Intelligent Design

My Proclivity for Inspiring Long UD Threads

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Because of my many duties and responsibilities I post infrequently at UD. However, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon: My posts seem to inspire a great amount of debate and very long threads, as is the case here.

I have a theory about why this is the case.

My thesis is that people like me, a former materialist atheist, who have been influenced by logic, reason, and evidence (i.e., the ID movement) represent the greatest threat to the reigning nihilistic and anti-intellectual Darwinian orthodoxy.

171 Replies to “My Proclivity for Inspiring Long UD Threads

  1. 1
    NZer says:

    Oh,oh oh, let me be first to start this looong thread by saying that, yes, I would agree with your statement.

    In a few months, I should like to start writing on exactly this topic. I’m not aware of any apologists that focus exclusively, or even largely, on using the materials you mention to challenge the reigning paradigm, nihilism, and the utter meaninglessness of it all… given materialism.

  2. 2
    vsakko says:

    So you’re saying that about 97% of professional biologists are nihilistic and anti-intellectual?

  3. 3
    Bruce David says:

    Gil,

    I occasionally get into long arguments with Darwinists on this site or under an Amazon book review, and I sometimes tell them that I am a representative of the greatest threat to their point of view, namely intelligent, educated, scientifically literate people, formerly believers in Darwinism, who find the arguments for ID compelling and the Darwinist responses totally inadequate. I have yet to get a direct response to any such statement, however.

  4. 4
    Kyrilluk says:

    You’re probably a very clever person but unless this post was ironic, probably not a very humble one.

  5. 5
    Alex73 says:

    Kyrilluk,

    I can understand your point of view. However, Gil is right. His posts indeed have a tendency to inspire debate. In this post he raises the question why, and tells us his opinion, which is eye-opening to me, as I also come from similar background. The wording is short and right to the point and he indeed avoided several rounds unnecessary curtesy.

    I think it was a matter of fact post. The point is not a percieved “success” or “superiority” to some other posters, but rather to encourage similar people to stand up and become more visible to the Darwinist establishment.
    Of course, Gil has the right to correct me…

  6. 6
    gpuccio says:

    Gil:

    I would add that your posts are lovable, and that’s why probably some love them, and others are disturbed. There is nothing to be humble about that: it’s a fine quality.

  7. 7
    gpuccio says:

    vsakko:

    if you are looking for a provocation, let’s have it:

    So you’re saying that about 97% of professional biologists are nihilistic and anti-intellectual

    And I say: why not?

  8. 8
    Granville Sewell says:

    Gpuccio,

    I don’t think that 97% of biologists are anti-intellectual or even materialists, I think they just see how well the usual scientific tools seem to work in other fields, and think, why should evolutionary biology be different? But it is different, the problems evolutionary biologists are trying to solve are not just harder, they are fundamentally different from those faced by other scientists, for reasons I think are made most clear though the argument presented here.

    Actually, I suspect that a lot more than 3% of professional biologists are at least starting to realize that evolutionary biology is indeed special.

  9. 9
    markf says:

    #3

    Bruce David

    I have yet to get a direct response to any such statement, however

    What kind of response were you expecting? It seems obvious that intelligent, educated, scientifically literate opponents are more likely to come up with demanding problems with evolutionary theory than stupid, uneducated, scientifically illerate opponents.

  10. 10
    markf says:

    It would be interesting to find out why some posts produce long discussions. I doubt it is because anyone is feeling their position is threatened. Most people of all persuasions are certain they are right. Speaking for myself I get involved if:

    (a) It is something new (as this is). Most of the discussions on UD repeat the same themes again and again.

    (b) I spot something that I strongly believe is an error in an area I know about.

    (c) Gpuccio or Vjtorley are involved because they will be polite, relevant and informed (although wrong).

    (d) I have some spare time and feel like a debate!

    I rarely respond to a post directly (this is an exception). It is usually someone’s comment that makes me want to get involved. That is simply because there are far more comments than posts.

    It would be interesting to hear what motivates other people to get involved in a particular discussion.

  11. 11
    Barb says:

    vsakko @2 – No, he’s not saying that. The problem is that evolution has ceased to be a mere scientific theory and has, um, evolved into an all-encompassing worldview that presupposes atheism.

    I don’t think the two can or should be linked but popular writers such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Jared Diamond have done so. If there is nothing but “blind, pitiless indifference” to the universe and to humanity, then what’s the point in doing anything?

  12. 12
    Pedant says:

    If there is nothing but “blind, pitiless indifference” to the universe and to humanity, then what’s the point in doing anything?

    Because you love your spouse, your children, your parents, and they are counting on you?

  13. 13
    uoflcard says:

    markf (9):

    What kind of response were you expecting? It seems obvious that intelligent, educated, scientifically literate opponents are more likely to come up with demanding problems with evolutionary theory than stupid, uneducated, scientifically illerate opponents.

    The problem is that most people on these internet forums and comment sections frequently attack a strawman version of ID, where ID advocates are really just evangelicals in disguise, no different than young Earth creationists, etc, and they are arguing for political reasons (to “poison” our classrooms, kill science, etc.). Yes, many ID advocates are Christians, and some even believe in a young Earth, but most are scientifically literate truth-seekers who see the evidence and see the most obvious (and only viable) explanation to be design; this is independent of their worldview.

  14. 14
    Cabal says:

    Why is it so difficult to accept the fact that the theory of evolution is just another scientific theory? The theory of evolution is dependent on a lot of other scientific theories and if one of those should fail, evolution might fail too – or at least have to be modified to account for and incorporate the consequences into the theory.

    It is however interesting to note that it has stood the test of time, some 150 years of it. AFAIK, the relative chronology of geological column was quite well established even before Darwin presented his theory m even though the timescale was not known at that time.

    Developments over 150 years have strengthened and underbuilt the theory in a way hardly matched by any other theory. The facts point conclusively to two alternatives:

    1: God did it, am doing it, and in ways that forever will prevent us from detecting it.

    2. Science is right.

    All the arguments about atheism, materialism and such might just as well be used on every field of science since nearly all of them contribute in some way to the theory of evolution.

    No atheism, no worship of Darwin, or irrational reasons required to accept the theory of evolution.

    But for people already possessed of and motivated by a strong faith the notion that other people also are motivated by faith instead of what is conceived as facts may of course appear as a legitimate inference.

    Evolution is a theory in the same way that gravity is a theory, except it takes a little more than looking at an apple tree to understand it.

  15. 15
    allanius says:

    ID has become a stumbling block to materialists. The more they attack it, they more they expose the weakness of their position.

    Let us sincerely hope, then, that the present post produces the usual display of smug dismissiveness, arguments from authority, red herrings, arguments ad hominem, changing the subject, and willful disregard of the obvious.

    After all, the wonderful thing about ID is that it is self-evident. Simple common sense tells us that what we perceive with our senses was designed. Those who oppose ID, then, must put themselves in the position of opposing simple common sense and exposing themselves as Laputans and lovers of theory.

    Basic research reveals, for example, that the chance of life coming from that which is not life is vanishingly small. First the Laputans try to reduce this improbability from infinite, unimaginable numbers to something slightly less than infinite, as if it mattered. Then they get spooked and invoke multiverses.

    Multiverse is a classic Laputan concept. It has nothing to do with science or that which can be observed. Science goes a-whoring when it embraces purely theoretical notions. In this case, it has gotten into bed with Zarathustra and his insane egotism, which have nothing at all to do with science and everything to do with glorifying men.

    ID threatens the hegemony of materialism and Modernism by daring to point out the obvious. The natives are restess, and the Laputans, aliens from academia, are finding it more and more difficult to control them. Hence the heavy-handed, unscientific rhetoric seen in Dawkins, Provine, Myers, et al. The king tries to crush the rebels with his floating island.

    Gil has formulated this conflict plainly and without art. It is his very plainness that stirs up so much emotion in the rear guard. The rebels have come out into plain sight, emboldened by the weakness of the cultural elite. They must be crushed before all is lost.

  16. 16
    uoflcard says:

    Cabal,

    No atheism, no worship of Darwin, or irrational reasons required to accept the theory of evolution.

    No (at least on your first two assertions), but the theory of evolution is required to be true for atheism to be “intellectually fulfilling”, which is central to the main thesis of the OP.

    As far as not needing “irrational reasons” for believing evolution to be true, that is debatable. We believe there is a striking lack of evidence that natural mechanisms can produce the fCSI of life. We constantly request this “abundance” of evidence that has supposedly been gathered demonstrating this alleged capability of natural evolution but have yet to be supplied with it.

    There is also a fundamental difference between evidence for common ancestry and evidence for natural evolution’s vast creative powers. If that evidence really does exist, then this debate is over.

    The facts point conclusively to two alternatives:

    1: God did it, am doing it, and in ways that forever will prevent us from detecting it.

    2. Science is right.

    This kind of statement cannot be taken seriously. It is a sickly strawman of ID and a complete lie about the current state of the debate. Why waste your time arguing about that imaginary world?

  17. 17
    uoflcard says:

    allanius,

    ID has become a stumbling block to materialists. The more they attack it, they more they expose the weakness of their position.

    This was demonstrated perfectly by Cabal in the comment just before yours. Assertions void of evidence (“mountains” of evidence of RM+NS=fCSI, which we continuously request), strawman representations of ID, unjust categorization of ID = pure faith while Darwinism = pure reason, etc. These statements get hoards fired up on Pharyngula but have absolutely no footing in cold reason or evidence.

  18. 18
    Bruce David says:

    Cabal said: “Evolution is a theory in the same way that gravity is a theory, except it takes a little more than looking at an apple tree to understand it.”

    This comparison of Evolution to gravity is a frequent theme in Darwinian responses to critiques of Darwinism. Let’s look at it a little more closely. The “fact” of gravity is simply that objects fall to earth when unsupported. The first theory of gravity that I am aware of was Newton’s, which was that material objects exert a force on each other proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. The second theory was Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, which stated that matter warps the space-time continuum in such a way that their paths as they move through space create the effect we observe as the “fact” of gravity. Some physicists are currently working on a third theory, quantum gravity, to bring that phenomenon under the purview of quantum mechanics. These theories of gravity are explanations, if you will, of the “fact” of gravity.

    The “fact” of evolution is nothing more than what is observed in the fossil record, namely that the variety of living organisms has increased dramatically over geologic time. Darwinism is an explanation of that phenomenon, just as Newtonian mechanics and General Relativity are explanations of the phenomenon of gravity. The difference is that the latter two theories have been experimentally and observationally verified repeatedly in their respective domains of application, whereas there is no evidence whatsoever, either observational or experimental, that random mutation and natural selection are capable of producing macro-evolutionary change. In fact, what experimental and observational evidence there is points in the opposite direction, as Behe (The Edge of Evolution) and many others have pointed out.

  19. 19
    equinoxe says:

    Slow news day, Gil?

    Posts like this are the worst feature of UD by far. Trust me, for people hovering on the edge, these triumphalist rhetorical hand-grenades are a real put-off. If you want people to consider what ID has to offer, I’d desist.

    However, I agree that

    ID has become a stumbling block to materialists. The more they attack it, they more they expose the weakness of their position.

    It seems that much of the traffic on here takes the form of two dismissive strategies:

    (1) Condescension from a position of numerical inferiority: that is what the many would say. After all, they all back each other up. Tax dollars, peer review, Kuhnian paradigms, follow popular trends, scientific orthodoxy, etc…

    We are proud to be the bastion of enlightened reason. The remnant of pre-Darwinian free-thinking.

    (2) Condescension from a position of numerical superiority: That is what the renegade few would say. After all, most of them are lawyers and engineers. (The latter work with their hands. Urgh!)

    We are proud to be the bastion of enlightened reason. The remnant of post-Darwinian free-thinking.

    All this seriously impedes the flow of ideas. It makes ID thoroughly unattractive those who occupy a marginal position and just bolsters the popular conception that ID is just an Internet-based “popular movement”.

    Just talk science and philosophy. Less “communal” ad hominem. Occasion jokes. That would constitute the ideal forum IMHO.

    (Having said that, Gil, some of your other posts are ace. I’m not getting at you.)

  20. 20
    gpuccio says:

    Hey, guys,

    this is a blog. We need some occasional distraction, and possibly fun. “Just talk science and philosophy” can ne boring, sometimes (and I believe I do that often enough to know…) 🙂

  21. 21
    Clive Hayden says:

    equinoxe,

    I’d rather be pre or post Darwinian thinking, indeed both, than Darwinian.

  22. 22
    Berceuse says:

    Re: Equinoxe at 20

    I agree. There’s probably a better way to present the idea, but as it is, this post seems uncalled for.

    I may be overstepping my boundaries here, so I apologize in advance: I know that Gil is n intelligent, gifted, educated man with a good heart, and as far as the whole Darwinism vs. ID debate goes, I am on his side. However, sometimes his posts have a subtle resonance of conceit, and as Equinoxe has pointed out, it can be off-putting.

  23. 23
    Clive Hayden says:

    Pedant,

    Because you love your spouse, your children, your parents, and they are counting on you?

    The very fact that this love exists is an argument against the universe being nothing but “blind, pitiless indifference”. You can’t use an argument of pity to say that the universe is pitiless. If the universe were pitiless, we would have no standard of pity to make the argument that it was pitiless. If it was all senseless and indifferent from A to Z, and we were part of the show, we should have no alternative “true” and “objective” standards even to judge that it was senseless and indifferent, just as if we had no eyes we couldn’t describe light and darkness, they would both be without meaning.

  24. 24
    Berceuse says:

    Thank you, Clive, for pointing that out.

    C.S Lewis fan? 🙂

  25. 25
    Clive Hayden says:

    Berceuse,

    Very much so. 🙂

  26. 26
    gpuccio says:

    equinoxe:

    I am just satisfied in being “non darwinian”, Pre, post, and in the meanwhile.

  27. 27
    GilDodgen says:

    It is not my intent to brag, just to make an observation and speculate as to an explanation for the phenomenon.

    Darwinists insist that if people just “understood” or were “adequately educated” concerning Darwinian evolution, they would accept it, so people like me represent a real threat, since very few people have been as educated (i.e., indoctrinated) in Darwinian orthodoxy as I was for almost 40 years. And let’s be clear as to the reason for Darwinian antipathy to ID: It undermines the creation myth of the state-sponsored religion of secular humanism.

    Organizations like the NCSE and secular humanists like Eugenie Scott are not interested in science education, they’re interested in isolating public school students from rational challenges to the cornerstone of their godless, materialistic worldview. On this topic, check out this interview with Casey Luskin:

    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....8_05-07_00

    In defense of my claim that Darwinian orthodoxy is anti-intellectual, check out this interview with David Klinghoffer concerning prominent academic Darwinists who reviewed and trashed Signature in the Cell, and the author personally, without having read the book:

    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....4_12-07_00

  28. 28
    Bantay says:

    Benjamin Wiker’s book “Moral Darwinism: How We Became Hedonists” is a fantastic resource for this topic.

  29. 29
    LarTanner says:

    Responding to Mr. Hayden’s post at #23, I wish to make a few relevant points:

    • Love does not “exist.” It is not a real thing but an emotion felt by a person through means of the body. Is this not so?
    • The argument that the universe is “blind, pitiless indifference” is an opinion. It has no bearing on the actual physical workings of the universe. If the argument has a bearing, I’d appreciate an explanation.
    • Standards of pity/pitiless are human invention. We can compare the standards of different communities and cultures across time. We can even act as though the universe itself “has” standards. But I think it is an error to claim that the universe has an essence that involves pity or pitilessness. Are you claiming that the universe “is” or “is not” pitiless, independent of human emotional assessment?
    • As I have indicated, we humans can judge the sense and difference between the standards of different times, societies, and cultures. So, I don’t see how we need the universe to “make sense” in order for us to apply our reasoning to questions of standards.

    To the moderators: Please allow this comment. I have attempted to draft a relevant comment in civil terms. I don’t know what mark there is against me, but I feel my response meets basic standards for being posted here. If you decide not to allow my comment, will you please email me so I can know what I did to deserve being “banned” at UD? My email is lartanner [at] hotmail [dot] com. Thanks.

  30. 30
    Pedant says:

    Clive Hayden,

    Thank you for your comments. You said:

    The very fact that this love exists is an argument against the universe being nothing but “blind, pitiless indifference”.

    Why should a person care if the universe is indifferent to her feelings? She still loves her family.

    You can’t use an argument of pity to say that the universe is pitiless.

    I didn’t use that argument. I’m not arguing for an indifferent universe. I’m indifferent to whether the universe is interested or not in my feelings.

    If the universe were pitiless, we would have no standard of pity to make the argument that it was pitiless.
    Why does a person need a standard of pity or of any other emotion? These are feelings, not measurements of objects. How can a universe feel pity?

    If it was all senseless and indifferent from A to Z, and we were part of the show, we should have no alternative “true” and “objective” standards even to judge that it was senseless and indifferent, just as if we had no eyes we couldn’t describe light and darkness, they would both be without meaning.

    If a person loves another person, isn’t that a reality that is independent of any theory about a possible attitude of the universe?

  31. 31
    Pedant says:

    It looks like LarTanner’s post appeared while mine was being processed by the server. Thanks to the moderators for letting both of our posts go through.

  32. 32
    Borne says:

    If only Darwinists understood their own theory and its incredible lack of explanatory power – once you start to look at the details.

    “Biology is the study of the complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker

    Iow, materialism requires that one debunk the obvious design because of a priori prejudice against it.

  33. 33
    Borne says:

    LarTanner:

    Love does not “exist.” It is not a real thing but an emotion felt by a person through means of the body. Is this not so?

    If love does not exist how is it that you can describe what you think it is?
    And to your question, no, this is not so.
    You have applied an extreme oversimplification of what we call love.
    How do this “emotion” arise?
    Is it mere “feeling” (define ‘feeling’?) or something more?
    If love is nothing but a “pack of neurons” it has no meaning and thus no value.

    The argument that the universe is “blind, pitiless indifference” is an opinion. It has no bearing on the actual physical workings of the universe. If the argument has a bearing, I’d appreciate an explanation.

    If there is no designer, no creator, then it is not a mere opinion but a hard fact.
    And no amount conjuring up, through mere neurons, some “personal” or “proximate” meaning will ever give it real meaning.

    A meaningless universe, having no bearing on the workings of the physical universe, is irrelevant to this argument.

    Standards of pity/pitiless are human invention. We can compare the standards of different communities and cultures across time. We can even act as though the universe itself “has” standards. But I think it is an error to claim that the universe has an essence that involves pity or pitilessness. Are you claiming that the universe “is” or “is not” pitiless, independent of human emotional assessment?

    You don’t understand the point or you are merely caviling.

    A meaningless universe is necessarily indifferent to itself – as a metaphor. No one is claiming the physical universe has mind.

    As I have indicated, we humans can judge the sense and difference between the standards of different times, societies, and cultures. So, I don’t see how we need the universe to “make sense” in order for us to apply our reasoning to questions of standards.

    A universe that makes sense is required for both reason and science to exist.
    Here you are assuming that reason is valid. This is not the case if matter and energy is all there is.
    There is no way of knowing that reason is valid unless the universe is more than mere matter and energy.

    Information and logic are both metaphysical.

    As CS Lewis aptly said,

    “If naturalism were true then all thoughts whatever would be wholly the result of irrational causes…it cuts its own throat.”

    “Unless thought is valid we have no reason to believe in the real universe.”

    “A universe whose only claim to be believed in rests on the validity of inference must not start telling us the inference is invalid…”

  34. 34
    Clive Hayden says:

    LarTanner,

    Love is an ‘ought’ which cannot be the result of an ‘is’.

  35. 35
    markf says:

    (I am bit disappointed that noone is interested in exploring why some discussions are longer than others – but I guess that’s life)

    #27 Gildogen

    let’s be clear as to the reason for Darwinian antipathy to ID: It undermines the creation myth of the state-sponsored religion of secular humanism

    Evolutionary theory (and antipathy to ID) is common to the vast majority of scientists all over the world and the majority of people in the Western world outside the USA. SO if this is a state-sponsored religion it is sponsored by an awful lot of states working together.

  36. 36
    zeroseven says:

    The underlying theme of this post is something that constantly astounds me. That is that the theory of evolution is under threat, in its dying days etc, and that ID is mounting a legitimate attack and its only a matter of time before the prevailing orthodoxy comes tumbling down.

    I am sorry, but this is delusional. Wishful thinking. The vast majority of scientists carry on in their endeavours without a thought for ID. In the majority of western democracies outside of the US, new theories and discoveries in evolution are published and discussed in the media without the merest hint of controversy. The world that is described on these pages simply does not exist.

  37. 37
    equinoxe says:

    This is a blog. We need some occasional distraction, and possibly fun.

    It is not my intent to brag.

    Fair enough. I had a long day. I’ll lighten up a bit :p (<- see!). I still stand by my general point though.

    gpuccio @26:

    I’d rather be pre or post Darwinian thinking, indeed both, than Darwinian.

    Of course, I meant post-Darwin in the “post 1859” sense, as opposed to the way it has come to be used in the 21st C!

    LarTanner,

    Love does not “exist.” It is not a real thing but an emotion felt by a person through means of the body.

    Thanks for your comments. Some replies in a friendly spirit?

    Everything studied by science is made known to us via the body. Emotions are as real as anything we encounter in life. Just as real as measuring the temperature of a liquid or the distance of a star. Would you be happy if I said, “Trees do not ‘exist.’ They are not real things but the sense of green and brown textures in my mind’s eye, the imagined sensation of bark, etc.”

    Also,

    The argument that the universe is “blind, pitiless indifference” is an opinion. It has no bearing on the actual physical workings of the universe.

    I agree—Dawkins’ opinion, I believe. But there is more than the physical workings of the universe. People in the universe show or feel pity; at least, this person does. So at least one part of the universe feels pity. (One of those rare occasions where I can be certain of something even to a Cartesian extent!)

    If you wish to persist in believing that the universe does not feel pity, you must accept that I – or some part of me – am not part of the physical workings of the universe.

    Standards of pity…

    An odd turn of phrase, as you moved from talking about feelings of pity to standards of pity. Really there is not a standard of pity any more than there is a standard of pain. Of course, people can show pity. But this really means that their emotional state moves them to some action, e.g., mercy. It is perfectly possible to talk about varying standards of mercy in different cultures.

    As I have indicated, we humans can judge the sense and difference between the standards of different times, societies, and cultures.

    Which humans are in such a privileged position? (The Western ones, I presume?) And if they are, how do they come by this canonical knowledge that allows them to measure others’ standards (e.g., pity) from the outside?

  38. 38
    equinoxe says:

    The vast majority of scientists carry on in their endeavours without a thought for ID.

    Evolutionary theory (and antipathy to ID) is common to the vast majority of scientists all over the world and the majority of people in the Western world outside the USA.

    (Both full quotes have “Western” in. Lends each one a certain air of superiority. N’est-ce pas?)

    What I referred to above as “condescension from a position of numerical superiority”.

    It is simply hiding in a crowd. It doesn’t help to establish the truth or falsity of anything. It is a curious inversion of a conspiracy theory in which everything in the official record is greeted with the most jaw-droppingly naive acceptance rather than cynicism.

    Besides, isn’t citing how many people believe in something treading on rather shaky ground?

    …discussed in the media without the merest hint of controversy…

    A rather odd state of affairs. But I thought the ID movement essentially operated through the media not the “proper channels”?

    The media’s response can be more or less accounted for by two motivations: (1) pandering to scientists and their readers’ sense of being scientifically informed and sophisticated, and (2) any sign of discord.

    Hence the media’s “love-hate” relationship with ID. Usually they fulfil both agendas by telling the story about the discord in the academy, and then bring “real scientists” in as heroes at the end of the story. If you have the column inches free, throw in a moral story or two about how “medieval times” are on their way back if we entertain an idea.

    SO if this is a state-sponsored religion it is sponsored by an awful lot of states working together.

    These states share a common philosophy, which steers them in the same direction. No ID supporter believes that states “work together” in the sense that governments collude. But it is no stretch of the imagination to think that their advisors and lobbying groups do.

  39. 39
    CannuckianYankee says:

    One of the reasons why Gil’s posts elicit so many responses, in my view, is because he touches on areas, which open up to the implications of ID. What if ID is true and Darwinism is simply a long-winded farce? For some, this may touch a nerve. For others, it opens up many possibilities. If we’re not simply the result of random acts of nature, but have meaning and purpose that is intrinsic to our makeup, then regardless of our religious leanings, ID offers answers to some deeper questions (not necessarily intended by the theory). For atheists who respond positively to ID, it opens up a lot of unanswered questions, which Darwinian theory does not seem to even want to answer, nor can it by its necessarily materialistic assumptions. For theists, ID confirms what is intuitively understood from areas outside of empirical science, but no less valid.

  40. 40
    equinoxe says:

    CannuckianYankee #39:

    necessarily materialistic assumptions

    Sorry to be pedantic. Darwinian theory does not invoke necessarily materialistic assumptions. (One can be a non-materialist subscriber to Darwin’s theory of natural selection.) But, arguably, the converse is true: materialistic assumptions might be said to lead necessarily to something like Darwinian theory.

  41. 41
    NZer says:

    Pendant, #12:

    “Because you love your spouse, your children, your parents, and they are counting on you?”

    Love? Well, that would simply be atoms in motion, right? I mean, what else is there? Such feeling are just chemical reactions, similar but different to a leaf that curls up when placed under s flame…

  42. 42
    CannuckianYankee says:

    equinoxe,

    “One can be a non-materialist subscriber to Darwin’s theory of natural selection.”

    True. However, one must subscribe to what Gould temed NOMA to one degree or another. For a lot of thinking theists, NOMA is intellectually shallow. If God exists, NOMA is simply false.

  43. 43
    CannuckianYankee says:

    “The vast majority of scientists carry on in their endeavours without a thought for ID.”

    That may be true outside the biological sciences, but how would you know this? Certainly Dawkins, Meyers, et al do not carry on without a thought for ID, whatever that means.

  44. 44
    LarTanner says:

    Borne @33,

    Your points on love don’t seem cogent to me. My understanding of love as being a by-product of the mind and body makes it able to be described. If I understand you, love has some “meaning” or “value” beyond what people would communicate to one another about it. I fail to see how this view supports itself.

    I agree with you that “A universe that makes sense is required for both reason and science to exist.” We might clarify to say “makes sense to us,” as sense is in the eye of the beholder.

    Those Lewis quotes do nothing for me, esp. the first one which sounds nice but has little actual substance.

    Equinoxe @37,
    While we both might agree on the idea that trees exist independently of people, I am unaware of a good case that love has a similar, seperate existence.

    I’m not sure of your point in the rest of your reply. Our ability to “feel,” our sense of having feelings is not equivalent to the universe “feeling.” Sorry, I’m puzzled by your statements.

    Clive Hayden@ 34,
    I believe we are making the same point.

  45. 45
    Winston Macchi says:

    NZer@41

    Love? Well, that would simply be atoms in motion, right? I mean, what else is there? Such feeling are just chemical reactions, similar but different to a leaf that curls up when placed under s flame…

    I’ve never understood the logic behind this argument (one seen frequently here at UD). Why don’t atoms in motion count? I love my daughter. If it wasn’t for atoms in motion I wouldn’t know that I had a daughter. I couldn’t see her, hear her, touch her. And, likely, making her would have been a lot less fun.

    But seriously, so what if love, happiness, pity are ‘just’ atoms in motion. Does that make them any less real, any less significant, any less important to the atoms in motion that are typing this response right now. I (and by I, I’m referring to a particular grouping of ever changing atoms) see no reason it should, indeed I find it astounding and beautiful that my love for my daughter is not merely some ‘spiritual’ feeling but a true physical phenomenon. It seems many on the ID side find it distasteful to the point of insulting and I’m not sure why. Could you possibly offer and explanation?

  46. 46
    GilDodgen says:

    Berceuse:

    However, sometimes his posts have a subtle resonance of conceit, and as Equinoxe has pointed out, it can be off-putting.

    Anyone with a name associated with Chopin’s piano compositions cannot possibly be all bad.

    As far as the resonance-of-conceit proposal goes (I like the musical reference), I refuse to admit any guilt, culpability, responsibility, or even any recognition of the fact that I have done anything wrong, despite my reprehensible arrogance.

    I’m just the result of the laws of physics, with no free will, as Stephen Hawking just announced in his latest book.

    On the subject of reprehensible arrogance I amend my original thesis to suggest the following:

    I am so brilliant, so insightful, so provocative, and so articulate — my short UD posts being filled with endless, unfathomable truths — that the subject included in the OP immediately mutates into endless discussions about relatively irrelevant other stuff.

    All of which is important and highly significant, thanks to the gems of wisdom included in my opening dissertations.

  47. 47
    Clive Hayden says:

    Winston,

    Because atoms in motion amount to only an “is” whereas love is an “ought”. That’s why, the is/ought fallacy, for starters. Material only has properties like size, weight, distance, speed, velocity, etc., not qualities or metaphysical aspects like love and dignity.

  48. 48
    Graham says:

    Since it seems to be a fairly open thread, and I dont mind boosting Gils numbers, could someone tell us what progress has been made with ID ?

    Please note, Im not referring to the demolition of Evolution (lets take that as given). How far have you progressed with a description of ID ? (How it works, when it happens, etc etc).

    Any progress reports ?

  49. 49
    zeroseven says:

    I certainly would not rely on an IDist or a Christian to tell me what love is. I defer to Shakespeare, Joy Division, David Lynch, and Nick Cave for that.

  50. 50
    zeroseven says:

    Winston, they are anti-atoms on this blog. I sometimes feel like starting an atom appreciation society.

  51. 51
    tragic mishap says:

    There is only one explanation for why anyone does anything, and it logically follows that one thing is also the reason Gil’s threads always get so long: sex. All of you must have some sort of behavior programmed into you that subconsciously makes you believe posting on Gil’s threads will help you procreate more proficiently. Except for me of course because I’m the only one in the entire world capable of rising above my more basic Darwinian instincts.

  52. 52
    Clive Hayden says:

    zeroseven,

    I certainly would not rely on an IDist or a Christian to tell me what love is. I defer to Shakespeare, Joy Division, David Lynch, and Nick Cave for that.

    I like everyone that you’ve mentioned there, although I’m not crazy about Shakespeare. I love David Lynch, almost as much as I love C. S. Lewis. There’s a lot of similarities. They each borrow from an ethic they don’t invent. They each know that love is more than the material script on the page, either in the book or the screenplay, in the same way that it is more than the material movements in the body.

  53. 53
    AussieID says:

    Hey zeroseven,

    I certainly agree that the aforementioned group you mention can give you insights into ‘love’, but I would suggest that Christians and IDists may do the same.

    Nick Cave I’ve followed for years,having friends who lived for anything that came from The Birthday Party, but his songs also reflect what love is/isn’t depending on the mood of the man and the occasion he writes about. Love changes for him as does his beliefs: he once said he was Christian then he says he doesn’t believe in a personal god. What utterance will be next?

    As to the director David Lynch, his projections of love are certainly, well, interesting … but he has had about 4 marriages to date and other failed relationships? Are you learning about ‘love’ from him by the way NOT to do it? He also paid, if I’m right, about $1 million to further his Transcendental Meditation techniques. Has he been able to progress through hopping, floating and flying in his Yogic Flying? Yes, it’s off the topic of ‘love’, but it should make you think about your role models and WHY you would defer to them …

    Why are these ones ‘right’ to you and the others intolerable?

  54. 54
    Scruffy says:

    Winston,

    But seriously, so what if love, happiness, pity are ‘just’ atoms in motion.

    Would you mind explaining how love, happiness, and pity are atoms in motion? Can we go out in the world and find the atoms needed to make love as we can with water or oxygen?

    You described yourself as a ‘particular grouping of ever changing atoms’, I’d be interested to know your thoughts on self worth.

    Does that make them any less real, any less significant, any less important to the atoms in motion that are typing this response right now.

    Does it make the atoms any less real? No.

    Does it make them any less significant? Depends on how one’s atoms are moving.

    zeroseven,

    I certainly would not rely on an IDist or a Christian to tell me what love is. I defer to Shakespeare, Joy Division, David Lynch, and Nick Cave for that.

    Preferring a particular grouping of ever changing atom’s definition of love to another particular grouping of ever changing atom’s definition.

    Makes sense.

  55. 55
    Cabal says:

    Borne:

    “Biology is the study of the complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker

    Iow, materialism requires that one debunk the obvious design because of a priori prejudice against it.

    I don’t buy your argument; you are not restating in other words what Dawkins wrote. Looks more like you are reading something into his words that isn’t there.

  56. 56
    AussieID says:

    There ya go Gil!

    Point proven … another Gil-Dodgen-inspired-long-thread!

  57. 57
    Heinrich says:

    Because atoms in motion amount to only an “is” whereas love is an “ought”.

    You have stated this a couple of times, Clive. But what do you mean by love being an “ought”? I can’t work it out, I’m afraid.

  58. 58
    Pedant says:

    (Often, blog threads are like a party in which people form groups having separate conversations, as in the present case. GilDodgen throws good parties.)

    Above, Clive Hayden said

    Love is an ‘ought’ which cannot be the result of an ‘is’.

    I see some basis for this claim in the concept of loyalty, but I don’t see why love can’t arise spontaneously. A mother ought to love her child, but there is also what has been called “maternal instinct,” which seems to be as real in humans as in other species. Maybe I shouldn’t be so personal, but I love my spouse and my children from my heart, not from my mind.

    Maybe Mr Hayden is taking his “ought” from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, 5:28?

  59. 59
    gpuccio says:

    Winston Macchi:

    But seriously, so what if love, happiness, pity are ‘just’ atoms in motion. Does that make them any less real, any less significant, any less important to the atoms in motion that are typing this response right now. I (and by I, I’m referring to a particular grouping of ever changing atoms) see no reason it should, indeed I find it astounding and beautiful that my love for my daughter is not merely some ‘spiritual’ feeling but a true physical phenomenon. It seems many on the ID side find it distasteful to the point of insulting and I’m not sure why. Could you possibly offer and explanation?

    But the point is all in that “just”. Your response, like mine, is not “just” atoms in motion. It has a specific form, which is CSI, and is caused by a conscious experience in you (or in me). It is, IOWs, an intelligently ordered output describing a conscious experience to other conscious experiencers, through the convention of language. While atoms in motion are certainly instrumental for that, they are in no way the cause of the experience.

    That is the point: reductionists believe that atoms in motion are the cause of consciousness, and therefore of love and so on. That is very different from believing that consciousness and love express themselves by shaping atoms in motion in meaningful and beautiful forms, which is a very satisfying thought, as you say.

    I am not arguing here which positions is better: it is well known that I believe firmly that the reductionist position about consciousness is irrational, arrogant, inconsistent, so it is useless that I bring again my arguments.

    Bur it is important to be clear about the difference between the two positions: for those who believe that consciousness is an independent principle of reality, and that it simply expresses itself through matter, and is not generated by it, love and thoughts and all the rest are not, and can never be, “just” atoms in motion.

  60. 60
    gpuccio says:

    AussieID (and Gil):

    Point proven … another Gil-Dodgen-inspired-long-thread!

    Well said! And this post is another small contribution 🙂 .

  61. 61
    tragic mishap says:

    Everyone who posts in this thread except for me thinks angry old men are sexy.

  62. 62
    Berceuse says:

    Gil, your sarcasm suggests that you took my comment a little too personally (while seemingly ignoring the positive points). It wasn’t necessary.

  63. 63
    bevets says:

    equinoxe@40

    Darwinian theory does not invoke necessarily materialistic assumptions. (One can be a non-materialist subscriber to Darwin’s theory of natural selection.) But, arguably, the converse is true: materialistic assumptions might be said to lead necessarily to something like Darwinian theory.

    CannuckianYankee@42

    True. However, one must subscribe to what Gould temed NOMA to one degree or another. For a lot of thinking theists, NOMA is intellectually shallow. If God exists, NOMA is simply false.

    Evolution is a kind of funny word — it depends on how one defines it. If it means simply change over time even the most rock ribbed fundamentalist knows that the history of the earth has changed — that there’s been change over time. If you define ‘evolution’ precisely though to mean ‘the common descent of all life on earth from a single ancestor via undirected mutation and natural selection’, that’s textbook definition of neo Darwinism, biologists of the first rank have real questions. ~ Paul Nelson

  64. 64
    Bruce David says:

    gpuccio: “reductionists believe that atoms in motion are the cause of consciousness”

    Actually, reductionists like Winston Macchi say that consciousness IS just atoms in motion. In my view, such a position is absurd. It’s like saying that my car is a tree. They simply aren’t the same thing. Consciousness is what it is, and atoms in motion are something else entirely.

    More sophisticated reductionist thinkers will say that atoms in motion CAUSE consciousness. However, as we all know, no one has the slightest idea, not even a theory, of how such a causal relationship could operate. The best anyone has done is to call consciousness an “epiphenomenon” of neural activity in the brain. But that is just putting a label on ignorance. Ask a programmer how she could program a computer to actually feel pain, for example.

    It is my view that conscious experience is in fact the reductio ad absurdum of the materialist position. Conscious experience is the fundamental fact of our existence. It is the one thing that must be explained by any metaphysical position. And there is no explanation for it in materialism.

  65. 65
    Bruce David says:

    If I were able to correct my previous post, I would replace the word “pain” in the sentence, “Ask a programmer how she could program a computer to actually feel pain, for example.” with the word “love”, so the sentence would read,

    “Ask a programmer how she could program a computer to actually feel love…”

  66. 66
    Innerbling says:

    Winston Macchi in 45:

    “But seriously, so what if love, happiness, pity are ‘just’ atoms in motion. Does that make them any less real, any less significant, any less important to the atoms in motion that are typing this response right now. I (and by I, I’m referring to a particular grouping of ever changing atoms) see no reason it should, indeed I find it astounding and beautiful that my love for my daughter is not merely some ‘spiritual’ feeling but a true physical phenomenon. It seems many on the ID side find it distasteful to the point of insulting and I’m not sure why. Could you possibly offer and explanation?

    The transcended origin is necessary for love to be any different than the feeling of nausea or any other physical reaction one can think of. In materialistic and reductionist causal chain from matter and motion to love there is no quantitative difference between nasty chemical reaction in the stomach and love except that the chemical reaction in the stomach can be more significant in quantity. So when I would have to make a rational choice as an materialist whether to love someone or not when there is a cost involved (always is) the rational choice through deduction would be always to choose not to love anyone.

  67. 67
    Collin says:

    Innerbling,

    I recently read a Roman poet (I think it was Plutarch) who said, “God cannot be both wise and loving.” While I don’t agree, I thought it was a funny/insightful statement.

    But in another sense, I think that loving other people is the most rational choice anyone can make.

  68. 68
    Innerbling says:

    Collin in 66:

    “But in another sense, I think that loving other people is the most rational choice anyone can make.”

    Yes I agree within my worldview but as far as I can deduce this doesn’t apply to materialistic worldview however. Within materialism/atheism there is no rational reasons as far as I know to be nothing else than self-serving, might makes right kinda person.

  69. 69
    Borne says:

    LarTanner

    Borne @33,

    My understanding of love as being a by-product of the mind and body makes it able to be described. If I understand you, love has some “meaning” or “value” beyond what people would communicate to one another about it. I fail to see how this view supports itself.

    This is because your definition of love is wrong. Indeed, under your definition, it has no real meaning at all.

    Basic love is an act of will, not mere subjective feelings generated in flesh by electro-chemical stimuli.

    Under materialist views “you are nothing but a pack of neurons”.

    Why should I care what a pack of neurons is doing, any more than what a rock is doing?
    In that case, its nothing but the laws of chemistry and physics acting in accordance with environmental stimuli.

    Is that your view of life?

    … We might clarify to say “makes sense to us,” as sense is in the eye of the beholder.

    Yes and no. The subjective experience of reality may make no “sense” to any given individual in a given circumstance.
    But if the materialist view were true, it makes no sense at all in any ultimate way, as sense becomes yet another phenomenon of the activity in a brain, with no solid reality underlying it.

    Iow, there is an ultimate, absolute sense to reality or there is none at all.

    Those Lewis quotes do nothing for me, esp. the first one which sounds nice but has little actual substance

    Then, either you did not understand what he said or you simply don’t like it.
    Maybe read the contexts to get a better grasp.

    If non rational nature is the cause of all thoughts then all thoughts are the result of non-thought and nothing rational.
    And that makes “sense” to you?

    Either our faculties of thought and reason are founded in and in accordance with reality or they are not.
    If all we call “thought” is merely the results of billions of evolutionary accidents, we cannot know they are valid.

    You cannot test your brain using your brain.

    “He that created the eye, does he not see?”

    See?

  70. 70
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Collin,

    Re: 66: I agree fully. However, what I sense Innerbling saying is that in order to make that rational choice, we are not simply relying on feelings caused by atoms in motion. We depend upon something more than a feeling; or even a “spiritual feeling” as WM insinuates. Love is not simply a feeling, but a doing, which goes against what raw materialism dictates.

    In the Christian scriptures, the greatest love is defined in terms of an action, not simply a feeling. That action specifically is laying down one’s life for another. Materialism dictates no such action. In fact, it seems to go against the materialist mantra of survival.

  71. 71
    Innerbling says:

    CannuckianYankee in 69:

    “…what I sense Innerbling saying is that in order to make that rational choice, we are not simply relying on feelings caused by atoms in motion. We depend upon something more than a feeling; or even a “spiritual feeling” as WM insinuates. Love is not simply a feeling, but a doing…”

    What I meant to say is that we need a worldview where choosing love is always the most rational choice even when that choice would mean social isolation, violence or even death. Rather than action I would say that love is a state of being or God from which all loving actions manifest.

  72. 72
    CannuckianYankee says:

    07,

    Re: 49: I doubt if most Christians rely on what most Christians say about love. Speaking as one, we rely on what the Good Shepherd said about love. One has to consider the source:

    http://www.biblegateway.com/pa.....ersion=NIV

    http://www.biblegateway.com/pa.....ersion=NIV

  73. 73
    LarTanner says:

    Borne @68,

    You say many things in your reply to my earlier post. I want to respond to everything fairly, yet without getting long-winded or generating an unmanageable number of topics and sub-topics.

    We disagree about the definition of “love.” Fine. However, in my opinion the notion of “real meaning” is a chimera. Calling “Basic love” an “act of will” does not give your definition “real meaning,” and I claim no “real meaning” for my definition. In short, “real meaning” is a false issue.

    You say, “Under materialist views ‘you are nothing but a pack of neurons.’”

    I agree with you, but I would use phrasing that seems more accurate to me: We are packs of neurons (or packs or atoms, or packs of whatever), but we’re pretty cool because of how we work. Working together, our neurons (or atoms or whatever) do some interesting things.

    You ask, “Why should I care what a pack of neurons is doing, any more than what a rock is doing?”

    I would not presume to offer my reasons for why you should care about another human being, or yourself, or an animal, or a society, or an ecosystem, or an economy, or a trinket, or an idea, or a symbol, or a nation, or a heritage, or life itself, or anything else. But may I turn your question around and ask why being a “pack of neurons” would make you any less of a caring person?

    You say, “if the materialist view were true, it makes no sense at all in any ultimate way, as sense becomes yet another phenomenon of the activity in a brain, with no solid reality underlying it.”

    I’m not totally comfortable with your phrasing, but I agree with the “no ultimate sense” part.

    You say, “there is an ultimate, absolute sense to reality or there is none at all.”

    Maybe. We are sense-making beings. I don’t know that there’s an “ultimate sense,” but I’ll keep thinking about it and looking for it. I’m sure others will, too. I see no great loss if there actually is no “ultimate sense.”

    You say, “If non rational nature is the cause of all thoughts then all thoughts are the result of non-thought and nothing rational. And that makes ‘sense’ to you?”

    Yes, it makes sense to me. Matter in motion and interacting with other matter is amazing. Human reason, as astounding as it is, is also quite fallible and limited. My point is only that I think you underestimate non-rational nature and overestimate human reason.

    You say, “You cannot test your brain using your brain.”

    You can, but there are other ways to test the brain that are as good and better.

    You ask “‘He that created the eye, does he not see?’ See?”

    For myself, no. I don’t recognize any “he” that “created” the eye or anything else. What and whatever we see is the result of our own efforts, so much as I can tell.

    I apologize for such a lengthy post.

  74. 74
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Innerbling,

    “Rather than action I would say that love is a state of being or God from which all loving actions manifest.”

    Yes, I would say that is more precise. It’s not simply the action; rather the action is God’s manifest character. If we love, we do what is characteristic of God.

    We had a discussion not long ago concerning our being created in the image of God. I can’t remember who raised the issue – we can perhaps go back to previous posts and find out (I think it was in another of Gil’s long threads 🙂 ), but it seems to me that part of what is meant by our being created in God’s image is our capacity to love and overall, our ability to do what is characteristic of God. We have the capacity to love, to create, to reason, to express joy, sorrow, anger, and a magnitude of other positive passions, which define us as uniquely human. I’m not certain if passion is the right word, but all of these things seem to be outside the purvey of materialistic magisterium (to use Gould’s term).

  75. 75
    GilDodgen says:

    Berceuse: Gil, your sarcasm suggests that you took my comment a little too personally…

    I was just being willfully provocative. Perhaps that explains the long threads?

  76. 76
    Heinrich says:

    (sorry for reposting this, but otherwise it’ll get lost up-thread thanks to moderation)

    Because atoms in motion amount to only an “is” whereas love is an “ought”.

    You have stated this a couple of times, Clive. But what do you mean by love being an “ought”? I can’t work it out, I’m afraid.

  77. 77
    zeroseven says:

    Clive, you surprise me. In a good way. David Lynch once described “Lost Highway” as a film about the impossibility of finding love in hell. (Or something like that).

  78. 78
    zeroseven says:

    gpuccio, why do you see the reductionist position as arrogant? I see it as the opposite of that.

  79. 79
    Clive Hayden says:

    zeroseven,

    As I write this I’m watching a documentary on David Lynch. He’s my favorite director.

  80. 80
    Clive Hayden says:

    Heinrich,

    You have stated this a couple of times, Clive. But what do you mean by love being an “ought”? I can’t work it out, I’m afraid.

    It’s a value judgment, a person either ought or ought not to be loved.

  81. 81
    Bruce David says:

    As I see it, love is one of those things that cannot be defined in terms other than itself. There is a word for what I’m talking about in philosophy, but I can’t remember it exactly. Primitive concept? Love, as someone pointed out above, is one of the aspects of ourselves in which we are in the image and likeness of God.
    One of the ways in which we evolve in our lives on earth is in the continual refinement and expansion of our experience and understanding of Love. Ths is one of the glories of being human, and one’s philosophy matters little in that process. That is why even materialists grow in their understanding of Love, even while their rational minds understand it not at all.

  82. 82
    Bruce David says:

    While we’re on the subject of being in the image and likeness of God, it has occurred to me while following this Darwinism controversy that another aspect of ourselves in which we mirror God is in our ability to produce CSI. Or put another way, our ability to create complex structures, either physical, literary, musical, artistic, or even the simple production of linguistic utterances. Every sentence we speak or write longer than what, 100 characters, is an example of CSI. It is truly awesome to me to realize that now that Darwinism has been overturned (and it has been, folks), the ONLY force in the Universe capable of producing CSI (or of violating the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, to put it another way) is intelligence, in which we all participate.

  83. 83
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Bruce David,

    Yes, I believe you are correct; it is a primitive concept. Please bear with my musings here: I’m not certain (at least with respect to theism) that love could be categorized merely as one. Clearly “love” as we humans experience it can be defined in terms of the Character of God. However, if God IS love, then perhaps not. God cannot be defined except “in terms of (Him)self.” We refer to concepts such as a “necessary first cause,” and a “prime mover,” but these concepts don’t define God; they merely suggest or infer the God’s necessity.

    I would offer a higher concept (and I maintain no pretense of originality here) – a transcendent concept; one which must be so in terms of all reality. It may not appear obvious, but it is clear at least to me that love is such a concept. We theists take it on faith, as there are gaps in our understanding of reality, but when all reality is taken into consideration (and we appear to have enough of the gaps filled in to be aware of this), love must be so. But then again, since I can’t say exactly what the “so” is that love must be, it fits with the primitive concept.

    So in light of this, a transcendent concept would be a primitive concept that must be. Love must be in order for all reality to be. Perhaps I’m being a little too analytical here, but it makes sense that there are certain concepts, which must be (and not necessarily definable apart from themselves). I would probably use caution in determining what other concepts fit in this category, but I would hazard a preliminary guess that truth would also; and perhaps hope, and if I’m inclined to go further from a Christian perspective; joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Maybe I’m bringing too much into this, and all these are merely sub-aspects of love. What is interesting about these, however, is that scripture defines them as “fruit of the spirit.” They are what “ought” to come out of the spirit of our humanity as reflective of God’s character. In other words (and not to minimize the full scriptural meaning of them), they cannot be defined in reference to material things alone. In that respect, scripture is decidedly anti-materialistic.

  84. 84
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Bruce David,

    “now that Darwinism has been overturned (and it has been, folks),”

    And I thank you in being so bold as to saying so. 🙂

  85. 85
    CannuckianYankee says:

    “In that respect, scripture is decidedly anti-materialistic.”

    Before anyone points out the obvious here, I need to fix this a bit: “in ALL respects, scripture is decidedly anti-materialistic.”

  86. 86
    Bruce David says:

    Cannuckian Yankee: Yes, I agree. The only thing I would amend is that to call love a concept really isn’t accurate (and I do realize that it was I who first used the term). But when we begin to try to discuss the transcendent, words necessarily fail us. They simply aren’t capable of carrying that kind of meaning. So we do the best we can to try to invoke our meaning using these imperfect vehicles.

  87. 87
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Bruce David, others (maybe KF?)

    I’m a little confused about a “primitive” concept; particularly it’s definition as a concept that cannot be defined except in terms of itself. As such, a number of issues came to mind in this regard:

    A) Can love not be defined in terms of it’s opposite, or what it is not? (see B) I ask this in light of what scripture says about love in 1 Cor:13. “Love is kind, love is gentle… love does not seek it’s own, is not puffed up….”(etc). These appear to be descriptions of what love is in human terms; using affirmations and negations, while they are not in the strictest sense definitions of love.

    B) I sense that there are two orders of love: love as in God’s character (who God is); which is in line with transcendent reality (necessity), and love as we experience it in a material world, yet still reflective of God’s transcendent character, only on a “lower plane.”

    On a related side matter; this is what I sense is part of the misconception among materialists of what we theists claim to understand about God. Materialists seem to conceive of “God” as a completely separate and uninvolved entity, which cannot have any real impact on the material world. Thus. they insist that such a god does not exist. And I should add that many theists who have allowed their thinking to be melded with materialist metaphysics, quite often view God in the same way, yet they don’t reject such a god; which to me is quite baffling.

    We non-materialistic theists (I guess “materialistic theist” is really an oxymoron 🙂 ) all know that the concept is completely wrong, and we are able to articulate why this is so through basic logical reasoning apart from scripture. Perhaps this wasn’t always so; and it seems to me in light of scripture that at one time in the epistemological history of theism, people claimed to have much more direct miraculous encounters with God, and if those encounters were real, the logical reasoning behind our current basis for belief may have been unnecessary. So our development of teleological and other arguments for God’s existence became necessary, yet no less valid out of an increasing absence of God’s more direct miraculous involvement in the affairs of human beings as the result of the increase of sin in the world. At least this is what scripture seems to suggest.

    Materialists depend on descriptions of God from the very scriptures we theists depend on for spiritual guidance, while not necessarily as the complete basis for our belief. As such, I sense that there is a failure on the part of materialists to understand that we take scripture as a whole, and in light of basic logical reasoning, which developed throughout our hystory. We had a side discussion on UD not long ago about how Christians view faith; which is related to this issue. Faith (at least for many Christians) is not simply blind belief, but trust based on reasonable evidence that what is said is true to the extent of action. But materialists still insist that we believe faith to be blind acceptance. The ancient people of the scriptures were no less motivated by reason with regard to faith; only their reasoning was much more in line with a more direct miraculous encounter with God; rendering our current teleological and other arguments less necessary; although still very much a part of their theology as well, as we can see by scripture itself.

    Also, quite often parts of scripture, which define God in terms, which the people of the scriptures could comprehend, are limited in actually defining who He is. Yet materialist atheists in particular pick up on these cultural conceptions to ridiculous degrees in conceiving what we theists believe about God. An example: If scripture mentions that we are “created in the image of God,” this necessitates that we look like God physically. At the same time we are accused of being literalists by the oxymorons I mentioned earlier.

    To Christian theists it is the whole of scripture, which gives us the greatest comprehension, and not simply those eisegetical excerpts; which only serve to confuse, and which lead ultimately to a painfully incomplete understanding. The whole of scripture does not lend itself to an understanding that being created in God’s image necessitates that God physically looks like us, or that we physically look like God.

    Materialists such as Dawkins et al, appear to take the lower plane understanding to be a complete picture of who we theists believe God is; and as such, they reject it on those merits alone, without consideration of either the whole of scripture and the extra-scriptural logic, which leads many thinking theists to be theists.

    C) And another question: is a primitive concept not actually the same as what I’ve defined as a transcendent concept? In other words, a primitive concept is perhaps better defined as that which must be, rather than that which cannot be defined apart from itself?

    I had to think about this a bit after I posted #83, because it seems to me that it touches on some very important distinctions; which may help in our understanding of consciousness, spirit soul and mind.

    “Reflective of God’s character” is not the same as God’s character. Therefore, when we talk of love in human terms, we are not talking of love as in “who God is.” As scripture clarifies, love can be defined in human terms (as in the “lower plane” I mentioned), but it cannot be defined on the transcendent plane as in “who God is,” because God cannot be defined “in terms of (Him)self,” Which leads to the question: “is God the only truly “primitive concept”, and all that God is (love, truth, beauty, holiness goodness, etc, and much of which we don’t yet know, gains it’s “primitive” nature by being intrinsic to God?” This is why I have a problem with the term “primitive.” I think “transcendent” is a better term. God is not in my mind primitive, and neither is He merely a concept. The end of the matter is that God must be, and all other reality flows from His essence. I don’t mean this as a mental exercise, but I wonder if you can offer some thoughts to clarify my confusion. I’m not well read in philosophy, so perhaps there is something I haven’t read, which can help.

  88. 88
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Bruce,

    “The only thing I would amend is that to call love a concept really isn’t accurate (and I do realize that it was I who first used the term). But when we begin to try to discuss the transcendent, words necessarily fail us.”

    Yes, I picked up on this as well, and addressed it in my last post. Another semantic error I made was in the use of “human terms.” Of course all terms that we are fully aware of are human. What I meant though is conceptions, which an average human being can understand at a particular historical period. I think it’s related to the failure of our words in light of attempting to conceive of transcendence. People speak of the “Language of God.” It’s another “concept” we know must be and which ID infers, yet we can’t quite put our finger on it. So contrast “human terms” with the “Language of God.”

  89. 89
    Cassandra says:

    Bruce David (82),

    the ONLY force in the Universe capable of producing CSI (or of violating the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, to put it another way) is intelligence, in which we all participate.

    I haven’t heard this claim before. Could you please describe how intelligence violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics?

  90. 90
    Heinrich says:

    You have stated this a couple of times, Clive. But what do you mean by love being an “ought”? I can’t work it out, I’m afraid.

    It’s a value judgment, a person either ought or ought not to be loved.

    Sorry, that confuses me even more. Firstly, it’s about particular instances of love, not Love itself. Secondly, if it is a value judgement, where does that leave people who are loved but whom you think ought not to be loved?

  91. 91
    Clive Hayden says:

    Heinrich,

    Sorry, that confuses me even more. Firstly, it’s about particular instances of love, not Love itself. Secondly, if it is a value judgement, where does that leave people who are loved but whom you think ought not to be loved?

    You don’t understand that love is a value judgment? Like determining dignity?

  92. 92
    Heinrich says:

    I do, but where’s the necessity implied by “ought”?

    And what about the people who ought not to be loved, but still are?

  93. 93
    Pedant says:

    Clive,

    Love is a value judgment?

    That is something I have not encountered before, even in my Parochial schooling. Like Heinrich, I would like to know where that comes from.

  94. 94
    Clive Hayden says:

    Heinrich,

    I do, but where’s the necessity implied by “ought”?

    And what about the people who ought not to be loved, but still are?

    All value judgments are “oughts” or “ought-nots.” You cannot get either one from an “is”.

  95. 95
    Heinrich says:

    Huh? A value judgement is a conclusion about assigning a value to something, not a decision about how to act, hence it’s not necessarily an “ought”. How is a judgement that a Chopin etude is well-played (surely a value judgement) an “ought”?

  96. 96
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Pedant,

    Do you believe love is a good thing or a bad thing?

  97. 97
    Clive Hayden says:

    Heinrich,

    It’s a comparison to how something ought to be, not how it is, and that can only be a metaphysical comparison in metaphysical endeavors like love and freedom. Neither of which can you get the comparison for the ought from the is.

  98. 98
    Pedant says:

    CannuckianYankee:

    Do you believe love is a good thing or a bad thing?

    It depends on the kind of love.

    My love for my spouse and my spouse’s love for me make us both happy and keep us from hurting each other. We like that.

    We call things we like “good” and things we don’t like “bad.”

  99. 99
    Heinrich says:

    Eh? So Gil’s playing of Chopin ought to be well played, but can’t actually be well-played? Sorry, I’m not buying that (although I might buy Gil’s albums).

    Similarly, I love my wife. I don’t see that as an “ought” – I simply do love my wife. Some people don’t love their wives, which may be unfortunate but that is still the case: it is an “is not”.

    I’d still like to know where this leaves people who are loved, but ought not to be.

  100. 100
    Clive Hayden says:

    Heinrich,

    Material movements only have relations to each other in the sense of speed, weight, height, direction, mass, density, velocity, etc., they do not touch on metaphysical value judgments of love or freedom or dignity. People are loved, that’s true, but that isn’t a physical “is”, you cannot find it laying in the street. Nor, in principle, could it be surgically removed from your brain. It doesn’t locally exist as its own bit of matter. Anymore than the beauty of Chopin (which ought to be loved, or at least admired) physically exists and can be cut into sections and carried in your pocket.

  101. 101
    Heinrich says:

    People are loved, that’s true, but that isn’t a physical “is”, you cannot find it laying in the street.

    Did anyone claim that it is a physical “is”?

    It seems that you now accept that love is an “is”, but perhaps not a physical “is” (I’m not sure about your claim that it can’t be remove surgically, but that’s an empirical claim).

    But then how is love an “ought”? In what sense is there a necessity (moral or otherwise)? And what about people who ought not to be loved, but are?

  102. 102
    kairosfocus says:

    Cassandra:

    Intelligence does not violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics, it transcends it.

    In other words, we here have an externally injected organisaiton that actively puts things in order relative to purpose and function. We are not left to random exchanges of energy and movements of masses.

    Condider the difference between a tray of 200 dice shaken at random, and a similar one with the dice reading 1 to 6 in succession, row by row. T%he former is easily accomplished by foirces of blind chance and mechanical necessity, the latter is by intelligence.

    And, there is an energy flow associated with the intelligence, but it is now purposeful and organising.

    Down that road lieth a key insight of Intelligent Design theory.

    GEM of TKI

  103. 103
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Pedant,

    See Clive at 100.

    My only intent in positing the question is in stating pretty much what Clive so succinctly clarified.

    I think in truth your answer is that love is a good thing, even though you appear to avoid being so bold. And my point is simply that such is a value judgement. I fail to see how this is so difficult.

    Also, I disagree quite emphatically that we merely call what we like good and what we dislike bad. Like or dislike has nothing to do with it. Some people like cigarettes. Does that make them good? Some people hate people of certain races. Does that make people of those races bad? Is there no other basis for your value judgments apart from fancy?

    If I may illustrate this with a question that might strike at our emotions a bit more intensely, “is rape bad simply because we dislike it?” If we all of a sudden start liking rape, would that make it good? If I witness someone being raped, and it is clear that the person does not like it, while the perpetrator seems to enjoy doing it; does rape have then two contradictory values at the same time?

    How could we then come up with any laws based on value judgments? I think the obvious answer is “we could not.”

  104. 104
    Clive Hayden says:

    Heinrich,

    Did anyone claim that it is a physical “is”?

    Yes, LarTanner.

    But then how is love an “ought”? In what sense is there a necessity (moral or otherwise)? And what about people who ought not to be loved, but are?

    Love is an ought because it is a value judgment. It transcends material movements, and isn’t affected by them, nor created by them. We do have a moral obligation to love one another, but to say that it is a physical imperative is a category confusion. It would be like saying 2 pounds at 30 miles and hour for 4 days equals love. As to people who ought not to be loved, but are, that’s all in the arena of oughts, just as morality can be broken, doesn’t mean it was physically broken.

  105. 105
    LarTanner says:

    @Clive Hayden 104:

    Yes, LarTanner.

    I said that love is a physical is? That’s news to me. I think what I actually said was quite different:

    Love does not “exist.” It is not a real thing but an emotion felt by a person through means of the body.

    Mr. Hayden, I don’t know why or how to accept your definition of love as somehow transcendent and as unaffected by “material movements” in the human brain. Can you please clarify?

  106. 106
    Clive Hayden says:

    LarTanner,

    My apologies if you do not mean “physical thing” when you say that love doesn’t exist because it isn’t a real thing. If you don’t mean physical thing, then what do you mean?

    I mean that love is not produced by or invented by material movements, anymore than laws of logic are invented by something traveling 2 miles an hour and weighing 15 pounds. Material relations won’t get it for you.

  107. 107
    Bruce David says:

    Cassandra: You asked, “Could you please describe how intelligence violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics?”

    This is based on my understanding of the Second Law as described by Granville Sewell in In the Beginning.

    According to him the Second Law applies to open systems as well as closed systems, and says that the amount of order in a system at time t+1 will always be less than the amount at time t plus the amount that is imported across the boundary of the system, if I understand him correctly. If one looks at the earth as an open system, where the order flowing across the boundary is basically solar energy, then the question is, does the order that we create every time we make a computer, or a building, or a piece of music, or write a letter to someone exceed the energy it took us to create it. Since the answer to that question is yes, we have violated the Second Law.

    To Granville: Have I got this right?

  108. 108
    LarTanner says:

    If you don’t mean physical thing, then what do you mean?

    I mean a mental thing, basically.

    That’s why I’m puzzled with your statement that “love is not produced by or invented by material movements.”

    Do you not think that bodily processes (including the processes that generate consciousness) produce love, by which I mean the sensations and ideas we associate as the feeling of love?

  109. 109
    Heinrich says:

    Love is an ought because it is a value judgment. … We do have a moral obligation to love one another, …

    Sorry, I can’t see how you come to this conclusion. We’re back to thinking that Gil plays the piano well: surely “Gil plays Chopin etudes well” is a value judgement. But in what sense is that an “ought”? Perhaps he plays them really badly – but so? He might play them badly but enjoy playing them (ever heard of Florence Foster Jenkins?). So where is the “ought”?

    I also don’t see a universal moral imperative to love one another. AFAIKS, that’s only a Christian imperative: other religions teach different ways to get on with each other with respect.

    I’m also not sure about how you square “We do have a moral obligation to love one another” with your earlier statement “It’s a value judgment, a person either ought or ought not to be loved.”. I would have thought that if we were meant to love one another, that meant we were meant to love everyone. The parable of the Good Samaritan springs to mind.

  110. 110
    Clive Hayden says:

    Heinrich,

    Sorry, I can’t see how you come to this conclusion. We’re back to thinking that Gil plays the piano well: surely “Gil plays Chopin etudes well” is a value judgement. But in what sense is that an “ought”? Perhaps he plays them really badly – but so? He might play them badly but enjoy playing them (ever heard of Florence Foster Jenkins?). So where is the “ought”?

    I also don’t see a universal moral imperative to love one another. AFAIKS, that’s only a Christian imperative: other religions teach different ways to get on with each other with respect.

    I’m also not sure about how you square “We do have a moral obligation to love one another” with your earlier statement “It’s a value judgment, a person either ought or ought not to be loved.”. I would have thought that if we were meant to love one another, that meant we were meant to love everyone. The parable of the Good Samaritan springs to mind.

    Does love physically exist as a material “is”?

  111. 111
    Heinrich says:

    Sorry, Clive, could you please answer my questions – I’m trying to understand what you’re trying to say, and I’d appreciate it if you would directly engage with what I’m writing.

    I don’t think we have a definitive answer to your question, and I don’t want to get sidetracked into a discussion of materialism, which is where it seems you want to take us. If that’s the basis of your reasoning, them please lay it out to us all.

  112. 112
    Pedant says:

    CannuckianYankee,

    My only intent in positing the question is in stating pretty much what Clive so succinctly clarified.

    Thank you for explaining why you asked.

    I think in truth your answer is that love is a good thing, even though you appear to avoid being so bold. And my point is simply that such is a value judgement. I fail to see how this is so difficult.

    As I said, it depends on the kind of love. A bit of love of power or of wealth may be “good,” in my eyes, but I consider excessive love of power or of wealth to be “bad.” Your mileage may vary. Do you see the subjective qualities of “good” and “bad”?

    As to love being a value judgment, I can see that there might be an element of judgment about the love-worthiness of the loved person or object, but as I have experienced love of persons, the judgment doesn’t come before the feeling, and it doesn’t account for it.

    Also, I disagree quite emphatically that we merely call what we like good and what we dislike bad. Like or dislike has nothing to do with it. Some people like cigarettes. Does that make them good? Some people hate people of certain races. Does that make people of those races bad? Is there no other basis for your value judgments apart from fancy?

    I do not consider my value judgments to be fanciful. I may consider yours to be fanciful, depending on what they are. In any case, I don’t find love to be exclusively a value judgment

    If I may illustrate this with a question that might strike at our emotions a bit more intensely, “is rape bad simply because we dislike it?” If we all of a sudden start liking rape, would that make it good? If I witness someone being raped, and it is clear that the person does not like it, while the perpetrator seems to enjoy doing it; does rape have then two contradictory values at the same time?

    I’ve had the good fortune of having been brought up to respect other people’s rights, and I’ve incorporated into my moral compass the view that rape is a violent act against another person’s autonomy. I would be outraged if someone tried to rape me. So, I’m not about to suddenly start liking rape and judging it “good.” I live in trust and hope that the great majority of my fellow humans have been similarly socialized.

    How could we then come up with any laws based on value judgments? I think the obvious answer is “we could not.”

    In the contrary, my courses in civics taught me that laws are based on value judgments, such as fairness. I find considerations like that to form an adequate rationale for their legitimacy. Bear in mind that laws change with the times. At one time in parts of the United States, slaves were considered to be property. (The Dred Scott decision is worth rereading.)

  113. 113
    CannuckianYankee says:

    “As I said, it depends on the kind of love. A bit of love of power or of wealth may be “good,” in my eyes, but I consider excessive love of power or of wealth to be “bad.” Your mileage may vary. Do you see the subjective qualities of “good” and “bad”?”

    Ah, yes I see what you mean. Since we’ve been on the subject of CS Lewis recently, he wrote a little gem of a book Called “The Four Loves,” in which he explores aspects of human love. You might want to check that one out.

    I think there’s a need to clarify love here, as you implied. Love can mean many things in English from love of my cat to love of gambling. But I think the general idea we’re referring to here is love towards another human being, whether it is romantic love, familial love, platonic love or acts of love towards a stranger or a group of people. I failed to clarify this. I don’t think we mean the type of love you’re referring to as towards objects or activities. Certainly we don’t love going to restaurants in the same way as we lover our friends; although I can imagine that there are people who have trouble distinguishing these categories.

    So Let’s agree to narrow the category here to human love, and see where we go. Agreed?

    And in so doing, I think it might be even more beneficial if we refer to scriptural examples from First Corinthians:13, so we’re not confusing for example lust from love. While 1Cor comes from Christian scriptures, there’s nothing in these examples, which are exclusively Christian, so I think they are helpful in defining what we mean:

    1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.
    4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

    13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (from the NIV)

    There is a distinction between 1Cor’s description of love here and what you referred to earlier, for the scriptures also state: “The love of money is the route of all kinds of evil.” The love of money clearly is distinguished from the type of love described above, and in the Koine Greek language what is translated as “love” in one passage is not the same Greek word that is translated as love in another. For example, the “love” of 1 Cor. is the Greek word “agape:” (?????) (and I’m not a Greek scholar, so if one is present, please correct me if I’m wrong).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agape

    Agape means “an intentional response to promote well-being when responding to that which has generated ill-being.” This is also what the scriptures refer to as the love expressed by God towards human beings. Compare these examples with 1 Cor’s descriptions of love, and you see that the scriptural concept of agape has certain characteristics, which are generally manifest when determining aspects of love towards others. Certainly we can agree that being rude towards someone is not a manifestation of agape love. When we’re rude we don’t intend well-being.

    The term for the “love of money” found in First Timothy 6:10 is the Greek term “philarguria.” (??????????) it could be argued that while in English we use the word “love” to mean many different things, in the language of the New Testament, there are several meanings to what bible translators translate as “love.” I’d like to stick with agape love for the sake of our discussion, and leave philarguria and other types of love for perhaps another discussion.

    So if I may frame the question again and in reference to what 1Cor:13 says about love (agape), is love good or bad? I’m anticipating that this clarification would necessitate your answer to be “good.” As such, “love” as defined in scripture when correctly understood from the original Greek (agape), is good. It is not bad, and if it is, it is not love. Therefore, love in this category is an “ought” and not an “is.” It is a value judgment. I would argue that the other categories of love are also “oughts” or “ought-nots,” and are also value judgments.

    I’ll respond to the rest of your post as I have time.

  114. 114
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Sorry for the ??????s. I cut and pasted the original words in Koine Greek, and this is how they appeared once I hit “submit.”

  115. 115
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Pedant,

    “I do not consider my value judgments to be fanciful.”

    I’m not certain you grasped what I meant by “fancy.” This was in response to your assertion that what we like we call good and what we dislike we call bad: ie, merely choosing good and bad from our fancy – from our subjective preferences, as opposed to from something outside ourselves.

    Let me give you an example from your own responses as to why this is not so, and then clarify:

    “I’ve had the good fortune of having been brought up to respect other people’s rights, and I’ve incorporated into my moral compass the view that rape is a violent act against another person’s autonomy.”

    You state here that you were “brought up,” i.e., taught to respect other peoples’ rights. I gather by this that perhaps if you hadn’t been taught by someone outside yourself, you might have fancied not respecting others’ rights, and by your basis of value as subjective, coming from within, you’d have every right to not respect others’ rights. However, since you were taught that you ought to respect peoples’ rights, this came from outside yourself. IOW, you may have been taught this despite whether you liked to respect others’ rights or not. This is an example of what I mean when I say that I disagree that our values of good are based on what we like and our values of bad are based on what we don’t like. It is much more than simply what we like or dislike.

    Now let’s deal with the rape issue. It seems to me that you were taught that rape is objectively wrong. Or rather, you based your value that rape is wrong on the fact that it is a violation of a person’s autonomy. I would agree with that, but I would go much further: it is a disregard for the dignity of the individual as being created in the image of God; it devalues the victim as well as the perpetrator. It is a vile and debase act of violence and inhumanity. While it is true that it is something that normal people find objectionable and wouldn’t do; this is not the moral basis for why it is wrong. Darwinists believe in the subjective and relative nature of our values. In other words, if normal people did believe that rape was good; there is nothing in Darwinism with which to base an objection.

    However, if the Darwinist were to say; “well rape is a vile and debase act of violence and inhumanity, which devalues both the victim and the perpetrator,” the Darwinist is appealing to an objective value judgment sort of truth about the nature of rape, without having a basis in objective truth.

    Also, while you have “incorporated into your moral compass that rape is a violent act against a person’s moral autonomy,” what do you do with the person (and such people exist), who has not incorporated this into their moral compass, and who’s actions demonstrate this? By your basis for morality as coming from within, why is the perpetrator’s value coming from within that rape is perfectly OK, not legitimate? Is your moral compass for yourself only, or do you expect that others will also act according to the same compass?

  116. 116
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Pedant,

    “In the contrary, my courses in civics taught me that laws are based on value judgments, such as fairness.”

    Precisely my point. Laws are based on moral value judgments. Where to the morals come from upon which laws are derived? If you say that morals come from what we like and what we dislike, this is incoherent, as I’ve amply demonstrated with respect to the rapist.

    My point is further that if in society we followed the prescripts of Darwinian morality, we would have no objective laws. We would have anarchy. But, thankfully, we do not base them so.

  117. 117
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Pedant,

    “Bear in mind that laws change with the times. At one time in parts of the United States, slaves were considered to be property. (The Dred Scott decision is worth rereading.)”

    While it is true that laws change, this does not negate the premise that laws are based in value judgments and the bases for those judgments do not change. You cite the Dread Scott decision. Slavery in America is perhaps her worst national sin. I would put abortion right next to it. But there is something about slavery that thinking people of moral aptitude understood even in light of the Dred Scott decision. Slavery existed in America despite the distaste in it even among those who “owned” slaves, including persons such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. Slavery existed not simply because the Bible mentioned it’s use and provided an ethic by which to regulate it. This is a misconception. While the Bible was used to justify slavery, slavery existed largely due to the tobacco trade in Virginia prior to the establishment of the union. In other words, it was economic factors, which provided the primary basis for the existence of slavery in the United States.

    What’s important about this is that the economic issues did not provide for an “ought” with regard to slavery; partly due to the fact that the economic factors had their own “ought,” which was appealed to in order ton supersede the issue of slavery.

    You say that laws change, but laws change particularly in the US with respect to new understanding of what was already accepted as an “ought.” That slavery was wrong was not something, which developed as history unfolded closer to its abolition. Many people in America knew that slavery was an “evil exploitation of men.” In fact, one of the first 13 states; Massachusetts had already abolished slavery prior to the Declaration Convention. So I fail to see the relevance of mentioning slavery as if we came to our senses and decided it was evil. It was evil prior to the establishment of our nation, and many people understood so. The fact that humans do evil things to one another and then sometimes eventually correct those evils is not an example of the basis for morality changing, but of humans becoming aware of morality and having the courage to stand up to evil based on their awareness of those prime bases for morality having been forgotten or abandoned. Collective evil is not so easily accounted for in such terms as the relative basis for morality.

    So slavery existed in America prior to the formation of the union (as far back as the 1650s), it was viewed among a large number of Americans as evil – particularly in Northern states, and it was justified based primarily on factors of economic stability. The issue of slavery did not make it into the US constitution until the 13th Amendment of 1865. Prior to that, the word was never mentioned, although other words, which alluded to slavery were used. The issue of human rights in general prior to that time was more established in America by the Declaration of Independence “We hold these truths to be self evident…..”. However, that declaration was not intended as the basis for the structure of law.

    So when we get to Dred Scott, slavery had already been established as an American institution, and in all accounts the institution was perfected, and supported through moral compromise, neglect of basic principles of human rights, arguments alluding to a “parade of horribles” should the institution be abandoned, and other such factors, which prevented America from recognizing collectively that there was no rational moral basis for such an institution. Dred Scott was an exercise in failure to refer to the obvious; the issues of whether a natural born slave was a citizen of America is really a secondary issue. The primary issue, which should have been considered but was not, is that which was mentioned in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Simple enough, but as happenstance would have it, this was not in the constitution. Perhaps it should have been. That particular statement finds it’s foundation in scripture, by the way. So the moral basis for the evils of slavery are found in a very early American document; but it was the wrong document, unfortunately.

    More on slavery with respect to the constitution:

    http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_slav.html

  118. 118
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Pendant,

    Another issue regarding slavery: What time in world history do you suppose had the most slaves?

    Would you believe that it is today? Well, If we define slavery as forced labor, there are currently 27 million people in the world who fit into that category, according to Anti-Slavery International.

    However, the International Labor Organization uses a different definition: “coercion in forced labour, slavery and slavery-like practices,” into which 12 million people fit. But still. Do you think we’ve become more enlightened? Collective evil exists despite what we might assert regarding our evolving moral trends.

    I just took notice (not that I wasn’t already aware) that I’ve now addressed 4 long posts to you. I’ll stop now. 🙂

  119. 119
    Cabal says:

    Bruce David,

    there is no evidence whatsoever, either observational or experimental, that random mutation and natural selection are capable of producing macro-evolutionary change. In fact, what experimental and observational evidence there is points in the opposite direction, as Behe (The Edge of Evolution) and many others have pointed out.

    Thank you for a good answer. I am however afraid you may be jumping to conclusions. The evidence mentioned seen in isolation doesn’t point any in any direction. It is when we view the evidence from a long list of subjects that we detect a strong correlation pointing unequivocally in a particular direction: Then we realize that what we are seeing is the result of natural processes – although we cannot rule out that God may have made it that way by applying his unlimited magical powers. But what evidence do we have that biology is different than any other aspect of nature?

    When we study biology in action today, we only observe natural processes at work. All the miraculous things we observe in the world today are the work of natural forces. From a time when everything under the sun was attributed to gods at work, the universe has been found to be very capable of getting by by and of itself.

    WRT Edge of Evolution, it seems there is considerable disagreement over whether Behe has found any edge and IMHO his method of detecting design is not very impressive to say the least. As you probably know, there are even well qualified people that due to the religious bias instilled in them from early childhood are incapable of seeing the Bible for what it is; instead they insist on the six day creation myth and all the rest of the Bible being literally true. YEC proponent Kurt Wise makes it clear as far as he is concerned, whatever evidence there may be, faith takes precedence and that’s that.

    The long history of creationism and arguments used by creationists, arguments that by and by have been abandoned because the evidence against them became too obvious does not inspire faith in ID either; maybe ID actually is, as often claimed, just another turn on the screw of creationism?

    There are far too many questions asked of ID that needs to be answered. We need evidence for the identity of the designer, evidence for how and when he performs, and much more.

    We are also learning that although RM&NS is a fundamental concept, it is far from being all there is to the mechanism of evolution.

    The fact that ID was invented for use as a wedge in the scientific worldview does not inspire much confidence either. What progress has ID made since its inception, what tangible evidence has ID got to show for itself? As far as I am concerned, I still only see Behe and the movement with an empty box.

  120. 120
    Pedant says:

    CannuckianYankee,

    I agree with much of what you said, especially that the word love needs to be narrowed down to be discussed sensibly. It will take time for me to consider your points carefully (2,500 well-wrought words!), and I will try to respond as time permits.

    ***In the meantime, will you instruct me in how to post smileys (emoticons) on this blog? I was cheered by your closing smiley and would reciprocate if I knew how.***

  121. 121
    kairosfocus says:

    Cabal:

    You beg a lot of questions in the above, which comes across as more of a confident-manner declaration of your own views and dismissal of other views [in some cases laced with some pretty seriously loaded ad hominems], than a serious addressing of a wide range of issues on their merits.

    1 –> I suggest that you first need to credibly account — on the usual evolutionary materialistic frame — for the origin of a metabolising, Von Neumann self replicating cell based life form, with empirical evidence.

    2 –> That is, you need to cogently address the spontaneous origin — in some warm little pond or equivalent pre-biotic environment — of:

    (i) an underlying storable code to record the required information to create not only (a) the primary functional machine [[here, a Turing-type “universal computer”] but also (b) the self-replicating facility; and, that (c) can express step by step finite procedures for using the facility;

    (ii) a coded blueprint/tape record of such specifications and (explicit or implicit) instructions, together with

    (iii) a tape reader [[called “the constructor” by von Neumann] that reads and interprets the coded specifications and associated instructions; thus controlling:

    (iv) position-arm implementing machines with “tool tips” controlled by the tape reader and used to carry out the action-steps for the specified replication (including replication of the constructor itself); backed up by

    (v) either:

    (1) a pre-existing reservoir of required parts and energy sources, or

    (2) associated “metabolic” machines carrying out activities that as a part of their function, can provide required specific materials/parts and forms of energy for the replication facility, by using the generic resources in the surrounding environment.

    3 –> Also, since parts (ii), (iii) and (iv) are each necessary for and together are jointly sufficient to implement a self-replicating machine with an integral von Neumann universal constructor, we see here an irreducibly complex set of core components that must all be present in a properly organised fashion for a successful self-replicating machine to exist. [[Take just one core part out, and self-replicating functionality ceases: the self-replicating machine is irreducibly complex (IC).].

    4 –> This irreducible complexity is compounded by the requirement (i) for codes, requiring organised symbols and rules to specify both steps to take and formats for storing information, and (v) for appropriate material resources and energy sources.

    5 –> Immediately, we are looking at islands of organised function for both the machinery and the information deeply isolated in the wider sea of possible (but mostly non-functional) configurations. In short, outside such functionally specific — thus, isolated — information-rich hot (or, “target”) zones, want of correct components and/or of proper organisation and/or co-ordination will block function from emerging or being sustained across time from generation to generation.

    6 –> So, once the set of possible configurations is large enough and the islands of function are credibly sufficiently specific/isolated, it is unreasonable to expect such function to arise from chance, or from chance circumstances driving blind natural forces under the known laws of nature. And, minimally complex observed life forms, just on DNA, have 100+ k bits of nuclear information. That is 100 times the threshold where the search resources of the observed cosmos are hopelessly overwhelmed by the scope of the config space. That is a cosmos-level search rounds down to no search.

    7 –> When we come to origin of major body plans by chance variation and natural seleciton, the problem compounds, as these will have to be embryologically feasible, starting withthe core structures of life forms. The scope of typical DNA for multicellular animals suggests we are looking at 10 mn plus bits of novel funcitonally integrated information, dozens of times over, and if we take the conventional timeline, with a window of maybe 10 Mn y, to at most 100 mn yr, 500+ MYA. On earth, not even in the galaxy. The search resources of the solar system would reduce the feasible scope of proposed macroevo by chance variation plus natural selection to about 109 bits. Or a reasonably short protein.

    8 –> Just so stories are not enough anymore, we need to see credible, empirically warranted accounts of the origin of he informaiton. We know that intelligence routinely produces information well beyond that threshold, and that we have ONLY observed intelligence doing that. So, to infer to intelligence acting through directed contingency as the best explanation of the complex organisaiton of cell based life is well warranted.

    8 –> You are also extremely caustic and dismissive of he biblical worldview and its adherents, coming down to one version or another of Dawkins’ outrageous: ignorant, stupid insane or wicked.

    9 –> This is utterly unacceptable.

    10 –> I think you need to first understand and accept the limitations of origins sciences accounts of the deep and unobserved past, cf here and here, and in light of an acid remark in Job 38, where YHWH at length speaks from the storm and says:

    Jb 38:1 . . . the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
    2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel
    with words without knowledge?
    3 Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.
    4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.

    5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?
    6 On what were its footings set,
    or who laid its cornerstone-
    7 while the morning stars sang together
    and all the angels shouted for joy? . . .

    11 –> In short when we seek to reconstruct the remote past of origins on observations in the present and speculations, we should realise just how provisional our theories are, and that the sort of Lewontinian a priori materialism that is too often imposed on origins is an implicit, massive injection of question-begging philosophical materialism that blinkers science. [Cf the first of the two links in 10 just above.]

    12 –> Finally, on the Biblical worldview, you need to reckon with the epistemological home base of that faith befroe so confidently dismissing it, e.g. cf here for starters.

    13 –> As a footnote, observe the intellectual history of Mr Dodgen: he started as an atheist and has become a Biblical theist in adult life, on serious personal reflection including on scientific issues. He is a highly intelligent and educated man, who has thought for himself and changed his mind not on childhood prejudices but evidence. That cuts clean across the sort of rhetoric you put forth above.

    GEM of TKI

  122. 122
    CannuckianYankee says:

    pedant

    : + ) makes 🙂

    : + ( makes 🙁

    That’s all I know.

    If you consider that love is an act of the will that you do towards another, rather than a feeling that you have towards another, I think you can understand the Christian understanding of the word.

    I think we’re so used to love being refered to in terms of romantic love; which quite often involves feelings more than deeds, we forget that love an act. When I love someone, I may have a feeling of positive regard towards them, but it doesn’t end there – I treat them according to 1 Cor. and even more.

    If we view love as simply the feeling we get with romantic love, then I can see how someone might not equate it as an “ought.”

    Also – another thing about agape – agape is really positive regard that is not deserved. In other words, “turning the other cheek” is an act of agape.

  123. 123
    Bruce David says:

    Cabal,

    You said, “The evidence mentioned seen in isolation doesn’t point any in any direction. It is when we view the evidence from a long list of subjects that we detect a strong correlation pointing unequivocally in a particular direction: Then we realize that what we are seeing is the result of natural processes.”

    I’m afraid I must respectively disagree. You are wrong on both counts. First, the evidence from fruit fly experiments, the 20 year E. Coli study by Lenski, observational evidence from the study of malaria and the human responses to it, as well as studies of the development of resistance to antibiotics and insecticides all point strongly to the conclusion that random mutation and natural selection are incapable of producing any change that involves more than one or two point mutations in a particular gene. Your attempt to wriggle out of this by saying that “evidence seen in isolation doesn’t point in any direction” is simply incorrect.

    Secondly, the “evidence from a long list of subjects” does not point “uniquivocally in a particular direction.” There is some circumstantial evidence for the truth of Darwinism, but there is also a ton of evidence to the contrary, and the latter is stronger than the former. Read Denton’s Evolution, a Theory in Crisis, for a good summarization of it, and more has accumulated since the publication of that book.

    There are two issues in this debate, which should be kept separate, but often aren’t. The first is the question of whether the neo-Darwinian synthesis is a scientifically valid explanation of the variety of life forms now extant and in the fossil record. In my opinion, this question has been thoroughly answered in the negative. The second is whether ID is a valid replacement theory. I believe that it is, but this is a bit more open to debate. A perfectly defensible scientific position would be “we don’t know how life originated, and we don’t know how it evolved.” But to keep pretending that Darwinism is a valid answer is simply denial.

  124. 124
    Bruce David says:

    Cabal: I meant, “respectfully disagree”, not “respectively disagree”. (Why doesn’t the damn spell checker flag words that aren’t what I MEANT to say?!) Sorry.

  125. 125
    Bruce David says:

    CannuckianYankee: This is a general response to post #87.

    I’m sorry, but I am not the right person to ask about a lot of the philosophical/logical questions you ask, because I long ago ceased to find it very useful to pursue them. Fundamentally, my approach to the deep questions in life is that basic knowledge about the true nature of reality comes from a place other than our logical mind. Rational thinking is a useful (and even necessary) tool to clarify the consequences of our basic understanding, but it is incapable by itself of giving us any real knowledge.

    So what is the source of real knowledge? That’s one of those questions that is impossible to answer definitively with words (and words are all we have). True knowing is to me a kind of seeing into the truth of things. The Sufis have an expression, “Knowledge is given, not acquired.” meaning, as I understand it, that little by little the veils to understanding are lifted and we see the Truth more and more clearly and deeply.

    When I characterized love as a “primitive concept”, I used what words I have at my disposal, but I mean that love is neither primitive nor a concept. What I was trying to convey was the notion that love cannot be defined. It is what it is, and one can only know it by experiencing it (but at the same time, it is not an experience, either). It’s kind of like the color red. One could define red as the experience one has when a certain frequency of light strikes the retina, producing a nerve impulse that is transmitted to the brain, etc., etc., but this would not convey the essence of red to a blind man. The only way to understand what red is is to see something red. So it is with love.

    That said, one can say some things about love, as in the biblical passage you refer to, but they don’t define it. I would add that real love is unconditional and grants perfect freedom. Romantic love is not a good example, usually, because it is seldom unalloyed with need. Love for one’s children or pets often comes closer.

    I believe that we humans are capable of divine love, of the love that is God, because He made us in His image and likeness out of himself. We are Gods, and we possess God’s qualities because we have been created that way by Him. But we have forgotten. That forgetting is all part of the Plan and the Purpose of the Creation. In our step by step remembering of Who We Really Are, we experience the awesome wonder of our being, and in the process, God experiences His own greatness through us.

    This is not the Christian view of things, I realize, but as I have said before (in other threads), I am not a Christian.

  126. 126
    avocationist says:

    “’d still like to know where this leaves people who are loved, but ought not to be.”

    There are no such people.

    Love is not an act! It may very well inspire many actions, but is not itself an act.

  127. 127
    Heinrich says:

    Sorry for re-posting this, but I suspect it’ll be lost up-thread, thanks to me being moderated.

    Sorry, Clive, could you please answer my questions – I’m trying to understand what you’re trying to say, and I’d appreciate it if you would directly engage with what I’m writing.

    I don’t think we have a definitive answer to your question, and I don’t want to get sidetracked into a discussion of materialism, which is where it seems you want to take us. If that’s the basis of your reasoning, them please lay it out to us all.

  128. 128
    Heinrich says:

    avocationist – I was responding to Clive @80 who wrote “It’s a value judgment, a person either ought or ought not to be loved.” I’ll let you discuss this with him.

  129. 129
    Pedant says:

    Avocationist said (with emphasis),

    Love is not an act! It may very well inspire many actions, but is not itself an act.

    You might want to tell that to CannuckianYankee, who said @122:

    If you consider that love is an act of the will that you do towards another, rather than a feeling that you have towards another, I think you can understand the Christian understanding of the word.

    and

    I think we’re so used to love being refered to in terms of romantic love; which quite often involves feelings more than deeds, we forget that love an act.

    and

    Also – another thing about agape – agape is really positive regard that is not deserved. In other words, “turning the other cheek” is an act of agape.

    And to Borne @69:

    Basic love is an act of will, not mere subjective feelings generated in flesh by electro-chemical stimuli.

    🙂

  130. 130
    Pedant says:

    It worked! My smiley appeared! A whole new world of expression has opened up to me.

    A million thanks,CannuckianYankee!

    🙂

  131. 131
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Bruce,

    Thanks. You left me with a lot to consider just in that one post. While part of what you stated isn’t the Christian view, much of it is. The one thing I will disagree with here (and there are others, but probably not worth mentioning at this time) is the part about love being an experience (I hope I’m understanding your correctly here). Of course I hold to the Christian view of love specified as “agape;” which as you have pointed out, is unconditional. I’m not certain if you read my posts to Pedant, but I cited a part of the Christian scripture that talks about agape – the Greek word for this type of love. Agape as I understand it is an act of love, rather than simply an experience of love. While it is an experience on the part of the receiver, what comes from the giver seems most important. Indeed, according to the scriptures the greatest act of love is for someone to lay down their life for another, and we have this perfectly exemplified in the sacrifice of Christ. So obviously the Christian would view the giving as higher than the receiving in this respect. However, the receiving is what benefits us the most in relation to the sacrifice of Christ specifically. I would say that in other relationships both the giving and the receiving are equally beneficial. The reason I make this distinction with regard to the divine relationship is that God benefits nothing from our loving Him. He desires us to love Him, but He does not need us to love Him, since He is transcendent and in need of nothing. And this is what makes agape unconditional. God loves expecting nothing in return, and that is the essence of perfect love.

    So the point to be stressed here is that love is an “ought.” It is something we should do. We should love others and sacrifice our interests for the interests of others. While perhaps none of us does this perfectly, since it is a perfect standard, it is no less what we ought to do.

    Where I agree is that this perfect standard is God. God is love. He is not only love, but perfect love is found in God and in God only.

    I think the issue we were initially concerned with in this thread where love is concerned was the issue of the Darwinian charge of the universe being “blind, pitiless and indifferent,” as mentioned by Barb. Well that might be evident if one is to see only what one wants to see; and for Darwinists, they don’t want to see certain things. One thing is very peculiar with Darwinists concerning love in particular: Since they view love as stemming from the inner workings of the brain, for them, love is simply a feeling and not an act. Now before I get charged with guessing how Darwinists relate to love, allow me to simply state that this is what Darwinism implies, but it may not be how Darwinists act; and clearly it isn’t. Darwinists are capable of acts of love as much as anyone, and they do acts of love. But Darwinian theory does not lend itself to love as an act or an “ought.” Some may further charge that Darwinian theory is not concerned with values and morality. However, this is to me an incoherent argument. I sense some question-begging going on with such arguments. How can one say that our morality is all tied up with the material inner workings of the brain, which evolved to allow us to experience feelings of being loved, and at the same time insist that Darwinism doesn’t address morality? It does, and it’s answer is that morality is something that evolved. And since it evolved out of blind natural processes, it is meaningless.

    I stated earlier that the Christian scriptures are decidedly anti-materialistic, and this is one of the glaring reasons.

    Now if we put all this together with the issue of primitive concepts, I think you can see why I have a problem with the term (while fully understanding why this particular distinctive category is employed), but I won’t belabor the point. I’ve had further time to think about this since our last correspondence, and what seems to me to be more accurate, while leaving out the inadequate and inappropriate term “concept” (and realizing that no matter what terms we use, they will still be inadequate), I’ve come up with “transcendent essence.” Love is a transcendent essence. The only means by which we can really define and conceive of love, however, as I mentioned before is in reference to interactions between humans and animals (of course the Christian would take this a step further with respect to the divine relationship). And even this is inadequate, but perhaps not inappropriate. God seems to provide all our understanding of Him in our language; which itself is an act of love. Darwinism, on the other hand, since it is impersonal, and is incapable of touching on issues of consciousness (which it denies) is profoundly inadequate to the task of accounting for, explaining, defining or even exemplifying love; because Darwinism denies love’s true source.

  132. 132
    Pedant says:

    CannuckianYankee,

    I’ve reviewed your posts @112 – 117, and I realize that we’ve gotten off track from the point that I had made @112, when I responded to Barb, who said:

    If there is nothing but “blind, pitiless indifference” to the universe and to humanity, then what’s the point in doing anything?

    I replied:

    Because you love your spouse, your children, your parents, and they are counting on you?

    What I meant was that life is worth living even if the universe is purposeless and indifferent to me.

    There followed a post by Clive Hayden @23, challenging my point, and I responded to him @30, 58, and 93. Then @96, you asked me if I believe that love is a good thing. That led us to a discussion of the ontological status of love and of morality, which is where we are now (and where you apparently wanted us to be).

    If I had more time, I would pursue that discussion further with you out of courtesy, but with reluctance, because such discussions seem to be interminable. However, real love (agape) and real duty (pietas) have called me away from the Internet for several weeks (starting Monday evening), so I ask you to accept my apologies for leaving your arguments unaddressed for now.

    Until later… 🙂

  133. 133
    Clive Hayden says:

    Heinrich,

    I don’t think we have a definitive answer to your question, and I don’t want to get sidetracked into a discussion of materialism, which is where it seems you want to take us. If that’s the basis of your reasoning, them please lay it out to us all.

    I have answered your questions, Heinrich, either love physically exists or it doesn’t. Either it is a physical “is” or it isn’t. That’s what I was arguing against LarTanner initially. And since it doesn’t physically exist as a result of chemicals interactions or as it’s own chemical, you cannot get to it from an “is”, because it is an ought, a value judgment. It doesn’t matter if people judge wrongly, that still presupposes value in even saying that something should or shouldn’t be valued in such a way, we don’t make such value judgments about 3 pounds moving at three miles and hour. That would be a category mistake. You cannot invalidate an ought because it cannot provide an is for it’s justification. Thus you cannot invalidate love because it doesn’t physically exist.

  134. 134
    Heinrich says:

    Clive – you haven’t explained in what sense love is an “ought”.

    I can’t see how being a value judgment means something is an ought. In what sense is “Gil plays the piano well” an ought statement?

  135. 135
    avocationist says:

    Canuck,

    There’s quite a difference between saying love is a transcendent essence, and saying love is an act. I agree with the first.

    Anyway, perhaps this is a good place, in light of some of the posts here, to reiterate an earlier question I had, which TGPeeler said was incoherent.

    I see a lot of discussion of material versus nonmaterial. I’d like clarification on this because I can’t quite relate to it. I agree that a concept, such as the number 4, is completely nonmaterial, although it is completely dependent upon material reality for its formation. But when I asked this question before, one poster said our souls are an abstraction. Now, I really doubt that. I think our souls have more substance than the concept of the number 4. I asked at the time, “An abstraction of what.” Because all other abstract concepts I can think of are an abstraction of something related to material reality.

    My take on the phrase “nonmaterial” is that it is an outmoded idea from when people really had no inkling of the subtle parts of reality, unseen forces and tiny atoms for example, that are completely real and physical. They saw that there were effects from the unseen, and decided that there was another side to reality called “spiritual” and that it was nonmaterial.
    So my question is, how do we know or why do we assume that we have already come to the end of such knowledge of such subtle forces, i.e., the electromagnetic spectrum?

    The bottom line to me is that either something exists or it does not. If it exists, it is not nothing. If it is not nothing, and furthermore, if that not nothing thing can interact with matter (God, the soul) then how can we really call it nonmaterial and what does nonmaterial even mean?

    Just to clarify, I am not suggesting that God and our souls are material in the way that we commonly think of matter. They may be of such a rarified nature that they go through a couple of phase changes we have not yet conceived of. But I am suspecting that reality is all of a piece, and that could best be described as spiritual, i.e., there is one reality and it is a spiritual reality.

    I cannot get how something could both exist yet be completely nonmaterial AND yet also be perfectly able to affect the material. This is what I think is incoherent!

  136. 136
    Clive Hayden says:

    Heinrich,

    I can’t see how being a value judgment means something is an ought. In what sense is “Gil plays the piano well” an ought statement?

    It is a comparison of value. Playing the piano “well” conceals a value judgment in the word well. To give it strictly physical terms would be to say Gil plays the piano at this tempo and speed and at these notes and hits the piano at these velocities. None of which will bring you a “good or bad” playing ability.

  137. 137
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Pedant,

    “What I meant was that life is worth living even if the universe is purposeless and indifferent to me.”

    Yes, but what if the universe is not purposeless and indifferent and you just believe it so? Your ability to find meaning in life then is not in spite of the universe’s meaninglessness and indifference, but because the universe is not meaningless or indifferent. So your statement begs the question of whether the universe is in fact purposeless and indifferent. You are presuming that it is.

  138. 138
    CannuckianYankee says:

    avocationist,

    Thanks for your post. There is a particular context by which I speak of love, and that context is found in the character and essence of God. God is love. God expresses this essence through acts of love. Love would not be love without God acting. Without that context of God acting, love would be meaningless.

    It can be compared to another context such as matter. Matter has essence; however, that essence is expressed through the movement of physical particles – they act and react. While this is an imperfect comparison, you can see that action can express essence.

    I think, as Bruce David has suggested, that no matter how we speak of love, all our descriptions are inadequate. You have to take such descriptions as incomplete, and my description as I acknowledged is incomplete. We could speak of love for a million years and still not get a complete understanding of it.

  139. 139
    Pedant says:

    CannuckianYankee,

    So your statement begs the question of whether the universe is in fact purposeless and indifferent. You are presuming that it is.

    I’m not presuming anything. Where did you get that? Am I speaking another language?

    I said, and I’m saying again that I don’t care if the universe is purposeless.

    I understand that you care, but, speaking with agape, that is not my problem.

    🙁

  140. 140
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Pedant and avocationist,

    In discussing romantic love I neglected a very important point. Romantic love is not simply the feelings associated with it. Romantic love often begins with those feelings, which I don’t think are in fact love, but infatuation, and what in scripture and other ancient sources is termed “Eros.” I can love (agape) someone without being infatuated with them. If I do an act of kindness to a stranger completely detached from any sense that I like or dislike them, then I have committed an act of love towards them. Romantic love must get beyond the infatuation to the act. An infatuation can inspire acts of love, but it can also inspire acts of jealousy and revenge or even hatred in response to unrequited feeling toward another; so the feeling is not the same as true love.

  141. 141
    CannuckianYankee says:

    “I cannot get how something could both exist yet be completely nonmaterial AND yet also be perfectly able to affect the material. This is what I think is incoherent!”

    All of our abstracts do not affect the material, yet they exist. The difficulty is how something non-material that exists can affect material. But this is not incoherent in the least. Your difficulty stems from your a priori assumption that material essence is all there is. You could not know that for certain, and so your position is more incoherent than the other.

    The position of theism would be incoherent if we could be certain that material essence is all there is, but as I stated, we can’t. I realize that this is difficult when one is trained to understand the world from the materialist position, but there is a solution. It’s a philosophical solution and not a scientific one: there must be a first cause to all material essence that is not itself material essence – I refer to the cosmological argument here. That’s the solution. It’s been well established here (and elsewhere), and it is coherent. In fact, we have physical evidence in cosmology for why this is so. It is the materialist cosmology (as recently touted by Stephen Hawking in his new book) that is incoherent; it leads to absurdities such as the notion that the laws of physics created the universe. Somewhere beyond space, matter and time there has to exist something that is not space, matter or time; something that transcends them. It can’t be an abstract something, it must be a real something. The laws of physics are abstracts, which only quantify and explain physical phenomena, so they can’t be the causal “something.”

  142. 142
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Pedant,

    Your presumption seems to stem from your response to Barb. She stated her disagreement with the materialist assumption that the universe is “blind, pitiless and indifferent, and in response she asked the question: “what’s the point in doing anything?” Your response was “Because you love your spouse, your children, your parents, and they are counting on you?” I realize that you framed this as a question, so it’s a perfectly legitimate thing to ask, but I sensed that it was a rhetorical question, so in that regard, it would be a presumption. If that’s not what you meant by it, then I apologize.

    However, the answer to such a question would be: no, the very fact that you are able to perceive of concepts such as love is because there is something in the universe that is not blind, pitiless or indifferent. That something is you. How do you as something (someone, sorry) derive your concern out of a universe that is blind, pitiless and indifferent?

  143. 143
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Pedant,

    “I said, and I’m saying again that I don’t care if the universe is purposeless.”

    If the universe is purposeless, it doesn’t care that you don’t care. But the fact that you love your spouse, and your children depend on you would seem to betray your not caring about purpose in the universe. Your actions would demonstrate that you do care. Love is a purposeful act. If there is no purpose in the universe, then there is no love in the universe. There is love in the universe, so the universe is not purposeless.

    Proof:

    A) If there is an example of purpose in the universe, the universe has (contains) purpose.

    B) Love as an act that I do, is an example of purpose in the universe.

    C) The universe has (contains) purpose.

    This proof is dependent upon another:

    A) The universe contains at least everything that physically exists by definition.

    B) I physically exist.

    C) I am part of the contents of the universe.

    That you are part of the universe, and you do purposeful acts of love, demonstrates that there is purpose in the universe. The universe is not purposeless.

    I realize that this begs the question of the universe having purpose as far as its existence; is there a purpose for the existence of the universe? That is another question entirely. It seems rather incoherent that there should be purpose in the universe while there is no purpose for the existence of the universe. It seems to me that the existence of purpose in the universe derives from the purpose for the existence of the universe.

  144. 144
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Pedant,

    “There followed a post by Clive Hayden @23, challenging my point, and I responded to him @30, 58, and 93. Then @96, you asked me if I believe that love is a good thing.”

    I went back and read all of those posts. One thing that needs clarification (of course there may be others as well). That the universe is “pitiless and indifferent” is a Darwinist rhetorical charge. You are correct in pointing out that the universe could not be pitiless or indifferent, since the universe is not personal. I don’t believe Clive denies this.

    However, the Darwinist charge is in relation to theism. And that charge came from a Darwinist who happens to not believe in the existence of God. So what the atheist Darwinist means to say in that regard is that since there is no God, there is no caring towards us anywhere in the universe. I think the statement is more rhetorical and metaphorical than explanatory, so you have to separate the statement from the actuality. The statement rhetorically presumes that the theist personifies the universe, since no God exists, while the atheist does not, and the statement must be taken as such. It’s not that the statement really means this, as it is rhetorical and metaphorical.

    However, the theist would argue against this as it pertains to the existence of God. If God exists, there is care towards us, and our caring towards others is reflective of God’s care towards us, and has nothing to do with any personification of the universe. But in order to make the point, the atheist, who does not believe in God, and therefore must believe that the universe or universes is all that exists, has to state it in reference to personality somewhere, so the universe is presumed to be personified in order to make the point.

  145. 145
    avocationist says:

    Canuck,

    Your difficulty stems from your a priori assumption that material essence is all there is.

    No, you have misunderstood. I have never been a materialist and I have always believed in God. I also used to toss around the term “nonmaterial” but then one day I began to think about it and I just am really trying to figure out if anyone understands this term although they use it.

    The question was not only to you but anyone inclined to give an opinion.

    What I am suggesting is that a nonmaterial soul and a nonmaterial God may be impossible, and that there is more going on in Reality than we know. We are premature to use such a term as nonmaterial when we do not know of what we or God are made. But what we do know is that they exist and we should ponder what that means. And we should ponder how matter and spirit can interact if one of them is completely nonmaterial.

    As to love, I am satisfied with your musings.

  146. 146
    Heinrich says:

    Clive @136 –

    It is a comparison of value. Playing the piano “well” conceals a value judgment in the word well. To give it strictly physical terms would be to say Gil plays the piano at this tempo and speed and at these notes and hits the piano at these velocities. None of which will bring you a “good or bad” playing ability.

    Where’s the “ought” in here? This is what I can’t work out – you’re suggesting there is some connection between value statements and “ought”, and I can’t see it. Can you explain?

  147. 147
    CannuckianYankee says:

    avocationist,

    “No, you have misunderstood. I have never been a materialist and I have always believed in God.”

    I’m really confused here:

    “I cannot get how something could both exist yet be completely nonmaterial AND yet also be perfectly able to affect the material. This is what I think is incoherent!”

    If you believe that the existence of nonmaterial essence is incoherent, this would suggest that you believe that only material essence exists. This further suggests that you are a materialist, yet you deny that you are. Can you explain this?

    While you’re involved in thinking about this, let me suggest that perhaps you’re onto something, but you don’t know how to explain it.

    It’s not that nonmaterial essence is impossible, but that what we assume regarding nonmaterial essence as being “supernatural” is incoherent. If God exists he’s not a part of nature and is in this sense “supernatural.” However, what “supernatural” conjures up is something that appears incongruent with nature. The difficulty is in our failure to sufficiently define what we mean by “supernatural.” We’ve had discussions of this nature on UD in the past.

    I would just simplify the issue and say that God is nonmaterial, yet can affect nature out of necessity. If you noticed my mention of the cosmological argument, you can see that it is essential that God be non-material, otherwise the whole idea of God’s essence is incoherent. Perhaps I should briefly mention the basic argument:

    A) Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

    B) The universe began to exist.

    C) The universe has a cause.

    Now the difficulty here for many people is with the definition of the universe. The universe is most commonly defined as “everything that physically exists,” and this is the definition that applies here. The multiverse does not apply, because it would imply that there are other universes – other “everythings,” which is absurd. If there are other “universes,” they could only be a part of THE universe by definition, since when we say “universe” we mean everything that physically exists.

    Now if God physically exists, then He too had a cause, and this is where the incoherence lies.

    The cosmological argument therefore states that there must be a first uncaused cause for the universe to exist, and that that cause cannot be a part of the universe – everything that physically exists.

    There are other supports to this argument: one being the absurdity of an infinite regress of causes. If God was caused, something caused God, and whatever caused God also had a cause, and so forth.

    This is why the cosmological argument states: “whatever BEGINS to exist…” If God did not begin to exist, but is eternal, then He is the first cause. There is no need for an infinite regress of causes with an essence that is not caused, but is eternal. But as is stated, since he is the first cause, He cannot be material, or He would have to have been caused, and He would have been part of the universe itself. This is self contradictory.

    So while you may be onto something that is incoherent, the incoherence does not lie in the issue of an immaterial essence. I think it’s rather an issue of semantics with the word “supernatural,” which is a highly inadequate term given it’s religious associations. And atheists harp on the inadequacy of the term in order to affirm their metaphysic.

    You also indicated a problem with miracles, but I think you can account for them with a little more consideration of the argument above. After all, if God is the cause of the universe, the universe itself is the result of a miracle. That miracle, however, is not without a coherent explanation.

  148. 148
    Pedant says:

    CannuckianYankee,

    I realize that this begs the question of the universe having purpose as far as its existence; is there a purpose for the existence of the universe? That is another question entirely.

    That is what I was referring to when I said I don’t care if the universe is purposeless.

    It seems rather incoherent that there should be purpose in the universe while there is no purpose for the existence of the universe. It seems to me that the existence of purpose in the universe derives from the purpose for the existence of the universe.

    I know it seems incoherent to you. But it doesn’t seem incoherent to me, I guess because I don’t expect the universe to be a reflection of my feelings and understandings.

  149. 149
    ellazimm says:

    If the universe contains or has purpose then . . . what is it?

  150. 150
    avocationist says:

    Hello Canuck,

    If you believe that the existence of nonmaterial essence is incoherent, this would suggest that you believe that only material essence exists. This further suggests that you are a materialist, yet you deny that you are. Can you explain this?

    Ah, I see the problem! And yes, perhaps you are right that I don’t know how to explain it. In my thinking the dividing line is that of existence versus nonexistence. (And going deeper still, we should realize that there is no nonexistence. It is a product of our imagination only.)

    I accept – but only provisionally – that a concept such as the number 4 is truly without substance. Even that may not be true.

    Let us use the word substance.

    Now, I say I am not a materialist because I believe in those things which people call spiritual. But I am questioning the usual categories of thought about these things.

    I noted in a theological book I read some years ago that the Eastern Orthodox Church, which I grew up in, considers the Holy Spirit to be “the uncreated energies of God.” And of course uncreated means that it is fundamental to the nature of God.

    Now, it is just this sort of comment that I pursue:

    I would just simplify the issue and say that God is nonmaterial, yet can affect nature out of necessity.

    Necessity?? Sure…but how. Saying that God can and must do it is not saying anything other than that we don’t know.

    It’s not that nonmaterial essence is impossible, but that what we assume regarding nonmaterial essence as being “supernatural” is incoherent.

    With this I fully agree, and supernatural, like nonmaterial, is a term I have trouble with.

    If God exists he’s not a part of nature and is in this sense “supernatural.” However, what “supernatural” conjures up is something that appears incongruent with nature.

    There’s another possibility, perhaps not in line with Christian dogma, that I suspect is closer to the truth. I am quite sure that western spirituality has taken a wrong turn in wanting God to be completely transcendent to nature. I would rather say that nature exists in a potential state within God and its bringing forth (manifestation) is something that can either be or not be, which is to say it is not like the Holy Spirit which is an uncreated energy of God. But neither is it separate from God, for it arose from God, nor in any way can nature be incongruent with God.

    I do understand the cosmological argument quite deeply, and it is with exactly the same kind of thinking that I understand that nature and all things arise out of God and that nothing, ever, can be separate from God. This is why I am uncomfortable with the term supernatural, although it is in a way accurate because physical matter could fold up and cease to be manifest, but its potential, I think, cannot, because it lies within God and God does not change.

    If reality is all of a piece it explains a lot. It explains how prayers can be heard and how God can affect matter. Because there is a superfine medium through which all things are interconnected as they must be if all things arise out of God.

    Now, you say that the cosmological argument means God must be nonmaterial and I do see why. There is something utterly different about God, for if God did not possess this quality there would be no existence.

    The problem I have is that God and our souls must have substance of some sort, otherwise they would be nothing. And this substance looks like it must have or be an energy, in order for it to interact, and in order for it to not be nothing.

    So you have indeed helped to clarify my thoughts. The question is, can a being who is the uncaused cause of physical manifestation exist as a continuum with that which has arisen out of his being?

    You know, if God were truly separate from the creation, then there would be no contraindication to multiverses. It is because God must necessarily be the one and only source of all things inseparably, that there can be only one universe.

    The cosmological argument therefore states that there must be a first uncaused cause for the universe to exist, and that that cause cannot be a part of the universe – everything that physically exists.

    It’s the second clause I question. I’d like to say that I have to think about all this, but I already do…

    I don’t recall indicating a problem with miracles, but I don’t believe at all in people thinking that if God does something it goes against the laws of nature. That’s absurd. There is no such thing nor a necessity to go against the laws of nature. Nor can I figure out what you might mean when you say the universe is a miracle. How can the actions of God be somehow out of order? God can do what God can do, and I am sure that all of his actions are completely coherent if we could have them shown to us. Not an atom or a law out of place.

    Perhaps it is a way to express the magnitude of the mystery and majesty of existence.

  151. 151
    gpuccio says:

    ellazimm:

    If the universe contains or has purpose then . . . what is it?

    That’s not an easy question, but I believe it has a very high purpose, just like a very beautiful work of art. And I do believe that we, our existence and our destiny, are a very important part of that purpose.

    But certainly the final purpose of all that exists must retain some aspects of mystery, and be fully comprehended by God alone.

  152. 152
    gpuccio says:

    ellazimm:

    But we can certainly recognize more limited purposes inside the universe. Expressing life and consciousness and meaning are among them.

    I have always stated, and will always go on stating, that one of the ugliest, and most wrong, aspects of darwinian theory is to believe that survival is the only driving principle in biological evolution.

    I do believe that the complexity and beauty of life is absolute evidence that the desire to explore all possible manifestations of life and consciousness is the real driving principle in the design of life. The necessity for survival is only a subordinate category of that.

  153. 153
    gpuccio says:

    avocationist:

    Well, I share many of your thoughts. You say:

    Now, I say I am not a materialist because I believe in those things which people call spiritual. But I am questioning the usual categories of thought about these things.

    And you are perfectly entitled to do that. Human categories are certainly imperfect, especially when they try to deal with ultimate realities.

    I will not go into detail about your thoughts, because by default I try to avoid purely phylosophycal or theological discussions here, but I would like to simply suggest that, at least for me, the concept of a transcendent reality, and the possibility that such a reality may interact with, and be also immanent in creation, are not incompatible at all. That’s why, IMO, the word “transcendental” has been created and is often useful. That’s why I often speak of our personal self as “transcendental”, because its main observable property is the ability to perceive and represent any formal content, and at the same time to be able to recede beyond any represented form, in a continuous, and apparently infinite, regress to a “meta” level.

    Absolute transcendence is IMO the final concept, but perhaps it is so final that our human categories cannot even begin to state it. So, we must probably be contented with reasoning about our self, about immanent realities, and about their meaning, and purpose, and destiny.

  154. 154
    ellazimm says:

    gpuccio: I greatly admire your ‘faith’ and wish, in some way, I shared it. I do find great joy and pleasure in life, the universe and everything. I feel that I am a very moral person who tries hard to treat others with respect and to do my best to help them. But I fall short of your level of connection. I’m sure you don’t need me to say it but cherish that feeling.

    All my best,

  155. 155
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Pedant,

    “That is what I was referring to when I said I don’t care if the universe is purposeless.”

    Yes, well then it’s another one of those semantic issues that creep in no matter what we discuss:

    A purposeless universe is either the antithesis of:

    A) If just one thing in the universe shows purpose, then the universe has (contains) purpose.

    or

    B) There is purpose for the universe’s existence as extrapolated from the fact that there are examples of purpose in the universe.

    I personally don’t believe that the universe would exist if there was no purpose for its existence, simply because the universe is contingent (upon something or someone causing it). And all our understanding thus far pertaining to cause and effect suggests physical law or purpose. Things happen in the universe because of other things happening, or certain conditions, which act according to law or purpose. The universe (everything) itself would seem to be no exception, and would in fact, contradict. And I think part of the issue here is how we define the universe. I see it as everything that physically exists by definition. I don’t see it as simply a place or a location in which everything physically exists. There would be no place or location without everything that exists. Sometimes that simple perception can cause one to have an incomplete view of what we mean when we talk about the universe, and can lead to entirely different understandings – such as that there could be other universes – other places (read: other “everythings”) in which there are no laws pertaining to cause and effect. In any case, causality and physical law are the essentials, which lead to understanding, and these categories require that we accept purpose as opposed to complete randomness.

    If the universe could exist without a purpose for its existence, then I think we would see an entirely different universe – one without this interaction of causes following physical laws – one of complete randomness. But that to me is an absurd universe – one that we could not even speak of in any definable terms.

    That there is an example (or examples) of purpose in the universe, therefore suggests that there IS a purpose for the universe’s existence.

    Just one suggestion that might help: It is possible to talk of the purpose behind the universe’s existence without knowing exactly what that purpose is – just as it is possible to talk about the force of gravity without knowing exactly what that force is. We can talk about these things because we can see their effects, which is why we are able to do science in the first place. That we see the effects of purpose in the universe is really not something that can be denied without begging questions.

    Furthermore, I would suggest that in regard to our discussions about love (agape) as being “essential” to God, that love is a purpose for the existence of the universe. Our need for love is an indication that love is part of God’s purpose for the universe.

    I see the universe as an incomplete expression of the agape love of God. I see examples of this everywhere I look. I say “incomplete” because in all appearances, and as supported by scripture, God isn’t done yet. But that’s just my own view.

  156. 156
    zeroseven says:

    Ellazimm:

    “gpuccio: I greatly admire your ‘faith’ and wish, in some way, I shared it.”

    Why is this? As you go on to say you love life and the universe. You are a moral person etc. Why is this not enough for you? Personally I think the ability to reason is the redeeming quality, not faith (which in many respects is the exact opposite of this).

  157. 157
    CannuckianYankee says:

    avocationist,

    av) Now, it is just this sort of comment that I pursue:

    cy) I would just simplify the issue and say that God is nonmaterial, yet can affect nature out of necessity.

    av) Necessity?? Sure…but how. Saying that God can and must do it is not saying anything other than that we don’t know.

    cy) It’s not that nonmaterial essence is impossible, but that what we assume regarding nonmaterial essence as being “supernatural” is incoherent.

    av) With this I fully agree, and supernatural, like nonmaterial, is a term I have trouble with.

    Well, they are just terms. Perhaps inaccurate or incomplete, but they don’t come without some reason behind them. Clearly God is non-material in respect to what we define as material. He is not physical like matter, and if He exists at all, the cosmological argument does not allow Him to be any form of matter.

    Now if He is another kind of “substance,” that is not like material, well then that is another matter; and we have no real way of knowing. I don’t believe that He is – due to my understanding of the cosmological argument. This is why we speak of God as “essence,” not “substance.” Furthermore, it seems to me that a belief or speculation that God is another type of substance (in order to make sense of His capacity to affect material substance) is really a form of pantheism. Pantheism is the belief that God is a part of everything that physically exists, rather than separate from everything that physically exists, and pantheism leads to the notion that we and everything else are a part of the essence of God.

    The way I understand it, your problem lies with God being able to affect nature when He is not material. I don’t see how viewing God as some other kind of unknown “substance” solves this for you. We can speculate on a lot of things, but I think the things I mentioned regarding the cosmological argument are not simply speculations, but sound arguments, which seem to solve these issues. I don’t see any point in speculating on them further if certain questions aren’t answered by them. It’s not like the cosmological argument is incoherent. It is coherent, and it really should be the end of the matter in my view. I have to allow that there are mysteries that are still unsolved, or perhaps unsolvable, but that there are such mysteries does not render the arguments incoherent.

    This is why I suggested the simple solution of the cosmological argument. It doesn’t answer everything for you, but it forms the basis for accepting the necessity of God. It still leaves the mystery of exactly how He affects nature, but if God is necessary for the existence of everything else, I don’t see how that could be a problem. I think we have to accept that no matter what we come to understand, there still lies a mystery. I don’t know how God affects nature, but what I do accept is that He is capable of doing so. I have a well formed logical basis for why I believe this.

    Furthermore, while we’re on the subject of purpose and God’s necessity, it seems to me that God is the author of purpose in the universe – even if we don’t quite know what that purpose is. If He is the author of purpose – i.e., he designed the universe for a reason, then the physical laws of the universe, which can be known through our reasoning by observing cause and effect relationships, are also what He authored. God authored the physical laws of nature. When it comes to miracles then, God is capable of doing acts, which do not follow physical laws. The creation of the universe is perhaps not a miracle in that respect, because the act itself does not defy any physical laws, since the laws are simply the descriptions of cause/effect relationships between things, which physically exist.

    ID seems to be onto something then when it suggests that fine tuning and a certain degree of information in biological organisms indicates purpose as opposed to randomness. Darwinism is truly incoherent when it suggests that the beginning of evolution or even the ongoing process of evolution is without purpose. Furthermore, there seems to be some incoherence when Darwinists suggest that evolution isn’t random, but at the same time, without purpose. This is a clear contradiction. But it’s what they believe.

    ID leads to an understanding behind the mystery we speak of with regard to how God affects nature. It doesn’t answer all of that mystery, but it touches on some matters, which add weight to a certain purpose behind creation – the other non-scientific argument, which seems to support ID is the cosmological argument – and it’s because of these and other factors, that I am a theist – not a pantheist, agnostic, deist or atheist. Darwinism does not seem to provide any coherent argument in these matters. For me, it is absurd.

  158. 158
    avocationist says:

    Canuck,

    Now if He is another kind of “substance,” that is not like material, well then that is another matter; and we have no real way of knowing. I don’t believe that He is – due to my understanding of the cosmological argument. This is why we speak of God as “essence,” not “substance.”

    Well, if he is not even the most rarified sort of matter or energy, nor even some other sort of substance that we know not of, then what of this essence? Essence of what? It sounds like nothingness to me. I realize we don’t have the answer but I must admit this keeps me awake at night!

    I find this and other aspects of the question we discuss below important, though, because I think humanity is held back by (what I perceive as) a kind of psychic split in their perception of reality, which keeps God far from their awareness. I could even be so bold as to say it is a symptom of our fallen state.

    Furthermore, it seems to me that a belief or speculation that God is another type of substance (in order to make sense of His capacity to affect material substance) is really a form of pantheism. Pantheism is the belief that God is a part of everything that physically exists, rather than separate from everything that physically exists, and pantheism leads to the notion that we and everything else are a part of the essence of God.

    Why, my dear, you say that as though it were a bad thing…

    I am apparently a panentheist. I wouldn’t so much say that God is part of everything that exists as that everything that exists is within God. I believe I already said that in the previous post.

    I think a God separate from everything that physically exists is impossible on two fronts. First, to say that God created everything out of nothing is completely without any foundation in logic or knowledge. It is speculation. It is likely that matter can be nonmanifest, but the potential for it is there, and this could be described as a state of “nothing.” But it is not true nothingess.

    But we can say, and keeping the cosmological argument in mind, that anything which exists has its source only in God with no other possibility. What then can it mean to say God is separate from it?
    Your soul is separate from your body in the sense that the body will turn into a sack of junk the moment your spirit leaves it, and it will decay. But while your body is alive, the soul touches and influences the mind and the emotions and through them the body.

    Second, wondering about the mode of influence is no small question, and while we don’t have the exact answer, I believe logic would state that there must be a point of connection. And if matter is utterly without any form of consciousness so much the more so. Inanimate matter is not going to jump up and “obey” out of a sense of obedience.

    I do find the cosmological argument to be completely sound. And yes, it absolutely shows the necessity of God.

    Since you admit to the mysteries, perhaps we should think in new ways. I was influenced by the book Science and the Akashic Field by Ervin Lazslo in this regard. That is, not about the nature of God but the existence of a spiritual ether through which all things can interact. It is a substance so superfine as to be, so far, not detectable and for all practical purposes we could call it spiritual in essence. But it does have substance.

    I have seen people here mention the Mitchelson-Morley experiment, before which the ancient idea of an ether had remained accepted, but when I read about their experiment, I could see that it was far too crude and could not detect this ether. Unfortunately, science dropped the ether idea prematurely after that.

    It seems to me that Christian thinking is mired in some rigid ideas from too few thinkers. Was it Augustine? who taught that matter simply was? He thought God so completely separate from matter that he didn’t even have God creating it.

    But if we think deeply about the Cosmological argument we can see that everything must in some way arise out of God, even if by thought. Perhaps matter is a thought in the mind of God.

    That the human soul shares in the divine essence seems to me completely defensible with scripture, although I keep the Bible at arms length.

    In fact, how can we deny that matter is of some sort of divine essence? It’s source is God. There is no outside of God! Is there a place where God’s spirit does not reach?

    I was taught that the Holy Spirit is “everywhere present and fillest all things.”

    And look, people here recently spoke of information requiring a perceiver. What if our cosmos, which the Bible speaks of as being in bondage and to be redeemed, is in fact utterly divine in all aspects and it is our fallen state of low perception that prevents us from seeing it?

    Sin is a symptom. The fall was from a state of spiritual perception to blindness.

  159. 159
    CannuckianYankee says:

    avocationist,

    I appreciate your thoughts. Suffice it to say that I find your views revealing, and they are not something I haven’t thought of myself with great depth.

    However, I have determined that materialism is the metaphysic that is incoherent when attempting to account for existence. Your views appear to me to be a sort of “materialism restated” in an attempt to account for the spiritual, because you think that the absence of matter is nothingness, but I find that your speculations don’t succeed in establishing any semblance of spirituality. In fact, pantheism is a contradiction in terms in my view. If all we and God are is material substance, then there really is no basis for talking about spiritual things. Materialism would be sufficient to account for all of that, and so I think the true atheist materialists are more coherent in this regard. They understand correctly that if matter is all there is, then there is no spirituality, and no sense in talking about it as if there is. Where they falter is with respect to accounting for the origin of everything. If materialism is true, then everything that exists did not have a beginning, but is eternal. In that respect, there really is no need for God. But it is incoherent, because it doesn’t resolve the issue of an infinite regress of physical cause/effect events. The only thing that resolves this in my thinking is expressed in the cosmological argument for a first causal essence, that is not physical, and that is eterma: i.e., God.

    To speak of something that is not matter then, if we allow for spiritual existence, is not nothing. God is not nothing; He is just not material, and we have sufficient evidence in the world that there are things that are not material – such as mind, conscience, intelligence, etc. If you believe that God is nothing or non-existent, then you have to believe somehow (as Stephen Hawking seems to) that the universe created itself out of nothing.

    Hawking apparently claims in his new book that physical laws created the universe out of nothing. The problem with this view is that physical laws are not causal. It’s not the laws, which cause interactions; it is causal events, which lead to other causal events. The physical laws only describe how and why they interact the way they do. It still begs the question, and I’m inclined to agree with what gpuccio calls the “transcendent” ultimate reality, which makes all other realities possible. That reality is not nothing, but necessary, and that to me is God. Of course, I believe God is much more than that, but it’s the best place to start.

  160. 160
    GilDodgen says:

    Hmmm — 159 responses so far at this writing. This always seems to happen, even if almost all the comments are off-topic.

    I rescind my initial thesis in favor of some kind of cosmic accident: Given an infinity of random universes, a disproportional number of comments will be inspired by my insipid posts.

  161. 161
    CannuckianYankee says:

    Gil,

    We may be OT, but we’re having a great time. Keep them coming. 🙂

  162. 162
    avocationist says:

    Hello Canuck,

    Please understand that I am most certainly not promoting materialism. Just yesterday, (I looked but can’t find it) someone posted some physics about quantum mechanics and a quote to the effect that matter itself is without physicality.

    The Epistle of James refers to God as the Father of lights. Light is often spoken of as a spiritual substance or reality. God “dwells in unapproachable light.” Jesus is the light of the world. Yet the light streams down, gives energy to plants, which have mass, and feed animals of flesh.

    You say that if everything is matter, why even discuss spiritual things. But what I actually said is that there is one unified reality, and that this reality is spiritual. I am not sure there is any relevance to the idea that there is a material world.

    I can only reiterate that my view of reality has changed from being like yours, to finding that I no longer can understand the idea of a spiritual reality that is nonmaterial in the sense of completely lacking any substance. I started thinking this way when I began to ponder the very thing at the core of the cosmological principal, that God has this astonishing and utterly unfathomable property that he is able to exist without cause and eternally, without time. I have made absolutely no headway in getting an understanding of this but it has caused me to think deeply about what it means to exist and about how God affects matter.

    But be that as it may, you may rest assured that whatever our souls and God are made of, they are spiritual

    Now, the difficulty for you is the need for a cause of nature that is not of nature. But I think we just have too small a slice of the reality pie to say what matter is in the first place or reject that it arises out of God.

    So again, physicists themselves sometimes say strange and incomprehensible things about the nature of matter or photons, and to me there is only existence or not, and I would like to understand what it means to be not nothing and yet lack any kind of materiality/physicality/substance. Does anyone really picture such a thing? Essence of what?

    Hawking, of course, is foolish.

  163. 163
    avocationist says:

    gpuccio,

    Well, my understanding of panentheism (not pantheism) is more or less that they see God as both transcendant and immanent. I do.

    Perhaps a word or two about what you mean by absolute transcendance.

  164. 164
    gpuccio says:

    ellazimm:

    I’m sure you don’t need me to say it but cherish that feeling.

    I cherish it very much. And, if you allow me, I really wish you, from my heart, to cherish it too (I do believe that you still have it), and to renew it.

    All my best too.

  165. 165
    gpuccio says:

    zeroseven:

    Personally I think the ability to reason is the redeeming quality, not faith (which in many respects is the exact opposite of this).

    I think all are looking for their path to redemption. You find it in reason, and that’s fine. For me, reason is a very important part of my path, but not the most important.

    Defining faith as the opposite of reason is rather strange for me, but I understand that you have probably a concept of faith which is very different from mine. For me faith is in no way opposite to reason. Indeed, it is based on personal experience and reason and a choice of the heart, so in a way it is merely empirical. 🙂

    I obviously respect your views, but are you really convinced that religious experience is always based on a negation of reason?

  166. 166
    gpuccio says:

    avocationist:

    it is rather simple, at least for me. God is absolutely transcendent in its final aspect. For instance, I don’t believe that He “must” create or act in creation out of necessity. For what words may mean at this level, that would be a limit, incompatible with the concept of transcendence.

    But at the same time, God is very immanent and active in His creation. He is manifest in it in many ways.

    I hope that clarifies my position, which probably is not essentially different from yours.

  167. 167
    gpuccio says:

    Gil:

    Shall we try to quantify the improbability? 🙂

  168. 168
    CannuckianYankee says:

    avocationist,

    CS Lewis entertained something similar to your view in an unfinished novel that was I believe intended to be part of the Space Trilogy. In “The Dark Tower” he describes angelic like creatures who have a physicality that is different than worldly physicality. I believe his explanation is that these angelic creatures’ molecular makeup is such that the movement of their particles is at a different frequency, allowing them to move through walls, and to appear etherial. It seems to be a pretty good explanation perhaps, for why Jesus was able to move through walls by manipulating the frequencies of his particles; but that is not something that can be actually known at present. I accept it as simply a miracle.

    There was an episode of Star Trek:TNG, which seemed to suggest something like this – the episode where Giordi, and several other characters drift into another plane of existence as the result of an accident, and they appear on the Enterprise as ghosts. But that’s science fiction. I love sci-fi myself, and I think about these things quite often.

    So Yes, that is something that even Christians entertain. I wouldn’t go so far as to making any belief commitment to such ideas because I simply don’t know. It makes some sense to me, but again, it seems like a speculation (maybe a very good one). So as I said, we have to allow that there are some questions, which will go unanswered. I would hate to make a commitment to such a belief and to have it shown later to not be so. So I think what we can reasonably know based on principles of logic and on what we can observe, is what I’ve already stated. I don’t have an answer as to how something “immaterial” can affect material. Maybe “immaterial” is an inadequate term, but maybe not. It doesn’t pose a problem for me. It’s simply a mystery.

  169. 169
    CannuckianYankee says:

    “God is absolutely transcendent in its final aspect. For instance, I don’t believe that He “must” create or act in creation out of necessity.”

    Exactly. God is necessary for material existence, but material existence is not necessary for, which leads to the realization that we have purpose. God intended us by choice.

  170. 170
    avocationist says:

    Fini!

  171. 171
    CannuckianYankee says:

    avocationist,

    As I was reading through these posts once again, trying to get a handle on certain thought processes, I came upon your statement that “everything is in God.” While I don’t believe that, I certainly understand why you do.

    My understanding in this regard is that God is everywhere. Since God is immanent, He is not confined to a space, but is in space. He is transcendent, He is not confined to matter, time or pace, but is in matter and time and space. This does not mean necessarily that He is a part of any of these categories. I don’t believe He would or could be transcendent if He was at all a part of something He created. I can accept that perhaps when God manifests Himself to us in some form that there might be a physicality to that, but such a physicality is something akin to CS Lewis’s angels in “The Dark Tower.” I don’t believe ultimately that He is limited to whatever hypothetical physicality by which He manifests Himself. Otherwise, He wouldn’t be transcendent. This is why I say “essence” rather than “substance” or even “existence” (we have a lack of a better term) when it comes to God. Someone (I think it may have been VJTorley) clarified this for me. God transcends even existence.

    OK, Fin! 🙂

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