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Do we need a new scientific revolution to understand the desert hand?

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Desert’s Hand. Sculpture by Mario Irarrázabal/Marcos Escalier, Chile

Further to “What are the odds that this is the result of wind erosion?: Some will say, it must be the product of human intelligence, because it is a human hand. But wait. We assume it is a product of human intelligence because humans are the only entities that occur naturally in our world who would be able to create this work of art (it has no apparent functional value but it does have obvious meaning).

But we actually mean that at least a human level of intelligence is required to create such an object. The fact that it is a human hand should not put us off the track here. Were the sculpture a chimpanzee hand, we would not infer that a chimpanzee created it. An intelligent alien could have created a sculpture of a human hand. We dismiss that possibility due to our lack of evidence for the alien’s existence; not due to his supposed lack of ability or interest.

So what we know from the object itself, and not from our background information about the inhabitants of our planet, is that the sculpture was created by an intelligent being who wished to impact other intelligent beings in an intellectual or aesthetic way. Not, apparenbtly, to convey specific information, like directions. To have such a goal, as his personal goal, implies consciousness.

Now recall some of Yale computer science prof David Gelernter’s comments on conciousness in “The Closing of the Scientific Mind”:

What is consciousness for? What does it accomplish? Put a real human and the organic zombie side by side. [cf Zombie Fred] Ask them any questions you like. Follow them over the course of a day or a year. Nothing reveals which one is conscious. (They both claim to be.) Both seem like ordinary humans.

So why should we humans be equipped with consciousness? Darwinian theory explains that nature selects the best creatures on wholly practical grounds, based on survivable design and behavior. If zombies and humans behave the same way all the time, one group would be just as able to survive as the other. So why would nature have taken the trouble to invent an elaborate thing like consciousness, when it could have got off without it just as well?

Such questions have led the Australian philosopher of mind David Chalmers to argue that consciousness doesn’t “follow logically” from the design of the universe as we know it scientifically. Nothing stops us from imagining a universe exactly like ours in every respect
except that consciousness does not exist. Nagel believes that “our mental lives, including our subjective experiences” are “strongly connected with and probably strictly dependent
on physical events in our brains.”

But—and this is the key to understanding why his book posed such a danger to the conventional wisdom in his field—Nagel also believes that explaining subjectivity and our conscious mental lives will take nothing less than a new scientific revolution. Ultimately, “conscious subjects and their mental lives” are “not describable by the physical sciences.” He awaits “major scientific advances,” “the creation of new concepts” before we can understand how consciousness works. Physics and biology as we understand them today don’t seem to have the answers. On consciousness and subjectivity, science still has elementary work to do. That work will be done correctly only if researchers understand what subjectivity is, and why it shares the cosmos with objective reality.

Read it again. If I understand correctly, those are fighting words.

We must take seriously that subjectivity and consciousness are not part of the materialist (and Darwinist) paradigm, and therefore what is needed is not a way to shoehorn them in but a new paradigm.


Gelernter will probably take some heat for pinpointing Darwinism as a major source of the “sciencey” clutter that keeps us from facing this issue squarely. Next time I empty the Inbox, there’ll like as not be a release announcing that “Chimps can reason like humans, study shows.” And all the science writers who read it undergo a moment of confusion in which they fail to ask, well, why are chimps still panhooting in the trees, throwing rotten bananas then? If all this is true, it’s momentous. It means, for one thing, that many millions of years of reasoning powers can make absolutely no difference to a life form. And then something isn’t adding up.

But at bottom, we all know it isn’t really true. It’s just something we need to think in order to avoid facing the issues Gelernter isn’t afraid to face.

He had better stand his ground. Many a thinker has fallen by the wayside, whimpering weakly that he would never mean to offend Darwin’s trolls and he promises to go away and be a good boy now. That, of course, is the last anyone ever hears from him. Like the man said, cheaper than a frontal lobotomy.

Stand yer ground, prof!

a few notes:
Neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander Says It's Time for Brain Science to Graduate From Kindergarten - 10/24/2013 Excerpt: Consciousness is the thing that exists. It is the support, the basis on which all of the universe is based.,,, It's time for brain science, mind science, physics, cosmology, to move from kindergarten up into first grade and realize we will never truly understand consciousness with that simplistic materialist mindset. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ingrid-peschke/near-death-experiences_b_4151093.html “No, I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” Max Planck (1858–1947), the originator of quantum theory, The Observer, London, January 25, 1931 "As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter." Max Planck - The Father Of Quantum Mechanics - Das Wesen der Materie [The Nature of Matter], speech at Florence, Italy (1944) "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"; "It will remain remarkable, in whatever way our future concepts may develop, that the very study of the external world led to the scientific conclusion that the content of the consciousness is the ultimate universal reality" - Eugene Wigner - (Remarks on the Mind-Body Question, Eugene Wigner, in Wheeler and Zurek, p.169) 1961 - received Nobel Prize in 1963 for 'Quantum Symmetries' “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.” (Schroedinger, Erwin. 1984. “General Scientific and Popular Papers,” in Collected Papers, Vol. 4. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences. Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden. p. 334.) Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry - Physics Professor - John Hopkins University Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the "illusion" of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry's referenced experiment and paper - “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 - “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007 (Leggett's Inequality verified to 80 orders of magnitude) http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html Closing the last Bell-test loophole for photons - Jun 11, 2013 Excerpt: The validity of such experiments is thus dependent on the assumption that the detected photons are a statistically fair sample of all the photons. That, in turn, leaves open the possibility that, if all the photon data were known, they could be described by local realism. The new research, conducted at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Communication in Austria, closes the fair-sampling loophole by using improved photon sources (spontaneous parametric down-conversion in a Sagnac configuration) and ultra-sensitive detectors provided by the Single Photonics and Quantum Information project in PML's Quantum Electronics and Photonics Division. That combination, the researchers write, was "crucial for achieving a sufficiently high collection efficiency," resulting in a high-accuracy data set – requiring no assumptions or correction of count rates – that confirmed (non-local) quantum entanglement to nearly 70 standard deviations.,,, http://phys.org/news/2013-06-bell-test-loophole-photons.html Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism - video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C5pq7W5yRM&feature=c4-overview&list=UU5qDet6sa6rODi7t6wfpg8g What Does Quantum Physics Have to Do with Free Will? - By Antoine Suarez - July 22, 2013 Excerpt: What is more, recent experiments are bringing to light that the experimenter’s free will and consciousness should be considered axioms (founding principles) of standard quantum physics theory. So for instance, in experiments involving “entanglement” (the phenomenon Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”), to conclude that quantum correlations of two particles are nonlocal (i.e. cannot be explained by signals traveling at velocity less than or equal to the speed of light), it is crucial to assume that the experimenter can make free choices, and is not constrained in what orientation he/she sets the measuring devices. To understand these implications it is crucial to be aware that quantum physics is not only a description of the material and visible world around us, but also speaks about non-material influences coming from outside the space-time.,,, https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/content/what-does-quantum-physics-have-do-free-will 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/2013/10/found-upon-web-and-reprinted-here.html The Easter Question - Eben Alexander, M.D. - March 2013 Excerpt: More than ever since my near death experience, I consider myself a Christian -,,, We are, really and truly, made in God's image. But most of the time we are sadly unaware of this fact. We are unconscious both of our intimate kinship with God, and of His constant presence with us. On the level of our everyday consciousness, this is a world of separation -- one where people and objects move about, occasionally interacting with each other, but where essentially we are always alone. But this cold dead world of separate objects is an illusion. It's not the world we actually live in.,,, ,,He (God) is right here with each of us right now, seeing what we see, suffering what we suffer... and hoping desperately that we will keep our hope and faith in Him. Because that hope and faith will be triumphant. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eben-alexander-md/the-easter-question_b_2979741.html
Verse and Music;
Hebrews 13:5 - ,,, for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hold My Heart - Tenth Avenue North https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEz2PsLJ-RI
Well, that free will of the human being seems pivotal, there evidently being some lacuna in the make-up of the dumb creatures, so that they lack the potential for the kind of personal response, seemingly, above all, to the Creator of us all, who is able both to infuse our minds with knowledge, when he deems it appropriate, and to coordinate the strands of our intelligence; most propitiously, seemingly, when we are asleep and can't banjax the operation by contributing our own two penn'orth. Axel
'Ultimately, “conscious subjects and their mental lives” are “not describable by the physical sciences.” He awaits “major scientific advances,” “the creation of new concepts” before we can understand how consciousness works. Physics and biology as we understand them today don’t seem to have the answers. On consciousness and subjectivity, science still has elementary work to do. That work will be done correctly only if researchers understand what subjectivity is, and why it shares the cosmos with objective reality.' Nagel begins the above paragraph with the word, 'ultimately' advisedly, yet he evidently intends it differently from the meaning applicable to the exigency of the actual situation. It will surely not be held to fall within the ambit of 'science'. Do we have any indication that it would? What would seem necessary, rather, is a reversion to the original meaning of the word, 'science', as knowledge, with a clear indication to distinguish it from the disgraceful mockery of the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, that is scientism, and passes for (theoretical) science, today; when it is not sallying forth into the realms fantasy, based on neither the mysteries of QM nor those of cosmology, but is entirely gratuitous fantasy, woo-woo, magic. Because someone thinks, the multiverse, for example would be pretty, and they're sure Einstein said something about selecting his hypotheses on the basis of an aesthetic criterion. 'That work will be done correctly only if researchers understand what subjectivity is, and why it shares the cosmos with objective reality.’ One thing is for sure: consciousness is inseparable from human volition and understanding; even the memory, as we know it, unlike the dead memory of inert data on a disk or other non-sentient medium. So the Roman Catholic catechism should be a primer! Personally, where the consciousness, volition, understanding and memory of non-human creatures fit into the picture I find impossible to conceive. Other than that they do not have the free will that we do. Although such an understanding seems far less interesting. Axel

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