Intelligent Design Purpose in Science

At Evolution News: Defining the “Science of Purpose”

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Dr. Stephen J. Iacoboni writes:

Does the idea of “purpose” have a place in science? Can there really be a science of “purpose”? Has anyone previously tried to describe such a concept? And what might that entail? 

Since the subject matter itself is at the very least novel in the scientific context, questions like these are unavoidable. The “science of purpose” is new to the analytic framework, and is thus obliged to make the case for its claim to validity. 

Purpose in a Framework

Let’s agree to accept an inarguable definition of science, and see if purpose can be accommodated within that framework. Here is a straightforward and broadly accepted definition of science. It is “the observation of natural phenomena in order to discern recognizable patterns that can be  described in a cause/effect relationship, so that a model of that relationship can be developed that provides at the very least a qualitative generalization that applies to those observed natural phenomena. At the quantitative level, such a generalization must be tested to make verifiable predictions regarding the behavior of such phenomena.”

I don’t think that one can easily find an exception to this definition. Science, especially biology, has historically been a descriptive, qualitative exercise. Almost all of the “laws of science,” which apply to the quantitative portion of the definition, are limited to the realm of chemistry and physics. 

The science of purpose can be readily subsumed within the qualitative/descriptive definition. But beyond that, a modeling relation allows for quantitative analysis as well.

Let’s continue with a further definition. What is purpose? I define it as: “the achievement of a predetermined outcome to fulfill a desired goal.” Notice that this definition entails two concepts rarely employed in science: intentionality and the future tense.

An Endless List

Yet, with just a little reflection, one realizes that it is straightforward to compile an endless list of examples in nature that exhibit purpose. Bees gather honey, birds build nests for their young, salmon migrate to feed and mate, snakes lay in ambush for their prey, plant stems bend toward the light, gymnosperms spray pollen to reproduce, prairie dogs dig burrows to hide from predators, wolves hunt in packs to improve their predatory success, ruminants travel in herds to resist predation. That would be the taxonomy of purpose, understood in much the same way that anatomists began to understand physiology two centuries ago. 

It was the discovery of the similarity of the anatomy between different classes and phyla of organisms that allowed for biology as a descriptive and qualitative science to progress. In much the same way, one quickly realizes the unity of several discrete purposes that govern and unify the biosphere.

Those purposes include procurement of food, shelter, a suitable environment, mating, protection of offspring, and more. These are all readily definable purposes that define almost all of biota. Purpose at these descriptive levels is undeniable, demonstrable, and easily contained within a generalizable model of organism. Yes, in short, purpose has a place in science.

Evolution News

If “purpose” has a place in the science of living organisms, then can we say that unguided natural processes are further discredited as the source of these organisms?

30 Replies to “At Evolution News: Defining the “Science of Purpose”

  1. 1
    EDTA says:

    Yes, organisms have purpose. So do artificial objects. It might be easier to start with the latter, as we generally know more about them, since we designed them. And their purposes are usually more singular and isolated, as compared with living things. (Living things have a hierarchy of purposes: survival at the top, then find food, mate, then finer-grained minor purposes.)

    And if we recall Hazen et al and their idea of “functional information”, then we already have a way to measure the rarity/improbability of systems/things that can fulfill a particular purpose.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    As to: “Does the idea of “purpose” have a place in science?”

    Yes it does. In fact, the presupposition of ‘purpose’ is essential for ‘doing science’. This is summed up with ‘teleology’. Which is, “the explanation of phenomena in terms of the purpose they serve rather than of the cause by which they arise.”

    tel·e·ol·o·gy
    noun
    PHILOSOPHY
    the explanation of phenomena in terms of the purpose they serve rather than of the cause by which they arise.
    THEOLOGY
    the doctrine of design and purpose in the material world.

    As Dr. Egnor, in his usual manner, succinctly explains, “No explanation of nature — not in biology or physics or in any natural science — makes sense without recourse to final causes. Final cause – teleology — is the cause of causes.”

    Philosopher in NY Times: The Universe Has No Purpose, But We Can Pretend…
    Michael Egnor – August 8, 2017
    Excerpt: Teleology and Aristotelian metaphysics came roaring back in the early 20th century with quantum mechanics and relativity. And quantum mechanics is not the most striking example of teleology in science. Biological science is simply not possible without constant invocation of teleology. Biologists cannot even begin to understand DNA or mitochondria or hearts or brains or enzymes without inference to the goal or natural end of the thing. Biological science is not merely aided by inference to teleology. It cannot be done without profound and deliberate investigation of the telos of biological molecules and organs. “What is it for” is the fundamental and inescapable question in all biological research.
    No explanation of nature — not in biology or physics or in any natural science — makes sense without recourse to final causes. Final cause – teleology — is the cause of causes.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2017/08/the-universe-has-no-purpose-but-we-can-pretend/

    And while teleological explanations are essential for ‘doing science’, biology, in particular, (as Dr. Egnor pointed out), is especially dependent on teleological explanations.

    Even J.B.S. Haldane himself honestly admitted that,,,

    “Teleology is like a mistress to the biologist; he dare not be seen with her in public but cannot live without her.”
    J. B. S. Haldane

    As well, even wikipedia itself, no friend of Intelligent Design, honestly admitted that, “The presence of real or apparent teleology in explanations of natural selection is a controversial aspect of the philosophy of biology, not least for its echoes of natural theology.”

    (The irresolved problem of) Teleology in biology
    Teleology in biology is the use of the language of goal-directedness in accounts of evolutionary adaptation, which some biologists and philosophers of science find problematic. ,,,
    Nevertheless, biologists still often write about evolution as if organisms had goals, and some philosophers of biology such as Francisco Ayala and biologists such as J. B. S. Haldane consider that teleological language is unavoidable in evolutionary biology.,,,
    Teleology
    Main article: Teleology
    Teleology, from Greek, telos “end, purpose”[3] and , logia, “a branch of learning”, was coined by the philosopher Christian von Wolff in 1728.[4] The concept derives from the ancient Greek philosophy of Aristotle, where the final cause (the purpose) of a thing is its function.[5] However, Aristotle’s biology does not envisage evolution by natural selection.[6]
    Phrases used by biologists like “a function of … is to …” or “is designed for” are teleological at least in language. The presence of real or apparent teleology in explanations of natural selection is a controversial aspect of the philosophy of biology, not least for its echoes of natural theology.[1][7]
    Natural Theology,,,
    Natural theology presented forms of the teleological argument or argument from design, namely that organs functioned well for their apparent purpose, so they were well-designed, so they must have been designed by a benevolent creator. For example, the eye had the function of seeing, and contained features like the iris and lens that assisted with seeing; therefore, ran the argument, it had been designed for that purpose.[9][10][11]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleology_in_biology

    And although teleological, i.e. purposeful, concepts and language are simply self-defeating to Darwinian explanations that seek to explain all of life as being the result of completely purposeless Darwinian processes, Darwinists, as J.B.S. Haldane himself honestly admitted, just can’t stop using teleological language.

    In the following article, Stephen Talbott points out that it is impossible to describe the complexities of biological life without illegitimately using language that avoids all implication of agency, cognition, and purposiveness (i.e. teleology). He even challenges readers to “take up a challenge: pose a single topic for biological research, doing so in language that avoids all implication of agency, cognition, and purposiveness 1.”

    The ‘Mental Cell’: Let’s Loosen Up Biological Thinking! – Stephen L. Talbott – September 9, 2014
    Excerpt: Many biologists are content to dismiss the problem with hand-waving: “When we wield the language of agency, we are speaking metaphorically, and we could just as well, if less conveniently, abandon the metaphors”.
    Yet no scientist or philosopher has shown how this shift of language could be effected. And the fact of the matter is just obvious: the biologist who is not investigating how the organism achieves something in a well-directed way is not yet doing biology, as opposed to physics or chemistry. Is this in turn just hand-waving? Let the reader inclined to think so take up a challenge: pose a single topic for biological research, doing so in language that avoids all implication of agency, cognition, and purposiveness 1.
    One reason this cannot be done is clear enough: molecular biology — the discipline that was finally going to reduce life unreservedly to mindless mechanism — is now posing its own severe challenges. In this era of Big Data, the message from every side concerns previously unimagined complexity, incessant cross-talk and intertwining pathways, wildly unexpected genomic performances, dynamic conformational changes involving proteins and their cooperative or antagonistic binding partners, pervasive multifunctionality, intricately directed behavior somehow arising from the interaction of countless players in interpenetrating networks, and opposite effects by the same molecules in slightly different contexts. The picture at the molecular level begins to look as lively and organic — and thoughtful — as life itself.
    http://natureinstitute.org/txt.....ell_23.htm

    Denis Noble also notes that “it is virtually impossible to speak of living beings for any length of time without using teleological and normative language”.

    “the most striking thing about living things, in comparison with non-living systems, is their teleological organization—meaning the way in which all of the local physical and chemical interactions cohere in such a way as to maintain the overall system in existence.
    Moreover, it is virtually impossible to speak of living beings for any length of time without using teleological and normative language—words like “goal,” “purpose,” “meaning,” “correct/incorrect,” “success/failure,” etc.”
    – Denis Noble – Emeritus Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy, and Genetics of the Medical Sciences Division of the University of Oxford.
    http://www.thebestschools.org/.....interview/

    This working biologist agrees with Talbott and Noble’s assessment and states, “in our work, we biologists use words that imply intentionality, functionality, strategy, and design in biology–we simply cannot avoid them.”

    Life, Purpose, Mind: Where the Machine Metaphor Fails – Ann Gauger – June 2011
    Excerpt: “I’m a working biologist, on bacterial regulation (transcription and translation and protein stability) through signalling molecules, ,,, I can confirm the following points as realities: we lack adequate conceptual categories for what we are seeing in the biological world; with many additional genomes sequenced annually, we have much more data than we know what to do with (and making sense of it has become the current challenge); cells are staggeringly chock full of sophisticated technologies, which are exquisitely integrated; life is not dominated by a single technology, but rather a composite of many; and yet life is more than the sum of its parts; in our work, we biologists use words that imply intentionality, functionality, strategy, and design in biology–we simply cannot avoid them.
    Furthermore, I suggest that to maintain that all of biology is solely a product of selection and genetic decay and time requires a metaphysical conviction that isn’t troubled by the evidence. Alternatively, it could be the view of someone who is unfamiliar with the evidence, for one reason or another. But for those who will consider the evidence that is so obvious throughout biology, I suggest it’s high time we moved on.”
    – Matthew
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....nt-8858161

    And as the following study found, “teleological concepts cannot be abstracted away from biological explanations without loss of meaning and explanatory power, life is inherently teleological.”

    Metaphor and Meaning in the Teleological Language of Biology Annie L. Crawford – August 2020
    Abstract:
    Excerpt: However, most discussions regarding the legitimacy of teleological language in biology fail to consider the nature of language itself. Since conceptual language is intrinsically metaphorical, teleological language can be dismissed as decorative if and only if it can be replaced with alternative metaphors without loss of essential meaning. I conclude that, since teleological concepts cannot be abstracted away from biological explanations without loss of meaning and explanatory power, life is inherently teleological.
    https://uncommondescent.com/philosophy/biologists-cant-stop-using-purpose-driven-language-because-life-really-is-designed/

    Moreover, not only can teleological concepts not be “abstracted away from biological explanations without loss of meaning and explanatory power”, purposeless Darwinian language can be readily jettisoned from research papers without negatively impacting the papers.

    As the late Philip Sell noted, “I found that Darwin’s theory had provided no discernible guidance, but was brought in, after the breakthroughs, as an interesting narrative gloss.
    In the peer-reviewed literature, the word “evolution” often occurs as a sort of coda to academic papers in experimental biology. Is the term integral or superfluous to the substance of these papers? To find out, I substituted for “evolution” some other word – “Buddhism,” “Aztec cosmology,” or even “creationism.” I found that the substitution never touched the paper’s core.”

    “Certainly, my own research with antibiotics during World War II received no guidance from insights provided by Darwinian evolution. Nor did Alexander Fleming’s discovery of bacterial inhibition by penicillin. I recently asked more than 70 eminent researchers if they would have done their work differently if they had thought Darwin’s theory was wrong. The responses were all the same: No.
    I also examined the outstanding biodiscoveries of the past century: the discovery of the double helix; the characterization of the ribosome; the mapping of genomes; research on medications and drug reactions; improvements in food production and sanitation; the development of new surgeries; and others. I even queried biologists working in areas where one would expect the Darwinian paradigm to have most benefited research, such as the emergence of resistance to antibiotics and pesticides. Here, as elsewhere, I found that Darwin’s theory had provided no discernible guidance, but was brought in, after the breakthroughs, as an interesting narrative gloss.
    In the peer-reviewed literature, the word “evolution” often occurs as a sort of coda to academic papers in experimental biology. Is the term integral or superfluous to the substance of these papers? To find out, I substituted for “evolution” some other word – “Buddhism,” “Aztec cosmology,” or even “creationism.” I found that the substitution never touched the paper’s core. This did not surprise me. From my conversations with leading researchers it had became clear that modern experimental biology gains its strength from the availability of new instruments and methodologies, not from an immersion in historical biology.,,,
    Darwinian evolution – whatever its other virtues – does not provide a fruitful heuristic in experimental biology.”
    – Philip S. Skell – (the late) Emeritus Evan Pugh Professor at Pennsylvania State University, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. – Why Do We Invoke Darwin? – 2005
    http://www.discovery.org/a/2816

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    In fact, removing ‘purposeless’ Darwinian language from research papers actually makes the science of the research papers “healthier and more useful”.

    No Harm, No Foul — What If Darwinism Were Excised from Biology? – December 4, 2019
    If Darwinism is as essential to biology as Richard Dawkins or Jerry Coyne argues, then removing evolutionary words and concepts, (“Darwin-ectomy”), should make research incomprehensible. If, on the other hand, Darwinism is more of a “narrative gloss” applied to the conclusions after the scientific work is done, as the late Philip Skell observed, then biology would survive the operation just fine. It might even be healthier, slimmed down after disposing of unnecessary philosophical baggage.,,,
    So, here are three papers in America’s premier science journal that appear at first glance to need Darwinism, use Darwinism, support Darwinism, and thereby impart useful scientific knowledge. After subjecting them to Darwin-ectomies, though, the science not only survived, but proved healthier and more useful.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2019/12/no-harm-no-foul-what-if-darwinism-were-excised-from-biology/

    Thus in conclusion, the fact that biologists themselves are crucially, and vitally, dependent upon ‘purposeful’ teleological language in their explanations of biological systems, and the fact that ‘purposeless’ Darwinian language can be readily jettisoned from the explanations of biological systems without any loss of explanatory power, falsifies Darwinian evolution in the most fundamental way possible.

    Specifically, Darwinism is falsified in that science itself, (especially “hard science”), is crucially, and vitally, dependent upon our precise definitions of language, and our concise use of those precise definitions of language in our study of nature. And yet Darwinian explanations are simply not needed when we precisely define our language in biological science.

    Matthew 12:37
    For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

    Of supplemental note; Since our use of ‘purposeful’ teleological language in biological explanations, in and of itself, falsifies ‘purposeless’ Darwinian explanations for biology, it should not be all that surprising to learn that leading Darwinists themselves have honestly admitted that they have, “essentially no explanation of how and why our linguistic computations and representations evolved.,,,”

    Leading Evolutionary Scientists Admit We Have No Evolutionary Explanation of Human Language – December 19, 2014
    Excerpt: Understanding the evolution of language requires evidence regarding origins and processes that led to change. In the last 40 years, there has been an explosion of research on this problem as well as a sense that considerable progress has been made. We argue instead that the richness of ideas is accompanied by a poverty of evidence, with essentially no explanation of how and why our linguistic computations and representations evolved.,,,
    (Marc Hauser, Charles Yang, Robert Berwick, Ian Tattersall, Michael J. Ryan, Jeffrey Watumull, Noam Chomsky and Richard C. Lewontin, “The mystery of language evolution,” Frontiers in Psychology, Vol 5:401 (May 7, 2014).)
    Luskin comments: “It’s difficult to imagine much stronger words from a more prestigious collection of experts.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....92141.html

    Also of note:

    “The most fundamental definition of reality is not matter or energy, but information–and it is the processing of information that lies at the root of all physical, biological, economic, and social phenomena.”
    Vlatko Vedral – Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, and CQT (Centre for Quantum Technologies) at the National University of Singapore, and a Fellow of Wolfson College – a recognized leader in the field of quantum mechanics.

    It is hard to imagine a more convincing scientific proof that we are ‘made in the image of God’, than finding that both the universe and life itself are ‘information theoretic’ in their foundational basis, and that we, of all the creatures on earth, uniquely possess an ability to understand and create information, and have come to ‘master the planet’, not via brute force as is presupposed in Darwinian thought, but precisely because of our ability to infuse immaterial information into material substrates.

    Genesis 1:26
    And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

    John 1:1-4
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and that life was the Light of men.

    Of course, a more convincing proof that we are made in the image of God could be if God Himself became a man, walked on water, healed the sick, raised the dead, and then defeated death itself on a cross.

    And that just so happens to be precisely the proof that is claimed within Christianity.

    Minimal Facts vs. Maximal Data Approaches to the Resurrection: A Conversation with Dr. Lydia McGrew
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUt3r3dXBr4

    Jesus’ Resurrection: Eyewitness Accounts
    https://lifehopeandtruth.com/god/who-is-jesus/jesus-resurrection/

    Turin Shroud Hologram Reveals The Words ‘The Lamb’ on a Solid Oval Object Under The Beard – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tmka1l8GAQ

    Verse:

    1 Corinthians 15:3-8
    3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures 4 and that he was buried and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

  4. 4
    Seversky says:

    I suggest we need to distinguish between “purpose” and “function”. The first is a goal conceived by a conscious intelligence, the second is observed behavior but which does not necessarily imply it is the outcome of a conscious intelligence.

    As an example, compare a river and a canal. Broadly speaking they are both channels which allow the movement of water from one place to another. The canal was built in fulfillment of a purpose in the minds of the engineers who designed and built it. The course of a river is a natural outcome of the topography of the land over which the water flows.

    If we are concerned with “purpose” as something conceived of by a conscious intelligence then it is a facet of the “hard problem” of consciousness. If we are concerned with “purpose” in the sense that we are looking for evidence in the properties and attributes of the natural world that could be indicative of the activity of an intelligent agent then we are back to the thorny problem of how to identify the handiwork of an extraterrestrial intelligence.

  5. 5
    chuckdarwin says:

    Bees do not gather honey, they produce honey. They feed on nectar which they ultimately excrete as honey.
    This is classic anthropomorphism, the bane of animal behavior biologists. Every one of the behaviors described in the OP is an instinctual behavior (unconditioned physiological behavior) selected for over millions of years to which the author ascribes human purposive motives. The classic example of this fallacy is animal sexual reproduction. Organisms do not engage in mating behavior with the “purpose” of procreation, they engage in mating behavior because it feels good. To ascribe phototropism in plants to purposive behavior on the part of the plant is ridiculous. It is simply a stimulus-response behavior.
    Next the author will find purposive behavior in rocks, they cogitate on their “purpose” to provide landscaping ground cover, among other things…..

  6. 6
    Querius says:

    Chuckdarwin @5,

    Bees do not gather honey, they produce honey. They feed on nectar which they ultimately excrete as honey.

    This is another popular misconception. Bees swallow nectar from plants, which they convert into honey in their stomachs, however, they don’t “excrete” the honey when their stomachs are full. Many uneducated people think that honey is “bee poop” that’s excreted.

    What bees actually do is regurgitate the honey when the chemical process is complete.

    Here’s a good article on the subject:
    https://www.livescience.com/how-do-bees-make-honey

    -Q

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    When one reads Seversky and ChuckD’s ‘reasoning’ one is forced to wonder whether Seversky and ChuckyD’s very own thoughts have any purpose behind them or are their thoughts, (as they are forced to hold within the reductive materialism of their Darwinian worldview), simply the end result of the purposeless jostling of atoms of their brain?

    “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.”
    – J.B.S. Haldane, Possible Worlds

    (1) rationality implies a thinker in control of thoughts.
    (2) under materialism a thinker is an effect caused by processes in the brain (determinism).
    (3) in order for materialism to ground rationality a thinker (an effect) must control processes in the brain (a cause). (1)&(2)
    (4) no effect can control its cause.
    Therefore materialism cannot ground rationality.
    – per Box UD

    Teleology and the Mind – Michael Egnor – August 16, 2016
    Excerpt: From the hylemorphic perspective, there is an intimate link between the mind and teleology. The 19th-century philosopher Franz Brentano pointed out that the hallmark of the mind is that it is directed to something other than itself. That is, the mind has intentionality, which is the ability of a mental process to be about something, rather than to just be itself. Physical processes alone (understood without teleology) are not inherently about things. The mind is always about things. Stated another way, physical processes (understood without teleology) have no purpose. Mental processes always have purpose. In fact, purpose (aboutness-intentionality-teleology) is what defines the mind. And we see the same purpose (aboutness-intentionality-teleology) in nature.
    Intentionality is a form of teleology. Both intentionality and teleology are goal-directedness — intentionality is directedness in thought, and teleology is directedness in nature. Mind and teleology are both manifestations of purpose in nature. The mind is, within nature, the same kind of process that directs nature.
    In this sense, eliminative materialism is necessary if a materialist is to maintain a non-teleological Darwinian metaphysical perspective. It is purpose that must be denied in order to deny design in nature. So the mind, as well as teleology, must be denied. Eliminative materialism is just Darwinian metaphysics carried to its logical end and applied to man. If there is no teleology, there is no intentionality, and there is no purpose in nature nor in man’s thoughts.
    The link between intentionality and teleology, and the undeniability of teleology, is even more clear if we consider our inescapable belief that other people have minds. The inference that other people have minds based on their purposeful (intentional-teleological) behavior, which is obviously correct and is essential to living a sane life, can be applied to our understanding of nature as well. Just as we know that other people have purposes (intentionality), we know just as certainly that nature has purposes (teleology). In a sense, intelligent design is the recognition of the same purpose-teleology-intentionality in nature that we recognize in ourselves and others.
    Teleology and intentionality are certainly the inferences to be drawn from the obvious purposeful arrangement of parts in nature, but I (as a loyal Thomist!) believe that teleology and intentionality are manifest in an even more fundamental way in nature. Any goal-directed natural change is teleological, even if purpose and arrangement of parts is not clearly manifest. The behavior of a single electron orbiting a proton is teleological, because the motion of the electron hews to specific ends (according to quantum mechanics). A pencil falling to the floor behaves teleologically (it does not fall up, or burst into flame, etc.). Purposeful arrangement of parts is teleology on an even more sophisticated scale, but teleology exists in even the most basic processes in nature. Physics is no less teleological than biology.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2016/08/teleology_and_t/

  8. 8
    chuckdarwin says:

    BA77/7
    You and others in the comments section have spent hundreds of hours trying to distinguish humans from “lesser” life forms. You know, the whole exceptionalism thing. Now a researcher comes along and ascribes an intentional, deliberative process to plants and animals, and you are all on board. Now it’s all about the pervasiveness of “teleology” or “panpsychism” for the more secular crowd.
    Maybe you should enroll that pencil in one of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life seminars. After all, we wouldn’t want it rolling around in a purposeless funk. LOL

    “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.”
    – J.B.S. Haldane, Possible Worlds

    I would put the question to Haldane, if he were still with us, if his brain is not composed of atoms, of what then is it composed?
    And, contra Plantinga, if one’s brain chemistry is sound, the logical conclusion is that the brain’s product, cognition, is equally sound. It is precisely when the brain’s chemistry is unsound that we find mental illness. Haldane and Plantinga would have benefitted from a course in abnormal psychology……

  9. 9
    chuckdarwin says:

    Querius/6
    Your point is well-taken. I was thinking of the (sloppy and technically incorrect) medical usage of the word “excretion” as anything unwanted leaving the body. My bad…..

  10. 10
    Querius says:

    Chuckdarwin @9,
    Yes, excreted can either mean excreted from pores or as in “excrement,” which usually means defecation.

    Your painful (by my experience as well) admission is appreciated. Your willingness to do so makes conversation possible . . . and stands in contrast to a pointless war of slogans, rants, monologues, and disingenuous moving of goal posts.

    Thank you.

    -Q

  11. 11
    relatd says:

    Seversky at 4,

    Life is not reducible to mechanism. Just because this or that part of a living cell has a certain function, it must be realized that even the simplest living cell operates through a variety of components that must work together correctly. All of the components are needed. All are required.

  12. 12
    Caspian says:

    To All…
    What is the purpose of life?
    You might answer for your life or for human life in general. For readability and brevity, please limit your response here to a few sentences expressing your own thoughts.

  13. 13
    relatd says:

    CD at 5,

    Thank goodness you’re not a biologist. Mating behavior is designed, from insects to higher animals. Bees don’t go from flower to flower because it feels good. And how do bees even know what a flower is? Obviously, all life contains infused knowledge. How do bacteria “know” what to do to obtain food? How did bacteria get the internal machinery to carry out life functions?

  14. 14
    relatd says:

    Ba77 at 7,

    Based on numerous posts, it is clear that Seversky’s and Chuck’s purpose here is to confuse, distort and distract people from factual information.

  15. 15
    relatd says:

    CD at 8,

    You’ve got nothing. Back to the brain – or anything else about living things – as mechanism. Do you appreciate beauty? In a song? In nature? Why? Do you know any writers or artists? What the heck is wrong with them? Why was Beethoven wasting his time with music that has been appreciated by many generations? And where does artistic talent come from?

  16. 16
    relatd says:

    Caspian at 12,

    Service to others and service to God.

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    Chuckdarwin at 8, thanks, via denying the reality of your own immaterial mind, for proving my point that your thoughts are completely purposeless.

    According to Darwinian materialism, you are a nothing more than a meat robot with no more control over your thoughts than a leaf falling in the wind has control over the trajectory of its fall. i.e. Your thoughts are purposeless!

    “You are robots made out of meat. Which is what I am going to try to convince you of today”
    Jerry Coyne –
    – No, You’re Not a Robot Made Out of Meat (Science Uprising 02) – video
    https://youtu.be/rQo6SWjwQIk?list=PLR8eQzfCOiS1OmYcqv_yQSpje4p7rAE7-&t=20

    Question for you ChuckyD,,, can you spot the blatant logical fallacy in Coyne’s following sentence?

    “Free will is an illusion so convincing that people simply refuse to believe that we don’t have it.,,,”
    – Jerry Coyne – The Illusion of Free Will – Sam Harris – 2012
    https://samharris.org/the-illusion-of-free-will/

    ChuckyD, If you, because of your ‘Darwinian blindness’, can’t spot the blatant logical fallacy in Coyne’s preceding sentence, here is a little help for you,

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

    Of note: Martin Cothran is author of several textbooks on traditional logic
    https://www.amazon.com/Martin-Cothran/e/B00J249LUA/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1

    Verse and quote:

    John 1:1
    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”

    ‘the Word’ in John1:1 is translated from ‘Logos’ in Greek. Logos is also the root word from which we derive our modern word logic
    http://etymonline.com/?term=logic

    What is the Logos?
    Logos is a Greek word literally translated as “word, speech, or utterance.” However, in Greek philosophy, Logos refers to divine reason or the power that puts sense into the world making order instead of chaos.,,,
    In the Gospel of John, John writes “In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). John appealed to his readers by saying in essence, “You’ve been thinking, talking, and writing about the Word (divine reason) for centuries and now I will tell you who He is.”
    https://www.compellingtruth.org/what-is-the-Logos.html

    Supplemental notes:

    Is God Real? Evidence from the Laws of Logic – J. Warner Wallace
    Excerpt: All rational discussions (even those about the existence or non-existence of God) require the prior foundation of logical absolutes. You’d have a hard time making sense of any conversation if the Laws of Logic weren’t available to guide the discussion and provide rational boundaries. Here are three of the most important Laws of Logic you and I use every day:,,,
    (1) The Objective Laws of Logic Exist
    We cannot deny the Laws of Logic exist. In fact, any reasonable or logical argument against the existence of these laws requires their existence in the first place.
    The Objective Laws of Logic Are Conceptual Laws
    These laws are not physical; they are conceptual. They cannot be seen under a microscope or weighed on a scale. They are abstract laws guiding logical, immaterial thought processes.
    The Objective Laws of Logic Are Transcendent
    The laws transcend location, culture and time. If we go forward or backward a million years, the laws of logic would still exist and apply, regardless of culture or geographic location.
    The Objective Laws of Logic Pre-Existed Mankind
    The transcendent and timeless nature of logical laws indicates they precede our existence or ability to recognize them. Even before humans were able to understand the law of non-contradiction, “A” could not have been “Non-A”. The Laws of Logic were discovered by humans, not created by humans.
    (2) All Conceptual Laws Reflect the Mind of a Law Giver
    All laws require law givers, including conceptual laws. We know this from our common experience in the world in which we live. The laws governing our society and culture, for example, are the result and reflection of minds. But more importantly, the conceptual Laws of Logic govern rational thought processes, and for this reason, they require the existence of a mind.
    (3) The Best and Most Reasonable Explanation for the Kind of Mind Necessary for the Existence of the Transcendent, Objective, Conceptual Laws of Logic is God
    The lawgiver capable of producing the immaterial, transcendent laws preceding our existence must also be an immaterial, transcendent and pre-existent mind. This description fits what we commonly think of when we think of a Creator God.,,,
    https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/is-god-real-evidence-from-the-laws-of-logic/

    Rationality of the Universe – 2018
    Excerpt: “In other words, unless the primary Laws of Thought were Laws of Things, our thought would be doomed by its very nature to misapprehend the nature of things.”
    – H. W. B Joseph, An Introduction to Logic, p. 13.
    The notion that the universe is rational is rooted in the idea that the universe possesses inherent order, identity, lawfulness, and that these are what make the universe knowable to a conscious rational being. These are what make the practice of science possible.,,,
    The Loss of Direct Realism in Neo-Darwinism
    To argue that the evidence of the senses are suspect because the senses themselves have evolved and been the passive victim of (pragmatic) selection, is self-contradictory, for it denies that sense evidence is at the base of all knowledge. To argue that the senses are unreliable (or non-objective) because they process environmental information in a particular way, as the result of their evolutionary history is to embrace Kantian skepticism and rationalism (where knowledge can at best be characterized as coherent with itself but never in correspondence with the external objects of knowledges). This Kantian epistemological position denies the correspondence theory of truth and knowledge, an impossible paradoxical and contradictory position.
    https://bioperipatetic.com/rationality-of-the-universe/

  18. 18
    relatd says:

    Ba77 at 17,

    You don’t understand. It’s all about chaos, lucky accidents and not much else. The “right” brain chemistry was stumbled upon. Our brains are not made for finding the truth but for successful reproduction only. The Darwinian version has man walking off cliffs or falling into holes in the ground because truth doesn’t matter.

    But Chuck and Seversky have both made a commitment: to keep on spewing nonsense here – forever if need be. Maybe longer 🙂

  19. 19
    chuckdarwin says:

    Relatd/13

    Bees don’t go from flower to flower because it feels good. And how do bees even know what a flower is?

    You are the one that needs some basic biology. If you’ve had even a general biology course in high school or college you would know that bees do go from flower to flower because it “feels” good, or for bees it both tastes good and feels good (to sate their hunger). Bees know exactly what a flower is: a source of food. And as with any organism, they learn which food source is more and which is less desirable–in other words they discriminate one type of flower from another visually, olfactorily and tactilely. Why do you think flowers smell good? Why do you think flowers are visually attractive? Why do you think nectar is sweet? Because God made them that way for weddings and funerals, or for the pantheon of Greek gods to get drunk on? And as is typical in a biologically symbiotic relationship, the flowers benefit as the bee transfers pollen from one flower to the next which accommodates fertilization. If you had studied your biology just a little more you would know that the humble honey bee is one of the most important organisms on the planet…..

  20. 20
    relatd says:

    Bees learn? They go to Bee School? No, they have infused knowledge. They also know how to tell other bees where flowers are. No. No such thing as Bee School.

  21. 21
    Viola Lee says:

    Caspian writes, “What is the purpose of life? You might answer for your life or for human life in general.”

    I have discussed my thoughts on this at length in the past, but Caspian wasn’t here then, so I’ll reply:

    I am responsible for creating my own sense of purpose, which I consider to be, for me, both to make use of the full potential of my nature, both as a human in general and in respect to my own particular being, and to add to the betterment of the world, and especially to those close to me, with the understanding that I have to take good care of myself in all ways in order to fulfill those larger purposes.

    I don’t believe that I have any externally-derived purpose. The universe just is, and so is life in general, and while I don’t know why it is as it is, I don’t see any reason to believe that it is as it is for any specific purpose, much less that human beings in general or particular human beings such as you or I, are here for any specific purpose.

  22. 22
    chuckdarwin says:

    Relatd/20
    From where does this “infused knowledge” come? And of what is it comprised?

  23. 23
    relatd says:

    CD at 22,

    You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.

  24. 24
    Sir Giles says:

    What is the purpose of life?

    If by purpose you mean “motive” or “intent” then I would say that life has no purpose. But it certainly has profound consequences.

  25. 25
    Seversky says:

    Bornagain77/7

    When one reads Seversky and ChuckD’s ‘reasoning’ one is forced to wonder whether Seversky and ChuckyD’s very own thoughts have any purpose behind them or are their thoughts, (as they are forced to hold within the reductive materialism of their Darwinian worldview), simply the end result of the purposeless jostling of atoms of their brain?

    If your thoughts are not the product of the “purposeless jostling of atoms” where do they come from? God? Are you just a puppet thinking not your own thoughts but whatever suit His purpose?

  26. 26
    Seversky says:

    Caspian/12

    What is the purpose of life?

    I don’t know. Perhaps there is none. The Universe was not created by us so, if it was created it must have been by some vast extraterrestrial intelligence in fulfillment of some ineffable cosmic purpose. It’s not impossible but there is little reason to assume it to be true.

  27. 27
    Seversky says:

    Relatd/11

    Life is not reducible to mechanism. Just because this or that part of a living cell has a certain function, it must be realized that even the simplest living cell operates through a variety of components that must work together correctly. All of the components are needed. All are required.

    No, life is not reducible to mechanism as we understand it but machine analogies can be useful as a simplified model of some of what we see in biology, as long as we remember that they are just analogies, that while they highlight similarities we should also bear in mind that biological phenomena are very different in many ways from machines we design.

  28. 28
    Seversky says:

    Bornagain77/17

    Chuckdarwin at 8, thanks, via denying the reality of your own immaterial mind, for proving my point that your thoughts are completely purposeless.

    According to Darwinian materialism, you are a nothing more than a meat robot with no more control over your thoughts than a leaf falling in the wind has control over the trajectory of its fall. i.e. Your thoughts are purposeless!

    So you are content being a puppet fulfilling the purpose of whatever master is pulling your strings?

    And what is this “you” thinking all these thoughts if not the product of the physical brain. If “you” can exist independent of any physical substrate, why do you remain associated with it. In your belief, you will discard this mortal form at some point as we all will, so what purpose is served by remaining here when there is a better life beyond?

  29. 29
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky asks, “So you are content being a puppet fulfilling the purpose of whatever master is pulling your strings?”

    HUH??? As usual, you’ve got it completely backwards Sevesrky. As I pointed out to CD, I am not the one who is forced into the absurd position of claiming that people are merely ‘meat robots’, you, via your denial of free will, are one claiming that people are nothing but ‘meat robots’!

    “You are robots made out of meat. Which is what I am going to try to convince you of today”
    Jerry Coyne –
    – No, You’re Not a Robot Made Out of Meat (Science Uprising 02) – video
    https://youtu.be/rQo6SWjwQIk?list=PLR8eQzfCOiS1OmYcqv_yQSpje4p7rAE7-&t=20

    Moreover Seversky, you act as if it is a very easy thing to set aside our own will and do the good and perfect will of God for our life. I’ll let you in on a little secret Seversky, setting aside our own will and doing God’s good and perfect will for our life is a very hard thing to accomplish.

    As Benjamin Franklin himself found out, moral perfection is a virtually impossible thing for a person to accomplish via his own strength. In Franklin’s own words, “Tho’ I never arrived at the (moral) perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it.”

    Benjamin Franklin’s Pursuit of the Virtuous Life – 2008
    Excerpt: ,,at the age of 20, Ben Franklin set his loftiest goal: the attainment of moral perfection.
    “I conceiv’d the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wish’d to live without committing any fault at any time; I would conquer all that either natural inclination, custom, or company might lead me into.”
    In order to accomplish his goal, Franklin developed and committed himself to a personal improvement program that consisted of living 13 virtues. (He failed to arrive at moral perfection):,,,
    “Tho’ I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it.”
    http://www.artofmanliness.com/.....uous-life/

    Thus, as Benjamin Franklin himself found out, moral perfection is a far, far, harder thing to accomplish than you seem to believe Seversky.

    Moreover, humans find themselves in quite a moral dilemma. People intuitively know that objective morality exists, (as Benjamin Franklin himself gave witness to), and yet we have no way, by our own finite efforts, of reaching the moral perfection that objective morality itself entails

    Thus the only way we can possibly be morally perfect in God’s eyes is if God Himself somehow imparts that moral perfection onto us. And that just so happens to be exactly what God has done through Jesus Christ atoning sacrifice for our sins.

    John 1:29
    The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

    Turin Shroud Hologram Reveals The Words “The Lamb”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tmka1l8GAQ

    One final note, I would like to add that even Jesus himself, right before His trial and crucifixion, struggled mightily setting aside His own will in order to accomplish God’s good and perfect will for His life, (as well os accomplishing propitiation, and/or atonement, for our sins as well I might add).

    Luke 22:42-43
    “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him.…

    G.O.S.P.E.L. (Propitiation/Atonement: God Our Sins Paying Everyone Life) – (the grace of propitiation) poetry slam – video
    https://vimeo.com/20960385

    Falling Plates (the grace of propitiation) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGlx11BxF24

  30. 30
    relatd says:

    Those who reject God cannot bridge the gap. They believe there is no one on the other side. So, they use their own thinking – which they can deny as even being their own – but somehow, they still manage to act. And what is the end result of their actions?

    Proverbs 14:12

    “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”

    But this is either misunderstood or understood and rejected.

    1 Corinthians 3:19

    “For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,”

    Here it is made plain that what counts for wisdom among men is the ability to reason on our own, but when cut off from God it ends in folly. It is by God’s help, God’s grace, that we can grow in holiness.

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