Home » Darwinism, Intelligent Design, News, Philosophy » Being a materialist atheist doesn’t help Jerry Fodor when he is up against Darwinism

Being a materialist atheist doesn’t help Jerry Fodor when he is up against Darwinism

Which just shows you.

Alex Rosenberg, Euro Jnl Phil Sci

DOI 10.1007/s13194-012-0055-9

How Jerry Fodor slid down the slippery slope to Anti-Darwinism, and how we can avoid the same fate

Here.

Abstract There is only one physically possible process that builds and operates purposive systems in nature: natural selection. What it does is build and operate systems that look to us purposive, goal directed, teleological. There really are not any purposes in nature and no purposive processes ether. It is just one vast network of linked causal chains. Darwinian natural selection is the only process that could produce the appearance of purpose. That is why natural selection must have built and must continually shape the intentional causes of purposive behavior. Fodor’s argument against Darwinian theory involves a biologist’s modus tollens which is a cognitive scientist’s modus ponens. Assuming his argument is valid, the right conclusion is not that Darwin’s theory is mistaken but that Fodor’s and any other non-Darwinian approaches to the mind are wrong. It shows how getting things wrong in the philosophy of biology leads to mistaken conclusions with the potential to damage the acceptance of a theory with harmful consequences for human well-being. Fodor has shown that the real consequence of rejecting a Darwinian approach to the mind is to reject a Darwinian theory of phylogenetic evolution. This forces us to take seriously a notion that otherwise would not have much of a chance: that when it comes to the nature of mental states, indeterminacy rules. This is an insight that should have the most beneficial impact on freeing cognitive neuroscience from demands on the adequacy of its theories that it could never meet.

Well, there it is, folks.

Cognitive neuroscience could not meet theoretical demands except by invoking Darwinism as a weapon to silence evidence-based dissent.

The really interesting part of all this is the Christian Darwinists at BioLogos and elsewhere who actually know that this is the true protocol and the true rationale and continue to burble that we must somehow make our peace with Darwin.

Is there any explicit aspect of Darwinism they disagree with? Will they even side with Fodor against nonsense?

No, look, we didn’t expect that either. If it’s Darwinism, they can’t be deep enough in the tank.

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17 Responses to Being a materialist atheist doesn’t help Jerry Fodor when he is up against Darwinism

  1. “we must somehow make our peace with Darwin”

    No, we don’t want peace; just more and more war!

    ‘Darwinian’ (Abstract) and ‘Darwinism’ (News) – 2 different signifiers, yet one conflated meaning.

  2. 2

    Gregory, is there a point in there somewhere?

  3. Peace is not an option.

  4. Assuming his argument is valid, the right conclusion is not that Darwin’s theory is mistaken but that Fodor’s and any other non-Darwinian approaches to the mind are wrong.

    That has been my view for some time, namely that Fodor’s approach to an account of mind is wrong. And since much of philosophy of mind, artificial intelligence and cognitive neuroscience are based on something similar to Fodor’s approach, there’s a lot of that wrongness to go around.

    This forces us to take seriously a notion that otherwise would not have much of a chance: that when it comes to the nature of mental states, indeterminacy rules.

    If Rosenberg is suggesting that maybe free will is possible after all, then I agree with that. However, as I see it, the whole notion of “mental states” needs to be re-examined.

  5. Well despite the indignation that Rosenberg has at Fodor’s questioning of the almighty power of natural selection to explain everything and anything in life, Dr. Fodor insights questioning the sufficiency of natural selection opened up a new way of thinking for me. Specifically it was this quote that Ms. O’Leary highlighted from Dr. Fodor a while back that was ‘paradigm shifting’ for me:

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

    I dug around a bit and found that Dr. Fodor was right. 4-D power scaling is pervasive in life:

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

    Y = Yo M^b,

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

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

    And though Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini rightly find it inexplicable for ‘random’ Natural Selection to be the rational explanation for the invariant scaling of the physiology, and anatomy, of living things to four-dimensional parameters, they do not seem to fully realize the implications this ‘four dimensional scaling’ of living things presents. This 4-D scaling is something we should rightly expect from a Intelligent Design perspective. This is because Intelligent Design holds that ‘higher dimensional transcendent information’ is more foundational to life, and even to the universe itself, than either matter or energy are. This higher dimensional ‘expectation’ for life, from a Intelligent Design perspective, is directly opposed to the expectation of the Darwinian framework, which holds that information, and indeed even the essence of life itself, is merely an ‘emergent’ property of the 3-D material realm. And indeed there if found to be a ‘top down’ hierarchy of information in life (as opposed to the simplistic ‘bottom up’ model of neo-Darwinists):

    Multidimensional Genome – Dr. Robert Carter – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/8905048/

    But perhaps of more interest, at least for me, of the ‘multidimensional’ aspect of biology is that energy itself is now found to be communicating information in the cell

    Cellular Communication through Light
    Excerpt: Information transfer is a life principle. On a cellular level we generally assume that molecules are carriers of information, yet there is evidence for non-molecular information transfer due to endogenous coherent light. This light is ultra-weak, is emitted by many organisms, including humans and is conventionally described as biophoton emission.
    http://www.plosone.org/article.....ne.0005086

    An Electric Face: A Rendering Worth a Thousand Falsifications – September 2011
    Excerpt: The video suggests that bioelectric signals presage the morphological development of the face. It also, in an instant, gives a peak at the phenomenal processes at work in biology. As the lead researcher said, “It’s a jaw dropper.”

    The (Electric) Face of a Frog – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndFe5CaDTlI

    The reason why it is very interesting for me to learn that energy, instead of just molecules, is communicating massive amounts of information in the cell is that energy, per Einstein, has shown itself to be of a ‘higher dimensional’ nature than mass (molecules) are:

    i.e. time, as we understand it, would come to a complete stop at the speed of light. To grasp the whole ‘time coming to a complete stop at the speed of light’ concept a little more easily, imagine moving away from the face of a clock at the speed of light. Would not the hands on the clock stay stationary as you moved away from the face of the clock at the speed of light? Moving away from the face of a clock at the speed of light happens to be the same ‘thought experiment’ that gave Einstein his breakthrough insight into e=mc2.

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

    As well, please note the optical effect at the 3:22 minute mark of the following video when the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape around the direction of travel as a ‘hypothetical’ observer moves towards the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light: (Of note: This following video was made by two Australian University Physics Professors with a supercomputer.)

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

    Moreover, there is even a higher quality of ‘higher dimensional’ information found in the cell than even that of the ‘higher dimensional’ energy is:

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA – Elisabeth Rieper – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    The following video gives a brief, probably too brief explanation, of the ‘spooky’ higher dimensional aspects of light and quantum entanglement:

    Light and Quantum Entanglement Both Reflect Some Characteristics Of God – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4102182

    As to how this how quantum information, energy, and molecules are related in the hierarchy of information in the cell, the structure is as such:

    Materialism had postulated for centuries that everything reduced to, or emerged from material atoms, yet the correct structure of reality is now found by science to be as follows:

    1. material particles (mass) normally reduces to energy (e=mc^2)
    2. energy and mass both reduce to information (quantum teleportation)
    3. information reduces to consciousness (geometric centrality of conscious observation in universe dictates that consciousness must precede quantum wave collapse to its single bit state)

  6. Neil,

    If Rosenberg is suggesting that maybe free will is possible after all, then I agree with that. However, as I see it, the whole notion of “mental states” needs to be re-examined.

    I’m curious. Are you aware of the metaphysical view Rosenberg himself espouses with regards to philosophy of mind?

  7. From the OP.

    There is only one physically possible process that builds and operates purposive systems in nature: natural selection.

    The only physically possible? That’s one hell of a claim Rosenberg is making, and it’s not at all obvious.

    Darwinian natural selection is the only process that could produce the appearance of purpose.

    The same goes for this. These aren’t just bold claims, they are philosophically outrageous. Even ID critics who are defenders of evolution should balk at what Rosenberg is saying here.

    Moreover, this generalization is well grounded in physical theory. In fact it identifies the only mechanism that physics countenances for the emergence of adaptations. Physics ruled out real goals, purposes, ends, teleology in general as causal forces in the universe long about 1660. In all the changes and improvements that physical science has experienced since Newton’s time, the one fixed point has been a steady refusal to allow for anything even resembling real purposes to play any role in nature. The same goes for designing deities, or minds of any kind.

    The obvious reply to Rosenberg here is: then so much the worse for physics. Notice that Rosenberg is saying “physics ruled out”, but he doesn’t mean that physical discoveries have shown these things not to be possible or even probable. He’s referring to a ground rule – “Physics, as a discipline, won’t ever allow inferences or suggestions of this type, period.”

    There’s a worse problem for Rosenberg: physics has changed a lot since 1600. Even more if we before that time. Non-determinism used to be forbidden in a realist physical description – that rule is. Gravity was rejected as an occult force – that’s not a problem anymore. Hit quantum physics and man, the list goes on and on. Rosenberg’s game here is to complain that if Fodor (and others) are right, then science would have to change – at least if science is to be considered the place where the answer is. But considering how many times science has changed in the past, this shouldn’t concern anyone.

    Mind you, I disagree with Fodor too – he’s just another materialist, he’s just one who recognizes the problems with materialism. But Rosenberg’s treatment of him is just ridiculous, and considering what Rosenberg’s view of the mind is, I think most people – even most materialists – when faced with having to choose between Rosenberg and the alternatives, will toss Rosenberg under the bus.

  8. nullasalus #7:

    Are you aware of the metaphysical view Rosenberg himself espouses with regards to philosophy of mind?

    No, I am not. This is the only paper by Rosenberg that I have read (and I have not yet finished reading it).

    I am more familiar with Fodor’s views, though I mostly disagree with them.

  9. (oops – my earlier reply was to #6, not #7)

    nullasalus #7:

    These aren’t just bold claims, they are philosophically outrageous. Even ID critics who are defenders of evolution should balk at what Rosenberg is saying here.

    I disagree with Rosenberg on that, but I don’t consider his position outrageous. I see purpose as deriving from homeostatic processes. Natural selection can perhaps be said to concentrate it, but not to originate it.

    On physics ruling out goals — I’m inclined to doubt that. Physics does not study purpose, and has been very successful in spite of not studying it. But I think it goes too far to say that purpose is thereby ruled out.

  10. Neil Rickert,

    No, I am not. This is the only paper by Rosenberg that I have read (and I have not yet finished reading it).

    He’s an eliminative materialist. It may not come across totally clear in his paper (I think it does) but the argument he’s advancing against Fodor isn’t just that Fodor is wrong, but that it has to be wrong because otherwise we’re incorrect about our science and/or metaphysics.

  11. It may not come across totally clear in his paper (I think it does) but the argument he’s advancing against Fodor isn’t just that Fodor is wrong, but that it has to be wrong because otherwise we’re incorrect about our science and/or metaphysics.

    Fair enough.

    I was not agreeing with Rosenberg’s argument. I was only agreeing with his conclusion that there were problems with Fodor’s theory of mind. It might well turn out that I would also disagree with Rosenberg’s theory of mind.

  12. Not a problem. I could agree that there are problems with Fodor’s theory. I just think the way Rosenberg comes to those conclusions is insane. It’s a little like saying that Miasma Theory is wrong, because if it was right, it would mean homeopathy is wrong – and that’s a bridge too far, damnit.

  13. bornagain77,

    why spirit travel at speed of light? cannot spirit travel at instant?

    sergio

  14. sergiomendes

    why spirit travel at speed of light? cannot spirit travel at instant?

    Well sergiomendes, for people to travel at the speed of light is not a ironclad rule in Near Death Experiences in Judo-Christian cultures. It is merely ‘typical’ of Near Death Experiences in Judeo-Christian cultures for the person to ‘accelerate to the speed of light’ upon death of their earthly body. There have been some instances of people, such as Don Piper in his book ’90 Minutes in Heaven’, to instantaneously appear in heaven upon death of their earthly body. Moreover, in many deep Near Death Testimonies in Judeo-Christian Cultures you will read of the person being surprised to discover that while they are in heaven that they can travel ‘at the speed of thought’ in heaven.

    Notes:

    “I was in a body, and the only way that I can describe it was a body of energy, or of light. And this body had a form. It had a head, it had arms and it had legs. And it was like it was made out of light. And it was everything that was me. All of my memories, my consciousness, everything.”,,, “And then this vehicle formed itself around me. Vehicle is the only thing, or tube, or something, but it was a mode of transportation that’s for sure! And it formed around me. And there was no one in it with me. I was in it alone. But I knew there were other people ahead of me and behind me. What they were doing I don’t know, but there were people ahead of me and people behind me, but I was alone in my particular conveyance. And I could see out of it. And it went at a tremendously, horrifically, rapid rate of speed. But it wasn’t unpleasant. It was beautiful in fact. I was reclining in this thing, I wasn’t sitting straight up, but I wasn’t lying down either. I was sitting back. And it was just so fast. I can’t even begin to tell you where it went or whatever it was just fast! – Vicki’s NDE – Blind since birth

    Vicki’s quote taken from first part of this video:

    Near Death Experience Tunnel – Speed Of Light – Turin Shroud (notes in video description)
    https://vimeo.com/18371644

    You can listen to Vicki’s entire Near Death testimony here:

    coast to coast vicki’s NDE part 1 of 3
    youtube.com/watch?v=e65KhcCS5-Y
    https://vimeo.com/18371644

    Don Piper’s NDE was on reporter Bob Woodruff’s special on NDE’s on ABC:

    you can listen to his testimony about heaven here:

    Describing Heaven: Pastor, Pronounced Dead, Says He Was There
    http://abcnews.go.com/Nightlin.....CjiTaPvyWU

  15. correction:

    You can listen to Vicki’s entire Near Death testimony here:

    coast to coast vicki’s NDE part 1 of 3
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e65KhcCS5-Y

  16. Dr George Ritchie tells of his surprise of discovering he could travel at the ‘speed of thought’ in this video at about the 3:15 mark

    Dr George Ritchie NDE – Death Testimony
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=do8f8QaRGuE

  17. As well sergiomendes, I don’t know if I’ve told you about this before but if not, there is another aspect of Einstein’s special relativity, besides the tunnel to a higher dimension, that lines up with Judeo-Christian beliefs about the afterlife:

    i.e. time, as we understand it, would come to a complete stop at the speed of light. To grasp the whole ‘time coming to a complete stop at the speed of light’ concept a little more easily, imagine moving away from the face of a clock at the speed of light. Would not the hands on the clock stay stationary as you moved away from the face of the clock at the speed of light? Moving away from the face of a clock at the speed of light happens to be the same ‘thought experiment’ that gave Einstein his breakthrough insight into e=mc2.

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

    That is to say, traveling at the speed of light will only get us to the place where time, as we understand it, comes to complete stop for light, i.e. gets us to the eternal, ‘past and future folding into now’, framework of time. This higher dimension, ‘eternal’, inference for the time framework of light is warranted because light is not ‘frozen within time’ yet it is shown that time, as we understand it, does not pass for light.

    “I’ve just developed a new theory of eternity.”
    Albert Einstein – The Einstein Factor – Reader’s Digest
    http://www.readersdigest.co.za.....26pageno=3

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

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

    ‘In the ‘spirit world,,, instantly, there was no sense of time. See, everything on earth is related to time. You got up this morning, you are going to go to bed tonight. Something is new, it will get old. Something is born, it’s going to die. Everything on the physical plane is relative to time, but everything in the spiritual plane is relative to eternity. Instantly I was in total consciousness and awareness of eternity, and you and I as we live in this earth cannot even comprehend it, because everything that we have here is filled within the veil of the temporal life. In the spirit life that is more real than anything else and it is awesome. Eternity as a concept is awesome. There is no such thing as time. I knew that whatever happened was going to go on and on.’
    Mickey Robinson – In The Presence Of Almighty God – The NDE of Mickey Robinson – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045544

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

    ‘Earthly time has no meaning in the spirit realm. There is no concept of before or after. Everything – past, present, future – exists simultaneously.’ – Kimberly Clark Sharp – NDE Experiencer

    ‘There is no way to tell whether minutes, hours or years go by. Existence is the only reality and it is inseparable from the eternal now.’ – John Star – NDE Experiencer

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