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Michael Egnor on why evil shows that there IS a God

This image represents the evolution of the Universe, starting with the Big Bang. The red arrow marks the flow of time.
Big Bang/NASA

From Michael Egnor at ENST, replying to one of the universe is “itself a mind” philosophers, Phillip Goff:

Evil is not a problem, and in fact does not exist, if there is no God. And Goff errs in proposing that the universe is a Mind and that the Mind embodied in the universe is the ground of existence.

The universe is not a Mind. It is a manifestation of a Mind, the creation of a Mind, but it has no mind itself. A mind is an aspect of a soul, and what characterizes a mind is its ability to hold the form of another substance in it without becoming that substance. For example, my mind can grasp the idea of a tree or of justice, but I do not therefore become a tree or justice. The universe certainly has forms, but those are substantial forms, which make the universe and the component parts what they are. There is no reason to impute “mind” to what is clearly an assemblage of material substances.

Furthermore, the universe is contingent. Its essence — what it is — does not include the necessity that it is. Nowhere in a physical description of the universe or of its laws is there any necessity of its existence. When we describe a distant galaxy or the Big Bang, it is possible that we are engaging in fantasy or error. But the ground of existence must have necessary existence — its essence must be existence. What it is must be that it is. That is clearly not true of the physical universe. More.

See also: At Aeon: Fine-tuning is easy to explain: The universe itself is conscious, and somewhat like a human. Goff: “However, it now seems to me that reflection on the fine-tuning might give us grounds for thinking that the mental life of the Universe is just a little closer than I had previously thought to the mental life of a human being.” Indeed. If we keep going in this direction, we will run into Zeus. The only remaining mystery is why our Stone Age ancestors gave up on him after a while.

At Quartz: Materialists are converting to panpsychism

Latest consciousness theory: Rocks have minds

The universe may be conscious?

Evading hard problem of human consciousness: Consciousness is in everything!

The illusion of consciousness sees through itself.

And the naturalist’s biggest problem, to hear him tell it, is the persistence of stubborn doubt about naturalism.

Bob, Let me clarify further. If you believe in a loving God you don't distinguish between cruelty, etc. and evil. If you don't believe in God the thing is impossible because you cannot define evil with authority. If you believe in an unloving god (Mars, Baal) you will call cruelty etc "good'. These discussions are really not so much about nature but the (mis)use of a methodology designed to understand the consistencies of nature to discourage a belief in a loving God. tribune7
Bob So are you saying that evil is just (?!) when someone is behaving really badly. . . which was why I asked my question at 77 I apologize. I missed 77, but why are you asking me how do you distinguish between cruelty, indifference to suffering etc. and evil? What was the (my) very first comment on the thread? Presume, the atheist view is correct and God -- much less a loving one -- does not exist. Do cruelty, indifference etc disappear? Of course not, but why would they be evil? Because it bothers your sense of aesthetics? Suppose it doesn't bother that of the bigger group -- or even that their sense of aesthetics is that you are a food source and your child is a sex toy and that roasting kittens alive on a grill is fun? Who are you to judge? That's a serious question. This worldview is not just historical but contemporaneous. I'll repeat Comment 1 for convenience. That evil exists shows that there is a God. As per the atheists, the cruelty and hate defined by Judeo-Christian ethos would most certainly remain there just is nothing to authoritatively define them as, well, evil. . tribune7
t7 @ 85 -
Since we have freedom we can choose to do the opposite of God wants for us which is to love. A point can be reached where mild petulance becomes depravity or self-centered indifference. At that point the reality of evil occurs.
So are you saying that evil is just (?!) when someone is behaving really badly? My impression is that some Christians see Evil as a an actual entity, which was why I asked my question at 77 (err, my impression is why I asked the question, not Evil. At least I don't think it was Evil that made me do it). From what you write, my impression is that if an act is bad enough, then you would call it evil, but that this is a judgment call made by you. Is this an accurate reflection of your views, or have I extrapolated too far? Bob O'H
BA77 @ 79 and 80: Well done. Brilliant. Truth Will Set You Free
OA --Although I doubt that the reasoning is that God created evil,-- My way of making sense of it is that God created Man, told us what He wanted us to do and then gave us the greatest gift a loving father can give which is pure freedom. Since we have freedom we can choose to do the opposite of God wants for us which is to love. A point can be reached where mild petulance becomes depravity or self-centered indifference. At that point the reality of evil occurs. I'm not saying this is authoritative but this is how I make sense of it. tribune7
ET at 81, as to
We have a host of observations of how damage to the brain caused by injury or disease can change the conscious behavior of the victim. We have experiments in which electrical or magnetic stimulation of the brain can elicit a range of conscious experiences in the subject.
In related interest to that, if you have ever been presented with the case of Phineas Gage by an atheist, it may interest you to know that 'the most famous case' of Phineas Gage, in American textbooks, has been, and in large part still is, a fraudulent account:
What the textbooks don’t tell you about psychology’s most famous case study - June 30, 2015 Excerpt: It’s a remarkable, mythical tale with lashings of gore – no wonder it’s a favourite of psychology students the world over. I’m talking about Phineas Gage, the nineteenth century railway worker who somehow survived the passing of a three-foot long tamping iron through the front of his brain and out the top of his head. What happened to him next? If you turn to many of the leading introductory psychology textbooks (American ones, at least), you’ll find the wrong answer, or a misleading account. Richard Griggs, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of Florida, has just analysed the content of 23 contemporary textbooks (either released or updated within the last couple of years), and he finds most of them contain distortions, omissions and inaccuracies. It needn’t be so. Thanks to painstaking historical analysis of primary sources (by Malcolm Macmillan and Matthew Lena) – much of it published between 2000 and 2010 – and the discovery during the same time period of new photographic evidence of post-accident Gage (see image, right), it is now believed that Gage made a remarkable recovery from his terrible injuries. He ultimately emigrated to Chile where he worked as a horse-coach driver, controlling six horses at once and dealing politely with non-English speaking passengers. The latest simulations of his injury help explain his rehabilitation – it’s thought the iron rod passed through his left frontal lobe only, leaving his right lobe fully intact. Yet, the textbooks mostly tell a different story. Of the 21 that cover Gage, only 4 mention the years he worked in Chile. Only three detail his mental recovery. Fourteen of the books tell you about the first research that attempted to identify the extent of his brain injuries, but just four of the books give you the results from the most technically advanced effort, published in 2004, that first suggested his brain damage was limited to the left frontal lobe (watch video). Only 9 of the books feature either of the two photos to have emerged of Gage in recent times. So the textbooks mostly won’t tell you about Gage’s rehabilitation, or provide you with the latest evidence on his injuries. Instead, you might hear how hear never worked again and became a vagrant, or that he became a circus freak for the rest of his life, showing off the holes in his head. “The most egregious error,” says Griggs, “seems to be that Gage survived for 20 years with the tamping iron embedded in his head!”.,,, https://digest.bps.org.uk/2015/06/30/what-the-textbooks-dont-tell-you-about-psychologys-most-famous-case-study/
Some call intelligent design a "god of the gaps" argument because they claim it inserts God wherever we don't understand something. They're wrong for two reasons. One is that ID isn't about God. But the other is that it's a valid inference on its own merit. I'd argue the other way - darwinism and belief in life by accident is a "'something highly improbable that we can't even begin to define or even imagine coherently must have happened but we're sure it's coming because it has to' of the gaps" argument. How the mind functions and interacts with the brain is a whole different story. It's just something that we don't understand. To say that because we don't understand it we can automatically apply a very particular interpretation of scripture is a gaps-type fallacy. It's an argument from ignorance even for those who do believe in God. It's saying that because we don't know how God would pack a consciousness into a brain, he didn't. We believe in him doing all sorts of complex stuff we can't comprehend and then draw the line right there. Even from the standpoint of the Bible there's no requirement for the human mind to be some separate spiritual entity. Genesis does not say that God placed an existing mind into Adam. He breathed life (spirit) into a lifeless body and it became a man. He told Adam that he would return to the dust from which he came. That has no meaning if Adam did not in fact return to the dust, but left his body and went somewhere else. Are we to suppose that God is really that bad at saying what he means, so that he would mislead and confuse Adam (and Moses, the author of Genesis, and all of its readers) by misstating the very nature of their existence? Psalm 146 confirms that a man dies, his spirit (life) goes out, *he* - not his body, but *he* returns to the dust, and his plans - literally "thoughts" - perish. It's the account of Adam's creation in Genesis except in reverse. Are we to understand that he does not return to the ground and his thoughts do not perish? We don't know how it works. We have to be okay with saying we don't know what we don't know. ID has enough of an uphill battle without discrediting it by associating it with gaps fallacies that support particular religious beliefs. OldAndrew
how do you distinguish between cruelty, indifference to suffering etc. and evil?
Why would you want to? ET
We have a host of observations of how damage to the brain caused by injury or disease can change the conscious behavior of the victim. We have experiments in which electrical or magnetic stimulation of the brain can elicit a range of conscious experiences in the subject.
So what? Physical damage to a computer can change how it operates. Electrical or magnetic stimulation can also alter how it functions. So computers are just hardware? Really? ET
Thus even if Atheistic materialism could somehow provide a coherent explanation for the 'hard problem' of consciousness, i.e. for subjective experience, I would STILL have grounds for holding the atheistic materialist's subjective opinion as invalid since his own worldview dictates that all his subjective perceptions of the world are illusory. Although Hoffman tried to limit his results to just our visual perceptions, as Plantinga had pointed out years before Hoffman came along, there is no reason why the results do not also extend to undermining our cognitive faculties as well:
The Case Against Reality - May 13, 2016 Excerpt: Hoffman seems to come to a conclusion similar to the one Alvin Plantinga argues in ch. 10 of Where the Conflict Really Lies: we should not expect — in the absence of further argument — that creatures formed by a naturalistic evolutionary process would have veridical perceptions.,,, First, even if Hoffman’s argument were restricted to visual perception, and not to our cognitive faculties more generally (e.g., memory, introspection, a priori rational insight, testimonial belief, inferential reasoning, etc.), the conclusion that our visual perceptions would be wholly unreliable given natural selection would be sufficient for Plantinga’s conclusion of self-defeat. After all, reliance upon the veridicality of our visual perceptions was and always will be crucial for any scientific argument for the truth of evolution. So if these perceptions cannot be trusted, we have little reason to think evolutionary theory is true. Second, it’s not clear that Hoffman’s application of evolutionary game theory is only specially applicable to visual perception, rather than being relevant for our cognitive faculties generally. If “we find that veridical perceptions can be driven to extinction by non-veridical strategies that are tuned to utility rather than objective reality” (2010, p. 504, my emphasis), then why wouldn’t veridical cognitive faculties (more generally) be driven to extinction by non-veridical strategies that are tuned to utility rather than objective reality? After all, evolutionary theory purports to be the true account of the formation of all of our cognitive faculties, not just our faculty of visual perception. If evolutionary game theory proves that “true perception generally goes extinct” when “animals that perceive the truth compete with others that sacrifice truth for speed and energy-efficiency” (2008), why wouldn’t there be a similar sacrifice with respect to other cognitive faculties? In fact, Hoffman regards the following theorem as now proven: “According to evolution by natural selection, an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality but is just tuned to fitness” (Atlantic interview). But then wouldn’t it also be the case that an organism that cognizes reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that cognizes none of reality but is just tuned to fitness? On the evolutionary story, every cognitive faculty we have was produced by a process that was tuned to fitness (rather than tuned to some other value, such as truth). http://www.gregwelty.com/2016/05/the-case-against-reality/
In short, Darwinian evolution itself commits intellectual suicide against itself:
Why Evolutionary Theory Cannot Survive Itself – Nancy Pearcey – March 8, 2015 Excerpt: An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value. But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth — which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.,,, Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false. To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value. So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.,,, Of course, the atheist pursuing his research has no choice but to rely on rationality, just as everyone else does. The point is that he has no philosophical basis for doing so. Only those who affirm a rational Creator have a basis for trusting human rationality. The reason so few atheists and materialists seem to recognize the problem is that, like Darwin, they apply their skepticism selectively. They apply it to undercut only ideas they reject, especially ideas about God. They make a tacit exception for their own worldview commitments. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/03/why_evolutionar094171.html
Thus, in what should be needless to say, a worldview that undermines the scientific method itself by holding all our observations of reality, and cognitive faculties, are illusory is NOT a worldview that can be firmly grounded within the scientific method! Moreover, completely contrary to what Hoffman found for Darwinian theory, it turns out that accurate perception, i.e. conscious observation, far from being unreliable and illusory, is experimentally found to be far more integral to reality, i.e. far more reliable of reality, than the mathematics of population genetics predicted. In the following experiment, it was found that reality doesn’t exist without an observer.
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/2015/06/new-mind-blowing-experiment-confirms-that-reality-doesnt-exist-if-you-are-not-looking-at-it.html
Apparently science itself could care less if atheistic materialists are forced to believe, because of the mathematics of population genetics, that their observations of reality are illusory! Then at the end of post 9 Seversky makes an astute observation and then asks some questions that are actually very interesting:
If you really think that I am an illusion then you are under no obligation to take anything I say seriously.
Again, it is not I that is saying that your sense of self is a neuronal illusion, I know you are a real person made in the image of God,,, it is your very own Atheistic Materialism that is telling you that you must be a illusion. That you disagree so strongly with the thought that you are a illusion, instead of a real person, is actually your own common sense trying to wake you up from the insanity that is inherent in your own worldview.,,, and then Seversky asks
If you take the solipsistic position that you are the only conscious entity then why are you talking to yourself?
I don't take the solipsistic position seriously
Solipsist Humor from Plantinga ,,,At a recent Lecture I attended by Philosopher Alvin Plantinga, he warmed up the crowd with a few solipsist jokes.,,, FYI, solipsism is the rather odd idea that there is only one individual in the universe and that you are it. Everyone else is just a figment of your imagination. 1. British philosopher Bertrand Russell was a solipsist for a time (why does that not surprise me?), and he once received a letter from a woman who found his arguments very convincing. Well, I suppose it’s not so hard to convince a figment of your imagination that your arguments are brilliant. Anyway, the woman commented in her letter that his description of solipsism made a lot of sense and that, “I’m surprised there aren't more of us.” 2. Plantinga also told of an accomplished academic who was a well-known solipsist (I forget the guys name). And Plantinga thought it would be fun to meet a real life solipsist, so he went to visit him. He was treated fairly well considering he was only figment. I mean, it’s not a given that a solipsist would feel the need to be polite to his imaginary friends. After a brief conversation, Plantinga left and on the way out one of the man’s assistants said, “We take good care of the professor because when he goes we all go.” http://www.fellowtravelerblog.com/2011/05/13/solipsist-humor-from-plantinga/
Seversky then asks:
If, on the other hand, you believe that there are others like you out there, how do you know that your understanding and explanations of external reality are better than theirs? Are you interested in testing one against the other or are you only interested in finding confirmation of your own presuppositions?
Besides logic, and 'trustworthy' personal experience, I rely heavily on empirical evidence from experimental science to establish the validity of my personal Christian views of reality over and above competing views of reality. And, as I have pointed out numerous times on this thread thus far, since we are indeed debating the origin of 'trustworthy' subjective experience itself, then empirical evidence and logic greatly outweigh personal subjective opinions. And yet, apparently, this obvious and clear point, that subjective opinions must take a back seat to logic and empirical evidence, is completely lost on some of the atheistic persuasion. Which, as usual, is par for the course in debating internet atheists. bornagain77
Seversky, who is, unlike some, unashamed to proclaim he is an Atheistic Materialist,,, waaay back at post 9 Seversky referenced the way sensory stimulus is processed in the brain:
We have good evidence that the way we see the world is that image-forming light enters our eyes and is transduced into electrical signals passed along the optic nerve to the visual cortex of the brain. There it is processed to form the visual image we see in front of us. Similar processes for converting external stimuli into electrical signals transmitted to the brain occur in our other sensory channels. All that data is integrated to form the HD, stereoscopic, full color model complete with touch, taste and smell which is what we use to navigate the external reality we assume the model represents.,,,
There are two problems with Seversky referencing 'sensory pathways' in the brain. Number 1, as was already briefly mentioned, Darwinists have no clue how such fantastic integrated complexity in the brain (or in the eye) can arise without Intelligence.
"Complexity Brake" Defies Evolution - August 8, 2012 Excerpt: Consider a neuronal synapse -- the presynaptic terminal has an estimated 1000 distinct proteins. Fully analyzing their possible interactions would take about 2000 years. Or consider the task of fully characterizing the visual cortex of the mouse -- about 2 million neurons. Under the extreme assumption that the neurons in these systems can all interact with each other, analyzing the various combinations will take about 10 million years..., even though it is assumed that the underlying technology speeds up by an order of magnitude each year. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/08/complexity_brak062961.html How the origin of the human eye is best explained through intelligent design - 2017 Excerpt: The human eye consists of over two million working parts making it second only to the brain in complexity.,,, ,,, Every time we change where we’re looking, our eye (and retina) is changing everything else to compensate: focus & light intensity are constantly adjusting to ensure that our eyesight is as good it can be. Man has made his own cameras… it took intelligent people to design and build them. The human eye is better than the best human made camera. How is the emergence of eyes best explained, evolution, or design ?! http://reasonandscience.heavenforum.org/t2411-how-the-origin-of-the-human-eye-is-best-explained-through-intelligent-design William Bialek: More Perfect Than We Imagined - March 23, 2013 Excerpt: photoreceptor cells that carpet the retinal tissue of the eye and respond to light, are not just good or great or phabulous at their job. They are not merely exceptionally impressive by the standards of biology, with whatever slop and wiggle room the animate category implies. Photoreceptors operate at the outermost boundary allowed by the laws of physics, which means they are as good as they can be, period. Each one is designed to detect and respond to single photons of light — the smallest possible packages in which light comes wrapped. “Light is quantized, and you can’t count half a photon,” said William Bialek, a professor of physics and integrative genomics at Princeton University. “This is as far as it goes.” … Scientists have identified and mathematically anatomized an array of cases where optimization has left its fastidious mark,,,, In each instance, biophysicists have calculated, the system couldn’t get faster, more sensitive or more efficient without first relocating to an alternate universe with alternate physical constants. http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2013/03/william-bialek-more-perfect-than-we.html
Indeed the human brain is 'beyond belief' in terms of complexity:
The Human Brain Is 'Beyond Belief' by Jeffrey P. Tomkins, Ph.D. * - 2017 Excerpt: The human brain,, is an engineering marvel that evokes comments from researchers like “beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief”1 and “a world we had never imagined.”2,,, Perfect Optimization The scientists found that at multiple hierarchical levels in the whole brain, nerve cell clusters (ganglion), and even at the individual cell level, the positioning of neural units achieved a goal that human engineers strive for but find difficult to achieve—the perfect minimizing of connection costs among all the system’s components.,,, Vast Computational Power Researchers discovered that a single synapse is like a computer’s microprocessor containing both memory-storage and information-processing features.,,, Just one synapse alone can contain about 1,000 molecular-scale microprocessor units acting in a quantum computing environment. An average healthy human brain contains some 200 billion nerve cells connected to one another through hundreds of trillions of synapses. To put this in perspective, one of the researchers revealed that the study’s results showed a single human brain has more information processing units than all the computers, routers, and Internet connections on Earth.1,,, Phenomenal Processing Speed the processing speed of the brain had been greatly underrated. In a new research study, scientists found the brain is 10 times more active than previously believed.6,7,,, The large number of dendritic spikes also means the brain has more than 100 times the computational capabilities than was previously believed.,,, Petabyte-Level Memory Capacity Our new measurements of the brain’s memory capacity increase conservative estimates by a factor of 10 to at least a petabyte, in the same ballpark as the World Wide Web.9,,, Optimal Energy Efficiency Stanford scientist who is helping develop computer brains for robots calculated that a computer processor functioning with the computational capacity of the human brain would require at least 10 megawatts to operate properly. This is comparable to the output of a small hydroelectric power plant. As amazing as it may seem, the human brain requires only about 10 watts to function.11 ,,, Multidimensional Processing It is as if the brain reacts to a stimulus by building then razing a tower of multi-dimensional blocks, starting with rods (1D), then planks (2D), then cubes (3D), and then more complex geometries with 4D, 5D, etc. The progression of activity through the brain resembles a multi-dimensional sandcastle that materializes out of the sand and then disintegrates.13 He also said: We found a world that we had never imagined. There are tens of millions of these objects even in a small speck of the brain, up through seven dimensions. In some networks, we even found structures with up to eleven dimensions.13,,, Biophoton Brain Communication Neurons contain many light-sensitive molecules such as porphyrin rings, flavinic, pyridinic rings, lipid chromophores, and aromatic amino acids. Even the mitochondria machines that produce energy inside cells contain several different light-responsive molecules called chromophores. This research suggests that light channeled by filamentous cellular structures called microtubules plays an important role in helping to coordinate activities in different regions of the brain.,,, https://www.icr.org/article/10186
To say that level of complexity defies Darwinian explanations is to put the situation for Darwinists very mildly. The second problem for Seversky in referencing sensory pathways, to try to counter the fact that materialism can provide no grounds for subjective experience, is that if his Darwinian worldview is actually true, then the math of population genetics itself says that ALL of Seversky's perceptions of reality will be unreliable. In the following video and article, Donald Hoffman has, through numerous computer simulations of population genetics, proved that if Darwinian evolution were actually true then ALL of our perceptions of reality would be illusory.
Donald Hoffman: Do we see reality as it is? – Video – 9:59 minute mark Quote: “,,,evolution is a mathematically precise theory. We can use the equations of evolution to check this out. We can have various organisms in artificial worlds compete and see which survive and which thrive, which sensory systems or more fit. A key notion in those equations is fitness.,,, fitness does depend on reality as it is, yes.,,, Fitness is not the same thing as reality as it is, and it is fitness, and not reality as it is, that figures centrally in the equations of evolution. So, in my lab, we have run hundreds of thousands of evolutionary game simulations with lots of different randomly chosen worlds and organisms that compete for resources in those worlds. Some of the organisms see all of the reality. Others see just part of the reality. And some see none of the reality. Only fitness. Who wins? Well I hate to break it to you but perception of reality goes extinct. In almost every simulation, organisms that see none of reality, but are just tuned to fitness, drive to extinction that perceive reality as it is. So the bottom line is, evolution does not favor veridical, or accurate perceptions. Those (accurate) perceptions of reality go extinct. Now this is a bit stunning. How can it be that not seeing the world accurately gives us a survival advantage?” https://youtu.be/oYp5XuGYqqY?t=601 The Evolutionary Argument Against Reality - April 2016 The cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman uses evolutionary game theory to show that our perceptions of an independent reality must be illusions. Excerpt: “The classic argument is that those of our ancestors who saw more accurately had a competitive advantage over those who saw less accurately and thus were more likely to pass on their genes that coded for those more accurate perceptions, so after thousands of generations we can be quite confident that we’re the offspring of those who saw accurately, and so we see accurately. That sounds very plausible. But I think it is utterly false. It misunderstands the fundamental fact about evolution, which is that it’s about fitness functions — mathematical functions that describe how well a given strategy achieves the goals of survival and reproduction. The mathematical physicist Chetan Prakash proved a theorem that I devised that says: According to evolution by natural selection, an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality but is just tuned to fitness. Never.” https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160421-the-evolutionary-argument-against-reality/ The Interface Theory of Perception Donald D. Hoffman & Manish Singh & Chetan Prakash http://people.psych.cornell.edu/~jec7/pcd%202015-16%20pubs/interface.pdf http://ruccs.rutgers.edu/images/personal-manish-singh/papers/Probing_ITP_2015_PBR.pdf (follow-up discussion)
T7, I'd have to say that evil is an abstraction. The easiest way to justify that is that the only way to make it non-abstract is to use it as an adjective and give it a subject, like an evil act or an evil person. We can use it as a noun, but it's always with the unstated meaning that we're describing something which has the quality of being evil, which makes it an adjective again. I'm not trying to play word games or deny that anything is evil. I'm just saying that it is an abstraction. There's some circular reasoning above. Either the existence of God supports the existence of evil or vice versa, but it can't be both. I'm not fond of either. I get the idea, that without God there's no absolute moral standard by which something can be evil - I sure don't want to open that can of worms. Although I doubt that the reasoning is that God created evil, it could sure look that way to someone reading this. If there's no evil without God then that would make God responsible for evil. But God didn't create anything evil, he just defined the standard by which something could be called evil. (Which is why it's an abstraction.) And if an atheist calls something "evil" I'm not going to split hairs over their use of the word like I own it. OldAndrew
tribune7 - how do you distinguish between cruelty, indifference to suffering etc. and evil? Bob O'H
OldAndrew If I understand correctly (and this is a big “if”) the reasoning is that evil proves the existence of God because it is an abstract thought, Evil is not an abstract thought. It's a reality. The only way it can be a reality, though, is if God exists. Cruelty, indifference to suffering etc. can be realities in an atheist world. Evil, however, cannot. Evil, though, is a reality hence God must exist. tribune7
I was referring to ba77, not Bob, as ba77 seems to have made a lot of statements about what he thinks Bob must believe. As Bob pointed out, this is a discussion stopper. jdk
O: You did not present your position with any detail.
Bob: If I did that, it would get side-tracked ...
So, you do not state your position with any detail in order not to get side-tracked. That didn't work out well, now did it? Because of your lack of clarity we end up being side-tracked by speculations about your position. Jdk is right when he wrote: "One of the key elements of constructive discussion is for people to be able to accurately represent the position of people they disagree with ... ". You have failed to provide other participants the required information to do so. Origenes
Allow me to make an educated guess: you did not tell why the guess is wrong. You did not present your position with any detail. Am I right?
Have you had many discussion here? If I did that, it would get side-tracked (especially as my views are nuanced and I acknowledge a lot of uncertainty). So I tried to keep the subject simple and to the point. Had ba77 written something like "sorry, I was wrong, what are your views?" we might have had a discussion about them. But we never got that far. Bob O'H
Bob o'H: I have repeatedly told him that he is wrong in his guess ...
Allow me to make an educated guess: you did not tell why the guess is wrong. You did not present your position with any detail. Am I right?
jdk: One of the key elements of constructive discussion is for people to be able to accurately represent the position of people they disagree with ...
Indeed. That's why it is important for participants to present their positions with some detail. Something that Bob refuses to do. Origenes
Hang in there, Bob: this is a critical issue. One of the key elements of constructive discussion is for people to be able to accurately represent the position of people they disagree with, both because that allows them to truly be arguing about issues of common importance, and also because it's the fundamentally decent thing to do. People who, as you say, dogmatically insist that they know what your true position is, and what's wrong with it, are just arguing with their own stereotypes and projecting them on to you. jdk
Origenes - ba77 may have made an educated guess, but I have repeatedly told him that he is wrong in his guess but he hasn't changed his position. There doesn't seem any point in going further trying to explain my views if I can't even get him to acknowledge that the views that I hold are not the views he thinks I hold. My views are only relevant in the sense that they show that the views he subscribes to atheists are not the views held by all atheists. Bob O'H
Bob: No, you just dismissed my views as irrelevant.
Bornagain did not do that. He made an educated guess about your views (you left him with no other option) and next pointed out an insoluble problem. Question: how do you reckon that your views are relevant to this discussion if you refuse to present them with any detail? Origenes
Here's what invariably happens with Atheists (and Bob O'H has once again demonstrated it with great dexterity): Once they try to answer questions posed to them they reluctantly admit there are things out there they don't understand. Lo' and behold! God fits right into the things that are out there that the Atheist doesn't understand (and nobody does completely). So we can see that virtually all of the Atheist posturing is ignorance-based. And it's mostly posturing for other Atheists. I used to think that there was an actual religious belief that There Is No God held by some Atheists. While that may be true in some cases, I don't think many of them get past a shallow need to posture for other Atheists. That's really all they know. Andrew asauber
If I understand correctly (and this is a big "if") the reasoning is that evil proves the existence of God because it is an abstract thought, abstract thought demonstrates the existence of consciousness, and consciousness proves the existence of God. I suppose those dots connect. But why go down this path when a) Aren't there much better ways to prove the existence of God? b) Wait, back up - I thought that intelligent design wasn't about proving the existence of God? I get that this post isn't about intelligent design. But by the same reasoning, if the existence of abstract thought proves that God specifically exists, then so does intelligent design. I'm totally okay with both conclusions, but there's 0.0% chance of persuading someone who isn't already convinced based on that evidence. Whether one believes in God or not, it's sound, logical reasoning to conclude that some sort of deliberate, intentional design is a better explanation for life and the form of living things than a series of bizarre chemical reactions that no one has even clearly hypothesized. But when you jump straight to the conclusion of God, you lose everyone but the choir. Given that half of the articles mention religion in general, specific religions, and political leanings in the titles, I can only conclude that UD has abandoned any pretense of persuasion from a scientific angle. Why? The evidence is in your corner! OldAndrew
The heck I didn’t.
No, you just dismissed my views as irrelevant. Apparently it desn't matter what I think, which I guess explains why you're so unapologetic about telling me what I think, regardless of whether it is what I think. Bob O'H
Bob (and weave) tries to bob and weave with this claim,,,
"No you didn’t."
The heck I didn't. In 58 you claimed that,,
"you don’t necessarily understand what other people’s view(s) are" and also claimed that "trying to explain my views would be a waste of time, because you would be telling me that I don’t understand my own views",,,
Yet in post 60 I directly addressed the topic of a person's subjective opinion and materialism's abject failure to explain subjective experience in the first place, and even referenced empirical evidence from quantum mechanics falsifying Einstein's claim against subjective experience ever being a part of experimental physics,, and as I further summarized in post 62,,
"your own subjective opinion is completely worthless in a debate about materialism’s inability to ground the subjectivity of immaterial Mind in the first place (i.e. the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness). It is called ‘assuming your conclusion’ in the premises of your argument."
To further clarify just how insoluble subjective experience is to any proposed materialistic explanation, I further referenced a video by David Chalmers on "the hard problem", which you apparently didn't even bother to view,,,
Hard Problem of Consciousness — David Chalmers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5DfnIjZPGw
Oh well Bob, I'll leave it to the readers to 'subjectively' decide for themselves who is being forthright with the issue at hand and who is 'bobbing and weaving' so as to avoid addressing the issue of 'subjectivity' honestly. Well, the last word is all yours, save for if you cite actual experimental evidence, instead of you just citing your own personal subjective opinion, to support your own subjective view that subjectivity can arise from some materialistic basis. (talk about an augment failing because of 'self-referential' absurdity, your argument is it) :)
“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.” – Jerry Fodor – Rutgers University philosopher [2] Fodor, J. A., Can there be a science of mind? Times Literary Supplement. July 3, 1992, pp5-7.
Follow up #59//
Molson Bleu: Bob and Seversky … have presented their views honestly, … and effectively.
WRT presenting their views honestly and effectively, both Bob and Seversky could learn a thing or two from Alex Rosenberg:
What we need is a clump of matter, … , that … 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 …. 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 … that just by its nature or composition can do this job of being about some other clump of matter.
... which rules out free will, consciousness, morality and even rationality.
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. ... Right now, I am thinking about the problem of how conscious thought can be about stuff. Introspection is telling me, firsthand, exactly what I am thinking about. How can anyone deny that? No matter how hard it is to deny, we have to do so. [A. Rosenberg, ‘The Atheist’s Guide To Reality’, Ch. 8, ‘The brain does everything without thinking about anything at all’]
Molson, do you now see why you were completely wrong when you wrote:
Molson Bleu: Why don’t you actually respond to his comments rather than say that because he is an atheist, he can have no real thoughts? That is the height of disingenuous pomposity.
I specifically addressed your comment at 58.
No you didn't. You responded to another comment, with no acknowledgement of my concern that you were mis-representing my views. Bob O'H
I specifically addressed your comment at 58. Where do you think I quoted "my own views" from? Again, your own subjective opinion is completely worthless in a debate about materialism's inability to ground the subjectivity of immaterial Mind in the first place (i.e. the 'hard problem' of consciousness). It is called 'assuming your conclusion' in the premises of your argument. As you told Origenes – "Keep up"! :)
Hard Problem of Consciousness — David Chalmers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5DfnIjZPGw
ba77 @ 60 - read my comment at 58, I guess it crossed your comment. I'm trying to defend the idea that I know better about what I think than you do. Bob O'H
Bob O'Hara you specifically stated:
"Origenes – Keep up. We weren’t discussing materialism."
If you were not trying to defend Atheistic Materialism, and Darwinian evolution in general, please state exactly what philosophy you hold as a worldview and are trying to defend. The answer should take one or two words. What I do know for a fact, since I have been through the evidence ten ways to Sunday for the last 10 years or more, is that Atheistic Materialism is completely bankrupt as a coherent worldview. That you basically appeal to your own subjective opinion, i.e. "my own views", as having the final say in what is true or not, and not to any specific evidence, is even more evidence against the validity of Atheistic Materialism. Our inner subjective experience is, to put it simply, a basic property of Consciousness and/or Mind. A basic property of Mind that will forever be beyond materialistic explanation.
Qualia "Qualia is subjective experience, which is first person ontology. You can describe pain, using science or literature or whatever. But the experience of pain is something qualitatively different. There is nothing in science which infers subjectivity — no “Newton’s Fourth Law” by which objective matter produces subjective experience. No material law or principle invokes subjectivity, yet subjectivity is the hallmark of the mind." - Michael Egnor - The Mind and Materialist Superstition - 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/2008/11/the_mind_and_materialist_super013961.html
Moreover, I don't have to rely solely on a philosophical argument, as compelling as it is, to say that inner subjective experience will forever be beyond any possible materialistic explanation. I can also appeal to our best cutting edge science. That this basic, and irreducible, element of Mind, i.e. subjective experience, will forever be beyond any possible materialistic explanation is now made evident in quantum mechanics where the subjective experience of "the now", (i.e. of having a 'subjective' perspective outside space-time in which we watch as time passes by), has now been validated in several different ways in quantum mechanics, and this validation of "the now" falsifies Einsteins claim that “The experience of ‘the now’ cannot be turned into an object of physical measurement, it can never be a part of physics.”
“The experience of ‘the now’ cannot be turned into an object of physical measurement, it can never be a part of physics.” - Albert Einstein Albert Einstein vs. Quantum Mechanics and His Own Mind – video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxFFtZ301j4
Thus in conclusion Bob, that you would rely almost exclusively on your own subjective opinion, i.e. “my own views”, rather than on any compelling empirical evidence, in order to support atheistic materialism, (if that is in fact the philosophy you are trying to defend), is actually another very strong piece of evidence against atheistic materialism being true since subjective experience is, and always has been, a basic, and irreducible, property of a immaterial Mind. Materialists simply cannot assume that their own 'subjective' opinions. i.e. “my own views”, are all they ever need to validate their claims for materialism being true since subjective experience itself is indeed what is in need of explanation as far as atheistic materialism itself is concerned. bornagain77
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