In 1960 Nobel prize winning physicist Eugene Wigner published a brief article entitled “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences.” See it here. In this article Wigner describes as “miraculous” (1) that “laws” of nature exist; and (2) that we should be able to discover those laws.
vjtorley has taken the time to give us a nice summary of and commentary on the article:
BEGIN QUOTATIONS FROM ARTICLE:
…The first point is that the enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is something bordering on the mysterious and that there is no rational explanation for it. Second, it is just this uncanny usefulness of mathematical concepts that raises the question of the uniqueness of our physical theories….
The depth of thought which goes into the formulation of the mathematical concepts is later justified by the skill with which these concepts are used. The great mathematician fully, almost ruthlessly, exploits the domain of permissible reasoning and skirts the impermissible. That his recklessness does not lead him into a morass of contradictions is a miracle in itself: certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess. However, this is not our present subject….
The physicist is interested in discovering the laws of inanimate nature. In order to understand this statement, it is necessary to analyze the concept, “law of nature.”
The world around us is of baffling complexity and the most obvious fact about it is that we cannot predict the future. Although the joke attributes only to the optimist the view that the future is uncertain, the optimist is right in this case: the future is unpredictable. It is, as Schrodinger has remarked, a miracle that in spite of the baffling complexity of the world, certain regularities in the events could be discovered. One such regularity, discovered by Galileo, is that two rocks, dropped at the same time from the same height, reach the ground at the same time. The laws of nature are concerned with such regularities. Galileo’s regularity is a prototype of a large class of regularities. It is a surprising regularity for three reasons.
The first reason that it is surprising is that it is true not only in Pisa, and in Galileo’s time, it is true everywhere on the Earth, was always true, and will always be true. This property of the regularity is a recognized invariance property and, as I had occasion to point out some time ago, without invariance principles similar to those implied in the preceding generalization of Galileo’s observation, physics would not be possible. The second surprising feature is that the regularity which we are discussing is independent of so many conditions which could have an effect on it. It is valid no matter whether it rains or not, whether the experiment is carried out in a room or from the Leaning Tower, no matter whether the person who drops the rocks is a man or a woman…
The preceding two points, though highly significant from the point of view of the philosopher, are not the ones which surprised Galileo most, nor do they contain a specific law of nature. The law of nature is contained in the statement that the length of time which it takes for a heavy object to fall from a given height is independent of the size, material, and shape of the body which drops…
The preceding discussion is intended to remind us, first, that it is not at all natural that “laws of nature” exist, much less that man is able to discover them. [Note 6: E. Schrodinger, in his What Is Life? (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1945), p. 31, says that this second miracle may well be beyond human understanding.] …
[T]he use of complex numbers is in this case [to describe the Hilbert space in quantum mechanics – VJT] not a calculational trick of applied mathematics but comes close to being a necessity in the formulation of the laws of quantum mechanics. Finally, it now begins to appear that not only complex numbers but so-called analytic functions are destined to play a decisive role in the formulation of quantum theory. I am referring to the rapidly developing theory of dispersion relations.
It is difficult to avoid the impression that a miracle confronts us here, quite comparable in its striking nature to the miracle that the human mind can string a thousand arguments together without getting itself into contradictions, or to the two miracles of the existence of laws of nature and of the human mind’s capacity to divine them. The observation which comes closest to an explanation for the mathematical concepts’ cropping up in physics which I know is Einstein’s statement that the only physical theories which we are willing to accept are the beautiful ones. It stands to argue that the concepts of mathematics, which invite the exercise of so much wit, have the quality of beauty. However, Einstein’s observation can at best explain properties of theories which we are willing to believe and has no reference to the intrinsic accuracy of the theory…
[I]t is possible that the theories, which we consider to be “proved” by a number of numerical agreements which appears to be large enough for us, are false because they are in conflict with a possible more encompassing theory which is beyond our means of discovery. If this were true, we would have to expect conflicts between our theories as soon as their number grows beyond a certain point and as soon as they cover a sufficiently large number of groups of phenomena. In contrast to the article of faith of the theoretical physicist mentioned before, this is the nightmare of the theorist.
It is even possible that some of the laws of nature will be in conflict with each other in their implications, but each convincing enough in its own domain so that we may not be willing to abandon any of them. We may resign ourselves to such a state of affairs or our interest in clearing up the conflict between the various theories may fade out. We may lose interest in the “ultimate truth,” that is, in a picture which is a consistent fusion into a single unit of the little pictures, formed on the various aspects of nature….
We now have, in physics, two theories of great power and interest: the theory of quantum phenomena and the theory of relativity. These two theories have their roots in mutually exclusive groups of phenomena… So far, the two theories could not be united, that is, no mathematical formulation exists to which both of these theories are approximations.
A much more difficult and confusing situation would arise if we could, some day, establish a theory of the phenomena of consciousness, or of biology, which would be as coherent and convincing as our present theories of the inanimate world. Mendel’s laws of inheritance and the subsequent work on genes may well form the beginning of such a theory as far as biology is concerned. Furthermore, it is quite possible that an abstract argument can be found which shows that there is a conflict between such a theory and the accepted principles of physics. The argument could be of such abstract nature that it might not be possible to resolve the conflict, in favor of one or of the other theory, by an experiment. Such a situation would put a heavy strain on our faith in our theories and on our belief in the reality of the concepts which we form. It would give us a deep sense of frustration in our search for what I called “the ultimate truth.” The reason that such a situation is conceivable is that, fundamentally, we do not know why our theories work so well. Hence, their accuracy may not prove their truth and consistency. Indeed, it is this writer’s belief that something rather akin to the situation which was described above exists if the present laws of heredity and of physics are confronted.
END QUOTATIONS FROM ARTICLE
Two things should be apparent from the foregoing quotes. First, the atheist’s faith in the enduring constancy of nature is pure superstition. Nature is not to be trusted; there is no reason to think that it will behave tomorrow as it did today. You can’t trust something mindless to keep behaving itself. You can only trust a Person to do something like that.
Second, the inadequacy of the Darwinian account of the origin of human intelligence should now be apparent. Our survival as a species does not require us to be able to discover laws of nature. Nor is it clear that human beings could only have emerged in a universe with mathematically interesting and science-friendly properties (such as universal laws that happen to be simple enough for us to comprehend). The only hypothesis that accounts for these things in a non-arbitrary fashion is the hypothesis that the universe was designed to be understood by its intelligent inhabitants.
Should this hypothesis be correct, then we would predict that the Designer would not want us to tie ourselves up in a mass of seeming contradictions – such as the apparent conflict between quantum mechanics and relativity. This the intelligent design hypothesis would predict that the current theoretical tensions in the fields of physics and cosmology will be successfully resolved, and that the best theories in each domain of science can all be fused into a single ultimate truth.
These are trying times for scientists, as this article shows (see especially articles 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12). Faint-hearted souls might be tempted to toss in the towel and admit defeat: “We’ll never understand it all.” Belief in God, far from being a science-stopper, is the only belief that can counter this defeatist frame of mind, and encourage scientists to keep doing more research. For God alone can guarantee that the universe is ultimately rational.
49 Replies to “Nobel Prize Winner Promotes ID, Circa 1960”
This is something that has always intrigued me. All of mathematics can ultimately be traced back to the simple concept of addition: 1 apple plus 1 apple equals 2 apples.
Repetitive addition yields multiplication and its inverse yields division. Repetitive multiplication yields exponentiation, and its inverse yields roots (e.g., square roots).
From addition we get the notion of its inverse, subtraction. When we subtract a number greater than the number from which it is subtracted we get negative numbers. When we take the square root of -1 (positive times positive = positive, and negative times negative = positive, so negative numbers should not have square roots, but let’s just assume that such a number actually exists) we get the imaginary number i, which leads to complex numbers that have both imaginary and real components.
The interesting thing is that even such strange things as imaginary numbers describe physical reality, and have concrete applicability in physical science.
Here’s another one: F = MA (force equals mass times acceleration) This is a fundamental law of physics, described in the most simple of all mathematical equations, that I use in my work creating finite-element analysis computer simulations of transient nonlinear dynamic systems. (All that means simulating real-life stuff, like cars crashing and figuring out how to design them so that they absorb the energy of impact and protect the human occupants.)
But here’s something very interesting about such a simple mathematical equation as F = MA. Force (e.g., lbf, or pound force) = Mass times Acceleration. Acceleration could be something like feet per second per second (ft. / sec.^2). Solving for Mass with simple algebra we get:
lbf / (ft. / sec.^2) or (lbf times sec.^2) / ft.
Thus, we calculate mass density by dividing mass by volume (in this case ft.^3), and we get:
lbf sec.^2 / ft.^4
How interesting! The simple equation F = MA leads to the concept of four-dimensional space.
And all of this ultimately comes from 1 apple plus 1 apple equals 2 apples.
I have heard about these simulations on the interwebs. The rumour is you introduce an additional element of reality by having the computer running the simulation experence a similar enviroment to that being simulated!
It’s an interesting idea but I think it will have limited pratical use to be honest.
…you introduce an additional element of reality by having the computer running the simulation experence a similar enviroment to that being simulated!
This is a completely incoherent comment, and I have no idea what you are talking about. I’ve just finished a set of FEA simulations at work, the validity of which have been empirically verified through actual physical tests of the systems in question.
If you think FEA has limited practical use I would suggest that you investigate LS-DYNA, the FEA program I use.
P.S. LS-DYNA was originally developed in the early 1970s at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, by some of the world’s most brilliant and innovative scientists, primarily for the development and simulation of nuclear weapons.
It works, but you must know how to use it. This is a nontrivial exercise that requires a lot of dedication and effort.
Sorry, I should have provided some context. You previously said:
And I read some reactions to that on various blogs. Some wag even suggested that the computers running volcano simulations won’t last long if you get your way!
If it applies to simluations of evolution then it applies to all simulations, logically.
And there was quite alot of comment at the time at “the other place”.
I take it you don’t throw your computers running the FEA simulations out the back of planes then?
What about Weasel then? Do you think it explictly latched or not in Dawkins’ original description?
Not quite a nuclear weapon but causing as much debate!
With all due lack of respect, you are a clown, hiding behind your anonymity.
Click on my name or Google it, and you can find out all about me.
You must do the same in order for this conversation to continue. Give your real name so I have as much information about you as you do about me, or do us both a favor and crawl back into the hole from which you emerged.
Give us your real name, as I have done. Otherwise, please do us the favor of blessing us with your absence.
Will you hold your fellow ID proponents (Jerry, Joseph, Clive Hayden, tragic mishap, IRQ Conflict, Borne, and niwrad, off the top of my head) to the same standard?
Personally, I find that ideas and arguments stand or fall on their own.
The underlying machinery (OS, programs, hardware and so on) are an important part of genetic algorithms and therefore become part of the simulation. There is a high degree of intelligence in the underlying “machinery” that often gets overlooked when people compare computer based genetic algorithms and Darwinian evolution. It seems obvious to me that this is the point being made here.
This Blue Lotus clown is a troll. I recognize him. Trolls should be required to identify themselves.
It is a simple design inference. I once suggested that computer simulations that purport to simulate biological evolution should not artificially isolate the means of reproduction from the effects of random errors, and every time this troll logs on with another name he talks about stuff like throwing computers out of airplanes to simulate airdrop guidance software, which he knows is one of my areas of software engineering expertise.
His MO is easily recognizable, and he reappears under different names.
He is a cowardly scumbag.
You failed to answer my question. Either all participants should be required to identify themselves or none should. The fact that Blue Lotus disagrees with you is not justification for applying a double standard.
I have long maintained that these sorts of occasions are perfect opportunities to formalize the mathematical method of design detection.
Why can we not bar the trolls from here? I mostly lurk but I’d like to discuss something without the thread getting hijacked into these directions that don’t bear any fruit.
That is a key reason that we are Alone in this war. We have to Reprioritize our commitments towards Depending on common decency.
We have rational minds, we live in a rational universe, and there is a correspondence between the two. That the language of those two realms should match, is, indeed, a miracle, and needs to be accounted for.
Every Darwinist I have ever interacted with displays ignorance about that correspondence, and, when apprised of it, discounts its significance, pretending not to know what it might indicate.
Would it be too much, then, if I ask Darwinists to address that topic and refrain from derailing the thread with mindless and irrelevant forays into other matters?
Why would you expect evolution to result in a lack of correspondence between reality and our understanding of it?
The ability to understand reality is an advantage that will be selected for. Failure to understand reality will result in failure to reproduce. Not a great mystery.
“The ability to understand reality is an advantage that will be selected for. Failure to understand reality will result in failure to reproduce. Not a great mystery.”
Darwinists make it sound so simple. It is quite confounding that anyone could think complex consciousness development can be accounted for by Darwinian processes (as the above just-so explanation suggests). You guys keep asking us “where’s the ID mechanism?,” “who designed the designer?” “how can you falsify ID?” then you give us such pithy little explanations for a phenomenon who’s existence belies and goes far beyond any simplistic and naturalistic assumption.
I once suggested that computer simulations that purport to simulate biological evolution should not artificially isolate the means of reproduction from the effects of random errors….
Does that require subjecting the hardware to the forces being tested? If so, what distinguishes evolutionary algorithms from any other simulation being run in software? I apologize if the answer seems obvious to you; I know very little about computer science. You seem adamant that you’re being misrepresented, but I don’t understand how.
That certainly would be interesting if it were true. But ft^4 in the equation doesn’t lead to the concept four spatial dimensions any more than sec^2 leads to two temporal dimensions. Multiple factors of the same unit do not necessarily imply mutual orthogonality.
Take any physical property that varies spatially — say, temperature. We can talk about how temperature changes over distance in units °F/ft, or how that change changes in units °F/ft^2, etc. on up to °F/ft^zillion, but those units have nothing to do with multiple spatial dimensions.
The underlying OS and hardware should be irrelevant to how any algorithm proceeds – you could ditch the computer and implement the GA with an abacus, pencil and paper, and it should still work the same as if it were implemented in c++ on a MacBook (it would just be slower by hand!)
In a GA the mutation operator is a crude model of the effects of errors during reproduction.
GEM of TKI to that!
Cannuckian Yankee (15),
“You guys keep asking us “where’s the ID mechanism?,” “who designed the designer?” “how can you falsify ID?” then you give us such pithy little explanations for a phenomenon who’s existence belies and goes far beyond any simplistic and naturalistic assumption.”
The trouble for ID, though, is that however you cut it the evolutionary mechanism has far more structure, evidnce and explanatory power than the ID mechanism – because all the latter is is “someone/thing designed it”. On that basis alone, evolution is better at explaining biology than ID.
StephenB’s assertion was with respect to the correspondence between our minds and reality. Given the existence of complex brains, such a correspondence is to be expected, for exactly the reasons I noted.
You are apparently making a different argument from incredulity:
Please demonstrate how consciousness “belies and goes far beyond” any “naturalistic assumption” (by which I presume you mean an explanation based on methodological naturalism, please correct me if I’m mistaken).
Please also describe a scientific (falsifiable) theory for consciousness that better explains the empirical evidence and provides greater predictive power. Without this support, your argument remains one from incredulity.
I believe if we built a complete, working mechanical computing machine using the design of Babbage, it would run Weasel just as well as any Intel or AMD CPU.
Furthermore, I am of the opinion that the Weasel algorithm translated into suitable machine code would perform exactly like whether run on the Altair 8080 computer, a VIC20, Commodore64, a Cray machine, the IBM 360/370, or in fact any proper computer at all..
That’s how computers must work – how else could we use them for space exploration, weather forecasting or the myriad of industrial applications we entrust or lives to?
As far as I know, computers used in aircraft or space applications are not isolated from g-forces. Would they be unaffected by such isolation or would that somehow make them less, or more reliable?
A computer shall only obey the program code; any interference with that will make the program useless.
Gil is right, Blue Lotus also goes by David v. Squatney. So, Blue, which name would you like to use? To make it easier to follow and for the sake of continuity, just stick with your David v. Squatney handle, and Blue Lotus will now be retired by me.
I think some of you are missing the point here. Computer based genetic algorithms are basically a search technique that could be described informally as a random search with heuristics. Fitness functions act to direct the search towards the desired goal. These fitness functions are finely tuned to the problem the GA is trying solve. This makes computer based genetic algorithms totally different from Darwinian evolution, and therefore pretty much irrelevant to the debate. In other words, most computer based genetic algorithms do not simulate Darwinian evolution in a realistic way. Dembski and Marks have published a lot of material that describes this in a more formal way.
I believe that when Gil refers to the “underlying machinery”, he is referring to the operating system, the API, and the program itself. If you really wanted to create a realistic simulation of Darwinian evolution, you would have to make sure that the “machinery” is not adding any “intelligence” to your algorithm, since there is no “intelligence” in blind evolution. That is the point, and talking about throwing computers out of airplanes is just a waste of time and is taking away from the real debate.
The real problem for evolutionists is that every time an attempt has been made to model evolution on a computer, a great deal of intelligence has to be shoved into the algorithm to make it work.
—-Delurker: “StephenB’s assertion was with respect to the correspondence between our minds and reality. Given the existence of complex brains, such a correspondence is to be expected, [by Darwinists] for exactly the reasons I noted.”
You seem to be taking an awful lot for granted. How did nature become comprehensible? How did the mind develop the capacity to comprehend it? How and why did the two realms get coordinated such that each makes sense with the other? How did two realms arise in the first place? Why should there even be two realms? Indeed, which Darwinist even accepts the existence of two realms, one of which constitutes the immaterial mind of the investigator while the other constitutes the material reality that is being investigated. For Darwinsts, there is only one realm—-matter reflecting on matter—molecules comtemplating other molecules. That means that “correspondence” is irrelevant to a Darwinist because they do not recognize the two distinct realms that would correspond.
Nothing in physics makes sense except in light of intelligent design.
I think this is good phrase to use I modified if form
Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.
I do not think evolution is perfect and is flawed.
I think you have missed the point. You are right in saying that some GA’s are used to search for solutions but computers are also used to model evolution in the same way that they are used to model the climate, or to simulate car crashes. Saying that a simulation of evolution should involve interfering with the underlying hardware is the same as saying that a simulation of a car crash should involve smashing the computer into a wall, or that to simulate the weather you should expose the motherboard to the rain. Gil, in his statement, seemed to confuse ‘models of evolution’ with ‘evolve a computer’ – two totally different things.
Simulations are always approximations but they are written with the aim of accurately capturing the behavior of the thing being modeled, they are mathematical and the computer is just a tool, like the abacus, which we use to do the math quicker. Simulations of evolution don’t sneak ‘intelligence’ in any more than weather or car crash simulations do. when they work it is usually for the same reasons that real evolution works.
Don’t assume that because it takes intelligence to design and implement good, accurate, mathematical models, that the things being modeled must also be the result of intelligence.
Clive, as I understand it Blue Lotus is not David v. Squatney, but I may be wrong.
The ultimate non-randomness of psuedorandom algorithms is an important consideration in modeling evolution. However, I personally have yet to see a good argument for how it constitutes stealth design — unless, perhaps, psuedorandomness is part of one or more ID hypotheses? Maybe all mutations are generated psuedorandomly, and that’s how FSCI is acheived?
And regarding something specific GilDodgen said, I’m curious in what way simulations “artificially isolate the means of reproduction from the effects of random errors”. (I’m not saying they don’t, just curious how they do.)
Nature should be incomprehensible by default?
Technically, this question can be asked of dualism and any other non-materialistic view — how does a non-material designer create and influence the material? (Or is there really only one ‘realm’ — the mind of the designer?)
That’s a rather sweeping statement. Usually in science, such sweeping generalizations are discouraged for obvious reasons.
Every single simulation I have ever looked into obviously does sneak some kind of algorithm in that chooses among the various alternatives for a purpose and with foresight. The various incantations of Avida and Weasel being prime examples.
Perhaps there are others I am unaware of?
That is not a question that is addressed by modern evolutionary theory. To the extent that nature is comprehensible, modern evolutionary theory predicts that alignment with reality will be selected for.
That’s an interesting question. Biologists investigating the evolution of the human brain are attempting to answer it. Thus far the answer appears to be “incrementally.”
No need to coordinate. Reality exists. Organisms who don’t deal with reality die (eventually).
The nature of reality is not addressed by modern evolutionary theory. The fitness of organisms to that reality is.
You’re letting your terminology run away with you. There is physical reality and there are mechanisms that allow populations of organisms to become more fit with respect to that physical reality.
What evidence do you have that mind is immaterial?
Gil is right, Blue Lotus also goes by David v. Squatney. So, Blue, which name would you like to use? To make it easier to follow and for the sake of continuity, just stick with your David v. Squatney handle, and Blue Lotus will now be retired by me.
Detecting trolls involves a relatively simple design inference. They have thematic fingerprints which are immediately obvious; the use of language in certain ways is also consistent and obvious; and they always try to hide their identity by logging on with different names.
Unfortunately for the troll, his attempts at deception will ultimately find him out, because one cannot fake his fingerprints.
I think there’s something about one’s sins ultimately finding him out, in a book I once read.
Actually, you cannot know ‘how’ God, as immaterial substance, influences the material. Just as you cannot know ‘how’ spontaneity, as an abstract concept, influences the material world. However, the former is a positive claim, whereas the latter is a negative claim.
In fact, invoking spontaneity and chance is an appeal to ignorance ( I don’t know, therefore chance). It seems a rather intellectually lazy position to reject design in favor of chance.
As I mentioned to Beelzebub (not sure what moniker he has been ‘transmogrified’ into), if its a choice between God and chance, God wins hands down.
How did nature become comprehensible?
—-Deluker: “That is not a question that is addressed by modern evolutionary theory.”
Yes, I know. That’s a problem.
It is a problem tha biology doesn’t explain physics and cosmology? What an odd statement.
—Delurker: “What evidence do you have that mind is immaterial?”
[a] The placebo effect.
[b] The minds capacity to overrule the brains impulses.
[c] The minds capacity to absorb and understand immaterial concepts, such as evolutionary theory.
[d] The mind’s capacity to get the physical universe inside of itself.
What evidence do you have that evolutionary theory can explain any of those things?
—-“No need to coordinate. Reality exists. Organisms who don’t deal with reality die (eventually).”
What does adjusting, failing to adjust, and dying have to do with the fact that mathematical laws, which are the tools of the investigator, reflect perfectly the laws of the physical universe, which is the object of the investigation.
How did nature become comprehensible?
—Lenoxus: “Nature should be incomprehensible by default?”
Answering a question with another question does not answer the question. Use your imagination. Take a guess.
—“Technically, this question can be asked of dualism and any other non-materialistic view — how does a non-material designer create and influence the material?”
Either an super powerful designer creates a universe out of nothing, or a non-existent universe creates itself out of nothing. Which one seems more plausible to you?
This is based on an assumption about God which does not logically derive from the God-as-first-cause idea, any more than, say, omnibenevolence would logically arise from the God idea.
Intelligent design — your one-stop shop for all your philosophical needs! I’m suddenly wondering — is there any possible universe that positing God (or any designer) could not explain?
—-Lenoxus: “Intelligent design — your one-stop shop for all your philosophical needs! I’m suddenly wondering — is there any possible universe that positing God (or any designer) could not explain?”
Meaning no disrespect [honest], but this is the second consecutive time you have evaded the question and changed the subject. The original question was this: How did nature become comprehensible? You either have some idea about how that could happen or you don’t.
When I ask about the comprehensible nature of the universe, I am not asking about the capacity of the person doing the comprehending, or the ways he may have come to that state, but rather about the characteristics of the object being comprehended.
Example: When I write a comprehensible paragraph [I hope] and someone reads it with comprehension, two things are going on: Someone [or something, (in this case, me)] had to make the paragraph readable in order for the one reading to make any sense out of it. In other words, a comprehending reader, however perspicacious or insightful he may be, cannot make sense out of the paragraph unless someone first made it sensible. If it was pure jibberish, there would be no comprehension.
So it is with the problem of the universe and the one who comprehends it. Again, there are two things going on. Like the paragraph that must be comprehensible to the reader, the universe must be comprehensible to the scientist. Regardless of how perceptive and penetrating his intellect, the scientist cannot comprehend the universe unless it has already been made, or always was, or made itself, comprehensible So, putting aside for a moment the question of how the scientist developed his capacities to comprehend it, we have a separate question: How did the universe that the scientist is about to comprehend become comprehensible?
You mean it includes an algorithm to simulate the effects of natural selection?
I get the impression from discussions on this issue that the only simulation of evolution that the ID crown would accept is one that doesn’t simulate natural selection, which wouldn’t be a very good simulation of evolution. We can observe how genotype to phenotype to behaviour translations affect the ability of organisms to reproduce, so modelling this on a computer is perfectly acceptable.
No, it would be comprehensible — as gibberish. The sequence QKHGX is comprehensible as “Q, K, H, G, X.” The movement of molecules in a gas is likewise comprehensible gibberish. Given that, it’s hard to imagine how nature could be “incomprehensible”. My question-answer was a rhetorical way of saying “There is no reason nature should not be comprehensible.”
When I responded to “Yes, I know. That’s a problem”, I didn’t think I was taking things off topic. My personal unstated assumption is that this philosophical question is not something the biological theory of evolution ought to address — a “problem” for it. I was making fun of the insinuation that by “addressing” the question, ID is superior, by pointing out that I don’t see any philosophical question that ID couldn’t “address”, simply by saying “it was designed that way”. (To this, one might respond that evolutionists can always claim “it evolved that way”, and the debate continues!)
My honest answer to “how did nature become comprehensible” would probably be the same as the usual answer to “Who created God?” — nature was never not comprehensible (or, if you like, it became comprehensible with the gradual appearance of the first sensing beings, whether that was here on Earth or elsewhere).
You’ll need to provide more detail to explain how that requires an immaterial mind.
Different levels of regulatory control. No immaterialism required.
You are assuming dualism. Any concept in one’s mind is there by virtue of patterns in the physical brain. Are you suggesting that concepts have actual existence independent of brains capable of holding those patterns?
That is incoherent.
What things? Nothing you’ve listed requires or even suggests that the mind is separate from the brain.
Your original question was related to the evolution of consciousness that can understand reality. My answer explains that. Traits that cause organisms to fail to adapt to reality don’t last long.
Your larger question of why, at some scales, reality can be modeled using mathematics, has nothing to do with modern evolutionary theory. That’s not to say it isn’t an interesting question, it simply has no bearing on biology.
—Lenoxus: “My honest answer to “how did nature become comprehensible” would probably be the same as the usual answer to “Who created God?” — nature was never not comprehensible (or, if you like, it became comprehensible with the gradual appearance of the first sensing beings, whether that was here on Earth or elsewhere).”
Thanks for trying. At least you are in the game. The problem with your answer is that you are describing the investigator rather than the object being investigated. “Sensing beings cannot make the universe comprehensible, they can only apprecitiate and come to learn about its comprehensibility.”
Well, I gave one example of each of those, because there are two ways of tackling the question. (My first example was “nature was never not comprehensible”. By that, I meant to address the question of nature all by itself, sans observer — the object. If you want to ask “but how can something be comprehensible without an observer?”, then we’ve shifted our interpretations of “comprehensibility”, and I turn your attention to example 2. And the true answer for example 2 may in fact be “nature became comprehensible with the appearance of God — so if God was the first cause, nature was always comprehensible.”)
If there was no vision, but still an EM spectrum, would the color green exist? How did it come to exist? I say that it came to exist as a result of the existence and behavior of the EM spectrum — or, if you like, as a result of creatures’ abilities to perceive that part of the specturm in a certain way. My giving two answers is rather like using two languages, because this all depends on your definitions. Regardless, I see no need for anything to “make” nature comprehensible — just (if you define comprehensibility as necessitating a comprehender) a working set of sense organs. Even ants comprehend a portion of nature! (Even humans do!)
Albert Einstein (1936): “The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility…. The fact that it is comprehensible is a miracle.”
I guess many here scorn Einstein’s insight. After all, it’s an argument from authority; however this is a very eminent authority, the creator of special and general relativity.
Lenoxus (#36): “…it’s hard to imagine how nature could be “incomprehensible”.” I guess it’s partly a matter of deciding who is the greater authority.
I find posts 13 and 14 to be “priceless.” Commenting on the thread, StephenB notes that there is an incredible correspondence that needs to be accounted for.
He then laments that Darwinists are ignorant of it, and when informed of it, discount it, “pretending not to know what it might indicate.”
“Would it be too much, then, if I ask Darwinists to address that topic and refrain from derailing the thread with mindless and irrelevant forays into other matters?”
Then, DeLurker responds with this:
“Why would you expect evolution to result in a lack of correspondence between reality and our understanding of it? The ability to understand reality is an advantage that will be selected for. Failure to understand reality will result in failure to reproduce. Not a great mystery” simultaneously showing ignorance, disdain, pretense, while sidetracking the argument further with the banal “the ability to understand reality will be selected for” as if we didn’t know that according to the Darwinista mantra EVERYTHING is selected for. Because it is a mantra, it is mindless; because it is mindless, it is irrelevant.
(After billions of years of selection, one would think that we’d finally have this ability nailed down a little more tightly than we do. . . but that’s just me.)
StephenB, not exactly what you were looking for, was it.
BTW One of my jobs is such that if my colleagues knew that I posted here, some would support it, some wouldn’t care, and some would get me fired; it is that last group that will only know that . . . they call me Tim.
You could equally argue that Einstein’s quote is an argument from ignorance – of biology.
Remember also that Einstein spent many many years working towards a unification theory with beautiful but wrong math. QM works but is not beautiful. Einstein hated nasty hacks like the cosmological constant, but guess what, its back.
I agree with other commenters that the ability to comprehend the world is strongly selected for (since our ancestors were bacteria, at least), and the ability to build simple mental models of the world in also selected for. Most of mathematics has been invented for its utility, not its beauty. Wigner’s amazement at the effectiveness of math in the natural sciences should be at the level of his amazement that socks are sold in pairs.