Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

A definition of consciousness: “The intentional power of the mind”

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor offers this definition by way of explaining that there is one sense in which consciousness IS an illusion: We are not aware of our consciousness; only of its objects. I believe that the most satisfactory definition of consciousness is the intentional power of the mind — the ability of thought to be “about” something. Consciousness is always directed to an object, whether that object is physical, emotional, or conceptual. If there is no “aboutness,” there is no consciousness. All intentionality entails two things: the process by which (1) we think about something, and the thing about which (2) we think. When I perceive a tree, I am perceiving (1) a tree (2). When I think about justice, I Read More ›

Michael Shermer’s Case for Scientific Naturalism

Shermer’s piece, in which he is looking back on his years as a Scientific American columnist, feels like an elegy. The reality today is that, however people may universally seek freedom, China is dedicated to using the high tech born of science to stamp it out and enlisting many other natures to do the same. And science, as opposed to technology, is coming under serious assault from those who demand that nature itself do their social justice bidding. Read More ›

Theoretical physicist takes on panpsychism. Bam! Pow!

It’s the basic problem of the coffee mug. If naturalism (nature is all there is), often called “materialism,” is true, either you and the mug are both conscious or neither of you is. The comments at BackRe(Action) illustrate the difficulty many have grasping that that is a serious problem. Read More ›

Maybe the “March for” fad will die out before the anti-Semitism hits science

The reason this subject interests us is that the social justice warriors (SJWs) have set their sights on science (remember the March for Science?). Which means that the science media and groups that are trying to accommodate them would be forced to accommodate the anti-Semitism as well. With any luck, the marching Woke (SJWs) will all break up quarreling before it gets that bad. Read More ›

Steve Meyer on the information enigma in evolution

Steve Meyer, author of Darwin’s Doubt, offers a handy illustration of the sort of specified complexity that life forms show, which indicates design, in an April 2018 essay: Cryptographers distinguish between random signals and those carrying encoded messages, the latter indicating an intelligent source. Recognizing the activity of intelligent agents constitutes a common and fully rational mode of inference. More importantly, [design theorist William] Dembski explicates criteria by which rational agents recognize or detect the effects of other rational agents, and distinguish them from the effects of natural causes. He demonstrates that systems or sequences with the joint properties of “high complexity” (or small probability) and “specification” invariably result from intelligent causes, not chance or physical-chemical laws. Dembski noted that Read More ›

Logic and First Principles, 6: Reason/Rationality and Responsibility (i.e. moral government) are inextricably entangled

One of the common presumptions of our day is that facts and values are utterly, irreconcilably distinct. That is, that IS and OUGHT are irreconcilably separated by an ugly gulch that cannot be bridged. But, this is again one of those little errors in the beginning that have ruinous consequences as they spread out into our thinking and living in community. Let’s start with Hume’s Guillotine argument from his A Treatise of Human Nature: “In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remarked, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary way of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when of a sudden I Read More ›

Can cities serve as cauldrons of evolution (speciation)?

For spiders, raccoons, and such? Big, high-tech cities are new and different. But you don’t get remarkable results from these independent theatres of evolution. That’s clear from a recent long article, well worth reading, mostly for the fascinating information but also for the need, so common these days, to assert that something is happening which obviously isn’t. Read More ›

Experimental physicist: Particle theory is “in a crisis” and a bigger collider IS the answer!

So we should do it because we can, not because we really expect to learn very much? It may be that Dorigo is just not a good spokesperson for his position; he spends a good deal of time attacking Hossenfelder and her book. Anyway, somehow, naturalism (nature is all there is) isn’t providing the hoped-for return on investments. Read More ›

“But it can’t be design, M’sieur. Design is an illusion.”

If there is no design in nature, then it is an illusion and Macron will have to settle for minimizing the influence of the people he doesn’t like, without claiming that there is some "meaning" or “design” behind their actions. Read More ›

Refusing to Participate in a Lie Can be Costly; Just Ask Peter Vlaming

I will never forget the day many years ago when I first confronted the transgender issue (though we did not call it that then) in my law practice.  I received a call from a school principal asking for advice in dealing with a kindergarten boy whose mother was dressing him up in girl’s clothing and insisting that he be allowed to use the girls’ restroom.  I was shocked by the mother’s demands and advised the principal to deny her request. I might have used the word “duh” at some point in the conversation. I also advised the school to consider whether a report to Child Protective Services of possible child abuse was in order. Of course we are talking about Read More ›

Plato’s Library: Why information is the true source of new wealth

Jonathan Bartlett explains the relationship between information and prosperity as set out in Eric Holloway’s new paper: our ability to “read from Plato’s Library” of new ideas provides us with an ever-growing supply of side information that powers the economy. Read More ›

Was 2018 kind of a quiet year for science?

Here’s a Top Ten science stories list from a techie science mag I (O’Leary for News) regularly monitor and cite from: This year taught us more about distant planets and our own world, about the ways we’re influencing our environment and the ways we’re changing ourselves. A whole lot of stuff happened, and last January seems like it was, well, a year ago. Ryan F. Mandelbaum, “The Biggest Science Stories of 2018” at Gizmodo Okay, nothing in particular jumps out at Mandelbaum, who does a good job of gathering the information, and one can see why his tone is muted. Here are some of the Gizmodo picks: – Mars exploration continues, space equipment is retired or commissioned (but still no Read More ›