God’ with ‘emergence’ in a sentence such as ‘God causes the mind.’ is merely New Age fuzziness. Reification is not explanation.

  96. —-Allen: “At every one of these levels of organization (and at multiple points within them as well), there are aggregates of the components of those levels (and lower levels) that interact in such a way as to produce properties that are not “reducible” to the properties at other levels.”

    But that is precisely what all the fuss is about. Did it emerge or did a designer set it up that way? If it is the latter, then the phenonenon is “reduced,” so to speak, to the phycial causes and the designers plan. In either case, emergence or design, the explanation is incomplete; more information is needed.

    When Sulphuric acid and water meet, the solution starts crackling and popping, but that doesn’t mean that the popping “emerged,” it means both agents were designed such that when they meet under the right circumstances, they act that way. If two Alka Seltzer tablets start fizzing in water, the fizz didn’t emerge; it was supposed to act that way, and its causes can be traced either to a physical or a designed cause.

    So we shouldn’t say that those who disagree with emergent thinking are uneducated in science. It is not the level of knowledge one has about science that causes him to affirm “emergence” and negate “design.” It is rather the philosophy of science that shapes his thinking.

  97. Mr Arrington,
    JTaylor, re your [47]. In my [39] I demonstrate that explaining the existence of the mind is impossible even in principle for the materialist but not for the ID theorist. You do not offer even a scintilla of a rebuttal to that claim. Instead, you change the subject. Is that all you’ve got? Can I conclude from your silence regarding the basic premise of the original post and your attempt to change the subject, that you’ve got nothing to say, that you’ve been struck dumb by the scintillating brilliance of my reasoning [it’s a joke, lighten up will ya]?

    Thank you for making your sense of humor clearer to me. I now understand that your previous closed comment post declaring victory over dumbstruck materialists was meant to be humor, or perhaps ‘street theater’. I know a joke loses something if it has to be explained, but do I now understand you correctly?

  98. 98

    StephenB,
    You’re engaging in the practice of quote mining @96. Later in that post Allen MacNeill continued:

    Ergo, when we say that consciousness is an “emergent” property of brain organization and function, we are simply referring to our observation that consciousness is correlated with a particular level of nervous system organization, but we have not explained how this has happened.

    In other words, in this instance of emergence we are not saying we have explained consciousness we are saying that at this point in our understanding it appears that mind emerges from neuronal activity but more work needs to be done. We will not remain satisfied with what we know now unlike supernaturalists who are perfectly satisfied saying god-did-it( or the-intelligent-designer(s)-did-it.)

  99. 99

    I’ve followed this for a while, and I have an admittedly ignorant question. It is an honest one, though:
    How is the material brain/immaterial mind issue related to ID?
    If the mind was only a physical product of a physical organ, would that invalidate ID or support Darwinism?
    This sounds really stupid, but when I think it seems to come from between my ears and behind my eyes.

  100. 100

    ScottAndrews:

    How is the material brain/immaterial mind issue related to ID?

    IDists will strenuously deny this but they oppose evolution because it conflicts with their religious beliefs. Notice how much discussion there is about religion on this sight and how immoral atheists are alleged to be and how belief in evolution leads to holocausts and all sorts of other evil things.

    But evolution is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to science that conflicts with religious belief. Brain science is a surging area of research. And since religious people like to believe that their mind is a magical thing separate from their brain you can expect to see a lot more opposition in the future from IDists and other creationists.

  101. —-B L Harville: “You’re engaging in the practice of quote mining @96.”

    Are you saying that I quoted Allen out of context? I picked the one paragraph that best summarized his position.

    —-B L Harville: “In other words, in this instance of emergence we are not saying we have explained consciousness we are saying that at this point in our understanding it appears that mind emerges from neuronal activity but more work needs to be done.”

    Well, not exactly. Your side says, “let’s assume emergence for now, and if nothing better comes along, we will keep that explanation.” We may never have a scientific explanation for the origin of minds. Indeed, most in your camp reduce the mind to little more than an extension of the brain anyway. Darwinists have been playing this same type of game with Modern Evolutionary Synthesis. Emergence is the default position, covering up for all the inadequacies of the neo-Darwinian paradigm.

    In any case, the emerging mind theory “appears” that way, as you say, only to those who assume emergence is that apriori default position. It would not appear that way to neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, because that is not his default position. World views affect science more than you think, which is why ID recommends following the evidence wherever it leads—-even if it shakes up your world view.

    —-” We will not remain satisfied with what we know now unlike supernaturalists who are perfectly satisfied saying god-did-it( or the-intelligent-designer(s)-did-it.)”

    As I have already written, neither design theorists or emergent theorists should be satisfied with the explanation. The so-called God-of-the-gaps argument is no less edifying than a poof-of-the-gaps argument.

  102. StephenB:

    When Sulphuric acid and water meet, the solution starts crackling and popping, but that doesn’t mean that the popping “emerged,” it means both agents were designed such that when they meet under the right circumstances, they act that way. If two Alka Seltzer tablets start fizzing in water, the fizz didn’t emerge; it was supposed to act that way, and its causes can be traced either to a physical or a designed cause.

    The problem with this illustration is that the reaction that ensues when sulphuric acid and water meets is entirely predictable from the characteristics of the individual compounds, as modeled by physical chemistry. Had we just now encountered our first examples of water and sulphuric acid, and been supplied information regarding their chemical compositions, the reaction that ensues and the energy released upon their combination is precisely predictable.

    Properties described as “emergent” (such as the wetness of water) are typically not viewed as predictable in this way.

  103. 103

    JTaylor in #57

    I see you had to insult me after I had left. I am a practicing scientist and have been all my adult life. Everyone here knows everything about me. I have no secrets. I don’t even know who you are or what you are except what you have made obvious here, which is that you are a crass cowardly nothing like most of the wannabe, mightabeens participating in this insane Tower of Babel.

    If you weren’t a coward by definition you would be proud to display your credentials, your publications and what you do for a living as I have always done. You wouldn’t dream of doing that here and I wouldn’t believe anything you might say now anyway. You are a typical garden variety malcontent busybody who probably never had an original idea in his entire life. You sure haven’t displayed one here. You are no better than Falan Ox, another “prescribed loser.” Uncommon Descent is crawling with them. You should feel right at home here.

    Now if want more of the same, smart off again and I will be happy to satisfy your masochistic tendencies.

    “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
    Albert Einstein

  104. It is part of water’s nature to be wet under the right conditions. Everything has a nature, and everything functions according to its nature. Hurricanes and tornados also have natures. If you set up exactly the same atmospheric conditions time after time, you will get exactly the same result time after time. The laws of cause and effect are always in play. That is why we can know the “ideal” conditions for a hurricane of a tornado to develop, and develop seems like the right word to me. I submit that if we knew all the causal vectors and how they interact, we could predict the outcome of any weather event. Meteorologists don’t do too bad as it is.

  105. They’re engineers, computer programmers, and medical doctors.

    IOW, people grounded in reality who know the difference between theoretical possibilities and actual ones.

    Good to see you back, Allen.

  106. In #101 stephenB asserts:

    “Darwinists have been playing this same type of game with Modern Evolutionary Synthesis. Emergence is the default position, covering up for all the inadequacies of the neo-Darwinian paradigm.”

    Actually, this is a false statement. With the notable exception of Ernst Mayr, virtually all of the founders of the “modern evolutionary synthesis” were either completely silent on the issue of emergent properties, or asserted that such properties did not exist. This is still the position of the great majority of evolutionary biologists: that talking about “emergence” and “emergent properties” adds nothing to our ability to investigate how biological systems work.

    The same is the case for the concept of purpose. It is very common for people to explain the existence of some biological property by saying it is “for” something (i.e. it exists “in order to” something).

    For example, a very common statement about mammals is “female” mammals have mammary glands “in order to” feed their offspring (i.e. that’s what mammary glands are “for”). However, making a statement like this does not help in the slightest in our understanding of what mammary glands are (i.e. it does not describe them), nor does it help in understanding how mammary glands work (i.e. it does not help in their analysis), nor does it help in understanding how mammary glands came (and come) to be (i.e. it does not help in explaining their origin or development).

    This is why evolutionary biologists generally do not explain the origin and development of biological objects and processes using purpose. It isn’t necessary for such an explanation, and so we generally leave it out.

    Note that leaving out purpose is absolutely no “proof” (nor “poof”) for the existence or non-existence of purpose. Indeed, accomplishing this is a surprisingly difficult thing to do, assuming that one is limited to empirical tests of the hypothesis that purpose either exists or doesn’t.

  107. John @ 103

    I do sincere apologize. I suffer from an extremely rare genetic disorder (although oddly it is found more in the working classes), called pompoustropism. Sometimes it causes me to say or write down what I’m actually thinking. Again, I apologize.

  108. StephenB

    It is part of water’s nature to be wet under the right conditions. Everything has a nature, and everything functions according to its nature

    Perhaps it is the “nature” of complex physical objects, organized in the right way, to be conscious. Objects like brains.

  109. 109

    Appealing to wetness as the “nature” of water puts science exactly where it was with Book II of Aristotle’s Physics.

  110. 110

    Nakashima is no longer with us.

  111. Here are two links to articles dealing with the philosophical and scientific aspects of “emergence” and “emergent properties”:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....-emergent/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergent_property

    As a professionally trained scientist who has dealt with the question of emergence for many years, I recommend both of them. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article is more technical, and is more restricted to the question of consciousness, whereas the Wikipedia article covers virtually all of the philosophical and scientific aspects of emergence.

    Even a cursory perusal of either article would clearly indicate that “the snapping, popping sound that happens when H2SO4 is mixed with water” or “the fizzing that happens when Alka Seltzer is dropped in water” are clearly not examples of emergence. If they were, one could just as easily assert that the “clunk” one hears when one has dropped a rock is an “emergent property” of dropped rocks.

  112. 112

    Really? That seems a little harsh.

  113. 113

    My comment was (I hope obviously) to the banning of Nakashima and not the thoughtful comment of Allen MacNeill.

  114. I too am puzzled. There are some posters here who are routinely rude, some to the extreme, and yet Nakashima is banned for one comment. I know the comment was aimed at Barry himself, but I think a moderator should try to be even-handed and not give himself special consideration.

    My 2 cents.

  115. Re #110:

    “Nakashima is no longer with us.”

    I find this unfortunate, as to me Nakashima-san always seemed very polite and informative in his/her comments, plus being fairly conscientious at sticking to the topic of threads. However, I haven’t read all of the the threads s/he has participated in, so my opinion is merely that: an opinion.

    Perhaps it would help if the criteria for banning were made more explicit? I enjoy the rough-and-tumble that goes on here (obviously I must, or I wouldn’t participate so often), but I do worry that I might inadvertently write something that might result in my banishment.

    And, for the record, I would like to thank (almost) all of the participants here for their comments, and especially those who have disagreed with me and provided detailed explanations of how and why they have so disagreed. I have always admired C. S. Lewis for his erudition, his extraordinary breadth of knowledge, and his ability to “fight the good fight” in heated academic debates. As such, I have tried to emulate both his tactics and his intellect, while disagreeing with some of his positions. Had I the opportunity to debate some of these questions with him, I am quite certain that I would learn a great deal from the encounter, and probably change my mind about several of my less-well-thought-out positions.

    To the extent that our “arguments” here have achieved the same level of intellectual breadth and commitment, I thank you all (well, most of you anyway).

    And so, back to it – en guarde, mes amis!

  116. Really? That seems a little harsh.

    Nor does does this banning conform to the moderation policy Barry enunciated a month or so ago. N’s comments weren’t profane, defamatory, vicious personal attacks, or really personal at all.

    As with Reciprocting_Bill earlier, what’s the point of stating a policy if you aren’t going to apply it?

  117. I hope this is not a step back toward the “old” UD moderation/banning policy.

    I second Allen’s suggestion about making the criteria for banning more explicit than they currently are.

    Also, I would suggest that when a banning occurs, the reason should be stated explicitly and a link to the offending comment provided.

    Comments of the sort “so-and-so is no longer with us” are singularly unhelpful and uninformative.

  118. In #117 mauka wrote:

    “I would suggest that when a banning occurs, the reason should be stated explicitly and a link to the offending comment provided.”

    Hear! Hear! May I second that motion? It would really help to know what exactly it was that resulted in Nakashima-san’s banishment, so that the rest of us might avoid committing such a sin (if possible, given our irretrievably fallen natures).

    If it helps, Hannah Maxson (the founder of the Cornell IDEA Club and my partner and co-presenter in our notorious evolution-design seminar at Cornell) and I worked out a fairly reasonable moderation policy for our course website. I have modified it slightly, mostly for increased coherence, and have it prominently posted at my own blog:

    http://evolutionlist.blogspot......olicy.html

    If you read it, you will note that I moderate every post that comes into THE EVOLUTION LIST. This was in response to what I can only call “hate bombing” by a few individuals who found it exciting to post multiple comments filled with ad hominem attacks, character assassination, and outright lies. It slows things down to have to moderate every single comment, but I found it necessary. Perhaps it will eventually be possible to open things back up to unmoderated comments. I hope so.

    By the way, I don’t necessarily have a problem with people posting lies in their comments. Often it is pretty obvious to almost anyone when a lie gets posted, and in general the most effective way to deal with such distortions is to show (with citations to evidence) how the comment is a deliberate distortion.

    However, I find that the “broken window” phenomenon that results from constant personal attacks tends to coarsen debate and eventually lead to intellectual exhaustion for all concerned.

    For this reason, there are certain people who post comments here to whom I will never, under any conditions, respond, for the reasons cited above. I have observed recently that others here, on both sides of the EB / ID divide, have generally taken the same approach, and that often this has resulted in the offender eventually leaving in a huff.

    Good. Self-exile, in my humble opinion, is far preferable to banishment, for both the person leaving (which has occasionally been me, of course, from certain other websites) and for the group who, by their principled and consistent shunning of any and all responses to the offender’s diatribes, have resulted in that person’s exit from the stage.

  119. My vote is to bring back Nakashima.

  120. Good for you, T7. Thank you for stepping forward.

  121. Moderators:

    First, I concur with Trib 7.

    (I have found Nakashima a generally polite and helpful contributor, who seems to be interested in actual discussion not mere drumbeat repetition of tired out evo mat talking points. [Perhaps -- and I seem to have missed the offending comment he made (which must have been well over the top to get such a sharp response) -- he slipped up for a moment?])

    GEM of TKI

    ______________

    Now, a few footnotes:

    1 –> Nakashima-San, if we ever do build R Daneel, that will be by literally generations of intelligent design. (No need to play Golem games!)

    2 –> Emergence and systems: the point of legitimate scientific emergence is that we may trace the outcome to the system elements, their properties, the system architecture and the interactions with the environment across the system boundary. That is, we are loking at dynamics . . .

    3 –> which may of course include stochastic elements. E.g. the Barkhausen analysis of how an electronic oscillator works includes the transient effects of noise on turn-on; leading to selection and reinforcement of the picked frequency for amplification and domination of behaviour. Then, limiting effects occur as the gain elements begin to go nonlinear. So we see both the emergence of the sine wave oscillations, their frequency, and the necessary presence of some distortion.

    4 –> All of this traces to the system architecture of a forward and feedback path with positive feedback filtered for a specific frequency, noise [thence Fourier analysis], and the device physics of the active and passive components. So, we come to the [deceptively!] simple relationship: B*AOL = 1. (Huge swathes of physics, modelling and sophisticated mathematics lurk under that seemingly simple result.)

    5 –> I cite this to contrast by pertinent example with the sort of “emergence” being postulated for mind, and to show how the claimed analogies to the emergence of hurricanes and the like [order not organisation!] are equally fallacious.

    6 –> Mind works by organised thinking, reasoning, imagining, recalling, conceptualising, understanding and deciding processes, and the outcomes of — just to cite one instance — one of its key operations, logical reasoning, are precisely only credible if they are not the mere physical-chemical dynamic outcome of neurons at play under forces of chemistry, electricity and noise.

    7 –> for, as Crick’s blunder in his The Astonishing hypothesis shows: nothing buttery that reduces mind to the electro-chemistry of the CNS ends in self referential absurdity. Similarly, the psycho-social determinisms of various theorists end up int eh same absurdities. For, not even materialist thoughts become valid if they are determined by chance + necessity only instead of logic relative to the material facts.

    8 –> Let us remind ourselves, therefore, of Crick’s now notorious 1994 blunder (which is of course echoed in the original post):

    You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules . . .

    [ . . . ]

  122. 9 –> Johnson’s corrective [1995] was thus all too apt: “[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” And, of course, thereby hangs the self-referential absurdity, as his earlier comment on how Sir francis should preface his books brings out with telling force:

    “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”

    10 –> In short, first, the phenomena of mind — which we experience day by day, so it is an empirical fact to be accounted for in our worldviews and scientific models — are radically diverse from the patterns and processes that we can routinely trace to the interactions of matter and energy in interesting configurations in space and time.

    11 –> So, unless we can show how the emergence happens, we are using word magic if we simply say “emergence” and do not provide the means of that emergence.

    12 –> but in fact, the very term, “the hard problem of consciousness,” and the issues summarised in 3 above show the fact that no such explanatory construct is on the table, or in reasonable prospect. On the contrary, the evolutionary materialist paradigm here plainly runs into self reference and incoherence, undermining the credibility of the very minds needed to think materialist thoughts.

    13 –> Materialists, of course are humans and think, and sometimes accurately. But, the material point is that they cannot ground the credibility of mind relative to their premises on the nature of underlying reality, but end up in self contradictions, repeatedly and predictably; indeed evidently inescapably.

    14 –> So, evolutionary materialism is self-referentially incoherent as a system of thought. And science build on self contradiction is incapable of being any more trustworthy than that self-refuting foundation. So, the evo mat paradigm is dead.

    15 –> And, to object on “poof” when we advert to the experience of mind and design, then use it to infer to the signs of such at work, and then devise an explanatory filter that detects cases of design as distinct form chance and/or necessity spontaneously at work, is selectively hyperskeptical, as well.

    16 –> For, by sharpest contrast, the concept that MIND is prior to matter, and is its origin, coheres with the observed contingency and evidently purposeful organisation of the physics of the cosmos and its apparent history from origin to date. it also fits well with the information systems that lie in the heart of life forms based on cells. So, the mind hypothesis entails — and is consistent with — the empirical data (including our self-experience as minded creatures).

    17 –> And, further directly relevant to us, that MIND can create minds and fit them to their world so they can often perceive accurately, think logically and know credibly, is not at all incoherent or incongruous to the reality we experience. So, the idea of design by MIND is reasonable and consistent with what we observe, having great explanatory power.

    18 –> Now, we do not know precisely how our minds were/are composed and how such work and how such interfaces with the brain as i/o processor. that is, we do not yet know HOW of the mind/brain interface or more broadly of the mind matter interfacfe, but we routinely experience it every time we decide to press a sequence of keys on a keyboard to type in a blog comment, etc. So, it is an empirically grounded reality: mind interacts with matter — we do decide and acrt in light of logic and perceptions, oftentimes effectively and even correctly.

    19 –> Notice, this is antecedent, empirically to the metaphysics of the composition of mind. (We are NOT here making any a priori assumptions on the nature of mind, just pointing out that mind is whatever has the properties that we observe. Composition is empirically posterior to the facts of observation and their circumstances, which may have import on the nature of mind, under certain circumstances.)

    20 –> We may then . . . notice the sequence . . . climb the empirical ladder to identifying reliable signs of known mind at work, then onward to identifying mind from its empirical traces; thence the origin of life and the cosmos friendly to such life.

    21 –> these things brim over with the reliable sings of mind, and we have no reason to infer that we exhaust the possible minds in existence. So, from signs we see the source of the signs; per best explanation.

    22 –> At that point we see mind antecedent to and causally prior to matter as observed. So, mind is not necessarily material. (Which does not rule out that we may design an architecture, algorithms, code and data structures, with sensors, knowledge bases etc that can fulfill the logic of mind that is insofar as the functional elements are concerned, would be material. though, the INFORMATION and KNOWLEDGE — not to mention WISDOM — involved is obviously not to be equated to matter or configurations thereof.)

    23 –> Fine: that is a task for reverse engineering of how observed minds function, and it is a task that suggests that we may be able to sufficiently replicate the architecture and systems to create true artificial intelligences.

    24 –> Whether such would be conscious — not to mention en-conscienced (NB: we should build in safeguards in the form of revisions to Asimov’s 3 laws that close the dangerous loopholes that he exploited in his sci fi literature) — is another story, but useful entities capable of working with us as we move out on the cosmos as a whole do not have to be conscious, just functional.

    25 –> If we do discover a way to make them conscious, that would be wonderful — and a triumph of intelligent research, creative thinking and . . . design!

    GEM of TKI

  123. PS: Mr MacNeill, I must note that the situations are not precisely analogous. The sort of nastiness that was unloaded at Mrs O’Leary — a respectable grandmother who was subjected to slander of a sort that would make the most depraved strumpet blush — at Anti Evo recently more than justifies a severe moderation policy here. And, there is a serious issue on harassment, disruptive blog vandalism, etc. all the way up to unjustified career busting (which is denied in the teeth of manifest facts or even “justified” by all too many on your side of the debate — and this has not been a dialogue across time, sadly). I find the current policy a better balance than the previous [which may well have been well warranted for its time . . . I am here reminded of how Sir Winston Churchill's policy in 1940 can be derided in retrospect, but to have to act in the face of the situation was a very different matter], but also must note that no policy devised by humans will be perfect on formulation or execution.

  124. 124

    MacNeill is a flaming hypocrite. He is upset because someone was banished while that is exactly what he has done himself on his own turf. He has even suggested that I should be banished here at Uncommon Descent. With scordova’s invaluable assistance, he almost pulled it off!

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    Not at all. It is a matter of record.

  125. In comment #20, I compared the ability of materialism and nonmaterialism to explain four key aspects of consciousness and reason.

    The final tally was that materialism had the advantage on 3 of the 4 issues, while nonmaterialism had the advantage on none. On one issue they were tied.

    Here are two more issues to add to the mix:

    5a. For the materialist, it is trivial to explain how the physical world can affect the mind through our senses. After all, the world, our sense organs, our nerves and our minds are all physical, so the interactions between them are just normal physical interactions.

    5b. The nonmaterialist has no explanation for how the physical world can bridge the gap in order to affect the immaterial mind.

    Advantage: materialist

    6a. Moving in the other direction, it is trivial for the materialist to explain how the mind can affect the body and through it, the world. Mind, nerve, muscle and world are all physical, so their interactions are all physical.

    6b. The nonmaterialist, however, has no explanation for how the immaterial mind can bridge the gap to influence the physical body, move the muscles and affect the physical world.

    Advantage: materialist

    New score:
    Materialism 5 of 6, Nonmaterialism 0 of 6

    It’s getting pretty lopsided.

    Come on, nonmaterialists! Aren’t there any issues for which your worldview has an advantage?

    Let’s hear them!

  126. Onlookers:

    Per no 3 above, that which is inescapably self-refuting can explain nothing.

    So, unless evolutionary materialists can credibly account for the credibility of mind on their premises [matter-energy + space-time plus chance and mechanical necessity --> everything], they have no case.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: As a reminder, the excerpt at no 3 again. (Do remember that reason is an aspect of the self-conscious mind):

    >>_________________

    To understand that chance + necessity are practically speaking incapable of giving rise to a mind capable of credible knowledge and reasoning, is a MAJOR advance.

    And, that is precisely what the resort to “emergence” is about. (Which in turn leads to the exposure of the self-referentially inconsistent selective hyperskepticism in the objection that design thought is appealing to “poof.” Au contraire: we routinely experience and observe the facts of design and of logical thought and of credible knowledge. manifested in artifacts. So, to infer to the presence of such in light of reliable signs of mind at work — signs of design — is reasonable. Later on, we may yet figure out “how ’twere dun,” but “THAT ’twere dun” has to be acknowledged first. And evo mat agendas and tactics stand in the way of that — up to and including censorship harassment, career busting and expulsion. Not to mention just plain old slander and false accusations or assertions. one of which the WAC 4 above responds to.]

    Let me illustrate my point by citing a remark I have used in training contexts over the years:

    ____________________

    . . . [evolutionary] materialism [a worldview that often likes to wear the mantle of "science"] . . . argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature. Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of chance.

    But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. Thus, what we subjectively experience as “thoughts” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as unintended by-products of the natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains. (These forces are viewed as ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance ["nature"] and psycho-social conditioning ["nurture"], within the framework of human culture [i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism].)

    Therefore, if materialism is true, the “thoughts” we have and the “conclusions” we reach, without residue, are produced and controlled by forces that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or validity. Of course, the conclusions of such arguments may still happen to be true, by lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” them. And, if our materialist friends then say: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must note that to demonstrate that such tests provide empirical support to their theories requires the use of the very process of reasoning which they have discredited!

    Thus, evolutionary materialism reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, immediately, that includes “Materialism.” For instance, Marxists commonly deride opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismiss qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? And, should we not simply ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is simply another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze?

    In the end, materialism is based on self-defeating logic . . . .
    ___________________

    Let’s see if we can go beyond the evo mat talking points spin games level on this one.
    >>__________________

  127. mauka, materialism is irrational and is based on inherent logical inconsistencies.

    All materialists are people of faith greater than any Christian.

  128. Onlookers (heh),

    The argument that KF keeps repeating is just a rehash of the “argument from reason” of Lewis and (later) Reppert.

    The question that Lewis and Reppert pose is this: If our thoughts are solely the product of our brains, how can they be trusted? After all, brains are physical systems composed ultimately of fundamental particles. Thus, the operation of the brain is just the end result of a large number of fundamental particles mindlessly obeying the laws of physics. How can this mindless process give rise to rational thought? If the underlying physics is mindless, then we have no way of guaranteeing that the resulting thoughts are rational, according to Lewis and Reppert. Thus, naturalism undercuts itself.

    The first error that KF makes is a common one on this blog: he fails to ask whether his argument undercuts his own position. Sure enough, it turns out that it does. If thinking is carried out not by the brain, but by some unknown immaterial entity, then KF has no way of guaranteeing that this immaterial entity operates reliably, and thus no way of guaranteeing that his thoughts are reliable. Oops.

    (An aside to KF: the flip side of “hyperskeptical” is “hyposkeptical”. Ponder that the next time you’re looking in a mirror.)

    Even worse for KF (and Lewis, and Reppert) is that they have no way of addressing this problem short of developing a “science of the soul” that explains how immaterial minds work and proves that they are reliable by construction. Good luck with that.

    Now think about the materialist’s position. We already know that it’s possible to construct computers that do arithmetic and logic reliably. We know that it’s possible to write reliable software to run on these computers, including sophisticated reasoning programs like the theorem provers I mentioned earlier in the thread. Thus, we know that reason can be mechanized in a properly constructed system.

    So the materialist is already far ahead of the nonmaterialist, who doesn’t know if it’s possible for any immaterial mind to operate correctly, much less the one that humans happen to get.

    At this point, we’ve shown that reliable, physically-based reasoning is possible. The next question is this: Do we have reason to believe that the brain itself is reliable in this way?

    The answer is yes. The materialist holds that the brain has been shaped by natural selection. Brains that can’t reason reliably get their owners killed. Individuals with better brains tend to survive and reproduce better than those with addled brains, so genetic changes that produce flawed thinking get weeded out of the population.

    The nonmaterialist has no corresponding selective process to appeal to. He just has to hope (pray?) that the mind he gets is reliable at the start. Yet again, the materialist has the advantage.

    Finally, note that natural selection doesn’t produce perfect brains capable of, for example, effortlessly visualizing geometry in 18 dimensions. Nor would we expect it to, as this trait would have had no value in the environment in which humans evolved. There would have been no selective pressure for it.

    Looking at the spectrum of human abilities (and flaws), we find that the mind has the kind of flaws you would expect it to have if it were the product of a long and kludgy evolutionary process.

    There is no reason for the nonmaterialist to expect the human mind to have these specific flaws if it is based on an immaterial entity.

    Once again, the materialist has the advantage.

    Conclusion: The argument that KF keeps flogging turns out, ironically, to be a disaster for his own nonmaterialist position, yet it strengthens the case of the materialist!

  129. B L Harville:

    IDists will strenuously deny this but they oppose evolution because it conflicts with their religious beliefs.

    But ID is NOT anti-evolution. And ID does NOT require a belief in “God”.

    IOW you don’t know what you are talking about

  130. ote to the materialists-

    If you want ID to go away all YOU have to do is to support YOUR position.

    That means demonstrating that living organisms are reducible to matter, energy, chance and necessity.

    Which means you should stop blaming ID for YOUR failures.

  131. 131

    I will bow to vox populi from both sides in regard to Nakashima. Nakashima you are un-banned, but be careful to keep your comments on the non-personal level. You will be watched closely.

  132. …be careful to keep your comments on the non-personal level. You will be watched closely.

    Will your vigilance extend to certain other posters* whose zeal sometimes overcomes their objectivity.

    Hi, Joseph!*

  133. All materialists are people of faith greater than any Christian.

    How do you know this? I suspect I may fit into the materialist category, depending on your definition, but I don’t feel imbued with great faith.

  134. Yes Alan Fox is a prime example of someone who is not interested in a discussion and has absolutely nothing to offer.

    He is basically a waste of bandwidth.

  135. Alan your position takes a great deal of faith because it doesn’t have any evidence to support it.

    If you had said evidence then you would post it.

  136. Alan your position takes a great deal of faith because it doesn’t have any evidence to support it.

    What is my position, Joe? I’d like to know, because I’m not sure myself.

  137. Mr Arrington,

    It is a pleasure to again join the discourse on this forum.

    I apologize, sir, if you felt that any of my comments were directed at a person, whether yourself or another, rather than the positions such a person held. I appreciate the offer of close scrutiny, and I only hope that the quality of my contributions will rise to deserve your attention, and the attention of others.

    Thank you, again.

    ps – I will be watching you closely, also! ;)

  138. An observation:

    Barry, at 131, makes a comment I support: “be careful to keep your comments on the non-personal level.”

    Joseph, at 134, says to Alan Fox,

    Yes Alan Fox is a prime example of someone who is not interested in a discussion and has absolutely nothing to offer.

    He is basically a waste of bandwidth.

  139. —-Allen: “Actually, this is a false statement. With the notable exception of Ernst Mayr, virtually all of the founders of the “modern evolutionary synthesis” were either completely silent on the issue of emergent properties, or asserted that such properties did not exist.”

    Plenty of Darwinists have pushed emergence right here on this thread. Indeed, that is what is happening right now. It is indeed their default position.

    Anyway, do Darwinists have a pope, if so let me know who he or she is and I will accept his or her judgment about which variety of the Darwinist fanstasy I am to accept as the official version. I guess Eugenie Scott would be the closest to a Popess that you folks have, so let’s listen in on her discussion with Robert Russell, a confused Christian Darwinist.

    —-Russell: “Ever since the 60s, philosophy of science has debunked these kind of arguments. This is a reductionist argument. Right? It’s saying you’re going to reduce mental capacities, neurophysical capacities, to physics. And there are massive arguments, which we all I think would agree with actually. I think we all agree with the anti-reductionists arguments that are out there that would say of course you have genuine epistemic claims at the level of psychology and rationality, which can’t be reduced to the claims of physics. It doesn’t…

    —-Eugenie Scott: “They’re emergent.”

    —-”Robert Russell: Right, they’re emergent–these are emergent properties and processes which emerge with more complexity.”

    That is your popess speaking, so be reverent.

  140. Ignoring the unnecessary and inaccurate comments about the status of Genie Scott, I wonder what Russell was referring to when he wrote, “Ever since the 60s, philosophy of science has debunked these kind of arguments.” It appears he was talking about this consciousness argument, and not about evolutionary biology, so I don’t think this relates to Allen’s comment about the founders of the modern evolutionary synthesis.

    And we still haven’t cleared up what Stephen understands “emergent to mean.”

    First, emergent doesn’t mean uncaused or out of nowhere, as Stephen first stated. And, as Allen pointed out, emergence isn’t a cause in and of itself, but rather a description of the result of a process by which the complex interplay of a lot of causes produces properties that were not there in the individual constituent parts.

    Stephen also said the word emergence was a science stopper, but I don’t see that. Hurricanes are an emergent phenomena, but that is not a stopper – in fact, it’s a challenge to learn even more about its properties arise.

    What I find ironic here, and what perhaps explains some of the resistance to this term, is that emergence is about complex systems and their ability to produce novelty, such as the eye of hurricane, and this subject of novelty in complex systems is one of the ostensible topics of ID. Therefore, thinking about the topic of emergence as it applies to physics and chemistry seems like it would be worthwhile, separate from the difficult subject of consciousness.

  141. As an addition to @109, I probably ought to amend my original statement since my adversaries are quick to obsess over a misplaced word or phrase and use it to avoid the main pont.

    I did say that “Darwinists have been playing this same type of game with Modern Evolutionary Synthesis. [With reference to "emergence]. Obviously, I should have said that they have been playing this game “since” and not “with” the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis, since, as we all know, Allen and many others have abandoned that model. I would have thought that the words “have been” are clear enough to indicate that I was talking about the present, but let’s go ahead and substitute “since the MET” for “with the MED,” so that we are all clear that Darwinists have made the transition from inplausable enigma [MET} to another [whatever they call their latest attempt at damage control]. How’s that.

  142. 142

    Hazel: “First, emergent doesn’t mean uncaused or out of nowhere . . . as Allen pointed out, emergence isn’t a cause in and of itself, but rather a description of the result of a process by which the complex interplay of a lot of causes produces properties that were not there in the individual constituent parts.”

    You and Allen are absolutely correct. And a shorter, pithier way of describing that which “isn’t a cause in and of itself, but rather a description of the result of a process by which the complex interplay of a lot of causes produces properties that were not there in the individual constituent parts” that you cannot begin to explain given materialist premises, is “Poof!” ;-)

    It is amusing, but I’m not kidding. That is exactly what you are saying. You are certainly not guilty of “god of the gaps” or “designer of the gaps” reasoning; you are engaging in “emergence of the gaps” or (a more honest and descriptive phrase) “poof of the gaps” reasoning. You confirm, without intending to, the thesis of the OP. Thank you.

  143. 143

    hazel:

    What I find ironic here, and what perhaps explains some of the resistance to this term, is that emergence is about complex systems and their ability to produce novelty, such as the eye of hurricane, and this subject of novelty in complex systems is one of the ostensible topics of ID.

    You’re exactly right. The IDists here do oppose emergence for exactly this reason. From what I’ve read on this site they believe that novelty can only come about by magic and never by a natural process. Novelty, they say, must be the result of a mind, which they also believe can not be natural. Any minds except for the Intelligent Designer’s must have been produced by the Intelligent Designer. And all the while they repeat the mantra that ID has absolutely nothing to do with religion, which coincidentally they talk about constantly on this site.

  144. —–Hazel: And we still haven’t cleared up what Stephen understands “emergent to mean.”

    Well, let’s think about this shall we. If emergence is going to be used as an alternative explanation to design, then we can’t say that we are merely descibing something. On the other hand, if we are merely describing something, then what we are describing may well be a manifestation of something that was designed. So, all I can say to Darwinists at this point is, please make up your mind.

    —-”First, emergent doesn’t mean uncaused or out of nowhere, as Stephen first stated. And, as Allen pointed out, emergence isn’t a cause in and of itself, but rather a description of the result of a process by which the complex interplay of a lot of causes produces properties that were not there in the individual constituent parts.”

    If that is what you mean by emergence, then why can’t this interplay have been designed.

    —–Hurricanes are an emergent phenomena, but that is not a stopper – in fact, it’s a challenge to learn even more about its properties arise.

    It is only a science stopper if you accept emergence as the final explanation. But ID does not accept design as a final explanation either. If you are not using “emergence” as an explanation, then why use the term except to create the illusion of an explanation while labeling it as a description. If a hurricane is merely “described” as emergent, then why could that description not be applied to the design model?

    —-”What I find ironic here, and what perhaps explains some of the resistance to this term, is that emergence is about complex systems and their ability to produce novelty, such as the eye of hurricane, and this subject of novelty in complex systems is one of the ostensible topics of ID.”

    Wait a minute. A moment ago, you said that emergence is not a cause, but now you say that it “produces novelty.”

    Here is something for both you and Allen to consider. If novelty changes occur, there are only three possible explanations. Someone or something is changing it in real time, [unlikely] or it EMERGES or it UNFOLDS. I want both of you to consider the meaning of both of those words, because I don’t think you are thinking these things through.

  145. 145

    StephenB:

    But ID does not accept design as a final explanation either.

    It doesn’t? You mean IDists are interested in the identity of the Intelligent Designer and the methods of said designer?

  146. 146

    StephenB, “But ID does not accept design as a final explanation either.” I’m a bit surprised at that. What does ID do scientifically once it has concluded that something is designed?

  147. 147

    I asked a question above that I’ll repeat just out of curiosity. What do ID proponents think of non-human animal minds? StephenB has appealed to the “soul” as designed/created. This would seem to put animals on a different footing altogether. So: would a material explanation of mental activity in non-human animals be problematic for ID?

  148. 148

    B L Harville writes: “From what I’ve read on this site they believe that novelty can only come about by magic and never by a natural process. Novelty, they say, must be the result of a mind . . .”

    Then you have not been paying attention, for you are utterly wrong. Every ID proponent of whom I am aware agrees with Behe in Edge of Evolution. “Novelty” of a certain stripe can come about by purely naturalistic means – drug resistance in bacteria for example. But the type of novelty that can reasonably be attributed to the interplay of chance and necessity is restricted within narrow bounds, perhaps 1-3 base points. Simultaneous coordinated changes in hundreds of base points resulting in a new species (another name for which is the addition of new FCSI) is byond the ken of chance and necessity, and only blinkered chance worshipers believe otherwise.

  149. 149

    “If novelty changes [sic] occur, there are only three possible explanations. Someone or something is changing it in real time, [unlikely] or it EMERGES or it UNFOLDS. I want both of you to consider the meaning of both of those words, because I don’t think you are thinking these things through.”

    It sounds like you’re saying the hurricane is front-loaded into the winds and temperatures. But that’s not how it works: emergence in science isn’t a developmental or teleological term. The hurricane does not unfold from the chrysalis of the local winds and temperatures. It really is a new, complex, and naturally produced system with an high level of organization and complexity. Unless you’re going to attribute the cause of every hurricane to God or Aeolus.

  150. —B L Harville: “The IDists here do oppose emergence for exactly this reason. From what I’ve read on this site they believe that novelty can only come about by magic and never by a natural process”

    It is not the ID community that is proposing poof as an explanation, or , excuse me, description, or whatever account your latest attempt at damage control will inspire.

  151. —David: “It sounds like you’re saying the hurricane is front-loaded into the winds and temperatures. But that’s not how it works: emergence in science isn’t a developmental or teleological term. The hurricane does not unfold from the chrysalis of the local winds and temperatures. It really is a new, complex, and naturally produced system with an high level of organization and complexity. Unless you’re going to attribute the cause of every hurricane to God or Aeolus.”

    No, I agree. But the conditions for all that have been designed. Nature’s laws do not come from out of nowhere.

  152. 152

    “It is not the ID community that is proposing poof as an explanation.” Most evolutionist would say that design amounts to “poof.”

    Flagellum: came into being at once: poof!

    Different species: came into being at once: poof!

  153. 153

    David Kellogg “StephenB, ‘But ID does not accept design as a final explanation either.’ I’m a bit surprised at that. What does ID do scientifically once it has concluded that something is designed?”

    David, let’s consider your question through the prism of a real world example. Kepler was a devoted Christian. Far from stopping his science, his theism spurred it. He wrote once of his work: “I was merely thinking God’s thoughts after him. Since we astronomers are priests of the highest God in regard to the book of nature, it benefits us to be thoughtful, not of the glory of our minds, but rather, above all else, of the glory of God.”

    A Christian biologist might paragraphs Kepler: ““I was merely thinking God’s thoughts after him. Since we biologists are priests of the highest God in regard to the book of living things, it benefits us to be thoughtful, not of the glory of our minds, but rather, above all else, of the glory of God.”

    I am gaveling the “minds of animals” bunny trail you suggest we go down. It is too far a field from what I want to discuss in this thread.

  154. —-David: “What do ID proponents think of non-human animal minds? StephenB has appealed to the “soul” as designed/created. This would seem to put animals on a different footing altogether. So: would a material explanation of mental activity in non-human animals be problematic for ID?”

    As far as I know, ID doesn’t deal with any of that. Not speaking for the ID community, I would hold that both humans and animals have souls, but animals do not have rational souls. I think if I go beyond that, I will distract from the thread.

  155. 155

    B L Harville writes: “‘StephenB: But ID does not accept design as a final explanation either.’ It doesn’t? You mean IDists are interested in the identity of the Intelligent Designer and the methods of said designer?”

    You misconstrue* StephenB’s argument. See my [153] for what StephenB is driving at.

    *[Charity compels me to use the word “misconstrue” and not “distort,” but I must admit I have my doubts]

  156. 156

    David Kellogg: “Most evolutionist would say that design amounts to ‘poof.’”

    Indeed they do. I said as much in the OP. The purpose of this thread is to point out that materialists have a special kind of “poof” to “describe” [Hazel’s and Allen’s word BTW] the existence of that which cannot exist on their premises.

  157. —-David, “Flagellum: came into being at once: poof!”

    Is there an argument hidden in there somewhere crying to get out.

    —-”Different species: came into being at once: poof!”

    I am begninning to think that you have not read a single word of ID literature.

  158. 158

    Barry Arrington:

    “Novelty” of a certain stripe can come about by purely naturalistic means – drug resistance in bacteria for example. But the type of novelty that can reasonably be attributed to the interplay of chance and necessity is restricted within narrow bounds, perhaps 1-3 base points. Simultaneous coordinated changes in hundreds of base points resulting in a new species (another name for which is the addition of new FCSI) is byond the ken of chance and necessity, and only blinkered chance worshipers believe otherwise.

    By novelty I was referring to the evolution of new forms and functions a bit more dramatic than resistance in bacteria – the sort of evolution that cdesign proponentists refuse to believe can happen. For example, the development of wrist bones and fingers in Tiktaalik.

  159. 159

    Barry Arrington,
    Kepler was not invoking an Intelligent Designer in his work. He seperated his religious beliefs from science. You are the one who is “misconstruing*”.

    *[Charity compels me to use the word “misconstrue” and not “distort,” but I must admit I have my doubts]

  160. 160

    BarryA [153], I’m not asking what a Christian who is a scientist might do: I’m well aware that a person can be a scientist and a Christian. I’m asking what ID does as ID after it arrives at the design conclusion.

  161. —-B L Harville: “Kepler was not invoking an Intelligent Designer in his work. He seperated his religious beliefs from science. You are the one who is “misconstruing*””

    I am amazed that even facts do not move you. Kepler’s quote was Kepler’s quote, and it clarified his world view and the extent to which it informed his science. Obviously, there was nothing in that world view that prevented him from separating his religious beliefs from his science. Similary, there is nothing in a an ID scientists world view that prevents him from separating his beliefs from his science.

  162. —-David Kellogg: “BarryA [153], I’m not asking what a Christian who is a scientist might do: I’m well aware that a person can be a scientist and a Christian. I’m asking what ID does as ID after it arrives at the design conclusion.”

    He starts reverse engineering, or course.

  163. 163

    StephenB:

    Similary, there is nothing in a an ID scientists world view that prevents him from separating his beliefs from his science.

    When you look at a species and say god-did-it you are most definitely not separating your religion from your science.

  164. Mr StephenB,
    No, I agree. But the conditions for all that have been designed. Nature’s laws do not come from out of nowhere.

    So I think we all agree that ‘emergent’ properties are simply aggregate properties. Hurricanes are aggregates. Subtract enough of one of their ingredients and they fall apart. You can’t make a hurricane by spinning two atoms around each other. There is no more telic ‘poof’ involved in a hurricane than in a dust cloud collapsing into a rotating disk around a star. Both are simply ensembles seeking a lower energy state. The obvious organization of these parts of the ensemble is more than compensated for by the heat energy radiating away from them.

    I think you are better off to argue as you are for the reduction of emergent properties to the laws of nature, and not drag in the state of the ensemble. “Matter in motion” is, as Gil Dodgen spoke of, a cartoon. But to ask where the laws of Nature came from is to revisit the Shermer thread. Do you want to go there? :)

    I think that for this thread it suffices to say that no one holds ‘emergence’ to be a scientific explanation of anything.

  165. 165

    B L Harville at [159]: “Kepler was not invoking an Intelligent Designer in his work. He seperated his religious beliefs from science. You are the one who is “misconstruing.”

    This may be the single most absurd statement I have seen in all my years of posting here at UD. BL, because the plain facts are inconvenient for your argument you can’t just say they do not exist and expect to get away with it.

    For the onlookers, this is from Wikki (surely no friend of ID):

    As he indicated in the title, Kepler thought he had revealed God’s geometrical plan for the universe. Much of Kepler’s enthusiasm for the Copernican system stemmed from his theological convictions about the connection between the physical and the spiritual; the universe itself was an image of God, with the Sun corresponding to the Father, the stellar sphere to the Son, and the intervening space between to the Holy Spirit. His first manuscript of Mysterium contained an extensive chapter reconciling heliocentrism with biblical passages that seemed to support geocentrism.

    The whole article is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Kepler

    BL, when you say something so outrageously and obviously false, I am compelled to believe one of two things: (1) you are intentionally distorting the historical record to score cheap rhetorical points in this debate; or (2) you are deeply stupid and don’t know better. Charity compels me to conclude the latter, but either way, I will not allow commenters to post such outrageous falsehoods on this site with impugnity. You are in the moderation sandbox.

  166. 166

    David Kellogg: “BarryA [153], I’m not asking what a Christian who is a scientist might do: I’m well aware that a person can be a scientist and a Christian. I’m asking what ID does as ID after it arrives at the design conclusion.”

    And my point at [153] is that after he reaches a design conclusion an ID theorist does exactly what Kepler did. Kepler reached a design conclusion and then he set about researching the details of the design. That’s what he meant by “thinking God’s thoughts after him.”

    Kepler’s reverence and awe of God was not a scientific show stopper. Properly understood it spurs advances in science by men and women motivated to suss out the details of the design.

  167. —B L Harville: “When you look at a species and say god-did-it you are most definitely not separating your religion from your science.”

    This is getting ridiculous. Please go to the FAQ and study questions 1,4,5, and 39. It is the best way to prepare for dialogue on these matters.

  168. —-Mr. Nakashima: “But to ask where the laws of Nature came from is to revisit the Shermer thread. Do you want to go there?”

    Just as life doesn’t arrive via “poof,” the universe or the laws of nature do not arrive via “poof.” The universe was designed and “fine tuned” for life, and the planet earth was the designated place for its arrival. The “Privileged Planet” hypothesis has more going for it than just about any other scientific theory. The evidence is overwhelming. That is why Anthony Flew, the world’s most famous atheist, finally confessed that “There is a God.”

  169. As someone with a background in philosophy, I’d like to make a few brief comments on the issues raised.

    Regarding reduction, emergence and supervenience: these philosophical terms have multiple definitions in the literature.

    One place where I might suggest that people begin is Dr. Richard Cameron’s brilliant dissertation, Teleology In Aristotle And Contemporary Biology: An Account of The Nature Of Life – especially pages 254 to 279. I think Richard Cameron’s work will be congenial to contributors of all points of view, as he has something that will please nearly everyone here: he is both an avowed Aristotelian (and hence a believer in final causes) and a thoroughgoing Darwinist.

    One point which Cameron makes is that belief in emergence is perfectly compatible with very strong varieties of reduction:

    Again, however, emergentists need not fear and may positively endorse the search for this type of a reductive account of emergent novelties. They may affirm the existence of causal correlations between basal conditions and emergent properties strong enough to support the formulation of laws and theories that microcausally explain the emergence of emergent novelities. Nevertheless, there remains clear sense to the emergentist’s claim that having a well confirmed explanatory theory of how Xs give rise to Ys does not entail that Ys are ‘nothing over and above’ Xs. Ys may still constitute a genuine – and in a sense still to be defined an irreducible – addition to the ontology of the world conceived only in terms of the Xs (p. 269).

    The only kind of reduction which is fatal to emergentism is reduction by property identity, as when one property is actually equated with another – for instance, the temperature of an ideal gas can be defined as the mean kinetic energy of its molecules. Thus “[a] candidate emergent property qualifies as a genuine emergent novelty if and only if it is not identical in kind to a kind of property which can be had by the component parts of the system from which it emerges in isolation from structures that type” (p. 270).

    Cameron regards Aristotelian final causality as a genuinely emergent property, which is causally efficacious in the world – in other words, he believes in and argues for the reality of top-down causation.

    Thus Aristotelian final causation (or the possession of intrinsic ends), which Cameron regards as the defining property of life, is a strongly ontologically emergent property for Cameron. The property of final causation, although causally dependent for its existence on the interactions between the physical parts of an organism, cannot be identified with any of these interactions, either singly or in combination; also, this property possesses causal powers which are not found in the parts and their interactions.

    Cameron is not a vitalist; as he makes plain throughout his work (see p. 40), he believes that the property of being alive depends for its existence on the interactions between the physical parts of an organism. Thus:

    It is a fundamental claim of emergentists, recall, that emergent properties and their powers are causally dependent upon the interactions of base properties and entities… (p. 278).

    A good discussion of the property of supervenience can be found in the article, Supervenience in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

    A short extract:

    The core idea of supervenience is captured by the slogan, “there cannot be an A-difference without a B-difference.” … A-properties supervene on B-properties if and only if a difference in A-properties requires a difference in B-properties — or, equivalently, if and only if exact similarity with respect to B-properties guarantees exact similarity with respect to A-properties.

    Now, in this sense, the property of being alive clearly supervenes upon the properties of an organism’s parts: it is not possible to have two entities with the same physico-chemical properties, where one is alive and the other dead.

    As regards consciousness, I personally would be happy to say that it supervenes upon the properties of an animal’s brain and central nervous system (some scientists would add the interactional properties between the animal and its environment to this list of underlying properties, but that has little bearing on the point here). To say otherwise would imply that there could be two animals with the same physical properties, where one animal possesses consciousness and the other lacks it.

    I do think, though, that there is a kind of reflective consciousness which is unique to human beings – no other animal, as far as I know, says to itself: “Isn’t consciousness a wonderful thing!” I don’t regard this kind of consciousness as a supervenient property.

    The boundary between humans and other animals is notoriously difficult to specify in scientific terms. I would recommend Moti Nissani’s Web page at http://www.is.wayne.edu/mnissani/ for an overview of the recent literature, presented in a highly attractive form. Nissani’s lecture, Can Animals (Especially Elephants) Think? is especially illuminating.

    Nissani tentatively concludes that elephants do not understand simple causal relationships (e.g. I need to lift the lid of the bucket to get the food) and that both chimps and elephants do not realize that people can see. In other words, they lack what psychologists call a “theory of mind.”

    If Nissani’s conclusions hold up, there are some pretty profound differences between humans and chimps – and presumably, other animals as well.

    Much has been made of the feats of Betty the crow, who can fashion a hook to get a piece of meat. At first blush, this seems to indicate rationality; but can Betty justify her actions if we ask her, “Why did you do it that way?” Does she evince any capacity for critical thinking?

    Critical thinking is not something yu can put in a box. It cannot be identified with a single process or set of processes; rather, it requires one to take a step back from one’s accustomed ways of thinking and re-evaluate them.

    It is my contention that critical thinking must be treated as an essentially open-ended process, and that to treat it otherwise would be fatal to the scientific enterprise. Engaging in critical thinking involves more than just looking up a Web site on logical fallacies and “running through the list” to see that one’s own reasoning is immune from any fallacy. For the enterprise of critical thinking is a never-ending quest: new ways of thinking are continually being discovered and evaluated, and new flaws in people’s thinking are continually being identified.

    What has all this got to do with (i) science and (ii) materialism? Suppose that the enterprise of critical thinking turned out to be an emergent property of the human organism, which additionally supervenes upon the brain’s neural network properties, so that (theoretically) two individuals with the same neural architecture, placed in the same environment, would necessarily have the same thoughts. Since the brain itself is finite, the enterprise of critical thinking, if generated by the brain, would then be limited in terms of the number of “creative moves” we could make, and also the number of flaws of thinking we could spot, at any given point in time. In other words, even critical thinking would be algorithmic. For my purposes, it does not matter what kinds of algorithms we engage in during critical thinking – heuristics, Turing procedures or what have you. The point I am making is that on a materialist account, even our critical thinking would have systematic blind spots, at any given time.

    What would that mean, in scientific terms? It would mean that there are probably scientific hypotheses out there which our brains are unable to dream up, because they’re wired the wrong way. It also means that there are flaws in our hypotheses that we’re unable to spot, because of our neural limitations. Finally, it means that there are scientific hypotheses that we’re attached to, for the wrong reasons – could Darwinism be one of them? Haha – that hold an unreasonable sway over our thinking, but our brains are too set in their ways for us to consider the possibility that some other hypothesis might be right instead.

    In other words, on a materialist account, science itself is a make-shift enterprise, and we have no particular reason to believe that we’ll move any closer to the truth with the passage of time. We could easily get side-tracked in our task and stuck up a scientific blind alley. There could be all sorts of reasons why we fail to discover the truth, and the much-vaunted success of the scientific enterprise over the past 400 years could be just a lucky accident which ends tomorrow. Mauka claims that “[i]ndividuals with better brains tend to survive and reproduce better than those with addled brains,” but even a “better” brain may not be able to come up with the right hypothesis, and practical survival skills are not the same as the skills you need to dream up the Theory of Relativity. Also, materialism entails that at any given time, we all probably accept a large number of scientific hypotheses on irrational grounds.

    Materialism also implies that like it or not, we’re probably doomed as a species within the next 200 years. Sooner or later, the complexity of our problems will outstrip the capacity of our finite brains to meet them. Global warming is already giving us enough of a headache; after that it’ll be something else (ocean acidification?), and we’ll probably be laid low in the end by something out of the blue that our stupid brains didn’t see coming.

    Now, most scientific materialists believe all this stuff anyway; they just don’t let on, for fear of alarming the populace. If challenged, most of them will retort: “So what? Science may be riddled with blind spots, but it’s the best procedure we’ve got. What’s your alternative? Blind faith? The Inquisition?”

    No, my alternative is a scientific enterprise which works better than modern science, because it is slightly more modest: it enquires about everything except one question: how is it that we are able to reason critically? If we forego asking this question, and just assume that critical thought is unbounded, we can avoid the skepticism that materialism led us into.

    For it is my contention that it was precisely the brash attempt to put critical thought in a box as part of a scientific quest to explain everything within a materialist paradigm that got us into trouble in the first place. If we do that, and try to make critical thought supervene upon brain processes, then we have to identify critical thought a finite algorithm or set of algorithms, which may fail to properly grasp the cosmos we live in.

    But if you are prepared to just assume at the outset that critical thought is an open, unbounded process which is not limited to a set of algorithms, then if you are a scientist, you will feel confident that your mind can handle any task the world throws at it. You will expect that as you make further discoveries, you come closer to the truth. You will realize that there are flaws in your thinking, but you will also realize that you (or your colleagues) are fully capable of spotting them, with time, patience and argumentation. You will expect the spirited exchange of opposing ideas to bear fruit, and help people to sharpen their thinking.

    Of course, you will encounter many limitations in your thinking – such as your inability to think in 18 dimensions. But then you will step back, ask yourself why – “My poor brain sees the world in three dimensions” – and design devices (computers) that enable to to get around the limitations of your brain. In other words, using your unbounded mind, you will be able to step back from your brain and overcome its deficiencies.

    So there’s the choice. Accept as an “article of faith” that critical thought is a universal tool that is applicable to any problem in the material world, and you can do good science, but you won’t be able to explain everything, because you’ll never know how you think. That’s your one “blind spot” as it were: you can understand the world, but you can never hope to understand yourself.

    But if you insist on explaining everything, you’ll explain yourself away too, and cut yourself – and your science – down to size. Gone is the magical quest for Truth; all our kludge of a brain can hope to do is make a set of lucky guesses that might get us through the next 200 years – or might lead us up the garden path. Some science!

    Now, a scientist could accept as an “article of faith” that critical thought is a universal tool, without asking why (methodological agnosticism). That’s reasonable. But if he/she asks, “What kind of entity would guarantee that I can think straight?” then he/she is asking a metaphysical question, not a scientific one. In that case, the only satisfactory answer is: a Being whose nature it is to know everything that can be known. (“But how does it do that?” – Don’t ask me! And why should we expect to understand the answer the answer to that question, anyway?)

    A Being like that, if it designed the cosmos, is likely to have made the world’s problems tractable to our minds, so we don’t have to waste our time wallowing about some unforeseeable environmental Armageddon. We just need to stay sharp and proactive.

    I’ll conclude with a quote from the late Canadian neuroscientist Wilder Penfield, whose research led him to reject supervenience on empirical grounds:

    The electrode can present to the patient various crude sensations. It can cause him to turn head and eyes, or to move limbs, or to vocalize and swallow. It may recall vivid re-experiences of the past, or present to him an illusion that present experience is familiar, or that the things he sees are growing large and coming near. But he remains aloof. He passes judgment on it all. He says, “Things seem familiar,” not “I have been through this before.” He says, “Things are growing larger,” but he does not move for fear of being run over. If the electrode moves his right hand, he does not say, “I wanted to move it.” He may, however, reach over with the left hand and oppose the action. There is no place in the cerebral cortex where electrical stimulation will cause a patient to believe or to decide (Wilder Penfield, 1975, “The Mystery of the Mind,” p. 77, emphasis mine).

    Well, materialists, the ball’s in your court. The empirical evidence is actually against you, and if you were right, science wouldn’t be much of an enterprise anyway. Not sharing your narrow mindset, I am confident that science will indeed discover the Truth about the world – even if who we are will always be a mystery to us.

  170. 170

    From StephenB’s and Barry’s comments I get the sense that there’s no step particular to ID after the design inference: that is, once design is concluded, the ID researcher does everything the same (with a different attitude, perhaps, and while excluding evolution). Again, if Step 1 is “find design,” what’s Step 2?

  171. 171

    Barry Arrington,
    If you were to write a computer program to simulate the solar system with Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, nowhere in that program would you find God. On the other hand, if you wanted to simulate Intelligent Design you’d have to include God (or the Intelligent Designer(s)). There is a categorical difference.

    This will be my last comment at UD after your nasty comment above.

    Sincerely,
    Benjamin Lee Harville

  172. 172

    David Kellogg: “From StephenB’s and Barry’s comments I get the sense that there’s no step particular to ID after the design inference: that is, once design is concluded, the ID researcher does everything the same (with a different attitude, perhaps, and while excluding evolution).

    Yes, I think that is probably true in many if not all cases. Science is always about “sussing out the details,” whether one starts from a materialist or an ID position. Since the ID theorist’s explanatory paradigm is more robust than the materialist’s, he will probably be more open minded and not go up as many blind alleys.

  173. mauka said:

    Now think about the materialist’s position. We already know that it’s possible to construct computers that do arithmetic and logic reliably. We know that it’s possible to write reliable software to run on these computers, including sophisticated reasoning programs like the theorem provers I mentioned earlier in the thread. Thus, we know that reason can be mechanized in a properly constructed system. [emphasis mine]

    Having apparently missed KF’s point about MIND always coming from MIND, makua goes on to crow:

    So the materialist is already far ahead of the nonmaterialist, who doesn’t know if it’s possible for any immaterial mind to operate correctly, much less the one that humans happen to get.

    Perhaps those intelligently designed computers you mention can be said to be thinking our thoughts after us in the same way Kepler saw his own thoughts in relation to God’s. In any case, you’ve strengthened the claim that MIND comes from MIND, which can hardly be said to advance the materialist claim far ahead of the nonmaterialist.

  174. 174

    Barry Arrington @165

    I think there is a common mistake made when comparing a scientists religious beliefs and their scientific findings. Basically it should be understood that there is a separation of the following two ideas: that God did something and how God did something. Look at the Keplar quote and notice that Keplar’s excitement stemmed from the fact that he had seen “God’s geometrical plan for the universe.” In other words, the exciting point was knowing how God did what he did. Knowing that he did it simply wasn’t enough. This is true of many scientists, including Newton, another common icon of the “God did it” scientist here on UD because of his strong religious beliefs. Newton knew that God did it. There was no question at all on that point. However, that simply wasn’t a good enough answer. Newton’s science was actually effective because he was trying to figure out exactly how God did it.

  175. #173 Care to demonstrate the MIND you speak of?

  176. As far as I can tell, there was no response to mauka’s “tallying up the score” on materialist theories of consciousness in #20. I see that now he has added three more issues in #175.

    Like John Davison, I think my point of view on this will be either ignored, or rejected by simple assertion (in some cases insultingly). Most here, even the ID advocates, appear to ascribe to the conviction that psi and psychical phenomena do not really exist, either due to scientism or viewing it as contradictory to Scripture. It is the obstinate refusal to accept the validity of the evidence, implying that thousands of witnesses, experiencers and research investigators have been deluded or lying over the last century or more. It is too bad, because this excludes an extremely important area relevant to some of these debates.

    mauka (#20): “Let’s tally up the score:

    1a. Materialists haven’t (adequately) explained how consciousness can arise from a physical brain.”

    Yes, though of course there have been a lot of proposed “explanations” that hold no water whatsoever.

    “1b. Nonmaterialists haven’t explained how consciousness can arise from an immaterial entity.”

    Yes, though again there are number of proposed explanations.

    “Result: Tie”

    I suppose, but this is an unimportant straw man issue, since the absence of a viable hypothesis or theory explaining it has nothing to do with the reality or truth of the proposed entity or phenomenon itself.

    “2a. We know that the brain exists, and we know that messing with the brain can affect consciousness or make it disappear altogether.”

    Of course. But we don’t know for a fact that human consciousness is one with and identical with the brain in some way. This is just one explanation for these facts, and one which ignores the data outlined below.

    “2b. We don’t know that the putative immaterial entity exists, and if it does exist, we don’t know if it is involved with or has any effect on consciousness.”

    Depends on what you mean by “know” – another debate in itself. We do know that there is a huge body of evidence in psi and psychical phenomena that clearly points to the mind being some sort of mobile center of consciousness that inhabits the physical brain and body in order to express in the physical world (interactive dualism). Examples are telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis and precognition. Other examples include many types of psychical phenomena that demonstrate the apparent action of discrete discarnate self-aware personalities, clearly trying to communicate. Other psychical phenomena like NDEs usually involve reporting a self of some sort leaving the body and experiencing the apparent initial stages of physical death. Other data like reincarnation birthmark evidence clearly makes a link between the deceased and the present person. All of these phenomena and more involving a lot of “veridical information” (that is, independently verified).

    The only viable hypotheses to explain this data are either “super psi” or survival. Super psi is proposing that the phenomena arise from an almost unlimited psychic and data integration capacity, invented or imagined ad hoc to attempt to explain each particular case. Survival of the personality is a better explanation – it encompasses all the data very well. Even the super psi hypothesis requires the human mind to be much more than the physical brain as is believed by materialist neuroscience.

    “Advantage: materialist”

    As per the above, it is much closer to “advantage: nonmaterialists”

    “3a. We know that reasoning can be mechanized, as in theorem-proving systems.”

    Yes. But this is not the issue. Of course logical processes are mechanized via computer systems. We don’t really know that computer systems and computation of any speed and complexity will ever be able to actually achieve consciousness and self-awareness. That is another big debate, not a “known”.

    “3b. We don’t know that immaterial entities can reason.”

    Again, depends on what you mean by “know”. The evidence in 2b above clearly points to some nonmaterial entities in fact being able to reason, in their actions as apparent discarnate minds.

    “Advantage: materialist”

    3a is irrelevant. The important issue is computer consciousness. We don’t know the answer conclusively, but there are many good reasons to suspect the nonmaterialist position. 3a and 3b are actually a straw man argument. As per 2a and b, the final assessment is a lot closer to “advantage: nonmaterialists”.

    “4a. Natural selection gives the materialist a plausible basis for the reliability of brain-based reasoning.”

    This is shaky. Presupposes the plausibility of random variation + natural selection being the sole mechanism bringing about consciousness and therefore reasoning ability. This is a fundamental debate in this blog, not an assumption.

    “4b. Nonmaterialists have no plausible basis for arguing that their reason is reliable.”

    Really? Logic is a fundamental aspect of existence, and therefore it would have to be a fundamental aspect of immaterial consciousness. 2 + 2 = 4 for a mind whether it is ultimately nonmaterial or material. Nonmaterialists and materialists both use reason and logic in dealing with the world, and it works. Empirically, it is reliable regardless of metaphysics, regardless of its origin, and there is no requirement that its origin be known.

    “Advantage: materialist”

    More of a tie.

    mauka, #175:
    “5a. For the materialist, it is trivial to explain how the physical world can affect the mind through our senses. After all, the world, our sense organs, our nerves and our minds are all physical, so the interactions between them are just normal physical interactions.”

    OK

    “5b. The nonmaterialist has no explanation for how the physical world can bridge the gap in order to affect the immaterial mind.”

    Irrelevant for all the empirical reasons enumerated in 2b. And a hypothesis may be the case whether or not there is a good mechanism known for it within the existing paradigm. Or no advances would have ever been made in science.

    “Advantage: materialist”

    This more of a tie.

    “6a. Moving in the other direction, it is trivial for the materialist to explain how the mind can affect the body and through it, the world. Mind, nerve, muscle and world are all physical (to the materialist), so their interactions are all physical.”

    OK

    “6b. The nonmaterialist, however, has no explanation for how the immaterial mind can bridge the gap to influence the physical body, move the muscles and affect the physical world.”

    Good point, though there are a number of explanatory models for various versions of interactive dualism. However, this is irrelevant for all the empirical reasons enumerated in 2b. And again, a hypothesis may be the case whether or not there is a good mechanism known for it within the existing paradigm. Or no advances would have ever been made in science.

    “Advantage: materialist”

    More a tie.

    “7a. Looking at the spectrum of human abilities and flaws, we find that the mind has the sort of characteristics you would expect it to have if it were the product of a long and kludgy evolutionary process.”

    Please explain. The actual capacities of the human brain are way beyond any abilities that could have been selected for in evolution. Consider creative genius. This relates to the creative flights of fancy indulged in by the evolutionary psychologists, who imagine that all human values, emotions, and creative capacities were somehow selected for over vast ages. This subissue is a separate debate not an arguing point of fact.

    “7b. The nonmaterialist has no reason to expect any particular pattern of strengths and flaws in the human mind.”

    Really? Nonmaterialists of many types have plenty of reasons for such expectations. Let’s postulate a sort of dualistic Darwinism (not that I espouse it), where the same predictions are made as materialistic Darwinism; the sole difference is that the
    dualistic version presumes that what these brains have evolved to do (at
    least in part) is to access independently existing consciousness, rather
    than generate it. Of course it would be surprising if mind had not
    physically influenced the evolutionary process in the direction of an
    intentionality to manifest in physical bodies, rather than just waiting around and hoping the blind walk might just happen to produce the requisite brains and bodies. Such a process would be partially constrained by natural selection, but the human mind’s characteristics would not be entirely its result.

    “Advantage: materialist”

    For the reasons explained, more “advantage: nonmaterialism”

    “The current tally? The materialist has the advantage on 6 of the 7 issues. The nonmaterialist has the advantage on none. There is one tie.”

    I count: On 3 out of 7 issues, the advantage is with the nonmaterialist. On 0 out of the 7 issues, the advantage is with the materialists. Nonmaterialist metaphysics fits the facts better.

  177. 177

    Kris_Censored writes: “In other words, the exciting point was knowing how God did what he did. Knowing that he did it simply wasn’t enough. This is true of many scientists, including Newton, another common icon of the “God did it” scientist here on UD because of his strong religious beliefs. Newton knew that God did it. There was no question at all on that point. However, that simply wasn’t a good enough answer. Newton’s science was actually effective because he was trying to figure out exactly how God did it.”

    How very odd. We are in complete agreement on this point, yet you think I disagree. Why is that?

  178. I missed something, on 5a. “5a. For the materialist, it is trivial to explain how the physical world can affect the mind through our senses. After all, the world, our sense organs, our nerves and our minds are all physical, so the interactions between them are just normal physical interactions.”

    This isn’t OK, because these are not all the known interactions. It again ignores the evidence of parapsychology, that minds are indeed affected by other minds and by remote places and events through phenomena such as telepathy and clairvoyance. These interactions are not explainable by the materialist.

    5b is a combination of irrelevant and wrong, so the assessment on 5 is “Advantage: nonmaterialists” .

    This makes the final count: on 4 out of 7 issues, the advantage is with the nonmaterialist. On 0 out of the 7 issues, the advantage is with the materialists. Nonmaterialist metaphysics fits the facts better.

  179. Missed the same point with 6a (got tired and in too much of a hurry to finish): “Moving in the other direction, it is trivial for the materialist to explain how the mind can affect the body and through it, the world. Mind, nerve, muscle and world are all physical (to the materialist), so their interactions are all physical.”

    This again ignores the evidence of parapsychology, that minds can remotely influence the world through nonmaterial means as in psychokinesis and directed telepathy. So since 6b is a combination of irrelevant and wrong this changes 6 to: “advantage nonmaterialist”.

    This makes the final count: on 5 out of 7 issues, the advantage is with the nonmaterialist. On 0 out of the 7 issues, the advantage is with the materialists. Nonmaterialist metaphysics fits the facts better.

  180. In #165 Barry Arrington posted an excerpt from a Wikipedia article on Johannes Kepler that, to my mind at least, convincingly refuted Benjamin Lee Harville’s assertion in #159 that “Kepler was not invoking an Intelligent Designer in his work.”

    That should have been sufficient, and had Mr. Arrington left it at that, I suspect that, if Mr. Harville had been a gentleman and had been convinced (as I was) that Barry had made his point well (and supported it with evidence), he might have conceded the point and moved on.

    However, Mr. Arrington chose to end his comment with this:

    “BL, when you say something so outrageously and obviously false, I am compelled to believe one of two things: (1) you are intentionally distorting the historical record to score cheap rhetorical points in this debate; or (2) you are deeply stupid and don’t know better. Charity compels me to conclude the latter, but either way, I will not allow commenters to post such outrageous falsehoods on this site with impugnity. You are in the moderation sandbox.

    This was precisely my point when earlier I noted that allowing people to post arguments that can either be easily refuted and/or shown to be deliberately false is generally more valuable to both the participants and onlookers in a debate such as this than simply summarily banning the person posting the comment.

    Furthermore, in rereading Mr. Harville’s comment at #159, I cannot find anything in the comment that would constitute a personal attack against either Barry or anyone else participating in this debate.

    Ergo, it seems to me as if Mr. Harville was placed on moderation for the “sin” of posting an easily refuted argument, and not for breaking any of the rules of civil discussion for which moderation rules are generally instituted.

    Under the circumstance, I can sympathize with Mr. Harville in his stated intention not to participate further in this venue. And he has what appears to me to be a valid point: how is one expected to learn from one’s mistakes if they are construed as originating in a mens rea rather than a mistaken intellectual position?

    Indeed, it appears to me that the only person to have attacked another person’s character, rather than their argument in this case was Mr. Arrington, rather than Mr. Harville.

    I recommend that everyone who is interested in pursuing this debate with some modicum of civility and respect read the comments and follow the links posted here:

    http://designparadigm.blogsome.....-civility/

    My good friend and colleague (and dedicated intellectual opponent and ID supporter) Hannah Maxson wrote this about the problem of “broken windows” and civility in the course of intellectual debates:

    “It’s easy when you’re arguing passionately about something to feel the other person is stupid, dumb or just plain idiotic. Maybe in other places on or off-line insults and ridicule have been the usual coin of trade. However, here it’s different. We in the IDEA club have consistently felt that’s it very important to argue logically without resorting to ad hominem attacks or other insulting jibes.”

    She then quoted part of an article on the subject of the “broken window” theory of social dysfunction:

    …What we’re seeing in the marketplace of ideas today is a disturbing growth of incivility that follows and confirms the broken windows theory. Alas, this breakdown of civil norms is not a failing of either the political left or the right exclusively. It spreads across the political spectrum from one end to the other….

    …This is how the broken windows theory plays out in the marketplace of ideas. If you want to see it working in real time, try the following: Log on to AOL, and go to one of the live chat rooms reserved for political chat. Someone will post a civil comment on some political topic. Almost immediately, someone else will swing the verbal hammer of incivility, and from there the chat degrades into a food fight, with invective and insult as the main course…

    …Incivility is not a social blunder to be compared with using the wrong fork. Rather, it betrays a defect of character. Incivility is dangerous graffiti, regardless of whether it is spray-painted on a subway car, or embossed on the title page of a book. The broken windows theory shows us the dangers in both cases. [Emphasis in original]

    Hannah ended her post with this:

    “Therefore, let us argue passionately about ideas, but in the heat of an argument let’s remember to respect each other’s (and our own) dignity. Let us remember the difference between an insult and an argument. Let us lay our hammers down.”

    Here’s what I wrote then, in response to her post:

    “I find it odd (but somehow satisfying) to come to the defense of someone with who’s ideas I generally disagree, but I find [Hannah]’s habit of sticking to logical arguments much more interesting and productive than constant ad hominem attacks. After all, I believe that most of us are ultimately motivated by curiosity about the natural world and a desire to understand more about how it works and came to be the way it is. That certainly has been my experience with [Hannah], and so I will do my duty and come to her defense despite our differences.” [Emphasis added]

    To which I might only add at this point,

    Amen

  181. eligoodwin:

    #173 Care to demonstrate the MIND you speak of?

    MIND is pretty clearly demonstrated in the composition of (nearly all?) the posts on this thread, including, if I may say so, #173.

    Or did you suppose #173 to be the product of random, purposeless, yet incredibly coincidental forces? ;)

  182. Mr Arrington,

    Don’t you think that people in positions of authority should be even more careful in obeying the law than others? How can you justify calling someone deeply stupid under the UD moderation policy?

    What about option 3 – unaware of the facts? You want to say “I put someone in moderation to give them time to check their facts.” Fine. “I’m calling you deeply stupid to avoid calling you a liar.” Better to just keep your mouth shut. That is what my mother taught me.

  183. Mr StephenB,

    So as not to re-enter the Shermer thread, let’s just talk about fine tuning for a while.
    Due to cosmic inflation, the Big Bang could have had a wide variety of properties, and we still would have wound up with a universe similar to the one we have today. So in one sense, you are better off asking why inflation than why fine tuning.
    At another level, there have been studies of different sets of physical laws to see if our universe really is fine tuned for life. If the prime condition for life is long lived stars that cook heavy elements, the answer is no. Long lived stars that cook heavy elements can happen in up to 25% of examined ratios of physical constants.

    With over 350 exoplanets already found, and now one in a stellar habitable zone, I’m willing to wait for more data on whether life is common in the galaxy. However, I do agree that we are unlikely to find more than “pond scum” unless the planet it occupies also has plate tectonics, tides, an axial tilt, a strong magnetic field, all properties of Earth which I think have been important to allowing our brand of pond scum to get a little “jumped up”. :)

    And under all these possibilities for other laws of nature, and on other worlds, there will be emergent properties. Temperature, turbulence, and quite probably, evolution.

  184. #181

    I know what human intelligence is because I am able to observe the actions of human minds. I can’t same about the “intelligence/MIND/God (albeit the christian one)” advocated on this site.
    And magman, put up the studies demonstrating the immaterial properties of the brain. I would prefer peer reviewed journal articles on the subject. Secondly, you may wish to contact James Randi, he has a check waiting for you.

  185. Evolution’s magical mystery mutations = POOF

  186. Note to David Kellogg:

    ID is the detection design AND then study of said design.

    We study it so that we may come to understand it.

    Did arhaeologists stop looking at Stonehenge once they determined it to be an artifact? No, they pressed on so that they may hopefully understand more about it.

    But thank you for once again demonstrating your ID ignorance.

  187. B l Harville:

    By novelty I was referring to the evolution of new forms and functions a bit more dramatic than resistance in bacteria – the sort of evolution that cdesign proponentists refuse to believe can happen. For example, the development of wrist bones and fingers in Tiktaalik.

    1- ID is OK with universal common descent.

    2- There isn’t any genetic data which demonstrates such novelty can be accomplished via an accumulation of genetic accidents.

    There isn’t even a way to test the premise.

  188. BL Harville:

    On the other hand, if you wanted to simulate Intelligent Design you’d have to include God (or the Intelligent Designer(s)).

    If I wanted to simulate Stonehenge do I have to include Stonehenge’s designers?

    Are you totally clue-less?

  189. If I wanted to simulate Stonehenge do I have to include Stonehenge’s designers?

    Most theories about the design, purpose and construction of Stonehenge start with the assumption that the constructors were humans.

    have you overlooked my previous queries about where you studied marine biology?

  190. Magnan (and otehres)

    Just a quick note — thanks on some impressive heavy lifting. (I may have odd points of concurrence or disagreement, but the overall argument is such an excellent point of departure that I must commend it. [Saved me some heavy lifting this morning, for sure . . . ])

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Re Mauka et al — there is still a major issue that evolutionary materialism is self referential and runs into serious self undermining once it tries to address the minds we must use to even think evo mat thoughts. And, REASONING is a conscious process — as opposed to physical manipulation of signals in accord with preset rules per logic gates or programs, tracing in the known cases to . . . minds.

    PPS: on emergence. In physical systems, holistic behaviour emerges from the properties, organisation/ architecture and interactions of parts one with the other and the environment beyond the system boundary. Such complex organisation is usually riddled with irreducible complexity, and with functionally specific complex information. [Ever designed a computer-embedded system and had to build it and get it to work? One of the headaches with such is that you are in a multi-fault environment where just one error is often enough to bring all grinding to a halt. the critical success factor concept from management is quite related.]

  191. If I wanted to simulate Stonehenge do I have to include Stonehenge’s designers?

    Most theories about the design, purpose and construction of Stonehenge start with the assumption that the constructors were humans.

    That is meaningless and it doesn’t address my question.

    have you overlooked my previous queries about where you studied marine biology?

    Have YOU overlooked my previous queries about nested hierarchies being formed without additive characteristics?

    It appears you ahve. You have also overlooked several other questions asked of you.

    So if you want answers from me perhaps you should step up and start answering my questions.

    And if you don’t want to answer my questions then the only way I will answer your query is when we meet.

    Now I have already told you that and you continue to act like a little cry-baby.

    Oops- you are a little cry-baby…

    No disrespect meant to little babies

  192. Allen @180. In that spirit, I would like to express my regret for injecting a personal comment in response to your descriptions of the Tao on another thread. I usually reward commentators for disclosing information like that, since many come here only to scrutinize and never be scrutinized. So, for what it is worth, it will not happen again.

  193. Now, re Mauka at 128:

    M, here, tries to address an issue on the merits. This is to be commended.

    However, we also need to look at the matter on the merits too. So, let’s take a few points, step by step:

    1] [On the evo mat view] brains are physical systems composed ultimately of fundamental particles. Thus, the operation of the brain is just the end result of a large number of fundamental particles mindlessly obeying the laws of physics. How can this mindless process give rise to rational thought? If the underlying physics is mindless, then we have no way of guaranteeing that the resulting thoughts are rational, according to Lewis and Reppert. Thus, naturalism undercuts itself.

    A bit clumsy as the issue is that chance + necessity are challenged to get to ground-consequent relationships with any credibility, on the context of a conscious REASONING being — not just an i/p/o entity that has signals input and transformed to o/ps under rules imposed by a designer that sets up a system. [Which observe, M does not immediately address -- a warning that we are off on a side track heading for a strawman.]

    2] If thinking is carried out not by the brain, but by some unknown immaterial entity, then KF has no way of guaranteeing that this immaterial entity operates reliably, and thus no way of guaranteeing that his thoughts are reliable.

    Interesting when you reverse the terms of an argument, nuh? [Strawman alert.]

    As was discussed above, we EXPERIENCE ourselves as thinking entities, who get things right at least some of the time. Fact, to be accounted for.

    What the stuff is that does that is not in that question of fact — precisely as I warned above. (In short, I am here reporting a fact not begging a metaphysical question.)

    Whatever “stuff” mind is [to be decided per inference to best explanation on available evidence], it per experience works reasonably well; and we know — on serious argument [not addressed by M; cf above] that chance + mechanical necessity acting on matter does not credibly get us to reasoned ground-consequent relationships as per logic anchored to facts. At most, in our experience of physical instantiations of logic processing circuits or software implemented in such circuits mechanically manipulate signals coded as symbols to produce logical results. But the ORIGIN of the carefully organised and tested, validated circuits and software in directly known cases is: minds. Surprise — not! [Remember, we are not yet in a position to ask what "stuff" minds are made of, we are just dealing with them as a fact of life.]

    And, such info processing entities are replete with irreducibly complex organised elements, networks and systems, as well as functionally specific complex information. Indeed, they are paradigmatic illustrations of how IC and FSCI point per solid induction to design.

    So . . . when we look at other entities that show these patterns of complex organisation, we have good reason to infer to design. Which leads through the observed DNA- RNA- ribosome- enzyme- etc cell based life info processing systems and onward to the intricate fine tuning of the cosmos that facilitates such.

    Without leaving the empirical realm, we have now got to a point where — as was previously pointed out [and ignored as per usual] we see evidence of extracosmic design. [Cf my always linked sections B - D for the steps. Then look at E for the inference to best current explanation. Appendix 8 discusses rthe issue of mind in more details than I can here, including the key quotes and notes on why I use them.]

    Thus, there is again reason to see that Mind beyond material nature could create it and organise it towards purpose. Thus, there is excellent reason to see that minds can interact functionally with matter without having to be material.

    3] the flip side of “hyperskeptical” is “hyposkeptical”. Ponder that the next time you’re looking in a mirror.

    Already long since done. (M’s argument is mere turnabout rhetoric, long since answered. I would like for him to engage the just linked on the merits.)

    4] KF (and Lewis, and Reppert) . . . have no way of addressing this problem short of developing a “science of the soul” that explains how immaterial minds work and proves that they are reliable by construction.

    To know that is prior to knowing how, as already discussed just above and previously.

    And, to know that per inference to best explanation — a key way of knowing in science — leads step by step to credibly knowing of a mind beyond the observed physical nature capable of creating it; regardless of whether or not we — now — know how.

    We should not let what we do not yet know hinder us from seeing the import of what we do credibly know. To not know all is no reason to jump to “we can know nothing.”

    5] We already know that it’s possible to construct computers that do arithmetic and logic reliably. We know that it’s possible to write reliable software to run on these computers, including sophisticated reasoning programs like the theorem provers I mentioned earlier in the thread. Thus, we know that reason can be mechanized in a properly constructed system.

    Reason, of course is precisely NOT being carried out by networks of logic circuits organised by intelligent designers and functioning under carefully developed algorithms.

    And what do we know about these known designers – they are minded.

    In short the question is being begged through a failure to recognise that there is self reference at work which assumes the fact of observed experience of mindedness.

    6] So the materialist is already far ahead of the nonmaterialist, who doesn’t know if it’s possible for any immaterial mind to operate correctly, much less the one that humans happen to get.

    Unsupported conclusion, once we see the logic gaps as highlighted just above.

    From this point, M’s argument disintegrates.

    7] At this point, we’ve shown that reliable, physically-based reasoning is possible.

    We know as observing minds, that signals can be digitally manipulated in intelligently designed circuits and using equally intelligently designed software to carry out signal processing that we assign meanings to that implement logical operations [including arithmetic and extensions thereof].

    In short, the question is being begged.

    8] The materialist holds that the brain has been shaped by natural selection. Brains that can’t reason reliably get their owners killed. Individuals with better brains tend to survive and reproduce better than those with addled brains, so genetic changes that produce flawed thinking get weeded out of the population.

    Not at all, brains — insofar as they process information — are transparent to the process of natural selection.

    What is weeded out is populations that are behaviourally non- functional or of sufficiently inferior function.

    And, as Plantinga long ago showed, there is no correlation between accuracy of abstract BELIEF or ASSUMPTION and efficacy of behaviour. [Indeed, that is how a lot of modelling and science work -- explanations are empirically adequate not necessarily true beyond revision, or even at the first look.]

    Truth is not a criterion of natural selection. Nor is reasoning ability.

    9] The nonmaterialist has no corresponding selective process to appeal to. He just has to hope (pray?) that the mind he gets is reliable at the start. Yet again, the materialist has the advantage.

    Let’s see, how does a computer get set up right, again?

    H’mm: [appealing to the authority of the order of the soldering iron burnt thumb, of which the undersigned is a member] by a designer who draws up a design, implements and tests prototypes and then sees to it that the prototypes work empirically. Often, aided by instrumentation and theories or at least heuristics or crude rules of thumb of getting things right — or at least, effective — to begin with.

    Indeed, s/he is not locked up to blind searches of beyond astronomical contingency spaces, but through insight and imagination can put us in the ball park of function, even if not fully there.

    10] Looking at the spectrum of human abilities (and flaws), we find that the mind has the kind of flaws you would expect it to have if it were the product of a long and kludgy evolutionary process.

    Actually, no one has shown that such a process can get us to the shores of islands of function that require in excess of 1,000 bits of information capacity. And, until you have initial function, you cannot hill climb to better function by differential success across variant forms. (Think aout how much info is embedded in a simple 7400 TTL quad NAND chip . . . the first step of a realistic logic entity; for both combinatorial ckts [BA reduction to NAND form . . . ] and sequential ones [think RS latch]; multiply by the architecture of a simple microprocessor, then by the monitor and OS software and then the applications packages. Compare the information encoded into DNA to get to the body plan of an observed organism with the scale of brain involved in abstract, logical reasoning.]

    In short, the big question is again being begged.

    11] There is no reason for the nonmaterialist to expect the human mind to have these specific flaws if it is based on an immaterial entity.

    So long as minds belong to entities that have choices and have finite knowledge bases, incorrect assumptions and beliefs are possible, as well as errors in reasoning thereform.

    this is a false, strawman problem.

    12] Conclusion: The argument that KF keeps flogging turns out, ironically, to be a disaster for his own nonmaterialist position, yet it strengthens the case of the materialist!

    Utterly unwarranted, as just shown in outline.

    GEM of TKI

  194. 194

    magnan [178 and 179] refers to “the evidence of parapsychology, that minds can remotely influence the world through nonmaterial means as in psychokinesis and directed telepathy.” Like ID researchers, scientists in this area have been Expelled from the academy, as in the well-known case of Drs. Venkman, Spengler, and Stantz.

  195. Joseph @ 191:

    And if you don’t want to answer my questions then the only way I will answer your query is when we meet.

    Now I have already told you that and you continue to act like a little cry-baby.

    Oops- you are a little cry-baby…

    No disrespect meant to little babies

    Moderators – I regularly only a lurker here but this leads me to comment. Why is Joseph allowed to continue to get away with personal attacks like this, while others have recently been made no-longer-with-us for what appear to be much milder transgressions?

  196. “Like ID researchers, scientists in this area have been Expelled from the academy, as in the well-known case of Drs. Venkman, Spengler, and Stantz.”

    Hey, but the kids loved them!

  197. It really seems to me that much of the time the two sides in this debate are speaking completely different languages and could understand each other much better if they made sure they cleared up what they mean with their words.

    A while back one of the IDists said that “emergence” = “poof” and “design” = “we’ll come back to it later” (to paraphrase). This is precisely the opposite of what a scientist (as in the majority of currently practicing scientists) would say the words emergence and design mean with regards to explanatory power.

    If we are really just mincing over these labels, what’s the fuss? IDists presume final causes which man can never know, materialists (to use the parlance of this thread) adhere to examining mediate causes. There is no overlap between these two thought processes, except in that it seems to me the IDists want to put a final cause into the middle of a chain of mediate causes that scientists have been investigating for 150 years. That is why scientists get so bristled.

  198. PT:

    Joseph has been put on serious warning.

    GEM of TKI

  199. Onlookers:

    The meat of this thread has been taken over to a successor thread, here.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Mr MacNeill, the issue of unjustified career busting etc is far to serious to be dismissed by a reference to the Ghostbusters Movie. (And, the case being made is not critically dependent on the parapsychological information issue; which is why i did not take it up above, other than to note that I have points of difference.)

  200. 200

    Thank you all for the discussion.

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