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Miserable Creatures

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Imagine if atheistic materialism was actually true and humans are nothing more than biological automatons – complexly programmed and reactive robots that behave and think in whatever manner happenstance chemical interactions dictates at any given time.  Let’s think about what would actually mean.

There would be no way for a biological automaton to determine whether or not any statement was in fact true or not since all conclusions are driven by chemistry and not metaphysical “truth” values; indeed, a biological automaton reaches conclusion X for exactly the same reason any other reaches conclusion Y; chemistry.  If chemistry dictates that 1+1=banana, that is what a “person” will conclude. If chemistry dictates they defend that view to the death and see themselves as a martyr for the computational banana cause, that is exactly what they will do.

All such a biological automaton has is whatever chemistry generates as what they see, hear, taste, smell, touch, feel, think, and do. If they eat some stale pizza and, through a chaotic cascade of happenstance physical cause and effect, accept Mohammed with great faith and zeal, then no determined atheist can resist – that is what will occur.  And they will think it was a logical conclusion, if chemistry says so.  They can only be whatever chemistry dictates.

Imagine the frustration of the atheist having to admit that they came to their views exactly the same way any religious fanatic came to theirs. Imagine the bleak realization that there is no way to prove it, or even provide any evidence, because such feats would require that one’s thoughtful capacity to consider such things be removed from, and in control of, the same chemical processes that generate all positions that disagree with theirs.

Imagine the misery of attempting to argue that some things are right, and others are wrong, when the same relentless, impersonal, uncaring chemistry produces both. One might as well call the shape of a fig leaf right and true, and call the shape of a maple leaf wrong and false.  How pitiful it is when atheists act as if their condition is somehow superior to some non-atheist condition, when all conditions are simply a products of happenstance chemistry and physics. It’s not like “they” had a hand in their own thoughts or ideas or conclusions; they have whatever thoughts blind mechanistic forces shoved in their brain.  “They” are nothing but a pitiful puppet doomed to think and act and feel whatever chemistry dictates while stupidly acting and arguing as if something else was the case.

Atheists insist that they live a life as capable of being good as any theist.  They are often proud of how “good” they are in comparison to theists they mock and ridicule. What are they proud of?  What are the mocking and ridiculing?  The inevitable effects of chemical interactions?  Any idea or thought or act that anyone has or does is nothing more than just another effect ultimately generated by mindless chemical interactions and effects.  You might as well be proud that grass is green or ridicule the color of the sky; the same mindless forces generated those things as your own thoughts, beliefs and actions.

How pitiful is it to rant and rave and argue against physics and chemistry?  If atheistic materialism is true, then atheists here are like Don Quixote, acting like windmills are great beasts, or like biological automatons are sentient creatures capable of doing something other than whatever chemistry dictates.  They might as well argue with a tree to get it to change the shape and color of its leaves, or with a stream to get it to change direction. They are tilting at windmills trying to convince the windmill to do something other than what windmills do.  They are madmen arguing with swirling dirt, animated by natural law and chance.

What a ruinous, ludicrous, miserable position to insist for yourself – arguing and debating against the onward, relentless march of happenstance interactions of matter ruled by chemistry and physics as if such arguments mattered, as if you and everyone else is something other than programmed biological automatons doing whatever chemistry dictates.  But then, pitifully, they really can’t do anything else except foolishly act out this absurd facade because they, too, are just the puppets of chemistry.

179 Replies to “Miserable Creatures

  1. 1
    OldArmy94 says:

    Powerful stuff, sir. Thank you.

  2. 2
    Origenes says:

    William J Murray: … pitifully, they really can’t do anything else except foolishly act out this absurd facade because they, too, are just the puppets of chemistry.

    It’s not always the case that materialists are unaware of the issue, but one has to wonder if they fully grasp the consequences, as laid out by William J Murray. Only a few weeks ago Jerry Coyne wrote:

    Hard determinists. (I am one of these.) Those are people who believe that our brains, being material objects operating under the laws of physics, can give only a single output from the inputs they receive (barring any quantum indeterminacy operating in our neurons)….
    Our behaviors are solely and uniquely decided by our genes and our environments, and nothing else.

    If Coyne is right and genes (deoxyribonucleic acid, sugar and phosphate molecules) and the environment “solely and uniquely decides” one’s behavior, then one is not in control — not a person — but instead a “biological automaton”. A miserable creature indeed.

  3. 3
    bb says:

    “A miserable creature indeed.”

    That is a life in denial of the immaterial soul, and of the logical conclusion of materialism. I say denial of the latter because even when one assents, like Coyne, he can’t live as if it’s true. His walk can’t match his talk.

    A number of times now, when I presented Lewis’ milk jug analogy, I’ve had materialists invoke a physiological feedback mechanism that can determine what is true. What do they mean? If they mean the five senses, then feedback to what?

    Please forgive a layman if the answer is obvious.

    Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.

    -CS Lewis, The Case For Christianity p.32

  4. 4
    Pindi says:

    From a non-materialist point of view, if your decisions are not determined by your past experience, desires, etc, how do you categorise them? Something must cause you to come to a conclusion, otherwise isn’t it just randomM

  5. 5
    J-Mac says:

    Pindi,

    Give me one real reason why someone, in the right frame of mind, would respond to your posts?

    I suspect you like the attention but that’s not good enough…Not here…

  6. 6

    Pindi,

    From a materialist point of view, what makes you certain you’ve actually had any past experiences, desires, etc?

  7. 7
    Pindi says:

    Its’ not about me. I am just trying to understand how it works in a non-materialist framework. Aren’t things either caused/determined by things, or random? So if there is nothing causing you to make a decision about something, is it then random?

    J-Mac and CY, can you answer this question rather than deflecting?

  8. 8
    soundburger says:

    Pindi, I’m not sure I understand your question. It seems to imply a belief that there are actually people who think that past experiences, desires, etc. play no role in their decision making. If that’s your notion of a ‘non-materialist’ you need to get out more.

  9. 9
    HeKS says:

    Pindi,

    Surely you see that there’s a difference between X determining Y and X informing Y, correct?

    On materialism, given enough data about a person’s genetics and past stimuli you will have the full set of data that determines that person’s action in a given case with no possibility that they will do anything else. They may give the appearance of rationally deliberating upon some set of factors in coming to a “decision” on how to act, but that’s really just smoke and mirrors, an illusion of some sort. They do what they must do because physics and chemistry fully determines it.

    On a non-materialist view, a person’s decisions and behaviors will typically be influenced by their past experiences, but they can actually deliberate on their course of action in a rational manner and make a decision that incorporates their past experience but is not wholly determined by past events, and even one that flies in the face of what past factors might suggest and that runs contrary to the direction in which their more base instincts might push them.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    Pindi @ 7

    “Its’ not about “me”.”

    Au Contraire! Just who is this fictitious “me” you are referring to in your sentence? “You” have no perspective outside the material order in which to ground the ‘me’ of your sentence!

    “that “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. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.”
    Francis Crick – “The Astonishing Hypothesis” 1994

    “What you’re doing is simply instantiating a self: the program run by your neurons which you feel is “you.””
    Jerry Coyne

    “The neural circuits in our brain manage the beautifully coordinated and smoothly appropriate behavior of our body. They also produce the entrancing introspective illusion that thoughts really are about stuff in the world. This powerful illusion has been with humanity since language kicked in, as we’ll see. It is the source of at least two other profound myths: that we have purposes that give our actions and lives meaning and that there is a person “in there” steering the body, so to speak.”
    [A.Rosenberg, The Atheist’s Guide To Reality, Ch.9]

    Thus, it really is all about “you”. Or more precisely it is all about the fact that personhood is an illusion under atheistic materialism and yet no one in their right minds can live their lives as if they did not actually exist as real persons.

    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt:,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....tml?page=3

    Darwin’s Robots: When Evolutionary Materialists Admit that Their Own Worldview Fails – Nancy Pearcey – April 23, 2015
    Excerpt: Even materialists often admit that, in practice, it is impossible for humans to live any other way. One philosopher jokes that if people deny free will, then when ordering at a restaurant they should say, “Just bring me whatever the laws of nature have determined I will get.”
    An especially clear example is Galen Strawson, a philosopher who states with great bravado, “The impossibility of free will … can be proved with complete certainty.” Yet in an interview, Strawson admits that, in practice, no one accepts his deterministic view. “To be honest, I can’t really accept it myself,” he says. “I can’t really live with this fact from day to day. Can you, really?”,,,
    In What Science Offers the Humanities, Edward Slingerland, identifies himself as an unabashed materialist and reductionist. Slingerland argues that Darwinian materialism leads logically to the conclusion that humans are robots — that our sense of having a will or self or consciousness is an illusion. Yet, he admits, it is an illusion we find impossible to shake. No one “can help acting like and at some level really feeling that he or she is free.” We are “constitutionally incapable of experiencing ourselves and other conspecifics [humans] as robots.”
    One section in his book is even titled “We Are Robots Designed Not to Believe That We Are Robots.”,,,
    When I teach these concepts in the classroom, an example my students find especially poignant is Flesh and Machines by Rodney Brooks, professor emeritus at MIT. Brooks writes that a human being is nothing but a machine — a “big bag of skin full of biomolecules” interacting by the laws of physics and chemistry. In ordinary life, of course, it is difficult to actually see people that way. But, he says, “When I look at my children, I can, when I force myself, … see that they are machines.”
    Is that how he treats them, though? Of course not: “That is not how I treat them…. I interact with them on an entirely different level. They have my unconditional love, the furthest one might be able to get from rational analysis.” Certainly if what counts as “rational” is a materialist worldview in which humans are machines, then loving your children is irrational. It has no basis
    within Brooks’s worldview. It sticks out of his box.
    How does he reconcile such a heart-wrenching cognitive dissonance? He doesn’t. Brooks ends by saying, “I maintain two sets of inconsistent beliefs.” He has given up on any attempt to reconcile his theory with his experience. He has abandoned all hope for a unified, logically consistent worldview.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....95451.html

    In what should be needless to say, if it is impossible for ‘you’ to live as if your worldview were actually true then your worldview cannot possibly reflect reality as it really is but your worldview must instead be based on a delusion.

    Existential Argument against Atheism – November 1, 2013 by Jason Petersen
    1. If a worldview is true then you should be able to live consistently with that worldview.
    2. Atheists are unable to live consistently with their worldview.
    3. If you can’t live consistently with an atheist worldview then the worldview does not reflect reality.
    4. If a worldview does not reflect reality then that worldview is a delusion.
    5. If atheism is a delusion then atheism cannot be true.
    Conclusion: Atheism is false.
    http://answersforhope.com/exis.....t-atheism/

    Supplemental notes:

    Molecular Biology – 19th Century Materialism meets 21st Century Quantum Mechanics – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCs3WXHqOv8

    Scientific evidence that we do indeed have an eternal soul (Elaboration on Talbott’s question “What power holds off that moment — precisely for a lifetime, and not a moment longer?”)– video 2016
    https://youtu.be/h2P45Obl4lQ

    Strange but True: When Half a Brain Is Better than a Whole One – May 2007
    Excerpt: Most Hopkins hemispherectomy patients are five to 10 years old. Neurosurgeons have performed the operation on children as young as three months old. Astonishingly, memory and personality develop normally. ,,,
    Another study found that children that underwent hemispherectomies often improved academically once their seizures stopped. “One was champion bowler of her class, one was chess champion of his state, and others are in college doing very nicely,” Freeman says.
    Of course, the operation has its downside: “You can walk, run—some dance or skip—but you lose use of the hand opposite of the hemisphere that was removed. You have little function in that arm and vision on that side is lost,” Freeman says. Remarkably, few other impacts are seen. ,,,
    – scientific american

    Quote, Verse and Music:

    “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”
    George MacDonald – Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood – 1892

    John 8:58
    “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

    Crowder – I Am (Lyric Video)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cH_LLGiE0f0

  11. 11
    Origenes says:

    HeKS @9

    Surely you see that there’s a difference between X determining Y and X informing Y, correct?

    An essential difference! I don’t wish to derail this discussion, but I just can’t resist pointing out how the exact same difference plays a role in the goings on in the cell, as pointed out by Talbott:

    Controllers that don’t exist

    when regulators are in turn regulated, what do we mean by “regulate” — and where within the web of regulation can we single out a master controller capable of dictating cellular fates? And if we can’t, what are reputable scientists doing when they claim to have identified such a controller, or, rather, various such controllers?

    If they really mean something like “influencers,” then that’s fine. But influence is not about mechanism and control; the factors at issue just don’t have controlling powers. What we see, rather, is a continual mutual adaptation, interaction, and coordination that occurs from above. What we see, that is — once we start following out all the interactions at a molecular level — is not some mechanism dictating the fate or controlling an activity of the organism, but simply an organism-wide coherence — a living, metamorphosing form of activity — within which the more or less distinct partial activities find their proper place.

    The misrepresentation of this organic coherence in favor of supposed controlling mechanisms is not an innocent inattention to language; it’s a fundamental misrepresentation of reality at the central point where we are challenged to understand the character of living things.
    Talbott

  12. 12

    Pindi asks:

    So if there is nothing causing you to make a decision about something, is it then random?

    No. Nothing causes you (which, under not-materialism, “you” are not solely a physical cause and effect entity) to make any particular decision, nor is it random. It is a deliberate, acausal, free will decision.

    Many theists consider this a third class of causation distinct from random or lawful causes and a necessary causal category to (1) provide an acausal first cause for our system of cause and effect, and (2) account for the logically necessary existence of free will for us to have top down,metaphysical oversight/power over our rational faculties which mere chemistry cannot provide.

    Please note that having a reason for making a decision is not the same thing as that reason materially causing the decision. Having good reasons to do X doesn’t mean I will actually decide to do X. Free will is not an explicable nor a provable commodity; it is a logically necessary, axiomatic assumption unavailable under atheistic materialism that provides a basis for libertarian intention and a solution to infinite regress.

    Without it, you are debating dirt animated by chemistry and physics as if what you say matters, as if by saying things you can alter the patterns of the swirling dirt, as if your happenstance chemical effects can change my happenstance chemical processes into some other formation. Even if something like that appeared to happen, so what? It would just be a matter of chemistry, not a matter of logic, fact, truth, or evidence. You might as well attempt your task of changing patterns by barking or jabbering nonsensical words. Who knows? It might work via some chaotic cascade of cause and effect.

  13. 13
    Pindi says:

    HeKS, yes, but then what is the actual process of making a decision? On materialism the decision is explained as the outcome of a process. On your view, X informs Y but doesn’t determine it. So between the informing and the decision something else happens. What is that? What causes the decision to happen? If there is no cause then isn’t it random? And if there is a cause, then its determined by whatever the cause is.

  14. 14
    Pindi says:

    WJM, your post came through while I was writing mine.

    So you say (or many theists say) there is a third class of causation that is not an explicable or provable commodity. I guess that’s the end of the line for me then, as far as searching for an explanation goes. Why is not explicable?

  15. 15
    bb says:

    “Free will is not an explicable nor a provable commodity; it is a logically necessary, axiomatic assumption….”

    May I add that the existence of free will is also obvious to any honest person? It’s self-evident to the point that denying it can’t be cast as anything but absurd.

    Pindi,

    Are you familiar with the idea of this physiological feedback mechanism I have seen some atheists refer to? Maybe no one here answered my question because my interlocutors were talking out of their collective hat.

  16. 16

    Pindi,

    “I guess that’s the end of the line for me then, as far as searching for an explanation goes.”

    So is that you deciding that searching for an explanation will be fruitless, or do your chemicals dictate that it is fruitless?

  17. 17
    Pindi says:

    bb, no it’s not obvious to me. Intuitively yes, it feels obvious, but when I think more about it, it seems not so obvious.

  18. 18
    Pindi says:

    CY, me and my chemicals are the same thing.

  19. 19
    Eugen says:

    bb

    At the atheist rally you’ll be looking for an honest person like Diogenes did but all you would find are “jugs of milk”

  20. 20
    rvb8 says:

    I’m always suspicious of posts that are overly long, or overly complex. I remember reading assigned reading in a sociology class I stupidly enrolled for once, and reading indecipherable drivel. An idea, which cannot be explained economically (excluding Quantum ideas) is an idea bereft of value. Ideally ideas should be transferrsble, and understandable to most people.This post is not.

    The idea that the brain is a physical, biological organ, is one I hope we can all accept. That neurons fire according to chemical reactions, is also one we can all accept. That the neurons use chemicals to keep elecrical charges from expiring, is also one I hope we can all accept. That our thoghts, memories, and emotions reside in these electrically accessadble neurons is an idea (proven) which some how, strangely you don’t accept.

    To paraprase Holmes; ‘when the impossible is removed, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’

  21. 21
    rvb8 says:

    Also, thank you for the, not very inventive, and absolutely clumsy contempt, exhibited in the title; ‘miserable’, indeed!

    This hatred, and contempt of people who simply say that God is an unecessary explanation for anything, is typical of the faithful; although I do vaguely remeber WJM telling me he wasn’t Christian; whatever! Also, please have the decency to remember, that when religion did have the power many here wish to regain, it did a really bad job of using it.

    Being freed of my Catholic past was the most freeing moment I felt, no more fear that my thoughts were being monitored by what Hitchens described as a, ‘celestial dictator’, was incredibly uplifting. No more listening to halfwits like Ham, whom if they had to actually think of an original idea would stumble badly.

    My ‘miserable creature’ self, is very pleased with the present. As you stumble on in your dark, miniscule, incurious world.

  22. 22
    soundburger says:

    rvb8, please answer a question I posed to you in another post:
    Do you think that thoughts can be entirely reduced to, as you say chemicals and electrical charges in such a way that they can eventually be written down, and understood, as formulas?
    Can a train of thought, such as I am employing to write this and you employ to read it from start to finish, be ‘scored’ in some way by adjusting the formula, as a string of melodies can be scored to create a musical piece?
    Perhaps by ‘tuning’ the formula in some way can a thought thereby be altered so that disagreement becomes agreement – if we have the proper technology?
    Is the ‘formula’ of a thought in English different than the thought in Russian or Japanese?
    Will an invention potentially enable us to manufacture thoughts, such as, “I want a puppy” or “She has very beautiful eyes” and then insert them into other peoples’ brains?
    May I assume by what you have written so far, that your answer to all of these must necessarily be ‘yes’, and if not could you kindly explain why?

  23. 23
    rvb8 says:

    Well, yes, of course, what of it?

    If we finally invent a sentient computer, that is self aware, and can survive the, ‘Turing Test’, then yes, of course that computer has now reached the level of humanity, as it can reason as humans; some way off.

    Can we reduce our thought down to equations? I think the evolved neural pathways would be indescribably hard to map, and describe through mathematics.
    I don’t really understand the ‘formula’ writing part of the question, as thought is a transitive process, and so the calculations would have to be going on as you think.
    Why are you being so obtuse, the brain is an organ, yes or no? (See how the materialist has much simpler and easily relatable questions, compared to the spiritualist.) If yes, then how does it perform its task? By chemically induced, electrical firing of neurons.
    Or have I missed some gobledygook about ‘higher intrinsic, value, as seen from the symbiotic relationship of mind and matter, as expressed in the oneness and unity of God and Man’?
    No thanks! You stumble down that literary blind alley.

  24. 24
    soundburger says:

    It’s not a ‘brain is an organ, yes or no?’ question. Of COURSE the brain is an organ, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that the brain creates thoughts/consciousness. I see it as the other way around. The brain is an expression of a consciousness not yet understood.

    You are imagining ‘finally’ inventing a sentient computer, based on the assumptions you make, and you are also thinking that the ‘evolved neural pathways would be indescribably hard to map, and describe through mathematics’.

    In other words, you are talking about things that are improbable, and far beyond the grasp of current understanding. It’s the standard, ‘science is working on it’ argument that Dawkins always makes.

    That’s a kind of ‘gobledygook’ too; it’s just that you can’t see it.

  25. 25
    Autodidaktos says:

    For one thing, passing the Turing test is in no way an indicator that a machine is non-different from a rational animal i.e., a human being. With a sufficient database of human-human conversations, any computer can mimick a person. That does not mean it’s capable of abstract thought, no more than a stone thrown in parabolic motion knows vector algebra.

  26. 26

    Let’s look at the tragedy we see being played out by the puppets of chemistry on this thread. rvb8 writes:

    I’m always suspicious of posts that are overly long, or overly complex.

    Well, one cannot really help how one’s chemistry reacts.

    Ideally ideas should be transferrsble, and understandable to most people.This post is not.

    But, chemistry produces ideas however they actually exist. That’s the factual nature of ideas. rvb8 writes here as if there is something “wrong” with what chemistry actually produces, and as if material beings “should” do something other than what they actually do, and as if those material beings somehow have a top-down power to change how they think or what they do.

    rvb8’s commentary here contradicts his materialist views by implying that something should exist or occur other than that which chemistry and physics dictates, and utilizing the implicit assumption that humans have some capacity to do other than what they actually do.

    rvb8 might as well be a fig leaf criticizing the shape of maple leaves.

    The idea that the brain is a physical, biological organ, is one I hope we can all accept.

    Why would an atheistic materialist have such a hope? We either accept that idea or not due to our particular chemistries. One might as well hope that all rocks will wind up in the same spot after they tumble down a mountainside.

    That neurons fire according to chemical reactions, is also one we can all accept.

    Or not, depending on the dictates of our particular chemistries. Unfortunately, rvb8 is apparently so ignorant of the logical consequences of his unexamined beliefs that he keeps writing phrases that contradict the ramifications of his worldview philosophy. This madness continues:

    That the neurons use chemicals to keep elecrical charges from expiring, is also one I hope we can all accept.

    Imagine a rock that has landed at a particular spot at the bottom of a mountain, hoping that other rocks will also land at the same spot …. for what reason? What difference does the first rock think it will make if the other rocks land on the same spot (reach the same conclusion)?

    That our thoghts, memories, and emotions reside in these electrically accessadble neurons is an idea (proven) which some how, strangely you don’t accept.

    The self-conflicting tragedy on stage continues; how can it possibly be “strange”, when the same material forces that produce rvb8’s thoughts also produce mine and everyone else’s? The thought that such things work, and that they have been proven, can be nothing more than the effects of rvb8’s idiosyncratic, happenstance organic chemistry producing that conviction the same way chemistries produce conflicting ideas of proof and fact in others. Under materialism, there’s nothing strange about it; the only strange thing is that rvb8, a materialist, expects chemistry to produce something other than what it actually produces as thoughts and ideas in others. Why should it?

    To paraprase Holmes; ‘when the impossible is removed, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’

    How miserable it must be to have to argue as if any idea of what is possible, improbable, or true is something more than whatever individual chemistries happen to produce in the brain of an individual, while at the same time denying that it is anything more than that. rvb8 seems blithely unaware that whatever seems proven, factual, true, impossible, or improbable to him, under his worldview, has no relation to anything other than that they happen to be the happenstance effects of blind, mindless chemical interactions.

    IOW, rvb8’s happenstance chemical effects make him feel confident of the proven truth of X; my happenstance chemical effects make me feel confident X is false. That is the sum total of what rvb8 can claim about any idea under atheistic materialism, even though he produces word strings that imply his ideas and mine are somehow capable of being something more than that.

    The sad, miserable display of a puppet imagining it is a real boy continues:

    This hatred, and contempt of people who simply say that God is an unecessary explanation for anything, is typical of the faithful;

    No, it’s apparently typical of chemistry and physics. One wonders, does rvb8 think chemistry and physics is capable of either hate or contempt? One might as well assign the terms “hate” and “contempt” to bad weather or natural disasters. Don’t take it so personally, rvb8; remember, it’s all just blind, emotionless chemistry and physics animating dirt.

    although I do vaguely remeber WJM telling me he wasn’t Christian; whatever! Also, please have the decency to remember, that when religion did have the power many here wish to regain, it did a really bad job of using it.

    Again, this sad and tragic habit of imagining that chemistry and physics could do something other than what it actually does, and this weird cognitive dissonance of saying chemistry and physics did a “bad job” of something.

    However, we can’t really blame rvb8 for arguing as if his views are false while insisting they are true; that is the miserable condition biological automatons exist in: chemistry forcing them to say nonsensical things while concurrently forcing them to think they are wise. Fortunately for them, chemistry is also keeping them blind to fact that they cannot be anything other than exactly that which they condemn since we are all just doing what physics and chemistry dictates.

    Being freed of my Catholic past was the most freeing moment I felt, no more fear that my thoughts were being monitored by what Hitchens described as a, ‘celestial dictator’, was incredibly uplifting. No more listening to halfwits like Ham, whom if they had to actually think of an original idea would stumble badly.

    Oh, the irony here. How can any being be “free” of the accumulative physico-chemical effefs of their past? What can rvb8 possibly be talking about here? There is simply no physical means by which he can possibly be free of his past; is the factual, physico-chemical product of his past. His mind and thoughts are not “free” from anything in his past.

    The cognitive dissonance pathos is palpable; the puppet master moves the puppet a bit, changes the dialogue a bit, and then forces the puppet to say “I’m free!” The puppet master of chemistry and physics was behind it all when rvb8 was a catholic and after, forcing him every inch of the way without any internal or top down puppet power! to do anything about it at all, and rvb8 here bleats weakly, as commanded, “I am free!”

    It would be laughable if it wasn’t so terribly tragic.

    My ‘miserable creature’ self, is very pleased with the present. As you stumble on in your dark, miniscule, incurious world.

    Under your worldview, both you and I and our emotional states and our conditions are simply whatever mindless, happenstance chemistry and physics has produced. So, we are all the same miserable creatures stumbling about in the solipsistic darkness of a material world, doomed to do so because we can be nothing but mental and physical puppets generated by mindless, happenstance physical forces.

    It’s just so sadly amusing that you defend your particular physico-chemical effects as if they are somehow superior to my physico-chemical effects, as if I and others could and should somehow alter our chemistries at will.

  27. 27

    bb said:

    May I add that the existence of free will is also obvious to any honest person? It’s self-evident to the point that denying it can’t be cast as anything but absurd.

    Agreed, and additionally, we all act as if we and everyone else has it and cannot act otherwise. Free will is a necessary assumption for any explanation or debate or act to have any value or meaning whatsoever; it is required (as an assumption) to prove anything at all. It is a self-evident, fundamentally necessary commodity.

    To deny it is to deny capacity to do or think anything other than what something else dictates. If one claims that physico-chemical forces dictates their will, choices and thoughts, then they have abandoned reason, responsibility, and self-determination.

  28. 28
    bornagain77 says:

    Pindi claims:

    “me and my chemicals are the same thing.”

    That claim is logically, and scientifically, false.

    In science, people make models of reality, i.e. form hypothesis about how reality operates, and compare their models against reality to see how well their models reflect reality, i.e. empirical testing. If their models fail to properly reflect reality then, according to the extent that the models fail to match reality, they either modify their models or reject their models completely. Pindi’s ‘nothing but chemistry’ model, IMHO, falls into the latter category.

    As pointed out in post 10, it is impossible for Pindi, or any other atheist, to consistently live their lives as if they were nothing but chemistry,,

    Excerpt of post 10: “Brooks ends by saying, “I maintain two sets of inconsistent beliefs.” He has given up on any attempt to reconcile his theory with his experience. He has abandoned all hope for a unified, logically consistent worldview.
    – Nancy Pearcey
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-617073

    Thus, as also pointed out in 10, since the atheistic ‘I am nothing but chemistry’ model cannot possibly reflect reality as it really is, since no one can consistently live their lives as if atheistic materialism were actually true, then according to real world testing, the model must be false and as such the model is to either be modified or rejected entirely. Again, IMHO, it is the latter.

    The Scientific Method – Richard Feynman – video
    Quote: ‘If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn’t make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are who made the guess, or what his name is… If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL6-x0modwY

    Existential Argument against Atheism – November 1, 2013 by Jason Petersen
    1. If a worldview is true then you should be able to live consistently with that worldview.
    2. Atheists are unable to live consistently with their worldview.
    3. If you can’t live consistently with an atheist worldview then the worldview does not reflect reality.
    4. If a worldview does not reflect reality then that worldview is a delusion.
    5. If atheism is a delusion then atheism cannot be true.
    Conclusion: Atheism is false.
    http://answersforhope.com/exis.....t-atheism/

    In further critique of Pindi’s claim,,,

    “me and my chemicals are the same thing.”
    – Pindi

    ,,, In further critique of that claim from Pindi, the law of identity dictates that mind cannot possibly be the same thing as the material brain,,

    How Consciousness Points to the Existence of God – J. Warner Wallace – video – Sept. 2015
    (5 attributes of mind that are distinct from the material brain therefore, via the law of identity, the mind is not the same thing as the material brain)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ff1jiRpjko
    podcast – How Consciousness Points to the Existence of God – Sept. 2015
    http://coldcasechristianity.co.....adcast-42/

    Six reasons why you should believe in non-physical minds – 01/30/2014
    1) First-person access to mental properties
    2) Our experience of consciousness implies that we are not our bodies
    3) Persistent self-identity through time
    4) Mental properties cannot be measured like physical objects
    5) Intentionality or About-ness
    6) Free will and personal responsibility
    http://winteryknight.com/2014/.....cal-minds/

    Michael Egnor, professor of neurosurgery at SUNY Stony Brook, states the irreconcilable properties of mind compared to brain, via the law of identity, as such:

    The Mind and Materialist Superstition – Michael Egnor – 2008
    Six “conditions of mind” that are irreconcilable with materialism: –
    Excerpt: Intentionality,,, Qualia,,, Persistence of Self-Identity,,, Restricted Access,,, Incorrigibility,,, Free Will,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....13961.html

    Alvin Plantinga humorously uses a clever thought experiment, that imagines that we have a ‘beetle body’, to highlight the fact, via the ‘law of identity’, that the mind cannot possibly be the same thing as the brain.

    Alvin Plantinga and the Modal Argument (for the existence of the mind/soul) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOTn_wRwDE0

  29. 29
    bornagain77 says:

    In post 20, rvb8 chimes in to try to help Pindi

    “That our thoughts, memories, and emotions reside in these electrically accessible neurons is an idea (proven) which some how, strangely you don’t accept.”
    – rvb8

    Despite rvb8’s claim that thoughts, memories, and emotions reside in ‘electrically accessible neurons’, and that this fact is somehow ‘proven’, the fact of the matter is that that claim that he made is a patently false claim. The truth is, no one has the first clue how matter can possibly become subjectively conscious.

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientist Sebastian Seung makes this clear in his book “Connectome,” saying:

    “Every day we recall the past, perceive the present and imagine the future. How do our brains accomplish these feats? It’s safe to say that nobody really knows.”

    There is simply no direct evidence that anything material is capable of generating consciousness. As Rutgers University philosopher Jerry Fodor says,

    “Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. Nobody even knows what it would be like to have the slightest idea about how anything material could be conscious. So much for the philosophy of consciousness. Regardless of our knowledge of the structure of the brain, no one has any idea how the brain could possibly generate conscious experience.”

    As Nobel neurophysiologist Roger Sperry wrote,

    “Those centermost processes of the brain with which consciousness is presumably associated are simply not understood. They are so far beyond our comprehension at present that no one I know of has been able even to imagine their nature.”

    From modern physics, Nobel prize-winner Eugene Wigner agreed:

    “We have at present not even the vaguest idea how to connect the physio-chemical processes with the state of mind.”

    Contemporary physicist Nick Herbert states,

    “Science’s biggest mystery is the nature of consciousness. It is not that we possess bad or imperfect theories of human awareness; we simply have no such theories at all. About all we know about consciousness is that it has something to do with the head, rather than the foot.”

    Physician and author Larry Dossey wrote:

    “No experiment has ever demonstrated the genesis of consciousness from matter. One might as well believe that rabbits emerge from magicians’ hats. Yet this vaporous possibility, this neuro-mythology, has enchanted generations of gullible scientists, in spite of the fact that there is not a shred of direct evidence to support it.”

    In fact, how consciousness can possibly ’emerge’ from matter, far from being ‘proven’ as rvb8 falsely claimed, is infamously dubbed ‘the hard problem of consciousness’ for its resolute insolubility. David Chalmers is semi-famous for getting ‘the hard problem’ of consciousness across to lay people in a very easy to understand manner:

    David Chalmers on Consciousness (Descartes, Philosophical Zombies and the Hard Problem) – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK1Yo6VbRoo

    Moreover, irreducible subjective consciousness, besides being irreducible to brain states, even shows up in our best description of reality. Namely, subjective consciousness shows up in quantum mechanics:

    On The Comparison Of Quantum and Relativity Theories – Sachs – 1986
    Excerpt: quantum theory entails an irreducible subjective element in its conceptual basis. In contrast, the theory of relativity when fully exploited, is based on a totally objective view.
    http://books.google.com/books?.....38;f=false

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”
    Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) from his collection of essays “Symmetries and Reflections – Scientific Essays”;

    “We wish to measure a temperature.,,,
    But in any case, no matter how far we calculate — to the mercury vessel, to the scale of the thermometer, to the retina, or into the brain, at some time we must say: and this is perceived by the observer. That is, we must always divide the world into two parts, the one being the observed system, the other the observer.”
    John von Neumann – 1903-1957 – The Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, pp.418-21 – 1955

    Does Quantum Physics Make it Easier to Believe in God? Stephen M. Barr – July 10, 2012
    Excerpt: Couldn’t an inanimate physical device (say, a Geiger counter) carry out a “measurement” (minus the ‘observer’ in quantum mechanics)? That would run into the very problem pointed out by von Neumann: If the “observer” were just a purely physical entity, such as a Geiger counter, one could in principle write down a bigger wavefunction that described not only the thing being measured but also the observer. And, when calculated with the Schrödinger equation, that bigger wave function would not jump! Again: as long as only purely physical entities are involved, they are governed by an equation that says that the probabilities don’t jump.
    That’s why, when Peierls was asked whether a machine could be an “observer,” he said no, explaining that “the quantum mechanical description is in terms of knowledge, and knowledge requires somebody who knows.” Not a purely physical thing, but a mind.
    https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/content/does-quantum-physics-make-it-easier-believe-god

    In fact, it was, in large measure, because of “The Now” of the subjective mind, i.e. the persistence of self identity, that Einstein was denied the Nobel prize for time dilation in relativity:

    Einstein vs. “The Now” of Philosophers and Quantum Mechanics – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwyHUxoKWNM&index=3&list=PLtAP1KN7ahia8hmDlCYEKifQ8n65oNpQ5

    As briefly highlighted in the preceding video, the philosophers who opposed Einstein and prevented him from getting a Nobel for relativity, because of “The Now” of the subjective mind, (i.e. persistence of self identity), have now been experimentally vindicated by advances in quantum mechanics:

    New Mind-blowing Experiment Confirms That Reality Doesn’t Exist If You Are Not Looking at It – June 3, 2015
    Excerpt: The results of the Australian scientists’ experiment, which were published in the journal Nature Physics, show that this choice is determined by the way the object is measured, which is in accordance with what quantum theory predicts.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Truscott in a press release.,,,
    “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,” he said.
    Thus, this experiment adds to the validity of the quantum theory and provides new evidence to the idea that reality doesn’t exist without an observer.
    http://themindunleashed.org/20.....at-it.html

    “Look, we all have fun ridiculing the creationists who think the world sprang into existence on October 23, 4004 BC at 9AM (presumably Babylonian time), with the fossils already in the ground, light from distant stars heading toward us, etc. But if we accept the usual picture of quantum mechanics, then in a certain sense the situation is far worse: the world (as you experience it) might as well not have existed 10^-43 seconds ago!”
    – Scott Aaronson – MIT associate Professor quantum computation – Lecture 11: Decoherence and Hidden Variables

    Moreover, instantaneous ‘spooky action at a distance’ quantum correlations, which cannot possibly be explained by any materialistic explanation, have now been found in the waking brain.

    At the 18:00 minute mark to about the 22:15 minute mark of the following video, an interesting experiment on the sleeping brain is highlighted in which it is demonstrated that there is a fairly profound difference in in the way the brain ‘shares information’ between different parts of the brain in its sleeping state compared to how the brain ‘shares information’ in its waking state. i.e. In the sleeping state, the brain shares much less information with different parts of the brain than the brain does during our waking state.

    Through The Wormhole s02e01 Is There Life After Death – video (17:46 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/vQW5eo_BME0?t=1069

    Moreover, there is found to be ‘zero-time lag’ in the synchronization of widely separated parts of the waking brain

    Quantum Entangled Consciousness – Life After Death – Stuart Hameroff – video (1:55 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/jjpEc98o_Oo?t=118

    ,,, zero time lag neuronal synchrony despite long conduction delays – 2008
    Excerpt: Multielectrode recordings have revealed zero time lag synchronization among remote cerebral cortical areas. However, the axonal conduction delays among such distant regions can amount to several tens of milliseconds. It is still unclear which mechanism is giving rise to isochronous discharge of widely distributed neurons, despite such latencies,,,
    Remarkably, synchrony of neuronal activity is not limited to short-range interactions within a cortical patch. Interareal synchronization across cortical regions including interhemispheric areas has been observed in several tasks (7, 9, 11–14).,,,
    Beyond its functional relevance, the zero time lag synchrony among such distant neuronal ensembles must be established by mechanisms that are able to compensate for the delays involved in the neuronal communication.
    Latencies in conducting nerve impulses down axonal processes can amount to delays of several tens of milliseconds between the generation of a spike in a presynaptic cell and the elicitation of a postsynaptic potential (16). The question is how, despite such temporal delays, the reciprocal interactions between two brain regions can lead to the associated neural populations to fire in unison (i.e. zero time lag).,,,
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm.....MC2575223/

    The Puzzling Role Of Biophotons In The Brain – Dec. 17, 2010
    Excerpt: It’s certainly true that electrical activity in the brain is synchronised over distances that cannot be easily explained. Electrical signals travel too slowly to do this job, so something else must be at work.,,,
    (So) It’s a big jump to assume that photons do this job.
    http://www.technologyreview.co.....the-brain/

  30. 30
    bornagain77 says:

    There simply is no reductive materialistic explanation for atheistic materialists to appeal to in order to explain why widely separated parts of the waking brain would be instantaneously synchronized and correlated.

    Looking beyond space and time to cope with quantum theory – 29 October 2012
    Excerpt: “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,”
    http://www.quantumlah.org/high.....uences.php

    Quantum correlations do not imply instant causation – August 12, 2016
    Excerpt: A research team led by a Heriot-Watt scientist has shown that the universe is even weirder than had previously been thought.
    In 2015 the universe was officially proven to be weird. After many decades of research, a series of experiments showed that distant, entangled objects can seemingly interact with each other through what Albert Einstein famously dismissed as “Spooky action at a distance”.
    A new experiment by an international team led by Heriot-Watt’s Dr Alessandro Fedrizzi has now found that the universe is even weirder than that: entangled objects do not cause each other to behave the way they do.
    http://phys.org/news/2016-08-q.....ation.html

    Whereas the Theist does have a ‘beyond space and time’, i.e. non-local, cause to appeal to in order to explain the instantaneous correlations of the waking brain:

    Isaiah 50:4
    The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of those who are instructed to know how to sustain the weary with a word. He awakens Me each morning; He awakens My ear to listen like those being instructed.

    Moreover, besides the waking brain state, this ‘spooky action at a distance’, i.e. quantum entanglement, is also found in every DNA and protein molecule of the human body, thus giving the Christian Theist solid physical evidence for the belief that we have do indeed have a transcendent soul that could very well live past the death of the temporal material body:

    Molecular Biology – 19th Century Materialism meets 21st Century Quantum Mechanics – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCs3WXHqOv8

    The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings – Stephen L. Talbott – 2010
    Excerpt: Virtually the same collection of molecules exists in the canine cells during the moments immediately before and after death. But after the fateful transition no one will any longer think of genes as being regulated, nor will anyone refer to normal or proper chromosome functioning. No molecules will be said to guide other molecules to specific targets, and no molecules will be carrying signals, which is just as well because there will be no structures recognizing signals. Code, information, and communication, in their biological sense, will have disappeared from the scientist’s vocabulary.
    ,,, the question, rather, is why things don’t fall completely apart — as they do, in fact, at the moment of death. What power holds off that moment — precisely for a lifetime, and not a moment longer?
    Despite the countless processes going on in the cell, and despite the fact that each process might be expected to “go its own way” according to the myriad factors impinging on it from all directions, the actual result is quite different. Rather than becoming progressively disordered in their mutual relations (as indeed happens after death, when the whole dissolves into separate fragments), the processes hold together in a larger unity.
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....-of-beings

    Scientific evidence that we do indeed have an eternal soul (Elaboration on Talbott’s question “What power holds off that moment — precisely for a lifetime, and not a moment longer?”) – video 2016
    https://youtu.be/h2P45Obl4lQ

    The fact that we have a mind that is irreducible to the brain is also made evidence by what is termed “brain plasticity”. In direct contradiction to the atheist’s materialistic claim that our thoughts are merely the result of whatever state our material brain happens to be in, ‘Brain Plasticity’, the ability to alter the structure of the brain, from a person’s focused intention, has now been established by Jeffrey Schwartz, as well as among other researchers.

    The Case for the Soul – InspiringPhilosophy – (4:03 minute mark, Brain Plasticity including Schwartz’s work) – Oct. 2014 – video
    The Mind is able to modify the brain (brain plasticity). Moreover, Idealism explains all anomalous evidence of personality changes due to brain injury, whereas physicalism cannot explain mind.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBsI_ay8K70

    The Case for the Soul: Quantum Biology – (7:25 minute mark – Brain Plasticity and Mindfulness control of DNA expression)
    https://youtu.be/6_xEraQWvgM?t=446

    Moreover, as alluded to in the preceding video, and completely contrary to materialistic thought, mind has been now also been shown to be able to reach all the way down and have pronounced, ‘epigenetic’, effects on the gene expression of our bodies:

    Scientists Finally Show How Your Thoughts Can Cause Specific Molecular Changes To Your Genes, – December 10, 2013
    Excerpt: “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice,” says study author Richard J. Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
    “Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs,” says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain (IIBB-CSIC-IDIBAPS), where the molecular analyses were conducted.,,,
    the researchers say, there was no difference in the tested genes between the two groups of people at the start of the study. The observed effects were seen only in the meditators following mindfulness practice. In addition, several other DNA-modifying genes showed no differences between groups, suggesting that the mindfulness practice specifically affected certain regulatory pathways.
    http://www.tunedbody.com/scien.....ges-genes/

    Then there is also the well documented placebo effect in which a person’s beliefs have pronounced effects on their material body

    placebo effect
    a beneficial effect, produced by a placebo drug or treatment, that cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient’s belief in that treatment.

    Thus, all in all, the Christian in an excellent position as far as the empirical evidence is concerned and the atheist has basically not one shred of confirmational evidence for his claim that he is ‘nothing but chemistry’

    Verse and Music

    Isaiah 50:4
    The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of those who are instructed to know how to sustain the weary with a word. He awakens Me each morning; He awakens My ear to listen like those being instructed.

    Evanescence – Bring Me To Life
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YxaaGgTQYM
    Lyric Excerpt: Only you are the life among the dead

    All this time I can’t believe I couldn’t see
    Kept in the dark but you were there in front of me
    I’ve been sleeping a thousand years it seems
    Got to open my eyes to everything
    Without a thought, without a voice, without a soul
    Don’t let me die here
    There must be something more
    Bring me to life

    (Wake me up)
    Wake me up inside,,,

  31. 31
    Origenes says:

    Pindi: me and my chemicals are the same thing.

    It is as if they don’t realize that such claims end rational discussion. Similarly when Jerry Coyne states (see #2) that blind particles in motion are in full control of his thoughts and behavior, there is really nothing left to say.
    Also, when Rosenberg claims that “… thinking about things can’t happen at all. The brain can’t have thoughts about Paris, or about France, or about capitals, or about anything else for that matter” simply because “… physics and neuroscience both tell us, for different reasons, that one clump of matter can’t be about another clump of matter”, then, also here, there is, in fact, very little left to say. Only *silence* is appropriate.

  32. 32
    ellijacket says:

    Pindi,

    How do you know you and your chemicals are the same thing?

    If you are just your chemicals then you don’t know anything. You only think you know what your chemicals decide you know. Don’t you see the clear implications?

  33. 33

    Origines,

    They don’t realize it. IMO, their thought process goes something like this:

    1. Idea of god and supernatural is patently ridiculous, so …
    2. Atheism/materialism must be true, and …
    3. I think and act the way I do, so ….
    4. Atheism/materialism must be able to account for my thoughts and behavior.

    You can’t convince them otherwise because they are so absolutely certain #1 is true, which is why they always go back, one way or another, to belittling and ridiculing those concepts regardless of how carefully or seriously they are presented. Many times they have a deep, emotional commitment against theism (note rbv8’s sense of elated freedom after leaving Catholicism) that serves as an identity anchor which disallows any critical examination.

    There are core drivers of our sense of self that are often simply too deeply rooted and important to give up unless one reaches a very critical point. Debating on the internet, no matter how logically compelling the point, isn’t nearly enough to dislodge such tightly held issues.

  34. 34

    I hate to be harsh on the poor deluded souls, but the atheists who regularly post here are fairly stupid. Sad but true.

  35. 35
    OldArmy94 says:

    I don’t think they are stupid, per se, as much as they don’t have the ears to hear.

  36. 36

    How terrifying it must be for an atheist/materialist, never knowing if a stray smell, noise or bit of food might cause a chain reaction that culminates in them suddenly believing that god and angels and demons exist. Or maybe they just wake up one day and some cumulative chemical reaction has created a certainty in them that fairies are real and that they are the reincarnated form of Napoleon. Hard to imagine the burden of going through a day never knowing what might change your mind, indeed your very identity, from one moment to the next.

  37. 37
    HeKS says:

    OldArmy94,

    I don’t think they are stupid, per se, as much as they don’t have the ears to hear.

    I agree.

    Furthermore, to call them stupid is to give them an excuse for failing to follow the logic where it necessarily leads. A stupid person is far more likely to say that they can’t understand where the logic is pointing rather than to resort to the claim that logic isn’t binding, the latter of which we’ve seen here too many times.

  38. 38
    Pindi says:

    Ellijacket, I don’t know for sure. I just don’t see any (good) evidence that there is anything else involved. When you guys say things like a bag of chemicals you are just using pejorative, reductionist language to make a point. You could call the Taj Mahal a pile of stone. It’s true, but it doesn’t convey the full picture.

    The explanations I read here, either seem incoherent to me, or don’t really explain anything. Saying there is an immaterial soul that is really me and is making my decisions, doesn’t sound right. It’s just pushing the issue away. How does the immaterial part of me make decisions? Do you believe like WJM that every decision is an uncaused first cause? An inexplicable third cause beyond determined and random?

    The brain is an incredibly complex organ. We haven’t even scratched the surface of how it works. We have no idea how consciousness arises from it, or even what consciousness is. I am fine with that. I prefer open questions to pat answers.

    And to Truth Will Set You Free and the others who regularly insult me and say I am stupid, I don’t get why you do that. I engage in good faith. I most certainly am not stupid, even though I have different views to you. I am not certain of anything. But I enjoy puzzling over the mysteries of life. You want to polarise people and create divides. Them and us mentality. I don’t think that is helpful. And completely unnecessary.

  39. 39
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, fallacy of the closed, indoctrinated, ideologised mind in action; driven by a self-refuting touchstone commitment that there just can be no God regardless of consequences. Evidently not seeing that the premise they cling to reduces mind, meaning and reasoning to utter self-falsifying incoherence. The echos of the grim warning, “as they refused to retain the knowledge of God, God gave them over to a debased mind . . .” leap out of our screens. It is time to stop, reassess, see the roots of utter incoherence and think again. KF

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    Pindi,

    it is more than time for you to face the patent reductio ad absurdum produced by the self-referential incoherence of evolutionary materialistic scientism. Trying to distract and resort to rhetorical side tracks cannot make this central challenge vanish in a poof of rhetorical smoke.

    And beyond, lies the irretrievable amorality of the system; which is directly connected as it is the light of conscience within that urges us to the true, just, right and more. Attempts to reduce the moral government attested to by conscience to a purely subjective impulse make shipwreck of reasoning. Grand delusion lurks down that road.

    And indeed the reduction of the consciously aware self, the “I” to a further delusion, simply further underscores just how profoundly wrong this sort of lab coat clad atheism is.

    Nor is this particularly new, at the turn of the 1930’s, J B S Haldane, a noted pioneer of the modern synthesis, observed:

    >”It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. Cf. here on (and esp here) on the self-refutation by self-falsifying self referential incoherence and on linked amorality.]

    It is time to re-think, turning from a patent march of absurdity, thus of folly.

    Where, it is deeply ill advised and less than sensible to cling to absurdity.

    KF

  41. 41
    Pindi says:

    Hi KF, I think and re-think all the time, but I don’t agree with you. So let’s just leave it at that. I acknowledge that you have a different view to me, and I’m alright with that. It seems to me that you are unable to return the sentiment. All you are interested in is changing other people’s views, rather than just discussing them. That mode of discourse doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t enjoy it or find it enlightening. So there is nothing in it for me.

    cheers.

  42. 42
    kairosfocus says:

    Pindi, this is reductio ad absurdum you face; your inclination to agree or disagree is irrelevant; save as an index of how far wrong your thinking has gone. I suggest you wake up to that stark reality. KF

  43. 43
    Dionisio says:

    KF @42:

    FYI – your interlocutor wrote @58 in another thread*:

    I choose what I want to respond to, based on time available and how interesting the subject is to me. I don’t accept any obligation to continue any conversation I become part of. I do this out of interest and enjoyment, not as a job or obligation.

    (*) http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-616655

    However, previously he had failed to answer the simple questions posted @1949-1954 in another thread**. Note that in that occasion he had started the ‘chat’ with a vague comment apparently unrelated to the main topic of the given discussion thread. He started his own ‘discussion’ his way, but when it got too hot, he quit. Just FYI.
    Anyway, what else is new? 🙂

    (**)
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-616302

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    D, we therefore have a right to draw conclusions and make fair comments in light of Pindi’s behaviour in response to something so serious as clearly demonstrated reductio ad absurdum. And, to draw out and act on inferences for whether people who behave like this are reasonably to be entrusted with any responsibilities that require intellectual and ethical soundness. Especially, in the context of the potential or actual consequences for our civilisation in this hour of peril. That includes giving clear public warning. KF

  45. 45
    Vy says:

    This hatred, and contempt of people who simply say that God is an unecessary explanation for anything, is typical of the faithful; although I do vaguely remeber WJM telling me he wasn’t Christian; whatever! Also, please have the decency to remember, that when religion did have the power many here wish to regain, it did a really bad job of using it.

    No kidding!

    The religious League of Militant Atheists does a really good job of showing what those faithful Atheists are capable of when left unchecked.

    I wonder why you Atheopaths think replacing your vague understanding of God with probablymaybecouldness and “Nature” somehow makes you not a religion. Then again, chemicals don’t think.

    Being freed of my Catholic past was the most freeing moment I felt, no more fear that my thoughts were being monitored by what Hitchens described as a, ‘celestial dictator’, was incredibly uplifting. No more listening to halfwits like Ham, whom if they had to actually think of an original idea would stumble badly.

    I can imagine! But wait, was it “you” that was “freed” or chemical X?
    How sure are you that you’re freed? After all, you believe that every feeling you have is nothing but the byproduct of some mindless chemicals reacting.

    Just sayin’

    My ‘miserable creature’ self, is very pleased with the present. As you stumble on in your dark, miniscule, incurious world.

    Self?

  46. 46
    Vy says:

    When you guys say things like a bag of chemicals you are just using pejorative, reductionist language to make a point. You could call the Taj Mahal a pile of stone. It’s true, but it doesn’t convey the full picture.

    Evodelusionists like you, not us, call humans a bag of chemicals:

    Cashmore has argued that a belief in free will is akin to religious beliefs, since neither complies with the laws of the physical world. One of the basic premises of biology and biochemistry is that biological systems are nothing more than a bag of chemicals that obey chemical and physical laws.

    More:

    The reality is, not only do we have no more free will than a fly or a bacterium, in actuality we have no more free will than a bowl of sugar.

    And ever so often – stardust:

    Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements – the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life – weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today. ? Lawrence M. Krauss

    Cute, right? 😀

    We have no idea how consciousness arises from it, or even what consciousness is. I am fine with that. I prefer open questions to pat answers.

    Oh don’t let chemical U deceive you, consciousness is an illusion! This bag of chemicals obeying the same physical laws as a bowl of sugar gives an amazing explanation there. Amazingly stupid that is.

    I can imagine the Taj Mahal would be happy your with earlier comment had it heard you. 🙂

  47. 47
    Vy says:

    The explanations I read here, either seem incoherent to me, or don’t really explain anything.

    Why would you hope otherwise? Do you think it’s possible for chemical M and N to coherently understand that they can react?

  48. 48
    Pindi says:

    Vy @46 I don’t get the point of quoting a bunch of other people and then somehow relating that to me? I am only responsible for my own thoughts and opinions. You seem to believe that all atheists share the same opinions on everything. That is not true of religious people of course, and its even less true of atheists (who are not a homogeneous group, they are just people who share a lack of belief in gods. I happen to be someone who doesn’t believe that 9/11 was carried out by the government. Does that mean I have the same views on everything as every other person that shares my lack of belief about that?)

  49. 49
    Vy says:

    I don’t get the point of quoting a bunch of other people and then somehow relating that to me?

    The point heh?
    Here’s one point: According to you, “When you guys say things like a bag of chemicals you are just using pejorative, reductionist language to make a point.”. But in reality, it’s the evolutionists like you who “say things like a bag of chemicals”, all “[we] guys” do is apply it to “you guys” when “you guys” try to argue in a way that is inconsistent with evodelusionary belief.

    Need more points?

    I am only responsible for my own thoughts and opinions.

    Case in point.

    That is not true of religious people of course, and its even less true of atheists (who are not a homogeneous group, they are just people who share a lack of belief in gods.

    And Atheists are not “religious” people? You might wanna check again and again.

    “You guys” should really drop the “we’re just a bunch of random people who just happen to share a LACK OF BELIEF in the existence of gods” act. Atheism is and has always been a religion.

    I happen to be someone who doesn’t believe that 9/11 was carried out by the government. Does that mean I have the same views on everything as every other person that shares my lack of belief about that?

    This is quite a terrible argument from analogy. You seem to think every Christian “ha[s] the same views on everything as every other [Christian] that shares [said Christian’s] lack of belief about [X]”.

  50. 50
    Vy says:

    Alas, several Atheists don’t bother with the smoke and mirrors anymore. From Atheist Alliance International:

    In The Beginning…Was Atheism

    Earliest evidence for atheism predates Jesus by at least 500 years, Cambridge professor argues
    By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor, The Telegraph

    A new Cambridge University study argues that atheism is in fact one of the world’s oldest religions – long predating Christianity and Islam.

    No argument there! 🙂

  51. 51
    EvilSnack says:

    Oh come now. Materialists, by and large, are never going to accept that their ideas are the product of chemical reactions.

    However, they will continue to live, think, and speak as if everybody’s ideas but their own are the product of chemical reactions. Their own ideas, to the contrary, are the product of Reason™.

  52. 52
    Dionisio says:

    KF,

    As an addendum to the above comment @43, see the comment @68 in this link:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-616690

    The case of your interlocutor in well documented now.

  53. 53
    Dionisio says:

    KF @44:

    I don’t have spare time to squander on senseless debates with people who don’t want to understand other points of view. That’s why I ask simple questions to let them reveal their real motives. Their reaction to those simple questions is sufficient to know their motives, at least in general terms.

  54. 54
    bb says:

    D @ 53

    Wipe the dust off your feet and move on. Unless Pindi is willing to ask honest questions and be honest with himself, there is no point. His worldview has already been demonstrated as incoherent.

  55. 55
    Dionisio says:

    Vy @45:

    RE: The text you quoted @45: where did you copy it from?
    What’s the post #?
    Thank you.

  56. 56
    Vy says:

    Dionisio, it’s rbv8’s comment #21.

  57. 57
    HeKS says:

    Pindi,

    I don’t get the point of quoting a bunch of other people and then somehow relating that to me? I am only responsible for my own thoughts and opinions

    I explained this in this thread, starting with my comment to WJM in #44, then my comments to you in #98, in which, after you asked me to “reference some of the academic atheists who recognise these truths”, I provided you with a lengthy list of examples. You never responded.

    Allow me to once again address your question/statement in #48 of this thread (i.e. “I don’t get the point of quoting a bunch of other people and then somehow relating that to me?”).

    This statement from you implies that some theists here, myself included, are simply pasting in the subjective personal opinions of certain academic atheists and expecting you to be bound by their personal opinions rather than your own. That would be silly … but that’s not what is happening.

    The reason we are providing these kinds of quotes from numerous academic atheists is because the claims they are making are not simply their own personal opinions, but are conclusions that they agree are logically mandated by an atheist/materialist worldview. These are conclusions that follow from atheism and materialism as a matter of logical necessity. They are unavoidable conclusions widely recognized by both theists and atheists. Some of these atheists have written books laying out in great detail why these conclusions necessarily follow from atheism, with Alex Rosenberg being a prime example. The logic holds and the conclusions are really rather obvious.

    So for you to say that you yourself don’t hold these opinions, as though they are no more binding on you than someone else’s preferred flavor of ice cream, simply won’t do. It’s like agreeing that all men are mortal and that Socrates is a man, but then claiming that you don’t personally hold the opinion that Socrates is mortal. You can make the claim if you like, but in the absence of a solid argument that can overturn the sound reasoning of theists and atheists alike, your declarations that you don’t personally hold the opinions in question amounts to nothing more than an admission that your views about the world and your own mind directly contradict the atheistic worldview you claim to hold. If you are to be logically consistent, that worldview demands that you disavow the existence of any self, the existence of any thoughts that are about things, or any access to truth on the basis of free and rational deliberation.

    And yet, you see, because this the case, and because you claim to be an atheist, I don’t even have any grounds for asking that you be logically consistent! If your worldview is true (whatever that means), then you will be whatever you will be and you will think whatever physics and chemistry make you think, and whatever that is will have nothing to do with any rational determination about its truth value, even if physics and chemistry somehow make it seem (to whom?) otherwise.

  58. 58
    Dionisio says:

    bb @54:

    Exactly! Thank you.

  59. 59
    Dionisio says:

    Vy @56:
    Thank you for the information.
    The text you quoted reveals tremendous ignorance about history and the contextual meaning of words.
    Really pathetic.
    I don’t waste time on senseless debates with those folks.

  60. 60
    Vy says:

    Dionisio @59, you’re welcome.

    Sometimes it’s just fun to see them tie themselves in knots to prove they are “ANTI-GOAT-HERDER MYTHS and UBER-RATIONAL PRO-SCIENCE!!!” champions.

    It’s adorably pitiful 🙂

  61. 61
    soundburger says:

    HeKS writes #57
    “if you like, but in the absence of a solid argument that can overturn the sound reasoning of theists and atheists alike, your declarations that you don’t personally hold the opinions in question amounts to nothing more than an admission that your views about the world and your own mind directly contradict the atheistic worldview you claim to hold. If you are to be logically consistent, that worldview demands that you disavow the existence of any self, the existence of any thoughts that are about things, or any access to truth on the basis of free and rational deliberation.”

    This is exactly the crux of the matter, and it is surprising that the materialist commenters are unable to see, or rather admit, that.

    It is why rvb8’s blithe statement that ‘My ‘miserable creature’ self, is very pleased with the present. ‘ is the very antithesis of an argument and is a purely subjective, meaningless comment. If someone were to counter with, “I’m a Christian who believes in Noah’s Ark, the virgin birth, etc. and I’m very happy living as such, thank you!”, he has no logical basis with which to counter that. Given his line of reasoning, he can say nothing but, ‘well done, then’.
    But he does nothing of the kind, rather ridiculing such a viewpoint as a ‘dark, incurious, miniscule world’, with absolutely NO basis for his condemnation. If the Christian is just as ‘pleased with the present’ as he is, AND his basis for his happiness is predicated on a choice to ignore the implications of his worldview, there are no grounds for triumphalism, no basis for finding his worldview superior, nothing, zilch, nada. Just subjectivity, nothing else.

  62. 62
    rvb8 says:

    When WJM says that rvb8 cntradicts himself when he says ‘religion did a bad job’, and does not realise it is the physics and chemicals which did a, ‘bad job’, why on earth does he believe this would upset me? I agree!

    I know that it is the memories, feelings, and other emotions stored electrically, in our chemically driven brains that causes us to act. Just as the chemically induced emotions of the religious, causes them to be blind to facts. Yes! I agree! Your turn for an absolutely grammatically dense, utterly unreadable response.

    Again! Why is it that I must read and re-read your posts before I get your meaning? (No doubt the insults will now flow.) The ironic mind is joyous, the literal mind dull; the spiritual are so literal. Can’t you write a simple sentence explaining your position? I’ve given up on the indecipherable Kairos.

  63. 63
    bb says:

    rvb8,

    “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

    -Proverbs 9:10

    I’m sure you’ve read it before. Heed it, or remain a fool. Your choice.

  64. 64
    HeKS says:

    rvb8,

    When WJM says that rvb8 cntradicts himself when he says ‘religion did a bad job’, and does not realise it is the physics and chemicals which did a, ‘bad job’, why on earth does he believe this would upset me? I agree!

    I know that it is the memories, feelings, and other emotions stored electrically, in our chemically driven brains that causes us to act.

    The problem is that you seem to think this is just about storage … that memories, for example, are essentially what they seem to be, and that they are stored chemically in the brain. That is fabulously wrong. On atheism/materialism, your “memories” have no true content. They aren’t about anything. Do you think you remember some significant event in your life, like a graduation, a wedding, or the birth of a child? You don’t. Your “memories” aren’t about events any more than chairs are about tables. On your worldview, nothing about the world is as it seems, nor is there a you to which it can seem that way. Do you think you have reasons to believe that your thoughts are merely the products of your brain? So sorry. You can’t. You can’t have either beliefs or thoughts about beliefs, nor is it even coherent to think you might be able to rationally deliberate upon true external facts and come to a reasoned conclusion that is in any way causally related to the truth value of those illusory external data.

    These are the necessary implications of your worldview, as widely acknowledged even by other atheists. If you want to deny them, good for you … that’s the first sign of rationality. Unfortunately, it means you are merely paying lip-service to your atheism and materialism while living a mental life that finds its logical and metaphysical foundations in theism.

  65. 65
    kairosfocus says:

    Pindi & RVB8 [et al],

    The collapse and irretrievable bankruptcy of evolutionary materialistic scientism as a main type of atheism, is now painfully evident to one and all who will but look. But of course, as a part of that, there is inherent amorality with organically embedded moral subjectivism, leading to rejection and dulling of the prompting voice of conscience towards the truth, reason and the right.

    That leaves but one thing on the table: might and manipulation make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘meaning,’ ‘reason,’ ‘rights’ and more.

    Cynically manipulative nihilism, in short.

    And that is already evident above.

    Nay, it was long since evident to say Plato contemplating the collapse of Athenian democracy c 360 BC. Yes, Evolutionary Materialistic atheism is ancient, and was known to be utterly ruinous by 360 BC:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

    Mockery or refusal to attend to inconvenient facts and logic or to soberingly sound lessons of history and warnings on the march of folly our civilisation is now undertaking do not blunt the force of these words.

    They simply reveal refusal to learn sobering lessons of history hard bought with blood and tears.

    Such as do that simply doom themselves (and our civilisation were we foolish enough to give power to such) to pay the same horrific coin for lessons that were already old when Paul of Tarsus warned of the follies of locking God out of our knowledge base, in Rom 1.

    So, the conclusion of the matter (with Luke’s concrete historical microcosm of the ship of state in mind from Ac 27) is that we must now take prudent action to avert a march of ruinous folly. Which includes recognising that those who insist on clinging to the bankrupt lab coat clad evolutionary materialism of our day would lead us to ruin.

    Nay, have been leading us to ruin.

    KF

  66. 66
    Andre says:

    I will say it again….

    The fundamental problem for materialism is this, chemical reactions thinking about chemical reactions…..

    It’s a materialist show stopper…..

  67. 67

    The biological automaton called rvb8 writes @62:

    I know that it is the memories, feelings, and other emotions stored electrically, in our chemically driven brains that causes us to act.

    Of course, being a chemically driven automaton, rvb8 experiences “knowing” as an internal sensation produced entirely by chemicals; that sensation of “knowing” can accompany any information at all, whether factual or false. Other biological automatons “know” things that in direct contradiction to what rvb8 “knows”; however, there is nothing outside of that chemically-produced sensation of “knowing” that rvb8 can refer to to elevate his “knowledge” above the “knowledge” of other automatons that contradict his.

    Just as the chemically induced emotions of the religious, causes them to be blind to facts. Yes! I agree! Your turn for an absolutely grammatically dense, utterly unreadable response.

    All biological automatons are equally blind to facts. Automatons will consider something a fact, no matter how false or absurd, if their chemistry dictates that they will. They will consider a piece of information a memory, or an emotion, or true or false for no reason other than that is what their chemistry dictates.

    If chemistry generates as “memory” something that never happened, and dicatates rvb8 consider that memory a “fact”, that is what rvb8 will do. There’s no way for rvb8 to know what is a fact, what is provable, what is true, what is emotion, what is memory, what is fantasy in any sense other than chemicals make him experience various things as such – same as anyone else.

    Yet, rvb8 ignorantly talks as if he somehow knows his knowledge is true knowledge, as if he has some way to peer beyond his chemical limitations to understand what “chemical truths” are really true, based on real memories (not just chemicals producing false memories) and real evidence (not just chemical-induced sensations of evidence).

    He is confidant his chemicals have produced a true reflection of a reality and that his confidence is more than just a chemically-produced sensation, the same kind of sensations that millions who disagree with his views experience.

    But note, rvb8 doesn’t even address the logic of his own worldview, doesn’t explain how, in principle, it can grant him any capacity to make valid judgements instead of chemically-produced false sensations of valid judgements (like it must be doing in everyone arguing against his position). Without actually addressing the logical objections, he blithely reasserts that he just knows and is confident in that knowledge.

    He just knows that his particular chemically-produced knowledge and memories and facts and evidence are actual facts even outside of the domain of his personal, chemically-produced sensations of fact, memory, etc. However, under his worldview there’s no way for him to acquire such knowledge, much less be confident of it.

    Even the most superficial of critical introspection would allow one to see the logical and common-sense flaw in this position, but rvb8 blindly soldiers on, using terms as if he has some extra-chemical perception of truth by which to judge his own chemically-produced sensations as true, and the chemically-produced sensations of others as false.

    rvb8, logically speaking, how is it that you, as a biological automaton that thinks and believes whatever happenstance physico-dynamic forces dictate, can know your chemically-induced sensations of fact, memory, evidence, etc., reflect actual facts, actual historical events, actual evidence? How – logically speaking – is your confidence any difference than the confidence experienced by those who disagree with you?

    But, to be fair, rvb8 doesn’t seem to have the capacity to be logically critical of his own views; all he can do, apparently, is continue to reassert their validity as if he has some special capacity beyond thinking whatever chemicals happen to generate. He doesn’t seem capable of grasping – even a little bit – the logical consequences of the position his worldview claims put him in because here he is, still asserting things his worldview logically disallows him from having any meaningful knowledge or understanding of.

    I don’t doubt that rvb8 is quite happy and secure with his state of affairs; ignorance is indeed bliss. If he were to actually understand how foolish, self-contradictory, and logically absurd his statements here are with respect to his insisted-upon worldview, I imagine his embarrassment would be severe.

    But, apparently, he has no idea. He apparently has trouble reading long, considered posts that contain logical, critical examinations of worldview systems and their ramifications.

  68. 68

    Andre @66:

    Apparently the real problem is getting the materialist to understand what the problem is in asserting that their particular chemical interactions correspond to some actual truth, while asserting the chemical interactions of others do not. Being nothing but chemical interactions, there’s no way for them to know that. There’s no way for them to “know” anything in any meaningful sense of the word, because the only thing any such assertion can mean is “chemical processes have cause this sensation”.

    All “knowing” or “fact” is, under materialism, is “chemical interactions have caused the sensation that something is known or is a fact, whether that thing is true or false.”

    All “evidence” is, under materialism, is “chemical interactions have caused the sensation that something is evidence, whether or not it is actually evidence.”

    All “memory” is, under materialism, is “chemical interactions have caused the sensation that something is a memory, whether or not that thing actually occurred.”

    Etc.

    They seem to be immune to understanding this fundamental, fatal flaw in their worldview and how it makes everything they say in a debate absurd.

  69. 69

    rvb8 said:

    When WJM says that rvb8 cntradicts himself when he says ‘religion did a bad job’, and does not realise it is the physics and chemicals which did a, ‘bad job’, why on earth does he believe this would upset me? I agree!

    I cannot imagine the world rvb8 lives in where it is coherent to consider some effect generated ultimately by mindless physics and chemistry a “bad job”. It’s like saying that a mountain did a “bad job” of resisting erosion or some water did a “bad job” of soaking into a fabric.

    They are, apparently, totally oblivious to the absurdity of what they write here.

  70. 70
    Vy says:

    Just as the chemically induced emotions of the religious, causes them to be blind to facts.

    Like how you’re blind to the fact that Atheists happen to a member of the oh so terrible group “religious”? Wonder which chemical is responsible for that.

    Hmm, I guess over the last few “evolutions” of Atheism, you’ve “evolved” to be selectively blind. Carry on, I’ll get the popcorn. 🙂

  71. 71
    Vy says:

    But, to be fair, rvb8 doesn’t seem to have the capacity to be logically critical of his own views; all he can do, apparently, is continue to reassert their validity as if he has some special capacity beyond thinking whatever chemicals happen to generate.

    But of course, WJM!

    The inconsistency between his beliefs and actions obviously proves he’s a member of an elite group of enlightened ones who’ve come to save us from the clutches of “contradictory, narcissistic, sexist, misogynistic, anti-LGBTQIAMOPSV, anti-evodelusionary goat-herder myths”, religion (except Atheism of course), faith, and usher in the “new” era of scientism. They are the YODA and they’re gonna Storm the Heavens, they’ve been trying to do so for decades! 😀

    Now, may we all bow to the awesomeness that is rbv8? It’s not everyday you get graced by such a personality.

  72. 72
    Pindi says:

    Well HeKS if that’s not argumentum ad populum I don’t know what is. It would be silly to expect me to accept other people’s opinions as fact but in this case the opinions are true so I must accept them!

    I think sometimes you get carried away by your own fervour.

    Libertarian free will is incoherent. And I am waiting in vain for someone to tell me how it actually works. The only person who has attempted to do so is WJM and he says it is inexplicable! My point exactly.

  73. 73
    Autodidaktos says:

    “Libertarian free will is incoherent.”
    Prove that it’s incoherent.

    “And I am waiting in vain for someone to tell me how it actually works.”
    This seems to assume that we need to know HOW something works to know THAT it exists — which is certainly not the case, for we don’t need to know how gravity works in order to know that it exists.

  74. 74

    Pindi said:

    Well HeKS if that’s not argumentum ad populum I don’t know what is.

    You don’t know what “argumentum ad populum” is, then. HeKS isn’t making an argument that because some highly respected atheist philosophers agree with the logic being argued here, therefore his argument is valid or true. HeKS responded to your request in another thread for him to provide the very thing you now (erroneously) claim is an argument ad populum.

    Presenting the logical case here and referring to atheist philosophers who agree when asked is not attempting to make the case via popular or authoritative opinion.

    It would be silly to expect me to accept other people’s opinions as fact but in this case the opinions are true so I must accept them!

    Nobody is expecting you to accept opinons; what we expect you to do is either accept the logic or rebut it. Perhaps you are having difficulty recognizing the logical challenge to your position?

    1. IF mind, consciousness, beliefs, feelings, thoughts, etc. are all the caused effects of matter interacting by physico-chemical laws and chance, how can one ascertain the difference between what is an actual fact, and what such forces just happen to implant in our brain states as a “fact”, but which actually is not?

    2. The same question holds for memories, evidence, logic, etc; how can one tell the difference between actual evidence, memory and logic, and false versions of those things caused by chemical interactions?

    3. How can you tell if what you understand about the world is not actually a complete misunderstanding generated by chemical processes?

    Please provide some sort of logical argument that supports your idea that biological automatons can somehow sort out the difference between true beliefs about the world and false ones and somehow change their chemistry from false beliefs to true beliefs.

    Libertarian free will is incoherent.

    How so?

    And I am waiting in vain for someone to tell me how it actually works.

    What do you mean by this question? It “works” by being an acausal cause that somehow (perhaps quantum observer entanglements and collapse?) affects material processes.

    The only person who has attempted to do so is WJM and he says it is inexplicable! My point exactly.

    What point? Because something is inexplicable doesn’t mean the concept and its necessary place in a logical chain is incoherent. How is an acausal cause “incoherent”? It is something that is itself not caused, but has the internal capacity to cause other things to occur.

    I don’t understand how anyone can think this is an “incoherent” idea since we utilize this concept throughout our daily life – that we are not caused to do what we do, or think what we think, but rather think and operate and have expectations as if we have a top-down, uncaused (but informed and contextualized) capacity to override mere physical forces and cause our body and thoughts to do as we command (within certain limitations).

    This is where our entire notion of personal responsibility and free will comes from – our ubiquitous agreement that the buck stop here, that we are in command of what we think, say and do. It is coherent – even if the capacity is inexplicable – because it is what we actually experience virtually every waking second of our lives.

    We have to suspend the obviousness of that experience and imagine that, unknown to us, countless virtually invisible, mindless chemical interactions are somehow producing every thought and act and word we find ourselves engaging in in order to agree to the materialist viewpoint.

    Saying that one finds the idea of libertarian free will “incoherent” is just a bizarre statement. It is only by the assumed existence of libertarian free will and a capacity to freely examine the merits of ideas through an uncaused mind’s eye of evaluation-to-conclusion that there can be any meaningful difference between finding a concept coherent or incoherent in the first place.

    Without free will, one is simply caused by whatever chemical process happen to be in effect in their body to say an idea is coherent or incoherent while such mindless forces concurrently cause them to feel like they have said something valid. Either way one feels, whatever they say, it’s just matter causing them to say it and believe it without any regard for the truth. Chemical processes don’t care about the truth.

    Without libertarian free will, the idea of a logically coherent concept has no meaning – they are just words and feelings that chemistry can make one apply one way one day, and then in a contrary way the next day. Indeed, depending on what Pindi eats tonight, he could come in tomorrow with his/her chemistry altered, proclaiming their conversion to Christianity or Islam.

    Indeed, by his/her own worldview, I can dismiss all of Pindi’s views as nothing more than the result of some chemical reaction he/she had years ago – and that dismissal would be factually based on Pindi’s own worldview on how anyone comes to their beliefs and views.

  75. 75

    Why should anyone care what Pindi Or rvb8 says when, according to their worldview, they could have a random chemical reaction at any moment and, as a caused result, make exactly the opposite claims and arguments with exactly the same conviction?

    Be careful what you eat, guys. That next meal might make you a devout Christian!

  76. 76
    kairosfocus says:

    I think I am going to buy popcorn futures.

  77. 77

    Stories from the materialist world where mindless chemistry and physics causes thoughts and beliefs:

    Pindi and rvb8, both atheists and materialists, order a pizza and watch the ball game. Halfway through, Pindi starts sobbing and rvb8 gasps.

    “What’s wrong?” rvb8 asks.

    “Oh no! That pizza made me believe in God! I can’t help myself … I’ve been so wrong and I’m such a sinner, I’m going to pray.” Pindi closes his eyes and puts his hands together in prayer.

    rvb8 puts his hand on Pindi’s shoulder, smiles and excitedly says, “That’s okay, Pindi. After eating that pizza I just realized, I’m God! I forgive you!”

  78. 78
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, this seems to be Fuerbach’s you are what you eat on steroids. KF

    PS: I see you put pizza on the suspect list. Is it the anchovies? (FISH –> IXTHUS . . . Jesus Christ, Son of God & Saviour) H’mm, there was that miracle of 5 Johnny Bakes and 2 sprats, then that fish at the table Easter Sunday evening and the draft of 153 fish. Peter was a fisherman. That fish with the tax-paying coin in the mouth . . . and more. Somebody should get Templeton to fund research on the secret ingredient in fish.

  79. 79
    Vy says:

    Libertarian free will is incoherent

    And yet, a few comments earlier:

    I am only responsible for my own thoughts and opinions.

    Bravo!

  80. 80
    Vy says:

    I need more popcorn! This is rich. 😀

  81. 81

    Vy @ 79:

    Oh, snap. Nice catch.

    It’s nice to see a bag of chemistry taking personal responsibility. In other materialist news, “Rockslide Apologizes For Wiping Town Out”.

  82. 82
    Origenes says:

    Pindi @,

    Pindi has stated:

    Me and my chemicals are the same thing.

    Next, in post 46, Vy provided some quotes in line with Pindi’s claim, such as:

    “… biological systems are nothing more than a bag of chemicals that obey chemical and physical laws.” and
    “The reality is, not only do we have no more free will than a fly or a bacterium, in actuality we have no more free will than a bowl of sugar.”

    This seems to annoy Pindi:

    Pindi: I don’t get the point of quoting a bunch of other people and then somehow relating that to me? I am only responsible for my own thoughts and opinions. You seem to believe that all atheists share the same opinions on everything.

    Do materialists differ in opinion wrt the notion that chemicals obey chemical and physical laws? Do they quarrel amongst themselves about the question “do chemicals have free will or not?”
    If so, I would really like to know.

    Pindi, more than once you have stated to be of “another opinion” on (seemingly) uncontroversial matters, but you never articulate your thoughts. Why is it that? Why don’t you go on and explain in what way “your opinion” on these matters differs from other materialists?

  83. 83

    KF,

    One wonders why materialists and atheists would visit this site at all. Wouldn’t the wiser choice be to avoid areas that are more likely to cause unwanted chemical reactions in the brain that would force unwanted beliefs? I mean, they prance around in this infection zone as if they think they are somehow immune to chemistry.

    Whassup with that?

  84. 84

    Origenes @82:

    It seems your text has triggered the bag-o-chems formerly known as Pindi. Try serving up your next batch with a little salt. Salt is widely known to mollify materialist moodiness.

  85. 85
    Autodidaktos says:

    I scrolled up the thread and found this nugget:

    “Aren’t things either caused/determined by things, or random? So if there is nothing causing you to make a decision about something, is it then random?”

    This conflation of causality with determinism is a very egregious error, for some entity X can cause some state of affairs Y in a non-deterministic manner. Some cause can be deterministic only if it is the case that this cause necessarily produces its effect.

  86. 86
    bb says:

    Vy @ 70

    “Like how you’re blind to the fact that Atheists happen to a member of the oh so terrible group “religious”? Wonder which chemical is responsible for that.”

    It works like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M-vnmejwXo

  87. 87
    HeKS says:

    Pindi @72,

    Well HeKS if that’s not argumentum ad populum I don’t know what is.

    Then I guess you don’t know what is.

    First, an argument ad populum is basically just an appeal to popular opinion, without regard for the qualifications of those holding the opinion. If you had been paying any attention to what I’ve been saying all this time then you would have noticed that part of my point is that popular atheist opinion is almost completely uninformed about the logical implications of atheism/materialism, even though these implications are recognized by atheist academics. So, if you wanted to falsely accuse me of some fallacy, it would have been more appropriate to claim it was the more narrow appeal to authority, not an argumentum ad populum.

    Of course, this is not a case of an appeal to authority either. My point in directing you to the comments of these atheist academics is primarily to show you that it is not only theists who recognize the logic underlying the comments and arguments we’ve been making here. Even the academics on your side of the worldview debate widely recognize these logically necessary implications. As I specifically said in my comment to you:

    The logic holds and the conclusions are really rather obvious.

    So for you to say that you yourself don’t hold these opinions, as though they are no more binding on you than someone else’s preferred flavor of ice cream, simply won’t do. It’s like agreeing that all men are mortal and that Socrates is a man, but then claiming that you don’t personally hold the opinion that Socrates is mortal. You can make the claim if you like, but in the absence of a solid argument that can overturn the sound reasoning of theists and atheists alike, your declarations that you don’t personally hold the opinions in question amounts to nothing more than an admission that your views about the world and your own mind directly contradict the atheistic worldview you claim to hold.

    The logic holds, Pindi, and even academic atheists recognize it. It is the logic that is the ultimate point. For you to dismiss logically necessary conclusions recognized by people on both sides of the debate as being mere opinions that can be rationally ignored without undermining your entire worldview is just silly (unless your worldview is true, in which case your fully determined chemical reactions simply aren’t allowing you to do otherwise). Having accepted the premises that all men are mortal and that Socrates is a man, is Socrates a mortal only in the same way that chocolate is the best ice cream flavor?

    I think sometimes you get carried away by your own fervour.

    More likely you just need to read more carefully. WJM had no problem grasping the purpose of my comments, and contrary to rvb8’s claims in #62, WJM’s posts, including the current OP, are perfectly readable and quite easy to understand when one bothers to pay attention.

  88. 88
    gpuccio says:

    Pindi:

    “Libertarian free will is incoherent.”

    No.

    “And I am waiting in vain for someone to tell me how it actually works.”

    No need to wait any longer.

    The subject of conscious representations, at each moment, can react in at least two different ways to all the deterministic inputs, external and internal, he receives and represents.

    The two (or more) reactions are not equivalent, but have different meaning and value in a “cognitive and moral field” of which the subject of conscious representations is intuitively aware.

    Therefore, at each moment, the subject of conscious representations can react differently to deterministic inputs, and that difference has cognitive and moral value to him. Therefore, his choices have cognitive and moral value, and change his personal destiny.

    That’s how libertarian free will works. It is a choice between alternatives, whose different value is intuitively perceived.

    Do you remember the Donald Duck cartoon with an angel and a devil on his shoulders? That’s exactly what libertarian free will is, and how it works.

    https://ronnyeo.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/untitled.jpg

  89. 89
    gpuccio says:

    William J Murray:

    “In other materialist news, “Rockslide Apologizes For Wiping Town Out”.

    But, when accused of having also destroyed another nearby town, it indignantly commented:

    “I am only responsible for my own wipeouts!” 🙂

  90. 90
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, I think they think they are safe as long as they are not mainlining anchovies. KF

  91. 91
    Pindi says:

    I believe that my sense of consciousness and thoughts are produced by my brain. I believe my physical self is all there is. I am probably a compatabilist regarding free will but I am still researching. I think there is no purpose to the universe and no objective purpose to me or anyone else. It is what I make of it. I think the brain is an incredibly complex structure and we have barely touched the surface in our understanding of it. I don’t think morality is objective. I don’t see any need to posit an immaterial something that exists in addition to my physical self.

    I don’t feel fearful or miserable about any of these things. I don’t see any logical paradox between my worldview and how I live my life.

    These are all deep and complex matters that I enjoy contemplating and discussing when I get the chance. I see a lot of things that people here are very certain about as open questions. However the overwhelming tone of this thread (with a couple of exceptions) is one of childish taunting. I feel like I am in the schoolyard. Lots of jeering and making of demands. So I’m going to take a break and leave you to it.

    cheers

  92. 92
    rvb8 says:

    WJM;
    the chemical reactions in my brain between my neurons causes repetative firings, it is believed (not proven) that the repetative firings of these neurons cause permanent connections between neurons. This repatition is then ‘believed’ to lead to ‘memories’. More permanent memories such as, ‘this is my mother’, are so constantly reinforced by constant chemically induced firings, that they cause other neural connections, and then thought; ‘I would like this girl to be the mother of my children’; for example.

    The idea that food (which my body naturally turns into the basic building blocks for my cells), or a ‘pizza’, would cause me to alter my behaviour is absurd and childish.

    My brain uses food to sustain neural connections, which are ‘probably’ what makes me, me!

    What’s your fantastical point of view, one more time?

    I visit this site, WJM, because I am certain you would not like it to turn into an echo-chamber of back slapping pals. That is why I also visit many conservative, and Christian sites; the incoherrance of Libertarianism (animalism) repels me, I prefer evolved humanity.

  93. 93
    Andre says:

    RVB8

    So how do we determine that your chemical reactions and created connections are correct?

    What exactly is evolved humanity?

    Also do you visit these websites by your own choice?

  94. 94
    rvb8 says:

    Andre:
    1) By using your brain. But even then you/I may be incorrect.
    2) It is humanity that evolved from more primitive primates.
    3) Yes! My brain decides, and me, like the lumpkin I am, just have to follow.

  95. 95
    soundburger says:

    the idea of ‘following’ your brain is silly. Your ‘brain’ doesn’t decide it wants to get a certain job, decide what courses to study to get that job, decides what to do with the money it makes from said job, such as how to dress itself. If the brain was in control, and not the self – which uses the brain to make its own decisions – there would probably be a whole line of fashion promoted exclusively to decorating it, and not the trillion dollar industry devoted to decorating nearly every part of the body but. 🙂

    You are not a slave to your brain, rvb8, but its pilot. The physiology of your brain DOES impose certain constraints on how you decide, and what course your life takes, etc., just as the physiology of your arms prevents you from winning arm wrestling contests with gorillas.But that fact doesn’t demonstrate that you are a mere, following, ‘lumpkin’ as you would have it, or that you have no ‘free will’ as others claim.

  96. 96
    Eugen says:

    You are not a lumpkin rvb. You are a bag of minestrone soup that talks, checks internet pages, thinks etc… I always thought minestrone soup is good but this is really, really good 😀

  97. 97
    Autodidaktos says:

    It’s one thing to say that the brain receives and processes sensory data and stores them as memory, and another to say that all of abstract thought is done by the brain alone. Sensation (which includes memory) and intellection are two very different kinds of mental activity.

  98. 98
    Andre says:

    RVB8

    1.) Seriously you conceding that you are as “matter” of fact wrong?
    2.) Says who?
    3.) Then you are as “matter” of fact wrong….

  99. 99
    Origenes says:

    It’s noteworthy that, in this thread, no materialist has attempted to offer an evolutionary context for beliefs. Probably for good reason, since Murray’s argument wrt beliefs, as presented in the OP, cuts off this possibility.
    If it were the case that there is one core belief, accompanied by some related variations, with a traceable evolutionary history spanning millions of years, an evolutionary context for beliefs would be available for the materialist. He could then claim that this core belief, although fully produced by blind chemicals, has been tested, scrutinized and selected for by natural selection — natural selection as the ‘blind thinker’. In short, he may be able to argue that this one core belief is more likely to be true than false and by doing so offer some grounding for rationality.

    Unfortunately for the materialist, Murray points to a world inhibited by a multitude of contradictory beliefs unmanageable by any evolutionary narrative.

    For instance, it is not helpful to the materialist cause, to argue that there is an evolutionary narrative for the ability to produce true beliefs. If our ability to produce beliefs came into existence by natural selection, it can only be argued that beliefs in general are more likely to be true than not — although Plantinga would most certainly disagree.
    However, confronted with the existence of a multitude of contradictory beliefs, the claim “beliefs in general are likely to be true” doesn’t tell us which one is true and which one is not.

    This is especially clear when one considers metaphysical beliefs like e.g. “ultimately everything is physical” and “ultimately everything is mental”. Assuming that one of them is true and the other is not, a swift ponder will tell us that evolution does not select one or the other.

    Without the guiding force of natural selection, without an evolutionary narrative for beliefs, all that the materialist is left with is unrestrained chemistry. All the materialist can say is: “blind particles in motion are in full control of my beliefs”

    A miserable state of affairs indeed.

  100. 100
    Autodidaktos says:

    “I believe that my sense of consciousness and thoughts are produced by my brain. I believe my physical self is all there is. I am probably a compatabilist regarding free will but I am still researching. I think there is no purpose to the universe and no objective purpose to me or anyone else. It is what I make of it. I think the brain is an incredibly complex structure and we have barely touched the surface in our understanding of it. I don’t think morality is objective. I don’t see any need to posit an immaterial something that exists in addition to my physical self.”

    Pindi:
    Are these beliefs of yours supported (or even supportable) by any sort of logical of empirical evidence? Or is this like a statement of faith?

  101. 101
    bornagain77 says:

    rvb8 states,

    More permanent memories such as, ‘this is my mother’, are so constantly reinforced by constant chemically induced firings,

    although information/memories can be represented by a material substrate, (the brain in this instance), ‘permanent’ information/memories are not reducible to a material substrate. For instance, you write the number 7 on a chalkboard, do you destroy the number 7 if you erase it from the chalkboard? No, of course not, you have merely destroyed your present access to the number 7 through the chalkboard. The number 7 belongs to a immaterial realm that is transcendent of this material realm. David Berlinski eloquently puts it like this:

    An Interview with David Berlinski – Jonathan Witt
    Berlinski: There is no argument against religion that is not also an argument against mathematics. Mathematicians are capable of grasping a world of objects that lies beyond space and time….
    Interviewer:… Come again(?) …
    Berlinski: No need to come again: I got to where I was going the first time. The number four, after all, did not come into existence at a particular time, and it is not going to go out of existence at another time. It is neither here nor there. Nonetheless we are in some sense able to grasp the number by a faculty of our minds. Mathematical intuition is utterly mysterious. So for that matter is the fact that mathematical objects such as a Lie Group or a differentiable manifold have the power to interact with elementary particles or accelerating forces. But these are precisely the claims that theologians have always made as well – that human beings are capable by an exercise of their devotional abilities to come to some understanding of the deity; and the deity, although beyond space and time, is capable of interacting with material objects.
    http://tofspot.blogspot.com/20.....-here.html

    Michael Egnor, a brain surgeon, puts it like this:

    The Fundamental Difference Between Humans and Nonhuman Animals – Michael Egnor – November 5, 2015
    Excerpt: Human beings have mental powers that include the material mental powers of animals but in addition entail a profoundly different kind of thinking. Human beings think abstractly, and nonhuman animals do not. Human beings have the power to contemplate universals, which are concepts that have no material instantiation. Human beings think about mathematics, literature, art, language, justice, mercy, and an endless library of abstract concepts. Human beings are rational animals.
    Human rationality is not merely a highly evolved kind of animal perception. Human rationality is qualitatively different — ontologically different — from animal perception. Human rationality is different because it is immaterial. Contemplation of universals cannot have material instantiation, because universals themselves are not material and cannot be instantiated in matter.,,,
    It is a radical difference — an immeasurable qualitative difference, not a quantitative difference.
    We are more different from apes than apes are from viruses.,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....00661.html

    George Ellis, puts it like this:

    Recognising Top-Down Causation – George Ellis
    Excerpt: page 5: A:
    Causal Efficacy of Non Physical entities:
    Both the program and the data are non-physical entities, indeed so is all software. A program is not a physical thing you can point to, but by Definition 2 it certainly exists. You can point to a CD or flashdrive where it is stored, but that is not the thing in itself: it is a medium in which it is stored.
    The program itself is an abstract entity, shaped by abstract logic. Is the software “nothing but” its realisation through a specific set of stored electronic states in the computer memory banks? No it is not because it is the precise pattern in those states that matters: a higher level relation that is not apparent at the scale of the electrons themselves. It’s a relational thing (and if you get the relations between the symbols wrong, so you have a syntax error, it will all come to a grinding halt). This abstract nature of software is realised in the concept of virtual machines, which occur at every level in the computer hierarchy except the bottom one [17]. But this tower of virtual machines causes physical effects in the real world, for example when a computer controls a robot in an assembly line to create physical artefacts.
    Excerpt page 7:
    ,,, Top-down causation is prevalent at all levels in the brain: for example it is crucial to vision [24,25] as well as the relation of the individual brain to society [2]. The hardware (the brain) can do nothing without the excitations that animate it: indeed this is the difference between life and death. The mind is not a physical entity, but it certainly is causally effective: proof is the existence of the computer on which you are reading this text. It could not exist if it had not been designed and manufactured according to someone’s plans, thereby proving the causal efficacy of thoughts, which like computer programs and data are not physical entities.
    http://fqxi.org/data/essay-con.....s_2012.pdf

    Michael Egnor again:

    Do Computers Store Memories? – December 10, 2014
    Excerpt: “A singular consequence of the materialist-mechanical metaphysics that permeates our culture and our sciences is that we commonly hold basic beliefs that are abject nonsense. One such belief is the almost ubiquitous one — among ordinary folks as well as neuroscientists and surprisingly many philosophers — that the brain “stores” memories. The fact is that the brain doesn’t store memories, and can’t store memories.
    The reality is that computers store electrons, not memories. Memories are psychological things that pertain only to man (and animals), not to machines.
    We use computers — and books and file cabinets and rolodexes, etc. — as tools to cue our own memories. There are no memories in a computer, except in a metaphorical sense. Computers are devices made of metal and electrons that we configure to aid our own memories. Computers no more have memories than chessboards play chess or televisions watch sitcoms or cameras look at pictures or CD players listen to music.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....91891.html

    That memories are only represented in the brain and are not permanently stored in the brain is made evident by Near Death Experiences.

    Pim von Lommel puts it like this:

    A Reply to Shermer Medical Evidence for NDEs (Near Death Experiences) – Pim van Lommel
    Excerpt: For decades, extensive research has been done to localize memories (information) inside the brain, so far without success.,,,,So we need a functioning brain to receive our consciousness into our waking consciousness. And as soon as the function of brain has been lost, like in clinical death or in brain death, with iso-electricity on the EEG, memories and consciousness do still exist, but the reception ability is lost. People can experience their consciousness outside their body, with the possibility of perception out and above their body, with identity, and with heightened awareness, attention, well-structured thought processes, memories and emotions. And they also can experience their consciousness in a dimension where past, present and future exist at the same moment, without time and space, and can be experienced as soon as attention has been directed to it (life review and preview), and even sometimes they come in contact with the “fields of consciousness” of deceased relatives. And later they can experience their conscious return into their body.
    http://www.nderf.org/vonlommel.....sponse.htm

    At the 17:45 minute mark of the following Near Death Experience documentary, the Life Review portion of the Near Death Experience is highlighted, with several testimonies relating how every word, deed, and action, of a person’s life (all the ‘information’ of a person’s life) is gone over in the presence of God:

    Near Death Experience (NDE) Documentary – commonalities of the experience – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2958DDp4WM

    In fact, memories in NDEs are ‘even more real than real’:

    ‘Afterlife’ feels ‘even more real than real,’ researcher says – Wed April 10, 2013
    Excerpt: “If you use this questionnaire … if the memory is real, it’s richer, and if the memory is recent, it’s richer,” he said.
    The coma scientists weren’t expecting what the tests revealed.
    “To our surprise, NDEs were much richer than any imagined event or any real event of these coma survivors,” Laureys reported.
    The memories of these experiences beat all other memories, hands down, for their vivid sense of reality. “The difference was so vast,” he said with a sense of astonishment.
    Even if the patient had the experience a long time ago, its memory was as rich “as though it was yesterday,” Laureys said.
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/09/.....periences/

    Exactly how does something possibly become ‘even more real than real’ unless this temporal material realm really is merely a shadow of the eternal life that awaits us after death as is held in Christian Theism?

    Matthew 6: 19-21
    Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also

    rvb8, moreover, we have far more evidence that Near Death Experiences are real than we have evidence for Darwinian evolution being real:

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species , (or the origin of life, or the origin of a protein/gene, or a molecular machine), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

  102. 102
    bornagain77 says:

    In fact, the Christian Theist also has far more scientific evidence for heaven and hell being real than the atheist has for the multiverse, which was postulated to ‘explain away’ the fine-tuning of the universe, being real:

    Special and General Relativity compared to Heavenly and Hellish Near Death Experiences
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbKELVHcvSI&list=PLtAP1KN7ahia8hmDlCYEKifQ8n65oNpQ5

    Supplemental evidence from quantum mechanics on the physical reality of mind and soul can be picked up starting at post 28:

    Pindi claims:
    “me and my chemicals are the same thing.”

    That claim is logically, and scientifically, false. (Sept. 2016)
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-617116

    Verses and Music:

    John 1:1-4
    1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

    Evanescence – Bring Me To Life
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YxaaGgTQYM
    Lyric Excerpt: Only you are the life among the dead

    All this time I can’t believe I couldn’t see
    Kept in the dark but you were there in front of me
    I’ve been sleeping a thousand years it seems
    Got to open my eyes to everything
    Without a thought, without a voice, without a soul
    Don’t let me die here
    There must be something more
    Bring me to life

    (Wake me up)
    Wake me up inside,,,

  103. 103

    Materialist Joe: “Hey, Materialist Jack, I just used this ruler to measure a 3′ length of board for the bookcase, but I think the ruler might be wrong and it’s the only one I got. What should I do?”

    Materialist Jack: “The answer is obvious. Measure it twice.”

  104. 104

    rvb8 said:

    I visit this site, WJM, because I am certain you would not like it to turn into an echo-chamber of back slapping pals.

    No, rvb8. You visit this site because your particular organic chemistry compels you to. Nothing more, nothing less. I mean, if what you believe to be true about the nature of your existence is actually true.

    You write whatever you write here not because it has anything to do with facts or truth or evidence or logic, but rather for the simple reason that your particular chemistry dictates it. No more, no less.

  105. 105

    Pindi said:

    However the overwhelming tone of this thread (with a couple of exceptions) is one of childish taunting. I feel like I am in the schoolyard. Lots of jeering and making of demands. So I’m going to take a break and leave you to it.

    This is so funny and ironic, coming from a materialist, on so many levels.

    First, Pindi implies that we – bags of chemicals directed entirely by physical law and chance – are doing something we shouldn’t be doing; under materialism, that’s just not possible. We can’t do anything other than what we actually do.

    Second, Pindi takes it personally, as if matter interacting in the manner it happens to interact under physical laws is directed at, or is about some other particular amalgamation of matter.

    Third, just the optics of someone first claiming we’re all just doing what physics and chemistry demands, then complaining because “Chemistry is being mean to me! I’m taking my ball and going home!”

    For Pete’s sake, at least act like you actually believe materialism is true, Pindi.

  106. 106
    Vy says:

    Now I understand why Zachriel spoke in “we” terms. He was referring to all its chemicals responsible for each post/thought/feeling.

  107. 107
    Vy says:

    I believe that my sense of consciousness and thoughts are produced by my brain. I believe my physical self is all there is.

    And the puddle of water outside my house “believes” it’s not going to evaporate in a few hours. What’s new?

    I am probably a compatabilist regarding free will but I am still researching. I think there is no purpose to the universe and no objective purpose to me or anyone else.

    Then why bother researching anything? Why bother with this site? Don’t you see how your statements make you sound immensely delusional?

    It is what I make of it.

    Delusion.

    I think the brain is an incredibly complex structure and we have barely touched the surface in our understanding of it.

    Don’t bother thinking, it is.

    I don’t think morality is objective.

    SHOCKA!!! Whuda thunk it?

    I don’t see any need to posit an immaterial something that exists in addition to my physical self.

    Well, that’s nice. The Taj Mahal disagrees though, it told a friend of mine it hates when people step on it. 🙂

    I don’t feel fearful or miserable about any of these things. I don’t see any logical paradox between my worldview and how I live my life.

    Delusion.
    Are you sure you even know your worldview and its logical implications?

    Many evodelusionists do:

    Even materialists often admit that, in practice, it is impossible for humans to live any other way. One philosopher jokes that if people deny free will, then when ordering at a restaurant they should say, “Just bring me whatever the laws of nature have determined I will get.

    An especially clear example is Galen Strawson, a philosopher who states with great bravado, “The impossibility of free will … can be proved with complete certainty.” Yet in an interview, Strawson admits that, in practice, no one accepts his deterministic view. “To be honest, I can’t really accept it myself” he says. “I can’t really live with this fact from day to day. Can you, really?”

    In What Science Offers the Humanities, Edward Slingerland, identifies himself as an unabashed materialist and reductionist. Slingerland argues that Darwinian materialism leads logically to the conclusion that humans are robots — that our sense of having a will or self or consciousness is an illusion. Yet, he admits, it is an illusion we find impossible to shake. No one “can help acting like and at some level really feeling that he or she is free.” We are “constitutionally incapable of experiencing ourselves and other conspecifics [humans] as robots.”

    Marvin Minsky of MIT is best known for his pithy phrase that the human brain is nothing but “a three-pound computer made of meat.” Obviously, computers do not have the power of choice; the implication is that neither do humans. Surprisingly, however, Minsky then asks, “Does that mean we must embrace the modern scientific view and put aside the ancient myth of voluntary choice? No. We can’t do that.”

    Why not? Minsky goes on: “No matter that the physical world provides no room for freedom of will; that concept is essential to our models of the mental realm.” We cannot “ever give it up. We’re virtually forced to maintain that belief, even though we know it’s false.” False, that is, according to Minsky’s materialist worldview.

    😀

    These are all deep and complex matters that I enjoy contemplating and discussing when I get the chance. I see a lot of things that people here are very certain about as open questions.

    Why? After all “there is no purpose to the universe and no objective purpose to me or anyone else.” Then again the delusion is “It is what I make of it”.

    However the overwhelming tone of this thread (with a couple of exceptions) is one of childish taunting. I feel like I am in the schoolyard. Lots of jeering and making of demands.

    What WJM said.
    You might wanna book an appointment with your evodoc, you need a bag-o-chems checkup.

  108. 108
    Origenes says:

    Biological automaton ecv7: “Hey you there! What are you doing?”
    Biological automaton tbn9: “Nothing really. I am my chemistry, you know.
    Biological automaton ecv7: “Sure, but are you saying that chemistry is doing nothing?”
    Biological automaton tbn9: “Well, not much at the moment. I’m frozen.”

  109. 109
    HeKS says:

    Pindi @91

    I believe that my sense of consciousness and thoughts are produced by my brain.

    Is it equally possible that you don’t actually have consciousness, or thoughts, or a belief about these issues, or a brain, or that there isn’t even a you to have any of these things?

    I believe my physical self is all there is.

    Is it equally possible that your physical self is nothing at all like what it appears to you? Is is equally possible that you are a slug on a leaf while a series of chemical reactions make it appear that you think you’re a human at a keyboard?

    I am probably a compatabilist regarding free will but I am still researching.

    According to Compatibilism (with respect to free will and determinism), free will is merely the ability to act in accord with one’s own motives and/or nature, but they themselves are fully determined. It is essentially an equivocation on what it means to speak about free will. But even getting to the issue of free will is getting WAY ahead of ourselves. Instead we should ask if it’s equally possible that instead of you thinking you’re a compatibilist, “Compatibilism” and “free will” are terms that nobody has ever heard of before and, indeed, that none of the words in this comment have any definition and are only seeming to appear in front of you right now because a series of chemical reactions have made it seem that you are seeing them and know of meanings that are assigned to them?

    I think there is no purpose to the universe and no objective purpose to me or anyone else.

    Is it equally possible that the universe is a fish bowl that exists for the objective purpose of housing and displaying fish and that you and everyone else are little fishies swimming around with delusions of humanity?

    It is what I make of it.

    Don’t you mean you are what it makes of you?

    I think the brain is an incredibly complex structure and we have barely touched the surface in our understanding of it.

    Is it equally possible that the brain is incredibly simple and we understand everything about it and always have?

    I don’t think morality is objective. I don’t see any need to posit an immaterial something that exists in addition to my physical self.

    Is it equally possible that chemicals in your brain have seemed to cause you to think that morality is objective and that an immaterial something does exist in addition to your physical self, but that other chemicals have caused you to say and write that you don’t?

    Ok this is getting boring, but I wonder if I’ve made my point. I’m sure many here get it, but I suspect you and rvb8 do not. Both of you keep making these statements about what you think and why you think it, but you’ve universally failed to address the very foundational issue that your stated worldview provides zero justification for the notion that you have thoughts or beliefs that are even about anything, much less that they can and have at any point come into contact with a reality external to your own chemical reactions. Free will is so far down the line from where your problems start that there hardly even seems to be a point in talking about it.

    These are all deep and complex matters that I enjoy contemplating and discussing when I get the chance. I see a lot of things that people here are very certain about as open questions. However the overwhelming tone of this thread (with a couple of exceptions) is one of childish taunting.

    I don’t know if you’re including me in the category of those who you think are offering childish taunting, but that’s not my intention, and I think you are taking it too personally. Likewise for rvb8, when he claims people here are being hateful of anyone who disagrees with them. That’s simply not the case. If we hated you, why would we bother to take so much time to engage with you and try to explain the points we are making in every way we can think of? Certainly frustration sometimes gets the better of everyone when they feel the other side simply isn’t paying attention or engaging seriously, and I repeatedly find myself getting somewhat frustrated in conversations like this, because on the theist side of this discussion, we are trying our best to get people like you and rvb8 to actually really see the problems we are discussing and their implications, and even though you guys keep writing comments back, at no point are you giving evidence of seriously thinking about or engaging with the very foundational issues we are raising.

    For example, you keep characterizing the implications of atheism and meterialism as being simple matters of subjective opinion when in fact they are the logically necessary implications. For some reason you will not engage this, and I’ve repeatedly used the Socrates syllogism to draw out the problem. And just in this comment I’m responding to, you say this: “I see a lot of things that people here are very certain about as open questions.”

    Well, not to beat a dead horse or anything, but if we accept that all men are mortal and that Socrates is a man, is the matter of Socrates mortality simply an open question? You see, the discussion we’re having right now is, as I’ve mentioned a few times now, foundational. It cuts to the very root of worldview plausibility and coherence. Even if we were to say for the sake of argument that the matter of which worldview is actually correct is an open question, that does not mean that the logically necessary (and rather obvious) implications of the worldviews themselves are equally open to question.

    This fact is being studiously avoided by the materialists here, and so at some point it becomes difficult not to sarcastically point out when you are making statements that are utterly incoherent if your worldview is true. Speaking for myself (and I think for most), that is not the preferred first course of action, but verging on a last resort (even WJM’s OP is the product of many extended prior discussions). It’s kind of like trying to explain simple math to a child and, failing to do so after hours of trying, saying, “Look, you see how I have one popsicle and you have one popsicle? Together that makes two popsicles. Now, if I take and eat up your popsicle … num, num, num, gulp … that only leaves one popsicle. Get it?” (Child begins crying).

    Sometimes people resort to less than ideal methods of trying to get points across. It’s not because they’re trying to be hateful or mean. It’s because the point is important and nothing else is working.

    Take care,
    HeKS

  110. 110
    Origenes says:

    Pindi 91@

    I believe that my sense of consciousness and thoughts are produced by my brain.
    I believe my physical self is all there is.

    So, biological automaton ‘Pindi’ and his thoughts are fully produced by chemistry.
    Blind stuff that doesn’t think about anything, has zero oversight and has zero understanding of anything. It follows that there is zero reason to take anything Pindi says serious.

    Pindi might as well have said: I believe that me and my thoughts are utter bunkum.

  111. 111
    rvb8 says:

    I would take your taunting more seriously WJM, if you used the scientific measuring system rather than, “a 3′ length of board”. Forgive me, I have to go way back to childhood here; does that mean thirty six inches? And if so how do you measure a syringe full of innoculation? 1/3000th of a gallon?

    It is hard to take a science site seriously when I constantly have to convert numbers into scientifically acceptable measurements. Water melts at 0 degrees celcius. (Many people mistakingly believe it freezes at this temperature; No! At this temperature it starts to melt.) And poetically, and beautifully, it boils at 100 degrees centigrade. As humans, doctors worldwide (except US medical dramas), measure a healthy temperature as between 36.5 and 37.5 degrees centigrade. When I hear someone saying on a ‘cutting-edge’ medical drama that someone’s temp, is a healthy 96, I uncontrollably giggle.

    Could you please start using science as your language of communication? You know; one hundred micro-litres, or a nano-metre. Or, ‘neurons are on average at 100 nano-metres in width’. (I don’t know if they are, but it’s much better than, ‘neurons are on average 1/267,000th of an inch in width.’ Please don’t use feet and inches, or the execrable PSI, when you mean, metres, centremetres, and kilo-pascals, respectively. If you do this, your ‘science’ site might be taken more seriously.

    I believe NASA went metric when one of their foot/yard space craft, crashed into a centremetre/metre planet; give it whirl, it makes a hard to measure planet, unbelieveably easier to understand. Also, I don’t believe the devil had any hand in developing this system; it was just the French.

  112. 112

    HeKs @ 109

    Seems what is lacking with Rvb8 and Pindi is a belief in the self, which would seem to be a basic element of a worldview.

    Pindi, for example, believes that “I and my chemicals are the same.”

    Is this not a denial of the self in the metaphysical sense? Would it then be pretty much impossible in that respect to actually hold a coherent worldview?

    I think that’s essentially what you’re hitting on.

    See here:

    http://web.engr.oregonstate.ed.....dview.html

  113. 113
    soundburger says:

    Canuckian Yankee, they actually DO believe in a self; everybody does. Anyone who does not have a sense of self is in some way deranged, as our society defines it. And no one is able to make that sense of self disappear by trying to use ‘reason’ to outthink the notion of a self. It’s ironic, because it is just a game the self plays, trying to convince itself that it doesn’t exist.

    That, in a nutshell is what they are doing.

  114. 114

    soundburger

    Yes, but admitting the self is to admit to free will. They can’t escape that predicament. So they choose to remain incoherent in their worldview; which isn’t actually a worldview at all. It’s a denial of reality.

    A worldview requires an interpretation of what one senses and experiences apart from mere chemistry. It requires introspection and outward analysis at the same time. I think that’s apparent. Once they say things like “I believe this,” or “my opinion is that,” while denying that they choose their own beliefs and opinions, they delude themselves.

  115. 115
    soundburger says:

    Cannuckian Yankee, yes.

    I think that within such a worldview, the reason anything exists, including thoughts, is that they ‘convey fitness’. So ‘rationalists’ can sort of have their cake and eat it too, by arguing, yes, I am sure that my sense of self is an illusion, my thoughts are just chemical reactions that my brain has construed to feel like ideas because that conveyed fitness on my ancestors. The ones who were able to avoid being eaten because their brains directed them to a place of safety were able to reproduce, and gradually these brain-directives became more and more like the thoughts we have today.
    They can also argue that the reason they enjoy ‘winning’ these arguments by posing ‘reason’ up against superstition is that, you guessed it, the brain needed to reward the people who evaded the lions with some good ol’ dopamine to reinforce the behavior of using the ol’ noggin.
    There is a perfectly good reason why we seem to have a self, but don’t, and seem to have free will, but don’t. It’s all in how fitness was conveyed.

    It is, of course, utter bullshit 🙂

  116. 116
    steveO says:

    The discussion at the link below makes for confusing reading.

    Bags of chemicals directed entirely by physical law and chance discuss how other bags of chemicals directed entirely by physical law and chance *ought to* behave!

    https://skepchick.org/2011/04/lawrence-krauss-defends-a-sex-offender-embarrasses-scientists-everywhere/

  117. 117
    mike1962 says:

    Pindi: I believe that my sense of consciousness… [is] produced by my brain.

    You may believe that, but you have no grounds to believe it.

  118. 118

    rvb8 @111:

    I don’t claim to be a scientist, nor am I making any scientific claims. Why should I speak like a scientist or use scientific terminology? You’ve said you’re not a scientist; why would my using scientific-sounding terminology make you take me more seriously? Are you that idiotically pavlovian that you take an argument more seriously just because it sounds like the person is using scientific language?

    You, on the other hand, claim to be an atheist and a materialist, yet you refuse to use terminology and sentence structures that reflect your supposed views.

    For instance, you say things like: “I would take your taunting more seriously WJM, if you used the scientific measuring system….” when, by your own philosophy, that claim about what you would do and why is logically unsupportable. You will take what I say as seriously as your particular chemistry dictates; no more, no less. Chemistry is not ruled by logic, or argument, nor is it necessarily altered in any particular way by the issuance of particular words. For all you know, I might start using pig-latin and thus cause your chemistry to “take me more seriously.”

    Now, if you said that you would take me more seriously if your brain chemistry changed in a particular, scientifically-predictable manner in a particular region which studies have shown elevate the sense of “seriousness” by which a person takes a conversation, then you’d have something other than this nonsense to say here because that would at least demonstrate that you’ve got some kind of sceintific, cause-and-effect research to back up your claim about what would cause your chemistry to act a certain way when certain strings of words are used.

    Or, perhaps you are indeed telling me that, for whatever pavlovian reason (whereas you don’t understand the underlying chemistry for), you’ve just happened to notice that your chemistry apparently just happens to “take people more seriously” if they use scientific-sounding terms (even though you yourself are not a scientist).

    My response is: when you can start talking as if atheistic materialism is true, I’ll start taking you more seriously. Until then, you are really nothing more than an example for more rigorous, less pavlovian onlookers to observe while you repeated demonstrate the pathetic nature of those who still assert belief in the Victorian-age myth of atheistic materialism as a means of supporting their irrational anti-theistic narrative.

  119. 119

    rvb8 said:

    I would take your taunting more seriously WJM …

    I cannot help what particular emotions your bag-o-chems cause its illusory self-image to “experience”. However one bag-o-chems experiences and interprets sensory data into a generated, illusory sense of self and experience is entirely that bag-o-chems solipsistic internal world, rvb8. If you were capable of any critical self-examination into your world-view, you’d understand this and you’d understand how utterly ridiculous the things you say here are.

  120. 120

    mike @1962 said:

    You may believe that, but you have no grounds to believe it.

    Unfortunately, Pindi doesn’t understand the concept of having grounds for beliefs, nor does Pindi understand the concept of having a logically coherent belief system.

    Pindi and rvb8 are good examples of why I believe that many people in the world are actually biological automatons. They appear to be have no free-will capacity to recognize the nonsense they spout, regardless of how obvious it is, and they keep on regurgitating the exact same pre-programmed responses whether or not they are even relevant to the concepts in the debate. They also appear to lack the higher-order capacity to internally, critically examine their own position wrt other views through comparative hypotheticals that reveal logical consequences. Nor do they seem capable of tracing beliefs back to foundation assumptions to see if their beliefs are actually extractable from those base assumptions.

    While it is obvious to us that without free will all is lost and no argument means anything of any substance, these biological automatons are apparently blind to that, which is what you’d expect from such a creature – to mouth off strings of words that are semantically and grammatically correct regarding the term “free will”, but which completely miss the mark in terms of the concept and what it means and logically requires/indicates.

    Which is how you get absurd notions like “compatibalist free will”, which might as well be “not-free will” or “biologically programmed choices”, which is exactly what free will is not, and how you get bags-o-chems arguing that free will and consciousness doesn’t really exist, as if such an argument could possibly be coherent or meaningful without free will and consciousness.

  121. 121
    bornagain77 says:

    WJM

    “Pindi and rvb8 are good examples of why I believe that many people in the world are actually biological automatons.”

    WJM, but is it morally right to harvest the organs of a biological automaton for use in a conscious person who can truly appreciate and use the organs?

    Philosophical Zombies – cartoon
    http://existentialcomics.com/comic/11

    🙂

    And since they are not really feeling anything, you don’t even have to waste money on anaesthesia. ,,, Perhaps just earplugs to drown out the purely reflexive screams of the automatons whilst you harvest their organs.

    🙂

  122. 122

    Unfortunately, I cannot be sure which are actual biological automatons, and which are ensouled bodies that have used their free will to exist in denial. After all, I used to say pretty much some of the same things, so no, no organ harvesting.

  123. 123
    Dionisio says:

    WJM @120:

    Pindi and rvb8 are good examples of why I believe that many people in the world are actually biological automatons.

    They appear to be have no free-will capacity to recognize the nonsense they spout, regardless of how obvious it is, and they keep on regurgitating the exact same pre-programmed responses whether or not they are even relevant to the concepts in the debate.

    They also appear to lack the higher-order capacity to internally, critically examine their own position wrt other views through comparative hypotheticals that reveal logical consequences.

    Nor do they seem capable of tracing beliefs back to foundation assumptions to see if their beliefs are actually extractable from those base assumptions.

    I don’t agree.

    Maybe they are –at least by worldly standards– better humans than I am.
    Most probably they have –by worldly standards– higher intellectual capacity than mine.

    I believe that both Pindi and rvb8 are human beings like the rest of us, created in IMAGO DEI, hence deserving our respect and consideration. The same applies to all the anonymous visitors, onlookers, lurkers, and the active commenters in this blog and in other blogs.

    The subject of ‘free will’ is quite mysterious.
    I would refrain from using that highly controversial term so lightly.

    You and I have fundamental differences in our beliefs. Does that make one of us a biological automaton?

    Definitely not.

    Until not so long ago I was spiritually dead, hence obliviously unaware of my own condition or the surrounding reality. Completely lost and blind.

    Then something inexplicable happened. A radical change from inside out. I believe my Maker touched me, opened my eyes, rescued me, gave me new life.

    Biologically I’m about the same I was before (but a little older).

    Pindi and rvb8, like the rest of us, are free to choose what they want to believe in, without changing their human condition. Perhaps that freedom is affected by external to them forces too.

    You also chose to believe something very different than I did. However, neither one of us can claim the other is a biological automaton.

    My faith has a mysterious supernatural factor, mentioned in the Christian Bible, but above my full understanding. My free will is dependent on the purpose of God’s sovereign will. Without His initiative I couldn’t have changed my belief. I can’t explain it, but it’s written for all to read it. All Christians can say the same.

    [Emphasis mine]

  124. 124

    soundburger

    “There is a perfectly good reason why we seem to have a self, but don’t, and seem to have free will, but don’t. It’s all in how fitness was conveyed.”

    Yes, and as all materialists are fond of saying:

    “I don’t know precisely how this sense of self actually evolved, but lo and behold, here I am.”

  125. 125

    Dionisio said:

    You and I have fundamental differences in our beliefs. Does that make one of us a biological automaton?

    I’m quite certain we have some pretty big differences in what we believe. We probably even differ greatly in how we hold our beliefs.

    It’s not that their beliefs are different that puts them in my “biological automaton” category, but rather the kinds of things they say and how they say them, starting with their own assertion that they are, in fact, biological automatons and their repeated insistence that they do not have free will.

    I do not invest in my beliefs a commitment that they represent factually true things. Rather, I hold beliefs for their practical value in helping me live what I refer to as “an enjoyable life as a good person”. Mentally, I consider many people “biological automatons” wrt to how I internally react to them, which serves a behavioral purpose. My reaction is one of “they can’t help themselves, they’re just programmed this way.”

    This view alleviates the frustration I used to experience and changes how I interact with such creatures. I look at them the same I look at NPCs (non-player characters) in games; they are “bots”, so to speak, biological automatons generated by the system in order to facilitate the purpose of our experience here.

  126. 126
    HeKS says:

    CannuckianYankee,

    HeKs @ 109

    Seems what is lacking with Rvb8 and Pindi is a belief in the self, which would seem to be a basic element of a worldview.

    Pindi, for example, believes that “I and my chemicals are the same.”

    Is this not a denial of the self in the metaphysical sense? Would it then be pretty much impossible in that respect to actually hold a coherent worldview?

    I think that’s essentially what you’re hitting on.

    That is certainly a significant part of it. On atheistic materialism there is no continuous locus of identity. Where is your identity situated and continuously preserved? If you are simply your physical constituents, do you cease to be you when one or more of those components are changed or lost? Where is the limit of the necessary definition of you? The sine qua non of you? Do you stop being you if you lose a hand or a leg or when a brain cell dies or when many do? It seems the only sound basis for a continuous identity is some immaterial locus of identity that cannot be reduced or destroyed by merely physical changes, even if physical changes can drastically impede its causal efficacy with respect to the physical parts of you. I hasten to add, however, that I don’t believe in an immortal soul that consciously survives the death of the body, nor do I think this line of reasoning requires one. Rather, what it requires is some immaterial aspect of the mind that serves as the necessary condition for you, even if not a sufficient condition for you. (In terms of any afterlife, whether physical or spiritual, this immaterial aspect would be the primary object of a resurrection)

    As you’ve noted, this atheist/materialist worldview also eliminates the possibility of a ‘self’ in the sense of a subjective, self-aware observer. There is nothing about a bunch of chemicals that can make those chemicals self-consciously aware of their unified existence, or make them consciously and subjectively experience anything external to themselves, or make them be about something else.

    This same problem makes it impossible to have beliefs or thoughts about anything. In the words of Alex Rosenberg:

    It is of course obvious that introspection strongly suggests that the brain does store information propositionally, and that therefore it has beliefs and desire with “aboutness” or intentionality. A thoroughgoing naturalism must deny this, I allege. If beliefs are anything they are brain states—physical configurations of matter. But one configuration of matter cannot, in virtue just of its structure, composition, location, or causal relation, be “about” another configuration of matter in the way original intentionality requires …. So, there are no beliefs.

    – Alex Rosenberg, in a comment on his article The Disenchanted Naturalist’s Guide to Reality

    This problem of “intentionality”, or “aboutness”, is a major problem for atheistic materialists. It can be illustrated by considering a picture of something, say, a tree.

    Now, is that picture of a tree about a tree in a field? No, it’s not. It’s simply a series of individual pixels on a screen that are utterly unaware that they are organized in any specific pattern. Even taken as a whole, the picture in and of itself is not about anything at all. The picture is only about a tree in a field inside the minds of persons who observe it and recognize its correspondence to something external to itself. Aboutness only exists in minds. If the mind is only the physical matter of the brain and its thoughts are only the physicochemical reaction in the matter of the brain, then thoughts cannot truly be about things (like a tree in a field) any more than a photo can be about something. Hence, Alex Rosenberg again:

    Thinking about things can’t happen at all. The brain can’t have thoughts about Paris, or about France, or about capitals, or about anything else for that matter. When consciousness convinces you that you, or your mind, or your brain has thoughts about things, it is wrong.

    – Alex Rosenberg, The Atheist’s Guide to Reality

    Furthermore, if you don’t actually have thoughts that are about anything and they are merely physicochemical reactions in the matter of your brain, what possible reason could exist for “believing” (it’s hard to even write sentences that respect the implications of this worldview) that the illusory “thoughts” generated by the chemicals in “your” brain matter reflect any kind reality external to those chemicals? Chemicals in the brain may seem to give the impression there’s an I that has hands and is sitting in front of a keyboard, but why on earth should I have any confidence in that impression (other than because my chemicals give me no other choice). As a worldview, it undermines any confidence whatsoever that we might be accurately perceiving anything about an external world, because it necessarily denies that there is a we, or that we’re truly perceiving anything at all.

    These conclusions all follow quite obviously from atheistic materialism. If the materialists here don’t want to engage with these problems then they are simply acknowledging that, on their own worldview, we have no reason or basis for taking seriously anything they say.

  127. 127
    Dionisio says:

    WJM @125:

    Note what rvb8 recently wrote in another thread:

    I, and many others are trying to level the playing field, as it were. But, to be fair we (the atheists) have a hell (Heh!) of along way to go before we can say, ‘all’s even now’.

    Post @34 here:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-616454

    As you can see, it seems like rvb8 and his party comrades have a well defined agenda, which they try very hard to fulfill, the best they can.

    They’re not going to change their minds regardless of your well written OPs and follow up comments.

  128. 128

    Dionosio,

    I don’t write what I write for their benefit. I just use them and their comments to examine ideas.

  129. 129
    Dionisio says:

    WJM,

    Yes, I know that those interlocutors motivate some nice folks here to write more. And probably many anonymous visitors, onlookers, lurkers, enjoy reading the interesting OPs and comments here. One wonders if rvb8 and Pindi realize how beneficial they are to the hidden readers in this blog. 🙂

    But it should be clear that the dissenting interlocutors stubbornly stick to their positions because that’s what they want to do. They’re not interested in having productive discussions that benefit all parties. They have said that explicitly. They don’t care about what others here might explain. It’s pathetic, but that’s the reality.

  130. 130
    mike1962 says:

    WJM: Pindi and rvb8 are good examples of why I believe that many people in the world are actually biological automatons.

    I have the same impression continually.

    Whatever their problem is, it is at least akin to color blindness contra color sightedness. They appear to be blind to certain ideas. And, on a related note, when I read “experts” such as Dennet, I think, “whatever this guy is talking about when he talks about consciousness, he’s not talking about what I’m talking about.” Reminds me of a color blind person claiming that color vision is “an illusion” or something less than it obviously is to me. I’ve learned not to waste time trying to convert such (essentially) self-identified “bags of chemicals.”

  131. 131
    rvb8 says:

    “I don’t write what I write for their benefit. I just use them and their comments to examine ideas.”

    Heh!:)

    No you don’t! You use our comments to expose the bancruptcy of materialism, and to support the view that beyond nature is something else, which is ‘supernatural’. Please be honest if you are going to post at all.

    I, and my co-conspirators (oh for heaven’s sake, don’t read too much into the phraseology), choose science. Your position is clear; ‘there is something amazing, beyond our ken, floating in the mysty outerverse of the known universe.’ So is our position; ‘no there isn’t, prove it!’

    We have science on our side, you have wishful thinking and childish dreams.

    Enough said. Your turn, but please, this time, something measurable. Oh, and use a decent and less blunt tool than, ‘feet’.

    Am I mocking you and your utterly unprovable position? Certainly! And I don’t do this to be nasty, I do it to see how long it will be before you cease to tolerate this opposition. You see in most totalitarian states it’s not long.

    ‘Miserable Creatures’, was the poorly chosen title for this execrable twaddle, and poorly written too. I do hope this ‘Wedge’ thinking can improve.

  132. 132
    bb says:

    “You use our comments to expose the bancruptcy of materialism…”

    That’s because it is bankrupt and your inability to logically support your worldview helps to make the point.

    “I, and my co-conspirators […], choose science.”

    What “science”? You and your “co-conspirators” are an embarrassment, and there is nothing scientific to support your materialistic assertions about life and mind.

  133. 133
    Origenes says:

    rvb8 @131

    rvb8:

    William J Murray: “I don’t write what I write for their benefit. I just use them and their comments to examine ideas.”

    No you don’t! You use our comments to expose the bancruptcy of materialism, and to support the view that beyond nature is something else, which is ‘supernatural’.

    Nope. Your position denies the existence of intentionality; we write what chemistry dictates us to write.

    rvb8: Please be honest if you are going to post at all.

    Again, according to your position, it’s all chemistry and chemistry is notoriously not about honesty.

    rvb8: I, and my co-conspirators (oh for heaven’s sake, don’t read too much into the phraseology), choose science.

    No, according to your position, personhood and free will does not exist. Stop acting as if they do. Read again:

    William J Murray: You, on the other hand, claim to be an atheist and a materialist, yet you refuse to use terminology and sentence structures that reflect your supposed views.

    rvb8: Am I mocking you and your utterly unprovable position? Certainly!

    There you go again … Next time, rvb8, try to remember that, according to your position, there is nothing over and beyond chemistry — there is no person who mocks or does anything.

  134. 134
    Seversky says:

    Imagine if atheistic materialism was actually true and humans are nothing more than biological automatons – complexly programmed and reactive robots that behave and think in whatever manner happenstance chemical interactions dictates at any given time. Let’s think about what would actually mean.

    Okay, let’s try that.

    For a start, consider that we could describe the painting called the Mona Lisa as some paint smeared on a bit of canvas and at one level of description that’s what it is. But is that all that it is? Is that an adequate account of da Vinci’s work and what we experience when we see it? Of course not. Not even close.

    You could describe a computer as a box of bits of silicon, plastic and metals and, again, at a childishly simple level of description that’s what it is. But is that all that it is? Does that description do justice to what a computer is and what it can do? Does it even give you the slightest inkling of what it can do? Nowhere near.

    So, yes, you can describe a human being as a “bag of chemicals” and, yet again, at a childishly simple level of description that’s what it is. But is that all that it is? Do atheist/materialists (A/M)believe that’s all it is? Of course they don’t. Not that you’d know that from the sophomoric strawman caricature of what A/Ms believe being peddled here.

    Going back to the Mona Lisa for a moment, was that painting strictly determined by the chemical composition of the canvas and paints such that da Vinci had no choice but to paint it? No, that’s nonsense. You could say that he was constrained in what he could create by the limitations of the materials available to him but that’s far from strict determinism.

    Do the chemical properties alone of the materials from which a computer is built strictly determine its outputs? No. Again, they place constraints on the machines performance but there is no way you could infer from those chemical properties alone all the things of which a computer is capable.

    So, again, a human being is a bag of chemicals but there is no way to infer from a knowledge of the chemical properties of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon to a hugely complex organism like a human being. Yes, we are constrained in what we can do by our biochemistry but that is not the same as the “biological automata” that people are having such fun with here.

    The reality is that all this comes back to the hard problem of consciousness and believers trying to squeeze their version of God into the gap between our experience of consciousness and our very far from complete knowledge of how the brain works. But “far from complete” is not the same as no knowledge at all and the knowledge that we do have indicates at the very least a strong correlation between neurological activity in the brain and our conscious experiences.

    And what’s the alternative – an immaterial mind/soul/spirit? Something you can’t see, hear, touch, taste or smell. How the hell something that’s not any form of matter or energy that we can detect is supposed to interact with the material world in any way is as big a mystery as Carl Sagan’s parable of a dragon in his garage

    “A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage”
    Suppose (I’m following a group therapy approach by the psychologist Richard Franklin) I seriously make such an assertion to you. Surely you’d want to check it out, see for yourself. There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence. What an opportunity!

    “Show me,” you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle — but no dragon.

    “Where’s the dragon?” you ask.

    “Oh, she’s right here,” I reply, waving vaguely. “I neglected to mention that she’s an invisible dragon.”

    You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon’s footprints.

    “Good idea,” I say, “but this dragon floats in the air.”

    Then you’ll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.

    “Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless.”

    You’ll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.

    “Good idea, but she’s an incorporeal dragon and the paint won’t stick.” And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won’t work.

    Now, what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there’s no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists?

    And what does it mean to say that a mind/soul/spirit with zero physical properties exist? Why should we believe in such a thing? Because it makes us happy?

  135. 135
    HeKS says:

    Seversky,

    So, yes, you can describe a human being as a “bag of chemicals” and, yet again, at a childishly simple level of description that’s what it is. But is that all that it is? Do atheist/materialists (A/M)believe that’s all it is? Of course they don’t. Not that you’d know that from the sophomoric strawman caricature of what A/Ms believe being peddled here.

    You have utterly missed the point of what is being discussed here. What we have been presenting here in relation to atheistic materialism is not about what A/M’s personally believe, but about the logical entailments of A/M. One of the primary points that we’ve been making is that, at least at the popular level, A/Ms are generally oblivious to the logical entailments of their worldview and often seem completely incapable of even grasping them once they’ve been laid out. Academic A/Ms, on the other hand, are far more aware of these entailments and agree that they are what we have been presenting.

    You, like your other A/M comrades here, continue to speak about the world around you as though it is essentially what it seems to be even though your worldview provides absolutely zero justification for assuming that is the case, and you continue to talk about concepts, like thinking and believing and choosing, when your worldview leaves no room for the existence of such things. The statements made here by you, Pindi and rvb8 are simply incoherent on your worldview, but you all persist in this error endlessly without any of you actually addressing the problem of the logical entailments of your worldview. Instead you just assert what you personally believe, as though it is perfectly rational and honest to claim to hold a particular worldview while actually viewing the world in a way that it cannot ever hope to justify and while denying its various entailments.

    For a start, consider that we could describe the painting called the Mona Lisa as some paint smeared on a bit of canvas and at one level of description that’s what it is. But is that all that it is? Is that an adequate account of da Vinci’s work and what we experience when we see it? Of course not. Not even close.

    You have made the error of failing to properly distinguish between the object of the experience and the experience itself. In and of itself, the Mona Lisa is only paint smeared on a bit of canvas, and that’s all that it is. Any meaning or value that it has beyond that exists entirely in the minds of subjective personal observers. The Mona Lisa is not, of itself, about some woman with a queer smile. It is only the unique character of our minds that give it that aboutness. That is because one clump of matter cannot be about another clump of matter. But if our minds and our thoughts are exhausted by the matter of our brains then our thoughts cannot actually be about things either.

    Does your own experience tell you that’s absurd and that our thoughts clearly are about things? If so, great. You would be correct. But in concluding this you would also be concluding that a logical entailment of A/M that is recognized in academic A/M circles (as opposed to your own personal beliefs that you’ve crammed under the A/M umbrella) is absurd, which means that A/M itself is absurd. But you fail to deal with this or any of the other problems that have been raised with the logical entailments of A/M. Instead, you all keep retreating into the shelter of your personal opinions, which are unsupportable on atheistic materialism.

    And what’s the alternative – an immaterial mind/soul/spirit? Something you can’t see, hear, touch, taste or smell. How the hell something that’s not any form of matter or energy that we can detect is supposed to interact with the material world in any way is as big a mystery as Carl Sagan’s parable of a dragon in his garage

    Do you seriously believe that’s an apt analogy? You honestly don’t see the problem with making this comparison?

  136. 136

    HeKS

    “On atheistic materialism there is no continuous locus of identity. Where is your identity situated and continuously preserved? If you are simply your physical constituents, do you cease to be you when one or more of those components are changed or lost? Where is the limit of the necessary definition of you? The sine qua non of you? Do you stop being you if you lose a hand or a leg or when a brain cell dies or when many do?”

    Thanks for the reply. Very clear explanation. I was thinking about the whole chemical aspect of the materialist assumption. What gives them any certainty that these chemical reactions in the brain are always consistent; such that memories are always reflections of past events, for example. What if it’s not always consistent? As such, how could they do the “science” that Rvb8 claims is on his side, and not ours? How would he even know that the science is on his side if he can’t even be certain there’s a he or a side?

  137. 137
    Dionisio says:

    Seversky @134:

    And what does it mean to say that a mind/soul/spirit with zero physical properties exist?

    It means just that. 🙂

    Why should we believe in such a thing?

    Who said you should? 🙂

    Because it makes us happy?

    No, because it’s true! 🙂

    It’s written:

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. [John 1:1-3 (ESV)]

  138. 138
    rvb8 says:

    CYankee, quoting HeKS; “do you cease to be when one or more of those components are changed or lost?”

    Well, yes! Ever been drunk and you wake with a whole part of the previous evening lost? (Student days, not so much now.) Ever seen an alzheimers patient? Ever heard of the man with a spike in his brain, who had an altered personality after the accident?

    All cases where brain chemistry, or function is impaired, and the self identity, the self awareness are lost or damaged.

    So yes! You do indeed cease to be the individual you were when these personal tragedies occur; also death is a bit of a show stopper, I know that for you this is the mere change of the physical existance into the ‘not anywhere, at any time, in any place, soul’

  139. 139
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    “Ever been drunk and you wake with a whole part of the previous evening lost? (Student days, not so much now.) Ever seen an alzheimers patient? Ever heard of the man with a spike in his brain, who had an altered personality after the accident?”

    Railroad spike incident, and other brain impairment incidents, are gone over in this following video:

    The Case for the Soul – InspiringPhilosophy – (4:03 minute mark, Brain Plasticity including Schwartz’s work) – Oct. 2014 – video
    The Mind is able to modify the brain (brain plasticity). Moreover, Idealism explains all anomalous evidence of personality changes due to brain injury, whereas physicalism cannot explain mind.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBsI_ay8K70

    Of related note to Alzheimer’s

    “Even more interesting than these physical revivals, however, are revivals in mental functioning. Myers (1892b) had referred to the “sudden revivals of memory or faculty in dying persons” (p. 316), and there are scattered reports of people apparently recovering from dementia shortly before death. The eminent physician Benjamin Rush, author of the first American treatise on mental illness (1812), observed that “most of mad people discover a greater or less degree of reason in the last days or hours of their lives” (p. 257). Similarly, in his classic study of hallucinations, Brierre de Boismont (1859) noted that “at the approach of death we observe that… the intellect, which may have been obscured or extinguished during many years, is again restored in all its integrity” (p. 236). Flournoy (1903, p. 48) mentioned that French psychiatrists had recently published cases of mentally ill persons who showed sudden improvement in their condition shortly before death.
    In more recent years, Osis (1961) reported two cases, “one of severe schizophrenia and one of senility, [in which] the patients regained normal mentality shortly before death” (p. 24). Osis and Haraldsson (1977/1997) reported a case of a meningitis patient who had been “severely disoriented almost to the end,” but who “cleared up, answered questions, smiled, was slightly elated and just a few minutes before death, came to herself” (p. 133). Turetskaia and Romanenko (1975) reported three cases involving remission of symptoms in dying schizophrenic patients. Grosso (2004, pp. 42–43) described three dementia cases that had been reported to him, one by a colleague and two by a nurse. In all three cases, the patient had not recognized family members for several years, but shortly before death they all were said to have become more coherent or alert and to have recognized family members. Such cases,, seriously undermine the assumption that, in such diseases as Alzheimer’s, the mind itself is destroyed in lockstep with the brain (e.g., Edwards, 1997, pp. 295–296). Like many of the experiences discussed in this chapter, such cases would suggest that in some conditions, consciousness may be enhanced, not destroyed, when constraints normally supplied by the brain are sufficiently loosened.”
    – Irreducible Mind, Edward F. Kelly

    Here are a few more brain impairment examples that throw the whole materialistic ‘you are your brain’ hypothesis into complete disarray:

    If the mind of a person were merely the brain, as materialists hold, then if half of a brain were removed then a ‘person’ should only be ‘half the person’, or at least somewhat less of a ‘person’, as they were before. But that is not the case, the ‘whole person’ stays intact even though the brain suffers severe impairment:

    Removing Half of Brain Improves Young Epileptics’ Lives: – 1997
    Excerpt: “We are awed by the apparent retention of memory and by the retention of the child’s personality and sense of humor,” Dr. Eileen P. G. Vining,,
    Dr. John Freeman, the director of the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Epilepsy Center, said he was dumbfounded at the ability of children to regain speech after losing the half of the brain that is supposedly central to language processing.
    ”It’s fascinating,” Dr. Freeman said. ”The classic lore is that you can’t change language after the age of 2 or 3.”
    But Dr. Freeman’s group has now removed diseased left hemispheres in more than 20 patients, including three 13-year-olds whose ability to speak transferred to the right side of the brain in much the way that Alex’s did.,,,
    http://www.nytimes.com/1997/08.....lives.html

    In further comment from the neuro-surgeons in the John Hopkins study:

    “Despite removal of one hemisphere, the intellect of all but one of the children seems either unchanged or improved. Intellect was only affected in the one child who had remained in a coma, vigil-like state, attributable to peri-operative complications.”

    Strange but True: When Half a Brain Is Better than a Whole One – May 2007
    Excerpt: Most Hopkins hemispherectomy patients are five to 10 years old. Neurosurgeons have performed the operation on children as young as three months old. Astonishingly, memory and personality develop normally. ,,,
    Another study found that children that underwent hemispherectomies often improved academically once their seizures stopped. “One was champion bowler of her class, one was chess champion of his state, and others are in college doing very nicely,” Freeman says.
    Of course, the operation has its downside: “You can walk, run—some dance or skip—but you lose use of the hand opposite of the hemisphere that was removed. You have little function in that arm and vision on that side is lost,” Freeman says. Remarkably, few other impacts are seen. ,,,
    http://www.scientificamerican......than-whole

    How Removing Half of Someone’s Brain Can Improve Their Life – Oct. 2015
    Excerpt: Next spring, del Peral (who has only half a brain) will graduate from Curry College, where she has made the dean’s list every semester since freshman year.
    http://www.mentalfloss.com/art.....their-life

    Although the girl in the following videos was written off as hopelessly retarded by everyone who saw her, eventually a breakthrough was made that gave her the ability to communicate with the outside world. A breakthough that revealed there was/is indeed a gentle intelligence, a “me”, a “soul”, a “person”, within the girl that was and still is trapped within her body. And that that “me” was not able to express herself properly to others simply because of her neurological disorder not because she did not have a ‘mind’ that was not fully functioning.

    Severely Handicapped Girl Suddenly Expresses Intelligence At Age 11 – very moving video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNZVV4Ciccg

    Carly’s Café – Experience Autism Through Carly’s Eyes – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmDGvquzn2k

    The preceding examples are simply impossible on materialistic premises.

  140. 140
    Allen Shepherd says:

    I am an Adventist Christian, and as such do not believe in an immortal soul (God only has immortality I Tim 6:17).

    Thus I believe as you do that there is a dissolution of the self at death, and do not see death as “a mere change of the physical existence”. (The resurrection would bring us back as is described in I Thessalonians 4.)

    So, I agree that there is something about us that is mere dust. We are completely contingent beings, but possess, in our contingent flesh the breath of God (see Gen 2:7) which returns to him at death but is an unconscious entity.

    Despite this agreement, We are clearly, in my mind, more than a bag of chemicals. We have physical bodies, that are affected by the things around us (spikes and all), but are more than that, even to one who does not believe in a soul. In other words, the logic against A/M hold even for one who agrees with you on the physical aspects of humanity.

  141. 141
    Origenes says:

    William J Murray @33

    WJM: They don’t realize it. IMO, their thought process goes something like this:
    1. Idea of god and supernatural is patently ridiculous, so …
    2. Atheism/materialism must be true, and …
    3. I think and act the way I do, so ….
    4. Atheism/materialism must be able to account for my thoughts and behavior.
    You can’t convince them otherwise because they are so absolutely certain #1 is true, which is why they always go back, one way or another, to belittling and ridiculing those concepts regardless of how carefully or seriously they are presented.

    At first, the idea of god may very well be hard to accept. However, what I don’t understand is that their initial rejection remains steadfast after considering the tremendous problems connected to atheism.
    Assuming that atheistic beliefs, such as “a universe from nothing”, “the spontaneous self-organization of fermions and bosons into human beings”, “no personhood”, “no free will” and “rationality produced by blind irrational forces”, come across as — at the very least — equally ‘patently ridiculous’, one must conclude that there is something else involved wrt their rejection of god.

    WJM: Many times they have a deep, emotional commitment against theism (note rbv8’s sense of elated freedom after leaving Catholicism) that serves as an identity anchor which disallows any critical examination.
    There are core drivers of our sense of self that are often simply too deeply rooted and important to give up unless one reaches a very critical point. Debating on the internet, no matter how logically compelling the point, isn’t nearly enough to dislodge such tightly held issues.

    I guess you are right. One thing is for sure: the issue is not a shortage of compelling arguments against atheism/materialism.

  142. 142
    Autodidaktos says:

    Allen Shepherd:

    “I am an Adventist Christian, and as such do not believe in an immortal soul God only has immortality I Tim 6:17). ”
    If that is true, then not even angels are immortal, and if so, then no one would have eternal life. Only God is immortal in the sense that only God necessarily exists. Everything else could cease to exist if God does not uphold them in existence.

    “Thus I believe as you do that there is a dissolution of the self at death, and do not see death as “a mere change of the physical existence”.
    While there are passages in the Bible which do seem to speak of total annihilation at death, neither the OT nor the NT have such a worldview (the concept of Sheol or Hades, where the spirits of the dead abide, is something the Israelites shared with the entire ancient near east).

    “Despite this agreement, We are clearly, in my mind, more than a bag of chemicals. We have physical bodies, that are affected by the things around us (spikes and all), but are more than that, even to one who does not believe in a soul.”
    If so, then our minds have causal powers which matter does not, in which case, some form of hylemorphism is true.

    But the reason I believe that the intellect is immaterial or that God exists is not because the Bible tells me so.

  143. 143

    rvb8 said @131 that he chooses science and science is “on his side”, whereas, one would presume, theists don’t choose science (or cannot), and that science is not “on their side.”

    rvb8 has also admitted, however, that he is not a scientist. So I wonder if rvb8 could explain what science has to do with the debate here, and what he means, by answering a few questions.

    1. How is science useful in the debate about the logical ramifications of atheistic materialism and theism?

    2. Can theists not also “choose science”? If not , why not?

    3. Can theists not also claim that science is “on their side”? If not, why not?

  144. 144

    Seversky said:

    And what’s the alternative – an immaterial mind/soul/spirit? Something you can’t see, hear, touch, taste or smell. How the hell something that’s not any form of matter or energy that we can detect is supposed to interact with the material world in any way is as big a mystery as Carl Sagan’s parable of a dragon in his garage.

    A dragon in Sagan’s garage is not a logically necessary postulate required to explain what is evident during conscious existence; a loci of uncaused intention (free will, soul) is. It is how we all behave every day of our lives, as if we all have an uncaused, invisible, immaterial ghost in the machine from which we can override happenstance chemical causes and states. It is what the whole concept of personal responsibility and meaningful argument logically requires.

    Sagan would have an argument if he could point out where a theoretical dragon in his garage was a logically necessary entity, or point out where in our behavior we all acted as if there was a dragon in his garage; or if he could argue that if there was no dragon, the logical ramification of its absence would result in material solipsism and we couldn’t be sure if anything we said made any sense whatsoever.

    Do the chemical properties alone of the materials from which a computer is built strictly determine its outputs? No. Again, they place constraints on the machines performance but there is no way you could infer from those chemical properties alone all the things of which a computer is capable.

    Is a computer capable of making a free will choice? No, it is only capable of doing what it is programmed to do. Period. Regardless of how complex it is, regardless even if its programming includes random outputs and evolutionary algorithms that can write new code; the only thing a computer can do is whatever it is programmed to do at any particular moment, and it cannot do anything else.

    In order for an entity to be able to do something other than that which it’s physical makeup dictates, it would have to have a non-physical commodity that is outside of the physical system of cause-and-effect.

    You complain that the bag-of-chems description is too simple; the term represents the point that if atheistic materialism is true, then all any of can do is whatever our particular physical state at the time causes, even if the output is random or unpredictable, whether or not that output happens to have truthful correspondence to facts or logic or not. Waving your hands and chanting “but it’s more complex than that” doesn’t change that essential point one iota.

  145. 145

    As far as which side science is on, and as far as whether or not we experience the supernatural (free will), I refer readers to my prior post:

    Experience, Rational Debate & Science Depend On The Supernatural

  146. 146
    bornagain77 says:

    A particular good example of showing that mind must be primary, is the current argument by some leading scientists arguing that the universe is a ‘simulation’:

    Digital Physics Argument for God’s Existence – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2Xsp4FRgas

    Digital Physics Argument
    Premise 1: Simulations can only exist is a computer or a mind.
    Premise 2: The universe is a simulation.
    Premise 3: A simulation on a computer still must be simulated in a mind.
    Premise 4: Therefore, the universe is a simulation in a mind (2,3).
    Premise 5: This mind is what we call God.
    Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.

    As Decartes (and WJM) would rightly point out, to even be able to contemplate the fact that the universe might be a simulation requires a perspective that is outside the material order, i.e. A ‘mind’ that is able to stand apart from the material order and offer a rational assessment of the evidence and argue for the possibility that the universe may very well be merely a simulation.

    In fact, the most concrete thing that a person can know about reality is the fact that they are indeed conscious and they really exist as real persons:

    “Descartes remarks that he can continue to doubt whether he has a body; after all, he only believes he has a body as a result of his perceptual experiences, and so the demon could be deceiving him about this. But he cannot doubt that he has a mind, i.e. that he thinks. So he knows he exists even though he doesn’t know whether or not he has a body.”
    http://cw.routledge.com/textbo.....ualism.pdf

    “Descartes said ‘I think, therefore I am.’ My bet is that God replied, ‘I am, therefore think.'”
    Art Battson – Access Research Group

    “In any philosophy of reality that is not ultimately self-defeating or internally contradictory, mind – unlabeled as anything else, matter or spiritual – must be primary. What is “matter” and what is “conceptual” and what is “spiritual” can only be organized from mind. Mind controls what is perceived, how it is perceived, and how those percepts are labeled and organized. Mind must be postulated as the unobserved observer, the uncaused cause simply to avoid a self-negating, self-conflicting worldview. It is the necessary postulate of all necessary postulates, because nothing else can come first. To say anything else comes first requires mind to consider and argue that case and then believe it to be true, demonstrating that without mind, you could not believe that mind is not primary in the first place.”
    – William J. Murray

    David Chalmers on (the hard problem of) Consciousness – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK1Yo6VbRoo

  147. 147
    Dionisio says:

    Allen Shepherd @140:

    Thus I believe as you do […]

    In the above quoted partial sentence, whom is the word “you” referring to?
    Which post #?
    Sometimes it may help to indicate explicitly to whom your comment is addressed and the post # of the comment you’re replying to.

    Also, some of your scriptural references seem vague, imprecise.
    The term “soul” seems to appear many times in both the OT and NT. The first Bible reference you provided does not seem to support your idea, but maybe I didn’t look correctly or misunderstood it?
    Can you help?

  148. 148

    Ironically, Seversky said,

    And what does it mean to say that a mind/soul/spirit with zero physical properties exist? Why should we believe in such a thing? Because it makes us happy?

    Seversky asks why particular states of organic chemistry “should” cause a particular belief-effect, as if such physical effects are generated from reason and not whatever the prior physical state happens to be.

    This is part and parcel of any debate with atheistic materialists; in their ignorant bliss, they argue as if reason and logic can be objectively understood and utilized by some supernatural agency in the other person that has power over the brute organic chemistry of their brains and bodies and which resides outside of the physical cause-and-effect chain. Yet, they deny such an agency exists.

    However, ignoring this internal self-contradiction: Seversky, asking from an assumed reality of atheistic materialism, asks if we should believe something “because it makes us happy”. My question is, if atheistic materialism is true, what other meaningful reason is there for choosing a belief?

  149. 149
    soundburger says:

    #131 rv wrote “We have science on our side, you have wishful thinking and childish dreams.”

    No, you do not have ‘science’ on your side. The best that could be possibly argued is that you have a misuse of Occam’s Razor on your side.

    But, prove me wrong. Please provide the consensus materialist, well evidenced position on
    a.) what existed before the Big Bang
    b.) abiogenesis
    c.) consciousness (specifically, human consciousness, but consciousness in general will suffice)

    Thanks!

  150. 150
    Autodidaktos says:

    William J Murray:

    Are you speaking of ’cause’ in the sense of ‘deterministic cause’? For the will’s motion does have causes, which do not, however, determine it towards some conclusion.

  151. 151

    Autodidaktos said:

    Are you speaking of ’cause’ in the sense of ‘deterministic cause’? For the will’s motion does have causes, which do not, however, determine it towards some conclusion.

    IMO, the will has no causes whatsoever. The term is misapplied. What surrounds and informs the will are reasons, influences and contextual information. None of these things cause the will to move one direction or the other, but rather provide a full landscape of values and information within which one’s will is applied.

    Look at it this way: you are standing at a point in a landscape. You have a goal you are trying to achieve; you have a certain kind of weather you are experiencing, you have certain items in your backpack and you are experience a certain range of health. It’s a certain time of day or night.

    Does all of that cause you to make whatever decision you make about what to do next? No. Those are not causes. You can change your goal on the fly or even ignore it; if you are tired you can choose to rest or push on; etc.

  152. 152
    bornagain77 says:

    Atheist Sam “moral landscape” Harris now holds that consciousness is irreducible to brain states? Who says miracles can’t happen! – video
    https://www.facebook.com/BigThinkdotcom/videos/10153879575418527/

  153. 153
    Allen Shepherd says:

    Autodidaktos,

    Yes, then angels are not immortal as well. That is, they are contingent. And, yes, if God ceased to exist, so would all beings. But angels have eternal life, yes, and may have been granted immortality, but I don’t think it says so in scripture. Eternal life is different than immortality. The first is contingent on someone, the second is non-contingent.
    Adam and Eve had eternal life in the garden, dec;pendant on the tree of life. They were not immortal. (Gen 3:22)
    I Cor 15 states that we RECEIVE immortality at the resurrection. We therefore must not have it now, for why would we have to receive it.

    “While there are passages in the Bible which do seem to speak of total annihilation at death, neither the OT nor the NT have such a worldview.” I would view the idea of sheol as an unconscious sleep, and scripture seems to indicate it is (John 11:11-14)

    Dionisio,

    I do not know how to use various tools to copy posts to mine. Sorry for not posting whom I was posting to. It was rv8 @138. I was looking at it as I was posting, but Born-again 77 got in a minute before I did, so his post separated mine from rv8.

    If God only has Immorality (I Tim 1:16), and we receive it at the resurrection, (1 Cor 15:51-53), how then can the soul be immortal, whatever it is? And Jesus also said that God could destroy the soul in hell. (Matt 10:28)

    Gen 2:7 God forms a body from the dust, adds the breath of life, and the result is a living soul. a person. When death happens, the breath (the principle of life, not a conscious thing) returns to God, the body to dust. The soul ceases to exist.

    If you could explain to me how you transfer quotes from others to your post in the little boxes like you do, it would be appreciated. Thanks.

  154. 154
    mike1962 says:

    WJM: Seversky asks why particular states of organic chemistry “should” cause a particular belief-effect, as if such physical effects are generated from reason and not whatever the prior physical state happens to be.

    C.S. Lewis does a pretty good job dealing with the difference between cause/effect and ground/consequent in his book Miracles, and explains why materialists are out in the weeds, so to speak, philosophically. Doesn’t seem like most materialists are aware of the difference, something Lewis noticed and pointed out back in the late 1940s. (He revised the book in 1960.)

    Somehow, the ground/consequent reasoning that humans do “broke free” of the cause/effect of mere chemical action. Materialists have no gap-free explanation for this. They often don’t realize that there is anything here that calls for an explanation.

  155. 155
    Allen Shepherd says:

    BA77@146:

    “Mind must be postulated as the unobserved observer, the uncaused cause simply to avoid a self-negating, self-conflicting worldview.”

    We are thus akin to the creator, himself. Our minds produce “uncaused causes”.

    One has said we received such power from him, the power to think and to do. What a gift!

  156. 156
    Autodidaktos says:

    William,

    It would seem to me that you’re speaking of causes in the sense of them being deterministic. But causation needn’t be so. Insofar as the will is intrinsically oriented towards this or that entity seen as good in one way or the other, some entity or the other can move the will towards it, but this is indeterministic, i.e., it does not necessarily move the will towards it. We probably have a potentially infinite hierarchy of orders of willing (I can want X, yet I can desire not to want X, I can desire not to have the desire to not want X…) ad infinitum. This is why the will acts indeterministically.

  157. 157
    bornagain77 says:

    As to the question of whether there is some transcendent component to our being, i.e. whether we have a ‘soul’, that can possibly survive death, the ‘scientific’ answer to that question is yes.

    “Let’s say the heart stops beating. The blood stops flowing. The microtubules lose their quantum state. But the quantum information, which is in the microtubules, isn’t destroyed. It can’t be destroyed. It just distributes and dissipates to the universe at large. If a patient is resuscitated, revived, this quantum information can go back into the microtubules and the patient says, “I had a near death experience. I saw a white light. I saw a tunnel. I saw my dead relatives.,,” Now if they’re not revived and the patient dies, then it’s possible that this quantum information can exist outside the body. Perhaps indefinitely as a soul.”
    – Stuart Hameroff – Quantum Entangled Consciousness – Life After Death – video (5:00 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/jjpEc98o_Oo?t=300

    Stuart Hameroff is referring to the fact that, in quantum mechanics, it is information that is primarily conserved, not matter and energy that are primarily conserved.

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed. This concept stems from two fundamental theorems of quantum mechanics: the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem. A third and related theorem, called the no-hiding theorem, addresses information loss in the quantum world. According to the no-hiding theorem, if information is missing from one system (which may happen when the system interacts with the environment), then the information is simply residing somewhere else in the Universe; in other words, the missing information cannot be hidden in the correlations between a system and its environment.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....tally.html

    Quantum no-deleting theorem
    Excerpt: A stronger version of the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem provide permanence to quantum information. To create a copy one must import the information from some part of the universe and to delete a state one needs to export it to another part of the universe where it will continue to exist.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q.....onsequence

    Besides microtubules, which Hameroff mentioned, quantum information/entanglement is also now found in every DNA and protein molecule of our bodies:

    Classical and Quantum Information Channels in Protein Chain – Dj. Koruga, A. Tomi?, Z. Ratkaj, L. Matija – 2006
    Abstract: Investigation of the properties of peptide plane in protein chain from both classical and quantum approach is presented. We calculated interatomic force constants for peptide plane and hydrogen bonds between peptide planes in protein chain. On the basis of force constants, displacements of each atom in peptide plane, and time of action we found that the value of the peptide plane action is close to the Planck constant. This indicates that peptide plane from the energy viewpoint possesses synergetic classical/quantum properties. Consideration of peptide planes in protein chain from information viewpoint also shows that protein chain possesses classical and quantum properties. So, it appears that protein chain behaves as a triple dual system: (1) structural – amino acids and peptide planes, (2) energy – classical and quantum state, and (3) information – classical and quantum coding. Based on experimental facts of protein chain, we proposed from the structure-energy-information viewpoint its synergetic code system.
    http://www.scientific.net/MSF.518.491

    “What happens is this classical information (of DNA) is embedded, sandwiched, into the quantum information (of DNA). And most likely this classical information is never accessed because it is inside all the quantum information. You can only access the quantum information or the electron clouds and the protons. So mathematically you can describe that as a quantum/classical state.”
    Elisabeth Rieper – Classical and Quantum Information in DNA – video (Longitudinal Quantum Information resides along the entire length of DNA discussed at the 19:30 minute mark; at 24:00 minute mark Dr Rieper remarks that practically the whole DNA molecule can be viewed as quantum information with classical information embedded within it)
    https://youtu.be/2nqHOnVTxJE?t=1176

    Quantum criticality in a wide range of important biomolecules
    Excerpt: “Most of the molecules taking part actively in biochemical processes are tuned exactly to the transition point and are critical conductors,” they say.
    That’s a discovery that is as important as it is unexpected. “These findings suggest an entirely new and universal mechanism of conductance in biology very different from the one used in electrical circuits.”
    The permutations of possible energy levels of biomolecules is huge so the possibility of finding even one that is in the quantum critical state by accident is mind-bogglingly small and, to all intents and purposes, impossible.,, of the order of 10^-50 of possible small biomolecules and even less for proteins,”,,,
    “what exactly is the advantage that criticality confers?”
    https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/the-origin-of-life-and-the-hidden-role-of-quantum-criticality-ca4707924552

  158. 158
    bornagain77 says:

    There are simply no plausible materialistic explanations available to atheists in order explain why quantum entanglement exists anywhere in the universe, much less how entanglement can possibly exist in our bodies on such a massive scale in every DNA and protein molecule:

    Looking beyond space and time to cope with quantum theory – 29 October 2012
    Excerpt: “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,”
    http://www.quantumlah.org/high.....uences.php

    Quantum correlations do not imply instant causation – August 12, 2016
    Excerpt: A research team led by a Heriot-Watt scientist has shown that the universe is even weirder than had previously been thought.
    In 2015 the universe was officially proven to be weird. After many decades of research, a series of experiments showed that distant, entangled objects can seemingly interact with each other through what Albert Einstein famously dismissed as “Spooky action at a distance”.
    A new experiment by an international team led by Heriot-Watt’s Dr Alessandro Fedrizzi has now found that the universe is even weirder than that: entangled objects do not cause each other to behave the way they do.
    http://phys.org/news/2016-08-q.....ation.html

    In other words, since the preceding study proved that the particles are not causing each other to be entangled, then a beyond space and time cause must be supplied to explain why the particles are entangled. ,, And whereas the atheistic materialist is now at a complete loss to explain ‘non-local’ quantum correlations, The Christian Theist has always had a ready answer,

    Verse:

    Colossians 1:17
    He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.

    Supplemental notes:

    Molecular Biology – 19th Century Materialism meets 21st Century Quantum Mechanics – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCs3WXHqOv8

    The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings – Stephen L. Talbott – 2010
    Excerpt: Virtually the same collection of molecules exists in the canine cells during the moments immediately before and after death. But after the fateful transition no one will any longer think of genes as being regulated, nor will anyone refer to normal or proper chromosome functioning. No molecules will be said to guide other molecules to specific targets, and no molecules will be carrying signals, which is just as well because there will be no structures recognizing signals. Code, information, and communication, in their biological sense, will have disappeared from the scientist’s vocabulary.
    ,,, the question, rather, is why things don’t fall completely apart — as they do, in fact, at the moment of death. What power holds off that moment — precisely for a lifetime, and not a moment longer?
    Despite the countless processes going on in the cell, and despite the fact that each process might be expected to “go its own way” according to the myriad factors impinging on it from all directions, the actual result is quite different. Rather than becoming progressively disordered in their mutual relations (as indeed happens after death, when the whole dissolves into separate fragments), the processes hold together in a larger unity.
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....-of-beings

    Scientific (physical) evidence that we do indeed have an eternal soul – video elaboration on Talbott’s question “What power holds off that moment — precisely for a lifetime, and not a moment longer?”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2P45Obl4lQ

    Special and General Relativity compared to Heavenly and Hellish Near Death Experiences – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbKELVHcvSI&list=PLtAP1KN7ahia8hmDlCYEKifQ8n65oNpQ5&index=1

    Verses and Music:

    Luke 23:42-43
    And he said, Jesus, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom. And he said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.

    Matthew 16:26
    What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

    Allman Brothers Band – Soulshine
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDIQ7Otf1mw

  159. 159
    Vy says:

    We have science on our side, you have wishful thinking and childish dreams.

    Lovely projection.
    I see you guys haven’t given up competing with Norse mythology in terms of fantasticality.

    Am I mocking you and your utterly unprovable position? Certainly!

    Don’t flatter yourself.

    And I don’t do this to be nasty, I do it to see how long it will be before you cease to tolerate this opposition. You see in most totalitarian states it’s not long.

    Are you confusing us with Richard Dawkins/Jerry Coyne?

  160. 160
    Seversky says:

    HeKS @ 135

    You have utterly missed the point of what is being discussed here. What we have been presenting here in relation to atheistic materialism is not about what A/M’s personally believe, but about the logical entailments of A/M. One of the primary points that we’ve been making is that, at least at the popular level, A/Ms are generally oblivious to the logical entailments of their worldview and often seem completely incapable of even grasping them once they’ve been laid out. Academic A/Ms, on the other hand, are far more aware of these entailments and agree that they are what we have been presenting.

    If you are peddling a strawman version of A/M then any “logical entailments” are equally flawed. Certainly the usual ones trotted out here are. As for worldviews, it is such a nebulous concept, although it does embrace the fact that people of all persuasions often hold dissonant or contradictory views, that it is doubtful that it serves any useful purpose

    You, like your other A/M comrades here, continue to speak about the world around you as though it is essentially what it seems to be even though your worldview provides absolutely zero justification for assuming that is the case, and you continue to talk about concepts, like thinking and believing and choosing, when your worldview leaves no room for the existence of such things.

    No, we speak about the world as we observe it to be, using “observe” in its broadest sense. We are well aware that our senses only provide limited information about objective reality. The mental model of that reality that we build internally on the basis of that information is good enough to enable us to navigate that reality but we know it is far from being a complete and accurate account of that reality. Our science and instrumentation have allowed us to observe that which is beyond the reach of our physical senses and to understand it to some degree. It is how we know there are billions of neutrinos streaming through every square centimeter of our bodies every second. Our senses don’t detect them. Our “worldviews”, religious or otherwise didn’t predict them but materialistic science posited their existence as a “logical entailment” of discrepancies between theory and observation.

    Are our observations entirely reliable? Is the model we have of objective reality true in all respects? No, of course not. We are fallible, imperfect creatures. We know that. But what we have learned is good enough, at least to start with. Like it or not, it works. Better than anything else on offer.

    You have made the error of failing to properly distinguish between the object of the experience and the experience itself. In and of itself, the Mona Lisa is only paint smeared on a bit of canvas, and that’s all that it is. Any meaning or value that it has beyond that exists entirely in the minds of subjective personal observers. The Mona Lisa is not, of itself, about some woman with a queer smile. It is only the unique character of our minds that give it that aboutness. That is because one clump of matter cannot be about another clump of matter. But if our minds and our thoughts are exhausted by the matter of our brains then our thoughts cannot actually be about things either

    The problem of “aboutness” is simply another aspect of the acknowledged Hard Problem of Consciousness. No one is pretending that one clump of matter can be about another clump of matter. “Aboutness” is an attribute of conscious perception and the Hard Problem is hard because of the difficulty of explaining how consciousness can arise from the neurological activity of the brain. We understand that. What we do observe, although immaterialists prefer to ignore it, is that changes to the chemistry of the brain or physical damage to it affects the conscious behavior of the person affected. Death of the physical brain is accompanied by the irreversible disappearance of consciousness. Consciousness is not observed to exist apart from the physical substrate of the brain. There is clearly a strong correlation, at the very least, between the phenomenon of consciousness and the brain. If you want to propose an alternative model of consciousness, you will need to do better than invoke dragon-in-the-garage entities like an incorporeal mind/soul/spirit.

  161. 161
    Autodidaktos says:

    So here are the facts:

    1) We see that our minds have the property of intentionality.

    2) We also see that damage to the brain greatly impedes cognition.

    Materialism cannot explain (1).

    Cartesian dualism cannot explain (2).

    Hylemorphic dualism can explain both (1) and (2), since on hylemorphism, the intellect, though immaterial, is dependent upon the brain to supply it with sensory data and memory, from which it abstracts universals. Therefore, hylemorphism is true.

  162. 162
    Origenes says:

    Seversky @160

    S: No, we speak about the world as we observe it to be, using “observe” in its broadest sense.

    According to your position there is no person. And if there is no person, then there is no starting point for observation. Hence, given your position, you cannot speak of ‘observing’ in any meaningful way.

    S: We are well aware that our senses only provide limited information about objective reality.

    According to your position there are no persons who are aware of anything.

    S: The mental model of that reality that we build internally on the basis of that information.

    According to your position there is no “mental model”. Also there are no persons; let alone persons who build anything. Also, there is no such thing as information; there is simply nothing over and beyond chemistry.

    And so forth ….

    S: No one is pretending that one clump of matter can be about another clump of matter.

    Right. So, everything that goes on in the brain is not about the external world. Now start acting like this is true.

    Read again:

    William J Murray: You … claim to be an atheist and a materialist, yet you refuse to use terminology and sentence structures that reflect your supposed views.

  163. 163
    Seversky says:

    William J Murray @ 144

    A dragon in Sagan’s garage is not a logically necessary postulate required to explain what is evident during conscious existence; a loci of uncaused intention (free will, soul) is. It is how we all behave every day of our lives, as if we all have an uncaused, invisible, immaterial ghost in the machine from which we can override happenstance chemical causes and states. It is what the whole concept of personal responsibility and meaningful argument logically requires.

    Sagan’s dragon story is clearly intended to illustrate the argument that any explanation so constructed as to be immune to any form of testing is useless as a tool for improving our understanding of the world. They are effectively vacuous. Hypothetical entities such as an immaterial mind/soul/spirit fall into the same category as Sagan’s dragon if they are so framed as to be untestable.

    Is a computer capable of making a free will choice? No, it is only capable of doing what it is programmed to do. Period. Regardless of how complex it is, regardless even if its programming includes random outputs and evolutionary algorithms that can write new code; the only thing a computer can do is whatever it is programmed to do at any particular moment, and it cannot do anything else.

    A computer makes choices based on the parameters set in its programming. How is that different from what we do? When we make choices, they are influenced by our knowledge, experience, beliefs, etc, in other words, our “programming”. Of course, we could decide things on the toss of a coin just as a computer could be programmed to make choices based on the output of an RNG but that would not be a rational process. And making a choice is usually a rational process which means that it is influenced – even determined – by pre-existing information and rules. So to what extent are we free given that we are contingent beings who cannot divorce ourselves from the causal chains that led up to us

    In order for an entity to be able to do something other than that which it’s physical makeup dictates, it would have to have a non-physical commodity that is outside of the physical system of cause-and-effect.

    The programs that run on a computer are constrained by the physical properties of the machine but the operations and outputs are not dictated by them.

    In order for an entity to be able to do something other than that which it’s physical makeup dictates, it would have to have a non-physical commodity that is outside of the physical system of cause-and-effect.

    You complain that the bag-of-chems description is too simple; the term represents the point that if atheistic materialism is true, then all any of can do is whatever our particular physical state at the time causes, even if the output is random or unpredictable, whether or not that output happens to have truthful correspondence to facts or logic or not. Waving your hands and chanting “but it’s more complex than that” doesn’t change that essential point one iota.

    The complaint is not so much that the bag-of-chems jibe is too simplistic but that it implicitly denies the possibility that great complexity can arise from simple beginnings. Think of the huge variety of snowflake forms that arise from the simple properties of hydrogen and oxygen in a certain phase. Look at the way genetic algorithms and neural networks are being used to solve problems in ways not anticipated by their programmers and even being applied to the arts. Is it really such a stretch to infer that our conscious experience could emerge from an organ of such staggering complexity as the human brain? Certainly, the evidence we have points much more strongly to that possibility than any other.

  164. 164
    Origenes says:

    Seversky @136

    S: Sagan’s dragon story is clearly intended to illustrate the argument that any explanation so constructed as to be immune to any form of testing is useless as a tool for improving our understanding of the world. They are effectively vacuous. Hypothetical entities such as an immaterial mind/soul/spirit fall into the same category as Sagan’s dragon if they are so framed as to be untestable.

    The person, the “I”, is the one doing the testing. “Testing” cannot exist without a person. If there is no person who intents to do a test, then there can be no test.
    In what way is a person who performs a test a “hypothetical entity” like Sagan’s dragon? And why is it that you assume that current testing equipment holds the key to all reality?

    ‘Cogito ergo sum’ cannot be denied. One cannot doubt one’s own existence. I dare you:
    “When I attempt to doubt my existence, I think. In order to think I have to exist. I think, therefor I am.”

    S: And making a choice is usually a rational process which means that it is influenced – even determined – by pre-existing information and rules.

    Gobbledygook. Your position cannot ground persons, freedom, rationality, information and rules.

  165. 165
    Autodidaktos says:

    “Sagan’s dragon story is clearly intended to illustrate the argument that any explanation so constructed as to be immune to any form of testing is useless as a tool for improving our understanding of the world.”
    Why should testability be the only tool to improve our understanding of the world? The rule of modus ponens, for example, is not “testable”, but it is necessarily true.

  166. 166
    Axel says:

    Your #158, BA77:

    ‘Colossians 1:17
    He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.’

    Nice find/recollection, BA.

  167. 167
    Allen Shepherd says:

    BA77 @ 157
    “As to the question of whether there is some transcendent component to our being, i.e. whether we have a ‘soul’, that can possibly survive death, the ‘scientific’ answer to that question is yes.”

    You go on to speak of “near death” experiences. These are just that, near death, so not death altogether. They thus cannot be used to prove any actual facts about a hereafter. Now Lazarus from John 11 could have given such information, but did not, and could not, as Jesus said he was in the SLEEP of death.

    As far as quantum connections etc., again, we have not heard of any others coming back from such states to tell us, so it seems speculation.

    What we are is mysterious, the combination of flesh and spirit. That we do not even know or really understand in a sense our own nature again shows the limit of our ability to fathom reality.

  168. 168
    Vy says:

    Now Lazarus from John 11 could have given such information, but did not, and could not, as Jesus said he was in the SLEEP of death.

    Sleep of death eh?

    John 11:11-15 (KJV)
    11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

  169. 169
    bornagain77 says:

    Whatever Allen. I just laid out the scientific facts. I’m not here to argue with a Theist who denies the reality and primacy of the soul.

    If I wanted to argue religious opinions, I would argue with Darwinists! 🙂 At least they claim to follow the scientific evidence in their religion.

  170. 170
    Dionisio says:

    Allen Shepherd @153:

    You commented on my post @147 which was my comment on your post @140.

    By indicating post numbers we make it easier to follow the discussion within other discussions.

    @140 you wrote I Tim 6:17 to refer to God’s immortality.
    @153 you wrote I Tim 1:16 to refer to God’s immortality.
    BTW, @153 the editor autocorrect mistakenly changed the word “immortality” to “immorality”.

  171. 171
    HeKS says:

    Allen Shepherd,

    You can create quote boxes by putting the quoted text in ‘blockquote’ tags, like this:

    <blockquote>Quoted text goes here</blockquote>

    Which will look like this:

    Quoted text goes here

    Hope that helps.

    HeKS

  172. 172

    Seversky said:

    Sagan’s dragon story is clearly intended to illustrate the argument that any explanation so constructed as to be immune to any form of testing is useless as a tool for improving our understanding of the world. They are effectively vacuous. Hypothetical entities such as an immaterial mind/soul/spirit fall into the same category as Sagan’s dragon if they are so framed as to be untestable.

    The debate is free will vs Sagan’s garage dragon. I’m pointing out where Sagan’s reasoning is flawed wrt that argument (or dragon vs god arguments). Logical arguments are not “immune to any form of testing”, Seversky. They can be tested by logic. Unless the dragon is a logically necessary commodity that is required even before an argument about garage dragons can be tendered, then it is an entirely inappropriate analogy.

    Without the assumption of free will, Sagan can’t even begin to make a meaningful argument about anything.

    A computer makes choices based on the parameters set in its programming

    No, it doesn’t. This is a subversion of what the term “choice” means. You might as well say a rock rolling down a hill makes choices depending on the parameters set in the mountainside, the composition of the rock and physics.

    The complaint is not so much that the bag-of-chems jibe is too simplistic but that it implicitly denies the possibility that great complexity can arise from simple beginnings.

    You appear to be immune to the point that complexity is irrelevant. Libertarian free will is a logical necessity and a materialist world, regardless of how complex, cannot provide it. So what if some “great complexity” produces what appears to be “consciousness”? That doesn’t deliver that “consciousness”, and whatever it thinks and believes, from being an effect caused by mindlessly interacting matter. Waving the magic wand of complexity and chance still doesn’t buy you free will, and that is the commodity you must have or else all else is lost.

    If you are peddling a strawman version of A/M then any “logical entailments” are equally flawed.

    And yet you have yet to provide even so much as a sketch of a view of materialism that can logically deliver it from what you claim are the logical entailments of a straw man version. Go ahead, seversky; explain to us how your materialism delivers you from the entailments described in this and other threads; all I’ve seen you do is complain that we’re not considering the “great complexity” of interacting matter without telling us how complexity makes any difference at all.

    I’ll even spot you consciousness. Now, tell me how consciousness, which would be an ongoing effect caused by the interactions of organic chemistry (under materialism), buys you libertarian free will?

    Because that’s the point here, Seversky. Without an uncaused loci of willful intent, everything you say and think and believe in your “conscious” state is dictated by the organic chemistry (a shorthand term for all material forces involved). If you believe X; it has nothing to do with whether or not X is true or false – it only has to do with what your organic chemistry dictates. Whatever you say, under materialism, is produced entirely by organic chemistry – nothing more, nothing less.

    Organic chemistry doesn’t care about truth or logic or whether or not an argument is valid. It may generate as an effect a “caring” about validity, or a “feeling” that something is factual or logical, but that is all those sensations would be in the materially-caused consciousness: sensations generated by organic chemistry whether or not any of it was actually true or valid.

    And that’s the problem of materialism, and the analogy would be that if Sagans garage dragon didn’t exist, then everything Sagan or anyone else said would be reduced to whatever strings of noises organic chemistry happened to produce.

    The logical test is whether or not Sagan can actually act and talk and think as if the dragon (free will) doesn’t actually exist. If he cannot, then he is a hypocrite because he claims the dragon doesn’t exist, but always acts and argues as if the dragon does exist.

    Your expectation that others here can freely understand your argument and adopt it on the merits of its assessed logical and evidential merits, overriding their current organic chemistries in favor of concepts that are warranted and true belies your insistence that free will doesn’t exist.

    When you can walk the “no free will” walk, seversky, and write here as if you don’t have free will and as if you don’t expect us to behave as if we have free will, then you’ll be something other than a de facto ongoing brazen hypocrite when it comes to this subject.

  173. 173
    Dionisio says:

    Allen Shepherd:

    @171 HeKS nicely explained how you can quote text within an indented box.

    However, you may just use “…”.

    The problem is not the look, it’s the contents.
    It’s what we write, not how we present it.

    @170 I commented on your post @153 which was your comment on my post @147 which was my comment on your post @140.

    1. AS@140
    2. D@147
    3. AS@153
    4. D@170

    By indicating post numbers we make it easier to follow the given discussion apart from other discussions that are running parallel within the same thread.

    Now, here’s an example of confusing text:

    @140 you wrote I Tim 6:17 to refer to God’s immortality.
    @153 you wrote I Tim 1:16 to refer to God’s immortality.

    Perhaps you meant 1 Timothy 6:16, right?

    Once we get our soul breathed into our bodes, we all suffer the first physical death, but those who by then are in Christ won’t be affected by the second death that affects all souls, except the chosen ones to be in Christ’s presence forever and ever. As you can see, the souls of those who belong to Christ are eternally alive.

    You may want to check this out:

    Revelation 2:11
    He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’

    Revelation 20:6
    Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

    Revelation 20:14
    Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

    Revelation 21:8
    But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

    BTW, @153 the editor autocorrect feature mistakenly changed the word “immortality” to “immorality”.

    It helps to indicate any correction made to the text in subsequent posts. Did you indicate that the 1 Timothy reference @153 was a correction to the one @140?

    My reading comprehension is rather poor, hence I appreciate well structured text. However, perhaps mine are messy and difficult to understand? I’ll appreciate any correction someone may suggest regarding the clarity of my comments. That will help me to acquire writing skills I lack.

  174. 174
    Dionisio says:

    Allen Shepherd:

    1. AS@140
    2. D@147
    3. AS@153
    4. D@170
    5. D@173

    As you saw in the references to Revelation (Apocalypse) the first death is physical (i.e. material), hence the souls don’t die until the second death, after the judgment, which does not affect the souls that belong to Christ, because He already took the wrath of God for those who trust and follow Him. God gives the saving faith in Christ’s redemptive blood at the cross and in His resurrection. That faith is the key to eternal life in the glorious presence of God. The new bodies are not going to conform to the physical laws of the current universe, which by then will be completely gone (Revelation 21:1).

    “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” [Hebrews 9:27-28 (ESV)]

  175. 175
    Seversky says:

    Origenes @ 162

    According to your position there is no person. And if there is no person, then there is no starting point for observation. Hence, given your position, you cannot speak of ‘observing’ in any meaningful way.

    I did not say there is no “person”. You are claiming that is what a materialist position necessarily entails. I don’t agree.

    According to your position there are no persons who are aware of anything.

    Again, that is what you claim is my position, not what I have argued.

    According to your position there is no “mental model”. Also there are no persons; let alone persons who build anything. Also, there is no such thing as information; there is simply nothing over and beyond chemistry.

    My position is that we live within a mental model of objective reality, a model which, in order to work as a means of navigating the world in which we find ourselves, has to include a representation of each of us as an individual in that world. And if current computers can run increasingly complex and detailed VR simulations on devices made of plastics, glass, silicon and metals, why shouldn’t our conscious model run on an immensely complex biochemical substrate?

    Right. So, everything that goes on in the brain is not about the external world. Now start acting like this is true.

    I didn’t say that either. What goes on in the brain is about the external world as well as the internal world.

  176. 176
    HeKS says:

    Seversky @160

    If you are peddling a strawman version of A/M then any “logical entailments” are equally flawed. Certainly the usual ones trotted out here are. As for worldviews, it is such a nebulous concept, although it does embrace the fact that people of all persuasions often hold dissonant or contradictory views, that it is doubtful that it serves any useful purpose

    The strawman being peddled here is your implicit claim that atheistic materialism is just whatever you make of it, or that whatever viewpoint you advocate on this subject must be consistent with atheistic materialism because you are an atheistic materialist who happens to also hold these particular viewpoints with respect to the mind. That you’re able to simultaneously hold to logically inconsistent opinions does not mean that those opinions can operate coherently together.

    You, like your other A/M comrades here, continue to speak about the world around you as though it is essentially what it seems to be even though your worldview provides absolutely zero justification for assuming that is the case, and you continue to talk about concepts, like thinking and believing and choosing, when your worldview leaves no room for the existence of such things.

    No, we speak about the world as we observe it to be, using “observe” in its broadest sense. We are well aware that our senses only provide limited information about objective reality. The mental model of that reality that we build internally on the basis of that information is good enough to enable us to navigate that reality but we know it is far from being a complete and accurate account of that reality. Our science and instrumentation have allowed us to observe that which is beyond the reach of our physical senses and to understand it to some degree. It is how we know there are billions of neutrinos streaming through every square centimeter of our bodies every second. Our senses don’t detect them. Our “worldviews”, religious or otherwise didn’t predict them but materialistic science posited their existence as a “logical entailment” of discrepancies between theory and observation.

    Are our observations entirely reliable? Is the model we have of objective reality true in all respects? No, of course not. We are fallible, imperfect creatures. We know that. But what we have learned is good enough, at least to start with. Like it or not, it works. Better than anything else on offer.

    And what you don’t seem to get is that atheistic materialism provides you with no justification for thinking that anything you just wrote is true, or even means anything. If your thoughts are merely chemical reactions taking place in the matter of your brain and nothing more, then your thoughts cannot be either true or false or have “aboutness”. chemical reactions do not have truth values. Furthermore, there is no basis on A/M for believing that the chemical reactions in your brain have anything to do with true propositions about a world external to themselves. It gives you no reason whatsoever for confidence that you’re actually observing in any sense what your chemical reactions create the illusion of observing. It’s not a matter of simply conceding that your observations might not be entirely reliable or might be limited. It’s that you have no basis whatsoever for thinking that the chemical reactions in the matter of your brain come into contact with truths about any external reality at all. They could be fooling the illusion that is “you” into “thinking” you’re observing things that exist nowhere other than in the products of the chemical reactions themselves, and on A/M that is far more probable than the likelihood that your chemical reactions, while not even being about anything, would just happen to have some correpondence to an external world.

    You have made the error of failing to properly distinguish between the object of the experience and the experience itself. In and of itself, the Mona Lisa is only paint smeared on a bit of canvas, and that’s all that it is. Any meaning or value that it has beyond that exists entirely in the minds of subjective personal observers. The Mona Lisa is not, of itself, about some woman with a queer smile. It is only the unique character of our minds that give it that aboutness. That is because one clump of matter cannot be about another clump of matter. But if our minds and our thoughts are exhausted by the matter of our brains then our thoughts cannot actually be about things either

    The problem of “aboutness” is simply another aspect of the acknowledged Hard Problem of Consciousness. No one is pretending that one clump of matter can be about another clump of matter. “Aboutness” is an attribute of conscious perception and the Hard Problem is hard because of the difficulty of explaining how consciousness can arise from the neurological activity of the brain. We understand that.

    The problem of “aboutness” is not just about explaining how it could arise as part of conscious perception specifically from the neurological activity of the brain, but how it could arise from matter at all. You said, “No one is pretending that one clump of matter can be about another clump of matter”, but if you are claiming that “aboutness” actually exists in reality and that our mind and our thoughts derive entirely from the physical matter of our brain (or even body as a whole), then you are necessarily claiming that one clump of matter can be about another clump of matter. You yourself are saying that physical matter is all you have to work with, so either “aboutness” is an illusion and doesn’t exist and you don’t actually have thoughts about anything (as Alex Rosenberg and other academic atheists readily admit is the logical entailment of atheistic materialism), or else one clump of matter can truly be about another clump of matter.

    What we do observe, although immaterialists prefer to ignore it, is that changes to the chemistry of the brain or physical damage to it affects the conscious behavior of the person affected. Death of the physical brain is accompanied by the irreversible disappearance of consciousness. Consciousness is not observed to exist apart from the physical substrate of the brain. There is clearly a strong correlation, at the very least, between the phenomenon of consciousness and the brain.

    Who has said otherwise, and who is ignoring it? Certainly not I. I addressed this issue in #126 of this thread when I said:

    [T]he only sound basis for a continuous identity is some immaterial locus of identity that cannot be reduced or destroyed by merely physical changes, even if physical changes can drastically impede its causal efficacy with respect to the physical parts of you. I hasten to add, however, that I don’t believe in an immortal soul that consciously survives the death of the body, nor do I think this line of reasoning requires one. Rather, what it requires is some immaterial aspect of the mind that serves as the necessary condition for you, even if not a sufficient condition for you.

    I’m not claiming that the physical brain is unnecessary to human consciousness. Indeed, I would readily admit that is a necessary condition of human consciousness (though we cannot discount the significant amount of evidence showing that full consciousness and normal personality can actually persist even in the face of massive brain trauma, including the loss or absence of the majority of the normal brain mass). What I’m saying is that the physical brain is not a sufficient condition for human consciousness. I’m saying that an immaterial aspect to the mind is also a necessary but not sufficient condition for human consciousness.

    If you want to propose an alternative model of consciousness, you will need to do better than invoke dragon-in-the-garage entities like an incorporeal mind/soul/spirit.

    First of all, what we’re talking about here (and certainly what I’m talking about) is not so much an alternative model of consciousness, but an augmented model of consciousness. In other words, a model that is not hamstrung by philosophical materialism but is free to include a non-material aspect that is logically necessary to account for our observations, our subjective experience, the “aboutness” of our thoughts, and to ground the possibility of veridical contact with the world.

    Second, your invoking of Sagan’s dragon is inapt on virtually every level.

    The main lessons to be learned from Sagan’s dragon are 1) not to invoke completely superfluous explanatory entities (which is a lesson already encapsulated in Occam’s Razor) and 2) not to misuse or equivocate on words to the point that they lose all meaning (a lesson that the atheistic materialists in this thread would do well to learn).

    WJM, has already ably responded regarding issue 1, so I’ll jump to issue 2.

    The term “fire-breathing dragon” rightly invokes the image of a corresponding physical entity possessing certain features (e.g. large, scaly, breathing out something that matches the description of fire, etc). As Sagan runs through his little dialogue with the person proposing tests to detect the dragon and his responses to those proposals, he systematically eliminates every characteristic that defines a dragon and fire. Right here we can stop and ask ourselves what this tells us about his original claim that there is a “fire-breathing dragon” in his garage. The answer, very obviously, is that quite apart from the question of whether or not there’s anything in his garage at all, we can at least be certain that he wasn’t ever really talking about a fire-breathing dragon in the first place. (Sagan’s methodology here is very much like the one used by Lewis Wolpert in this exchange with William Lane Craig on the cause of the universe, and the connection is probably not coincidental.)

    Sagan references a fantastical creature like a “fire-breathing dragon” mainly to score rhetorical points, but in the end we find that his initial terminology was either meaningless or a severe equivocation, and his claim was not that there was a fire-breathing dragon in his garage, but that there was some immaterial entity in his garage that, by his own telling, had no effect on anything and was not credited with being logically necessary to explain any observed or experienced phenomena or effects. As such, Sagan’s dragon has no relevance at all to the postulates of either God or an immaterial aspect of the mind, both of which are identified as logically necessary entities to account for the existence of observed and experienced phenomena, which, in principle, cannot be explained without them. That you cannot physically test for immaterial realities with scientific instruments does not mean that they either don’t exist or that they are not logically necessary so as to gain a logically coherent knowledge and understanding of the world. To claim otherwise would be to foolishly claim that the possibility of existence is constrained by the limits of our scientific instruments. As WJM has said, we test these ideas not by our ability to scientifically measure their quantities but by their logical necessity in accounting for the realities we do observe and perceive.

  177. 177
    Origenes says:

    Seversky @175,

    S: My position is that we live within a mental model of objective reality, a model which, in order to work as a means of navigating the world in which we find ourselves, has to include a representation of each of us as an individual in that world.

    I hate to break it to you, but this has nothing to do with materialism. “We live in a mental model of objective reality”, get outta here! Or did you mean to say: “Chemistry resides in a chemical model of objective chemistry”? Either way, it makes little sense.

    S: And if current computers can run increasingly complex and detailed VR simulations on devices made of plastics, glass, silicon and metals, why shouldn’t our conscious model run on an immensely complex biochemical substrate?

    Our conscious model”? If ‘we’ have a ‘conscious model’, then who is “we”?

    Seversky: No one is pretending that one clump of matter can be about another clump of matter.

    Origenes: Right. So, everything that goes on in the brain is not about the external world. Now start acting like this is true.

    Seversky: I didn’t say that either. What goes on in the brain is about the external world as well as the internal world.

    Quite the opposite, you did say that also. I quoted you saying that no “clump of matter can be about another clump of matter”.
    This has logical entailments, as Rosenberg explains:

    What we need to get off the regress is some set of neurons that is about some stuff outside the brain without being interpreted—by anyone or anything else (including any other part of the brain)—as being about that stuff outside the brain. What we need is a clump of matter, in this case the Paris neurons, that by the very arrangement of its synapses points at, indicates, singles out, picks out, identifies (and here we just start piling up more and more synonyms for “being about”) another clump of matter outside the brain. But there is no such physical stuff.
    Physics has ruled out the existence of clumps of matter of the required sort. There are just fermions and bosons and combinations of them. None of that stuff is just, all by itself, about any other stuff. There is nothing in the whole universe—including, of course, all the neurons in your brain—that just by its nature or composition can do this job of being about some other clump of matter. So, when consciousness assures us that we have thoughts about stuff, it has to be wrong. The brain nonconsciously stores information in thoughts. But the thoughts are not about stuff. Therefore, consciousness cannot retrieve thoughts about stuff. There are none to retrieve. So it can’t have thoughts about stuff either.
    Remember, the original problem was how the Paris neurons can be about the fact that Paris is the capital of France. We simplified the problem to how they can be about Paris. The answer to that question appears to be that the Paris neurons cannot be about Paris. … In other words, the Paris neurons that carry the information that Paris is the capital of France can’t be about the fact that Paris is the capital of France. When we think that Paris is the capital of France, our thought can’t be about the fact that Paris is the capital of France. It can’t be about anything.

  178. 178
    mike1962 says:

    William J Murray @172

    +1000

  179. 179
    Origenes says:

    William J Murray,

    … if atheistic materialism was actually true and humans are nothing more than biological automatons – complexly programmed and reactive robots that behave and think in whatever manner happenstance chemical interactions dictates at any given time.

    I have to disagree with William on this point. He is being too charitable towards atheistic materialism. Humans are not “complexly programmed” robots. Given atheistic materialism, there is no designer.

    Humans are meat puppets produced and controlled by physical causes which don’t have humans in mind. At any moment, human thought and behavior is produced and controlled by physical causes which don’t have human thought and behavior in mind.

    Why do physical forces do all this? Why do physical forces produce this mind-bottling coherency on so my different levels? Sheer dumb luck. Without a designer there is no other explanation.

    Natural selection has never been an explanation; we all know that NS only explains what is not, not what is.

    What Darwin called natural selection is actually a process of elimination.
    [Ernst Mayr, ‘What Evolution is’, (117)]

    Surely, ‘elimination’ explains only why some things are not, not why some things are.

    If natural selection is a process of elimination, then existent organisms are the ones that got away. Instead of being created by ‘natural elimination’, exactly the opposite is true: they are “untouched” by ‘natural elimination’. Existent organisms are those organisms on which natural selection has precisely no bearing whatsoever. They are the undiluted products of chance.

    Natural selection is a sieve. It creates nothing, as is so often assumed; it only sifts. It retains only what variability puts into the sieve. Whence the material comes that is put into it, should be kept separate from the theory of its selection. How the struggle for existence sifts is one question; how that which is sifted arose is another.
    [Hugo de Vries]

    For clarity, there is neither will to exist nor to survive. Not a single part of a human body cares whether the human is alive or not; the structure just happens to be alive—and stay alive—by sheer dumb luck.

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