Intelligent Design

Quashing Materialist Appeals to Magic (Again)

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Ironically enough, materialists are a mystical lot. They say they reject irrational and superstitious beliefs, but when one pushes them past their ability to explain life, the universe and everything in materialist terms, they are very quick to resort to obscurantist pseudo-explanations. And “it emerged” is their favorite dodge.

As we have explained many times before, “it emerged” is the explanatory equivalent of “it’s magic.” But like bugs scattering when the lights are turned on, we have to stomp on this one again and again. Like today for instance. In my Why there is no Meaning if Materialism is True post I argued that on materialist premises – that nothing exists but space, time, particles and energy – there can be no meaning.

Popperian says I can do better. There is “emergence” after all.  And I poked a little fun at Pop:

as Popperian argues on these pages ad nauseam, it’s all emergent. You see, if you stack up the burned out star stuff this way, nothing. But if you stack it up ever so slightly differently, poof!! out of a cloud of smoke emerges rabbits, doves, silly string, consciousness, and morality.

Yes, that is the level to which we have descended — the invocation magic.

And then REC gave us this gem:

Barry, @29, seems close to denying that different arrangements of matter will have different properties. If ID wants to fight with chemistry, that is a development I look forward to.

Sigh.

REC, as we have explained over and over and over, we do not reject emergence as an explanation as such. See here where we said this in so many words.  No, we reject “it emerged” when materialist like you and Popperian use it as a pseudo-explanation to obscure the fact that you haven’t the faintest idea how consciousness arises from the physical properties of the brain.

Your fellow atheist Thomas Nagel also rejects your antics:

Merely to identify a cause is not to provide a significant explanation without some understanding of why the cause produces the effect.

To qualify as a genuine explanation of the mental, an emergent account must be in some way systematic. It cannot just say that each mental event or state supervenes on the complex physical state of the organism in which it occurs. That would the kind of brute fact that does not constitute an explanation but rather calls for an explanation.

If emergence is the whole truth, it implies that mental states are present in the organism as a whole, or its central nervous system, without any grounding in the elements that constitute the organism, expect for the physical character of those elements that permits them to be arranged in the complex form that, according to the higher-level theory, connects the physical with the mental. That such a purely physical elements, when combined in a certain way, should necessarily produce a state of the whole that is not constituted of of the properties and relations of the physical parts still seems like magic even if the higher-order psychophysical dependencies are quite systematic.

Emphasis added.

And if you don’t believe Nagel, maybe you’ll believe Elizabeth Liddle:

[“Emergent” is] simply a word to denote the idea that when a whole has properties of a whole that are not possessed by the parts, those properties “emerge” from interactions between the parts (and of course between the whole and its environment). It is not itself an explanation – to be an explanation you would have to provide a putative mechanism by which those properties were generated. . . .

‘It’s emergent’ would be on an intellectual par with saying ‘It’s magic!’

REC, you most certainly cannot provide a putative mechanism by which immaterial consciousness arises from the material properties of the brain. I know this, because if you could I feel sure I would have seen you on the news accepting your Nobel prize.

Since you cannot provide such a putative mechanism, your own buddy Elizabeth Liddle would say you have done the equivalent of invoking magic. And I bet you think ID proponents are credulous.

136 Replies to “Quashing Materialist Appeals to Magic (Again)

  1. 1
    REC says:

    Barry,

    My comment was quite a bit more limited in scope than you make it out to be. It is your blog, so you get to pick the fights you want and run away from others.

    Andrew asked what the materialist explanation for “gaps between materials, if not magic” and you stated that “if you stack up the burned out star stuff this way, nothing. But if you stack it up ever so slightly differently, poof” and then list items including silly string, which I’m quite sure polymer scientists have a quite firm materialist grasp on. There is an internet meme “magnets how do they work” mocking the ICP song “Miracles” that I think reflects this well.

    I completely agree with the statements of Drs. Liddle and Nagel. Saying something is emergent and terminating the investigation there is fruitless and unscientific. It is as bad as ID screaming “design” and then distancing itself from mechanisms. Might want to reflect on the hypocrisy there. What you lack is a single example where science has terminated investigation of an emergent phenomenon. Have neuroscientists everywhere given up?

    I don’t understand the structure of your argument that now spans many threads.

    Is it?

    – Science has an incomplete understanding of consciousness.
    – Ethics is a product of conscious beings
    – Without a complete materialist understanding of consciousness, we can’t even consider systems of ethics not founded on a non-material transcendent source of morality

  2. 2
    Barry Arrington says:

    REC

    It is as bad as ID screaming “design” and then distancing itself from mechanisms.

    Describe the “mechanism” by which you designed comment 1.

  3. 3
    Barry Arrington says:

    REC

    I don’t understand the structure of your argument that now spans many threads.

    The arguments I employed were straightforward; they are accessible to a child. If you don’t understand them it is because you choose not to, and I can’t help you with that.

  4. 4
    Barry Arrington says:

    REC

    What you lack is a single example where science has terminated investigation of an emergent phenomenon. Have neuroscientists everywhere given up?

    That comment actually cuts in a way you probably did not anticipate. Of course neuroscientists have not given up. On almost a daily basis they issue materialist promissory notes about how the material explanation for consciousness is just around the corner. That you would say that have not “given up” is as clear an admission as any that they have not succeeded. In fact, they are nowhere close to succeeding and, in principle, cannot succeed.

    Only someone with a blind unwavering grit-your-teeth-no-matter-what faith in materialist metaphysics — someone like you REC — still holds out hope for their hopeless enterprise.

  5. 5
    Peter says:

    Physicists have a word for it, singularity. It means we don’t have a clue how that happened.

  6. 6
    Mung says:

    Nothing is impossible with Materialism!

    Science has an incomplete understanding of science.

    Ethics exists once anything at all exists.

    Without a complete materialist understanding of ethics, we can’t even consider systems of consciousness not founded on a non-material transcendent source of reality.

  7. 7
    Popperian says:

    First, note how Barry hasn’t actually quoted or even linked to my definition of emergence, despite mentioning me directly in the OP. Apparently, Barry’s strategy is to ignore the contents of my comments and misrepresent my position.

    Barry:

    They say they reject irrational and superstitious beliefs, but when one pushes them past their ability to explain life, the universe and everything in materialist terms, they are very quick to resort to obscurantist pseudo-explanations. And “it emerged” is their favorite dodge.

    For the umpteenth time, I’ve already explained that emergence is not an explanation per-se, but a class or level of explanation. Nor am I saying that we have an emergent explanation for consciousness, What I’m saying is that any such explanation would be at a level that is not reductionist in nature. As such, claiming no such reductionist explanation is known or even possible is a red herring. Furthermore, the idea that all explanations must be reductionist in nature is a specific philosophical view, which you’re implicitly smuggled into your argument and have not argued for. As such, your argument is parochial, because it is unnecessarily narrow in scope.

    Furthermore, I’ve provided concrete examples of emergence.

    For example, the universality of computation fits this description as, at a minimum, the ability to in principle emulate any other universal computer, whether made of transistors, vacuum tubes or even wooden cogs, emerges from a specific repertoire of computations. The very fact that it’s possible to emulate classic Mac OS 7.0.1 in a browser using Javascript is just one example of universality.

    When you visit that link, what you’ve just experienced is a class of high-level phenomena that is quasi-autonomous (transistors, vacuum tubes or wooden cogs) and nearly self-contained. In fact, it would even be possible to perform this same emulation on universal computer based on wooden cogs, in principle, if you had enough punch cards and time to swap them. When explicably resolves at this higher, quasi-autonomous level, that explanation is an example of emergence.

    In addition, those computations were not initially “designed” for the purpose of universality. Rather, we accidentally stumbled upon universality while trying to build more accurate calculators. Universality emerged from that specific repertoire of computations, which the entire field of computational theory rests on.

    And what response to i receive in return? At best we get incredulity and KF posting diagrams and schematics that could be just as applicable to calculators, which need not be universal, and completely ignores the theory of computation. See no evil? Hear no evil?

    Our ability to create solutions, despite the existence of intractable or interchangeable details, is a key aspect of emergent explanations.

    For example, when we discovered that Newton’s laws of motion were false, we didn’t have to change our explanation of how to launch objects into space. Specifically, Einstein’s theory indicates something completely different is happening in reality, compared to Newton’s theory. And so did Kepler before him. In regards to orbits, we have in succession: no force needed, an inverse square law force needed, and again, no force needed. Yet, our ability to solve problems related to launching objects into space are, for the most part, are unaffected. This is possible because sweeping way underlying entities by which a theory makes an explanation is not necessarily the same as sweeping way the entirety of the explanation.

    Kepler suggested that all planets in space were subject to these same law, including the earth. Newton went further and said that both applies and planets were subject to the same law and that it was an inverse-square force that varied by mass. Einstein said space and time were warped by mass in a way that approximated the result of an inverse square force, but no such force was actually at work. All of these theories reflected truths that lived on as different entities, but played the same role in the theory of how to launch objects into space.

    The fact that this is even possible is a concrete example of an emergent explanation that resolves at this higher, quasi-autonomous level. This is because each of those theories suggested something completely different was happening in reality, in a reductionist sense.

    In anticipation, I’ll again point out that not having an exhaustive explanation for conciseness etc. doesn’t mean we know nothing. Saying something is emergent is describing the level at which any such explanation would appear. Nor is it equivalent to “magic” as Berry is trying to suggest.

  8. 8
    Popperian says:

    I wrote:

    Furthermore, the idea that all explanations must be reductionist in nature is a specific philosophical view, which you’re implicitly smuggled into your argument and have not argued for. As such, your argument is parochial, because it is unnecessarily narrow in scope.

    Example?

    Mung:

    Without a complete materialist understanding of ethics, we can’t even consider systems of consciousness not founded on a non-material transcendent source of reality.

    Note that Mung has just asserted this as if everyone knows this would obviously be necessary before we could know anything at all. However, this is a specific philosophical position which he hasn’t argued for or even identified as a form of justificationism.

    Theism is itself a special, more specific case of justiicationism. As such, criticisms of that philosophical view are applicable. Nor do they represent a form of prejudice or scientism.

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington says:

    I invite our readers to examine Popperian’s rantings in comments 7 and 8. Prepare to be bored.

    What does it amount to? There’s foot stamping on the order of “there’s just gotta be an emergent explanation for how consciousness arose from the brain.” There’s sneering (your argument is, like, so parochial). There is irrelevant meandering (the whole computation discussion); there is an outright falsehood (not having an exhaustive explanation for conciseness etc. doesn’t mean we know nothing). Sorry to break it to you Pop; no one has the slightest clue how physical things can result in mental things.

    What is conspicuous in its absence is even a teeny tiny hint of a nod toward an explanation for how he knows with seemingly absolute certainty that there is an emergent answer out there somewhere even if we don’t have the slightest clue what it is.

    And why is he so certain? It is not because science has discovered an emergent answer. He is honest enough to admit that. It is not because science has discovered even the first hint of a step toward an emergent answer (he kind of dissembles on that). It is not because he can demonstrate, in principle, how a physical thing can cause a mental thing. No, it is none of these things. Instead, he has a (apparently very powerful) quasi-religious commitment to materialist metaphysics. For Popperian the metaphysics come first; the facts come second. And his metaphysics requires there to be an emergent answer.

    What Popperian does not explain is why anyone else should drop down on the floor and join him as he grovels at the altar of his god.

  10. 10
    Box says:

    Popperian has yet to show the relevance of emergence to the problem raised by Barry.

    Barry Arrington: A materialist says nothing exists but space, time, particles and energy. Thus, our bodies are nothing but particles in motion in space through time. Particles in motion lack the capacity to make moral choices for the simple reason that they have no free will. News flash Sean. Materialism excludes libertarian free will. If a particular amalgamation of burned out star stuff could not have done other than what it did, it makes no sense to say it is capable of making a moral choice. In other words, one has to be able to make a choice of any kind before one can make a choice of a particular kind.

    Barry’s argument is straightforward:

    1. No morality without free will
    2. Materialism excludes free will

    conclusion: Under materialism no morality.

    Now, if Popperian agrees with premise 1, then he has to argue that emergence provides us with free will. So far he hasn’t done so. So again: what is the relevance of emergence?

    In the ‘Being an Atheist Makes You Stupid thread’, I wrote to Popperian …

    But I don’t think anyone is willing to propose that by “genuinely emergent” is meant that property X emerges from blind particles, cuts itself loose from its source and self-creates an unrelated rational world, right?

    Not so much because such a proposal is contrary to ‘common sense’, but because it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

    … and haven’t received a response thus far.

  11. 11
    Silver Asiatic says:

    REC

    What you lack is a single example where science has terminated investigation of an emergent phenomenon. Have neuroscientists everywhere given up?

    ID is a scientific project. It terminates with evidence of design, just as evolution terminates with evidence of development of life, not the origin of life. You’re assuming there’s a necessary conflict between neuroscientists and ID.

  12. 12
    Bob O'H says:

    Silver Asiatic – as you know, there are people studying OoL, i.e abiogenesis. So who is there following on from ID to go beyond evidence of design to study properties of the designer?

  13. 13
    Mung says:

    Note that Mung has just asserted this as if everyone knows this would obviously be necessary before we could know anything at all. However, this is a specific philosophical position which he hasn’t argued for or even identified as a form of justificationism.

    Mung was being a wiseass.

    REC wrote: Without a complete materialist understanding of consciousness, we can’t even consider systems of ethics not founded on a non-material transcendent source of morality

    So I wrote: Without a complete materialist understanding of ethics, we can’t even consider systems of consciousness not founded on a non-material transcendent source of reality.

    Makes about as much sense from my perspective.

  14. 14
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Bob

    So who is there following on from ID to go beyond evidence of design to study properties of the designer?

    Properties of the designer is not the ID project, and cosmology is not an evolutionary project. So, ID doesn’t go beyond the scientific evidence that it studies.

    Once a conclusion is drawn that there is Design, then any number of projects are available, including religion as one possibility. But again, that’s not ID.

  15. 15
    Popperian says:

    @Barry#9

    I invite our readers to examine Popperian’s rantings in comments 7 and 8. Prepare to be bored.

    Wow. That’s some really specific criticism, Barry. After all, you could say the same thing about a fictional movie someone just doesn’t find entertaining. Perhaps things will improve?

    Barry:

    There’s foot stamping on the order of “there’s just gotta be an emergent explanation for how consciousness arose from the brain.”

    Huh? Again, I’m responding to the claim that materialists think that…

    02. There is nothing – absolutely nothing – in that vast immensity but space, time, particles and energy.

    And that

    Fundamentally, however, humans are nothing but insignificant amalgamations of burned out star stuff on an insignificant rock orbiting an insignificant star in an insignificant galaxy in an incomprehensibly vast universe.

    However, this leaves out an entire class of emergent explanations and phenomena. And when I pointed this out, you said you consider it equivalent to “magic” and therefore omitted it because you thought it didn’t help. But this would be to conflate the concept of emergent properties with a man “emerging from behind a tree”. The explanations for emergent properties occur at a different level. They represent a level of abstraction that is quasi independent of things, such as atoms.

    I’ve given examples of this in the case of launching objects into orbit. The fact that it’s possible to retain our explanation, despite Einstein claiming something completely different what happening in reality at a reductionist level, is a concrete example of an emergent explanation that is quasi independent.

    You have no response, other than it’s “boring”. No improvement yet.

    There’s sneering (your argument is, like, so parochial).

    Again, the idea that explanations must be reductionist in nature is a philosophical position, which you haven’t argued for. Do you deny this?

    Apparently, you’re only response is that you don’t like my tone (which is particularly ironic coming from someone who writes articles with titles like “Atheism makes you stupid”.) To assume otherwise is to assume that the entire field of epistemology is essentially meaningless, since everyone knows what truth, knowledge, etc. is, the issue is completely settled and will never change, despite having already having done so in the past. Is this what you’re suggesting?

    However, It’s unclear how we could not be mistaken about this in the first place, in that we got it right from the start. How does that work in practice?

    Furthermore, Theism is a special case of justificationism. As such criticism of that philosophical view is not bigotry or prejudice of theism. You don’t have to believe in God to be a justificationist. Nor would criticisms of that view be specific to theism. They are equally applicable. So, claims that you are being singled out are simply false.

    There is irrelevant meandering (the whole computation discussion);

    I’m taking your position seriously for the purpose of criticism. Specifically, if emergence is “magic” then the universality of computation would be “magic” as well. And so is a number of other emergent phenomena. Is that what you’re suggesting?

    there is an outright falsehood (not having an exhaustive explanation for conciseness etc. doesn’t mean we know nothing). Sorry to break it to you Pop; no one has the slightest clue how physical things can result in mental things.

    Now you’re moving the goal posts. as your arguments appeal to the necessary impossibility of things under “materialism”, not that we currently lack an explanation.

    If you are defeated at a game of chess by a computer, we do not say that you were defeated by atoms because computers are physically made of atoms. Right? Yet, your demand of an explanation for how “physical things can result in mental things” in a reductionist way is no less unreasonable.

    Still no improvement. Things are not looking very promising.

    What is conspicuous in its absence is even a teeny tiny hint of a nod toward an explanation for how he knows with seemingly absolute certainty that there is an emergent answer out there somewhere even if we don’t have the slightest clue what it is.

    Again, the argument being made is that materialism cannot explain mental things because materialism claims that there are only physical things (which is false) and physical things cannot explain mental things. But that assumes that all explanations are reductionist in nature.

    And why is he so certain?

    Which is not what I’m claiming at all and is yet another misrepresentation of my position. See above. Things have gone from bad to worse as you’ve completely gone off the rails.

  16. 16
    Zachriel says:

    Silver Asiatic: Properties of the designer is not the ID project, and cosmology is not an evolutionary project.

    All valid scientific fields interlock and provide a framework. While the Theory of Evolution doesn’t explain the origin of life, biology is concerned with the origin of life. Biologists work with biochemists, geophysicists, paleontologists, microbiologists, planetologists, and other scientists, attempting to extend their understanding of life and its antecedents.

  17. 17
    Popperian says:

    no one has the slightest clue how physical things can result in mental things.

    The request that we provide such an explanation in a reductionist sense implicitly commits the fallacy of division, as it assumes something that is true for the whole must also be true for all of its parts.

    Example? From the Wikipedia entry on the fallacy of division

    In the philosophy of the ancient Greek Anaxagoras, as claimed by the Roman atomist Lucretius,[1] it was assumed that the atoms constituting a substance must themselves have the salient observed properties of that substance: so atoms of water would be wet, atoms of iron would be hard, atoms of wool would be soft, etc. This doctrine is called homoeomeria, and it depends on the fallacy of division.

  18. 18
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Zach

    While the Theory of Evolution doesn’t explain the origin of life, biology is concerned with the origin of life.

    Good point in support. Likewise, ID doesn’t investigate the nature of the designer but it is interested in studies in that area.

    Biologists work with biochemists, geophysicists, paleontologists, microbiologists, planetologists, and other scientists, attempting to extend their understanding of life and its antecedents.

    ID theorists work with biochemists, geophysicians, cosmologists and many other scientists.

    Some ID theorists are specialists in those areas themselves and work in parallel on ID scientific research.

  19. 19
    Upright BiPed says:

    Biologists work with biochemists, geophysicists, paleontologists, microbiologists, planetologists, and other scientists, attempting to extend their understanding of life and its antecedents.

    What’s the data on the rise of a reading-frame code from inanimate matter? Dimensional semiotic memory? The rise of combinatorial utility? What about the three observed instances of physicochemical arbitrariness required to organize the heterogeneous living cell?

    I read quite a bit. I see nothing. Are you hiding something?

  20. 20

    @Barry

    The distinction between physical and mental is not fundamental. When I think of a tree, sure enough it is a matter of scientific fact that I have a picture of a tree in my mind.

    The fundamental distinction is between material and spiritual, between fact and opinion.

    An opinion is arrived at by choosing the conclusion. No way, no how is choosing what is real ever going to be part of science. Opinions are only relevant to the agency of decisions, to answer the question of what makes a decision turn out the way it does.

    Facts are obtained by evidence forcing to produce a model of what is evidenced. A 1 to 1 copy to another form.

  21. 21
    Zachriel says:

    Silver Asiatic: Likewise, ID doesn’t investigate the nature of the designer …

    You are still conflating a theory with a branch of science. The Theory of Evolution doesn’t provide an explanation of the origin of life, but biologists are attempting to determine the origin of life.

    Silver Asiatic: but it is interested in studies in that area.

    Bob O’H: So who is there following on from ID to go beyond evidence of design to study properties of the designer?

    Upright Biped: What’s the data on the rise of a reading-frame code from inanimate matter? Dimensional semiotic memory? The rise of combinatorial utility? What about the three observed instances of physicochemical arbitrariness required to organize the heterogeneous living cell?

    Heh. It’s always fun listening to ID fancy-talk.

    “Physicochemical arbitrariness” shows up exactly once on Google. This very thread.

    “Dimensional semiotic memory” shows up twice. This thread, and another thread on Uncommon Descent where Reciprocating Bill points out that the term is found nowhere else in the English speaking world.

    Throwing a bunch of words together to make it sound more complicated doesn’t change the meaning. If you mean the origin of the genetic code, why not simply say so?

  22. 22
    Upright BiPed says:

    Really Zach? Is that the best you can do? I love it when you guys squeeze your eyelids closed and pant “it aint real, it aint real”

    Let’s give Zachriel a break and pretend the spatial ordering of bases within codons are established by the surfaces of the nucleotides. Let’s pretend the Minimum Total Potential Energy Principle that applies to all physical objects in the universe doesn’t really exist. After all, who needs the Second Law of Thermodynamics? Let’s pretend that the capacity to copy genetic information has no physical requirements that anyone can observe. Let’s pretend that the heterogeneous living cell can be organized without the utility of a reading-frame code and the combitorial expansion that it enables. What a pesky concept that one is.

    No problem Zach. I got you on this.

  23. 23
    Mung says:

    Here, let me lend Zachriel a hand. The phrase “the spatial ordering of bases within codons are established by the surfaces of the nucleotides” turns up precisely once in a Google search.

  24. 24
    Upright BiPed says:

    lol

  25. 25
    eigenstate says:

    What you lack is a single example where science has terminated investigation of an emergent phenomenon. Have neuroscientists everywhere given up?

    Science does discover for emergent properties. In Thomas Jefferson’s day, it had just recently been discovered by Lavoisier that water was not an element and was in fact composed of hydrogen and oxygen. But that discovery left the “emergence of ‘wetness'” unexplained.

    What makes water wet? Neither H nor O has this property, why H2O?

    It’s now well understood — the ‘wetness’ is due to the strength of the tetrahedral hydrogen bonds in the molecule. It took quite a long time after Lavoisier’s discovery to develop this knowledge, but now have it.

    That comment actually cuts in a way you probably did not anticipate. Of course neuroscientists have not given up. On almost a daily basis they issue materialist promissory notes about how the material explanation for consciousness is just around the corner. That you would say that have not “given up” is as clear an admission as any that they have not succeeded. In fact, they are nowhere close to succeeding and, in principle, cannot succeed.

    There’s barrier in principle to such an understanding. Another example of bombast. If this were true, you’d be a famous discoverer; the discovery of such a barrier-in-principle would be a seminal breakthrough in scientific knowledge itself, the stuff Nobel Prizes are made of.

    We won’t hold our breath on your paper on that, we know whence that comment came.

    Only someone with a blind unwavering grit-your-teeth-no-matter-what faith in materialist metaphysics — someone like you REC — still holds out hope for their hopeless enterprise.

    It’s remarkable how routine your interpretation isn’t just off, but opposite of what is indicated by the facts. Science does not and cannot issue guarantees about future discoveries or universal truths that “just have to” work out this way or that. That’s a religious dynamic, and at odds with the empirical core of science.

    That said, science has an amazing track record of discovery and knowledge-building. Given the stupendous success of the enterprise on many other other questions over the last several centuries, one thing we can say for sure is that just by its inertia one is not taking any bold risks in expecting that science will eventually make discoveries and build solid knowledge in this area too, far beyond where we are today.

    Again, that is not a guarantee, it’s just the extrapolation of what science has been doing for a very long time now, piling up successes in its quest for performative natural models.

    It’s the “no-faith” bet, based on our empirical review of scientific progress and success. We may never get to a basic yet robust working model of human cognition, but betting on *that* would be “flying leap” position to take.

  26. 26
    Barry Arrington says:

    eigenstate, you say you are an eliminative materialist. Eliminative materialists say that “ideas” do not exist. Therefore, by your own admission, you have no idea what you are talking about.

    Now one of two things is true. (1) eliminative materialism is true and you really don’t have an idea (and neither does anyone else); or (2) eliminative materialism is false and people like you who espouse it are foaming-at-the-mouth idiots.

    Either way, it makes no sense to respond to anything you say except with derision and scorn (in case option 2 is correct).

  27. 27
    Upright BiPed says:

    the ‘wetness’ is due to the strength of the tetrahedral hydrogen bonds in the molecule

    That’s right, it’s determined solely by the dynamic properties of the constituent chemistry. But which particular amino acid appears at the binding site during protein synthesis is not determined by the dynamic properties of the codon that evokes its appearance.

    You need the emergence of non-dynamic relationships. It will require IC to establish them, just like in extant cell. And you’ll need many of them. All prior to the organization of the cell, all prior to the capacity to encode information.

  28. 28
    eigenstate says:

    @Barry,

    eigenstate, you say you are an eliminative materialist. Eliminative materialists say that “ideas” do not exist. Therefore, by your own admission, you have no idea what you are talking about.

    We’ve been over this, Barry, ad nauseum eliminative materialist doesn’t deny the phenomenon, it rejects the folk-psychological intuition about what an “idea” is and its relationship to mind/brain/body. But any eliminative materialist that also embraces scientific knowledge will have no problem affirming ideas as real phenomenon, mental states which we can, like other states of brain, measure and analyze. They are as real as rain, they just don’t exist in the way your invincible, incorrigible intuition insists they do.

    Really, I bet I could find at least a dozen posts directly responding to you on this point if I could be bothered to go look. You know before you post this that what you’re saying badly misrepresents what you’re criticizing.

    Now one of two things is true. (1) eliminative materialism is true and you really don’t have an idea (and neither does anyone else); or (2) eliminative materialism is false and people like you who espouse it are foaming-at-the-mouth idiots.

    I don’t think you’ve exhausted the phase space, there. (3) elminitave materialism is true and ideas are manifest phenomena of the mind (which is the activity of the brain), and it’s just the “folk psychological idea” that doesn’t exist.

    Either way, it makes no sense to respond to anything you say except with derision and scorn (in case option 2 is correct).

    Well, you’d have to actually consider what is being argued for and proposed for it to be different, it seems. Carry on, and have a good evening!

  29. 29
    eigenstate says:

    @UprightBiped

    That’s right, it’s determined solely by the dynamic properties of the constituent chemistry. But which particular amino acid appears at the binding site during protein synthesis is not determined by the dynamic properties of the codon that evokes its appearance.

    That’s not known. If you read the researchers on this, your position isn’t warranted. I have a book called Codes of Life published by Springer and related to Springer’s Journal of Biosemiotics that discusses this at length), and by way of example, Diego Gonzalez in his piece in the book offers this:

    This article hopes to contribute to this understanding by showing a deep internal mathematical structure of the genetic code which is based on the redundant representation of integer numbers by means of arbitrary strings. This structure reveals the existence of symmetry properties of the genetic code whose uncovering may contribute to the understanding of the organization of the genetic information regarding the use of synonymous codons for the coding of specific amino acids in a protein chain.

    The applications of number theory in the modelling of complex systems have seen a significant growth in the scientific literature of the last decades. This flourishing is largely associated with the role played by number theory in the mathematical description of many important phenomena in the theory of dynamical systems and in several technological applications (Schroeder, 1986). In fact, the principal motivation for the present work has been the search for hidden deterministic mechanisms of error detection-correction within the genetic machinery. It is hypothesized that these mechanisms are directly related with the described mathematical ordering of the genetic code, which, in turn, is grounded in the dynamic properties of the translational apparatus.

    The results are very promising because, as is shown herein, strong analogies between the organization of the genetic code and man made codes fro digital data transmission have been found. The present work, thus, aims to be a contribute toward the understanding of both the hidden rules of organization of degeneracy in the genetic information through a mathematical model of the code, on one hand, and of the associated functionality of this ordering, probably connected with a deterministic error/correction mechanism, on the other. This insight may contribute, in turn to shedding light on the causes leading to the actual structure of the universal genetic code.

    (my emphasis)
    Codes of Life, Barbieri, Springer Netherlands, 2007, pp114-115.

    You’ll have to read the article (I think it’s available apart from the book as an article) to get the full force of the above, but Gonzalez’s position is that the intertwining of degeneracy and redundancy have formed the basis for the codon mapping and the resulting structure of coding instructions for protein synthesis, through a form of selection, or more broadly, optimization. The key here is that this is not, then, fundamentally arbitrary. The underlying basis for the mapping we do have is “encrypted” over the eons, but is likely “decipherable” based on numerical analysis.

    You need the emergence of non-dynamic relationships. It will require IC to establish them, just like in extant cell. And you’ll need many of them. All prior to the organization of the cell, all prior to the capacity to encode information.

    I know from your many posts you are thoroughly confused about information, and stuck in a hyper-anthropic view of information. All you need for encoding is “spin” on an elementary particle. A rock casting a shadow on the ground together encode the azimuth of the sun, etc.

    As for codon mapping, that book is really good by way of clearing out the cobwebs in your ideas, there, if you are interested. I’ll even buy you a copy if you will read it. And even then, It’s nearing ten years old from first publication — the project has only stronger since.

    At any rate, I think you’d find that if you asked experts in this field, they’d not accept your claim, and indeed would likely point to their work as a project based on the plausibility that there *is* an underlying determinism and causal basis for the mapping and structure we find in the genetic code.

  30. 30
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Zach

    So who is there following on from ID to go beyond evidence of design to study properties of the designer?

    In the same way that questions about the nature and methods of science extend beyond science itself to philosophy, questions about the nature of the designer extend beyond ID.

    Once a scientific conclusion is drawn that there is Design, then any number of projects are available to follow on, including philosophical and theological research.

  31. 31
    StephenB says:

    eigenstate

    …”ideas are manifest phenomena of the mind (which is the activity of the brain),

    Just a moment, please. If the mind is the activity of the brain, how can the idea be a phenomena (phenomenon?) of the activity? That would be the equivalent of saying that an idea is an activity of an activity. That would also be the equivalent of saying that each idea requires a distinct mind of its own, and that with each new idea the old mind goes out of existence and a new mind comes into existence. Is that your position?

    Also, inasmuch as you have said that wetness emerges from water, do you also hold that viscosity emerges from oil and hardness emerges from ice?

  32. 32
    StephenB says:

    Popperian

    I’ve given examples of this [emergence] in the case of launching objects into orbit. The fact that it’s possible to retain our explanation, despite Einstein claiming something completely different what happening in reality at a reductionist level, is a concrete example of an emergent explanation that is quasi independent.

    Would you mind running that by me one more time? What is emerging from what?

  33. 33
    Silver Asiatic says:

    If the mind emerges from a specific configuration of matter (brain), then all minds should be the same. Instead, however, every mind is unique. We have an infinite potential of minds emerging from finite material composition.

    Then there is a multiplier of ideas emerging from the emergence (as SB points to).

    There are an infinite number of ideas. What is the physical characteristic of the emergence (mind) from which emerged the idea?

    Back to the brain, evolution has to explain how brain configurations give rise to unique selves and why not all the same self. Evolution has to explain each individual brain configuration, thus not only a potential infinite mutational paths, but an infinite number of ‘environmental events’ or ‘niches’ that caused the development of each brain/self.

    When H2O forms, it is water. All water is wet. All water has the same properties. There isn’t an infinite kind of water emerging. When a brain forms, there is an infinite number of different minds. Those minds create an infinite number of different thoughts.

  34. 34
    Virgil Cain says:

    eigenstate:

    At any rate, I think you’d find that if you asked experts in this field, they’d not accept your claim, and indeed would likely point to their work as a project based on the plausibility that there *is* an underlying determinism and causal basis for the mapping and structure we find in the genetic code.

    They NEED that scenario. You are confusing evidence with hope.

  35. 35
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    The Theory of Evolution doesn’t…

    Exist- the theory of evolution doesn’t exist. It lives only in the minds of the delusional.

  36. 36
    Zachriel says:

    Zachriel: Throwing a bunch of words together to make it sound more complicated doesn’t change the meaning.

    Upright BiPed: {throws a bunch of words together to make it sound more complicated.}

    If you mean the origin of the genetic code, why not simply say so?

    Silver Asiatic: In the same way that questions about the nature and methods of science extend beyond science itself to philosophy, questions about the nature of the designer extend beyond ID.

    So while working scientists investigate the origin of life, ID “scientists” do not investigate the designer. That’s just one of many reasons why ID is considered pseudoscience.

    Silver Asiatic: Once a scientific conclusion is drawn that there is Design, then any number of projects are available to follow on, including philosophical and theological research.

    Conclusions in science are always tentative, and each finding leads to new scientific hypotheses. You say you make a conclusion of design, and the scientific door closes. In science, a good theory generates new hypotheses. A great theory, such as the Theory of Evolution, generates entire new fields of study.

    Per your own reckoning ID is scientifically sterile.

  37. 37
    Zachriel says:

    Silver Asiatic: If the mind emerges from a specific configuration of matter (brain), then all minds should be the same. Instead, however, every mind is unique.

    Every brain is unique, too, so that doesn’t work. Experiences are different too.

    Silver Asiatic: All water is wet. All water has the same properties.

    Actually, not all water is wet. The solid form actually has many possible crystalline structures.

  38. 38
    Barry Arrington says:

    eigenstate,

    We’ve been over this, Barry, ad nauseum eliminative materialist doesn’t deny the phenomenon [ideas]

    Of course it does. The phenomenon is what is being eliminated in “eliminative” materialism.

    For someone who espouses a philosophy, you don’t seem to understand it at all.

  39. 39
    StephenB says:

    eigenstate

    eliminative materialist doesn’t deny the phenomenon [ideas]

    Eliminative materialism tries to change the definition of an idea into something that it cannot possibly be, namely an activity:

    An idea is an entity with unchanging boundaries. That is what separates one idea or concept from another. The idea of “hard” is now, and will forever be, different from the idea of “wet.”

    An activity, on the other hand, is a process that is tied to motion and change. An unchanging entity cannot also be a changing process, otherwise all ideas would be undergoing constant change.

    So, yes, eliminative materialism really does deny the existence of ideas.

    Also, my questions for you @31 persist.

  40. 40
    Upright BiPed says:

    eigen,

    That’s not known.

    Yes it is. It’s a matter of direct universal observation.

    I know from your many posts you are thoroughly confused about information, and stuck in a hyper-anthropic view of information. All you need for encoding is “spin” on an elementary particle. A rock casting a shadow on the ground together encode the azimuth of the sun, etc.

    Your dismissive response doesn’t actually address the comment you were responding to. In any case, it offers a glimpse of the irony. Due to your undisciplined and wholly anthropocentric view of information, you fail to grasp the distinction between form and information.

    Care to test my last comment? Let’s follow the causal path: from a photon of light passing a rock to the ground (or being reflected by it) to the proposition at the end of your statement – the degrees of azimuth of the sun.

  41. 41
    eigenstate says:

    @Joe,

    They NEED that scenario. You are confusing evidence with hope.

    Who is “they” and what is this outcome needed for? Scientists do hope for breakthroughs and progress, regardless of the track record, but with the train of successes and breakthroughs trailing behind it, there certainly is evidential grounding for such anticipation.

    But we’ve made it through this far without such knowledge, so while it’s something we pursue and hope for, it’s apparently not something we need to survive or thrive.

  42. 42
    Upright BiPed says:

    Zachriel,

    If you mean the origin of the genetic code, why not simply say so?

    Translation: Please leave out the details.

  43. 43
    eigenstate says:

    @UprightBiped

    Yes it is. It’s a matter of direct universal observation

    That doesn’t constitute knowledge. Otherwise we “knew” there were no black swans.

    Until we observed one, and many.

    Your claim is even worse, not that “there are no black swans”, but there cannot be any black swans, in principle. That’s why it’s hard to justify bothering with the claim, it’s totally unsupported as an impossibility-in-principle. Lack of knowledge of how this happened doesn’t even begin to carry the claim.

    Your dismissive response doesn’t actually address the comment you were responding to. In any case, it offers a glimpse of the irony. Due to your undisciplined and wholly anthropocentric view of information, you fail to grasp the distinction between form and information.
    That right there is where your human conceits kick (the anthropocentric view of informtation). Information is just form that is of particular interest to minds. It’s all the same stuff, whether humans are involved. Which is why I say my view is not anthropocentric, as it doesn’t privilege human interactions with information, or any “special forms” as information. The fact that make the distinction substantiates the claim I’m making. It’s all information, in more and less complex configurations.

    Care to test my last comment? Let’s follow the causal path: from a photon of light passing a rock to the ground (or being reflected by it) to the proposition at the end of your statement – the degrees of azimuth of the sun.

    You are confusing a human getting involved (or some other agent) doing the calculation of the azimuth as a number with the actual configuration of matter. The information is encoded in the scene (rock, ground, light) whether any minds exist in the universe anywhere. That is, the shadow line exists precisely where it does because of the physics of light. If a human comes along and figures out that the sun must have been at 47 degrees at the time of observation, this is new knowledge for the human, that the azimuth was 47 rather than 58 or some other number, but the information encoded in the scene remains what it is, regardless of what we happen to calculate from observing it, or however else we might think about it.

    To test this, we can simply ask: if no minds exist in that universe, is the azimuth implicit in the pattern of the shadow from the rock, or no? To say no would be to deny the consistency of the physics, for the angle of the light coming from the sun and the shape/position of the rock determine where the light and shadow fall on the ground, right?

    Humans thinking about this create other forms — patterns in our brain — that are useful to use in a human-centric sense; capable of being communicated in speech or compared to other bits of “human information” as part of some analysis. But this is separate information, forms of interest and use to human minds, but there’s nothing special or privileged it about. It’s just because they are “our special forms” that we are tempted to privilege them, and adopt an anthropocentric view of information, and possibly even a mystical one.

  44. 44
    Upright BiPed says:

    That doesn’t constitute knowledge. Otherwise we “knew” there were no black swans.

    Which amino acid that is presented for binding is determined not by the structure of the codon, but by the structure of the aaRS. It’s been known for more than half a century. Crick hypothesized it. Nirenberg demonstrated it in experiment. It’s not even controversial.

    Information is just form that is of particular interest to minds.

    Tell that to the bacteria. They’ll be amused that you point at others for having an anthropocentric view of information.

    You are confusing a human getting involved (or some other agent) doing the calculation of the azimuth as a number with the actual configuration of matter. The information is encoded in the scene (rock, ground, light) whether any minds exist in the universe anywhere.

    I’m not confused by it in the least. I’m not the one calling the shadow of a rock “information”, you are. I’m not the one saying that photons bouncing off the surface of a rock encodes information in that rock, you are. The shadow is nothing more than the state of the ground being illuminated or not. That form only becomes information when it is transcribed into the arrangement of a representation, in this particular case by the organization of the human eye into neural patterns.

  45. 45
    eigenstate says:

    @StephenB,

    Just a moment, please. If the mind is the activity of the brain, how can the idea be a phenomena (phenomenon?) of the activity?

    It’s a brain state. We can refer to the overall activity of the brain as “mind”, and a specific subset of that activity as “having an idea” (science doesn’t support anything like the intutions we have of an ‘idea’ as a discrete and sepearate ‘thing’, but for the purposes of discussion, we can use the term to point to brain states that correlate to our intuitions). An “idea” is just one of many brain states that make up the activity of the mind.

    That would be the equivalent of saying that an idea is an activity of an activity.

    No, see above. If “legislating” is the activity of Congress, “taking a vote” is also an activity, but a constituent activity, more specific and less general than “legislating”.

    That would also be the equivalent of saying that each idea requires a distinct mind of its own, and that with each new idea the old mind goes out of existence and a new mind comes into existence. Is that your position?

    No, but “mind” is conceptual construct we find handy as humans to describe mental activity. “Mind” is description of the activity of the brain, and doesn’t exist as ding an sich. Does “walking” exist, or come into being and go out of being each time a person [performs the activity we call ‘walking’]?

    It’s not a well formed question, and the answer is ‘no’ primarily due to the confusion in the premise of the question about “existence” of the thing. To make this clear, consider framing the question this way:

    Does brain-activity go into and out of existence with the creation of each new idea?

    Also, inasmuch as you have said that wetness emerges from water, do you also hold that viscosity emerges from oil and hardness emerges from ice?

    On viscosity, yes, very similar to the ‘wetness’ of water. On the ‘hardness’ of ice, I’d no, as that property obtains in both constituent elements on their own. Both oxygen and hydrogen are “hard” in solid form, and for the same reasons (the crystalline structure below the melting point). The classification of “emergent” is highly contingent upon your specification, though, and to that extent subjective. We might say that neither oxygen or hydrogen are “hard at -10 celsius”, where as H20 is “hard” (at normal pressures, etc.).

    In philosophical terms, science uses the concept of “weak emergence”, versus “strong emergence”. The difference between the two being reducibility-in-principle. In scientific case of (weak) emergence, the phenomena are reducible at least in principle, but remain unknown or mysterious given our current state of knowledge.

  46. 46
    eigenstate says:

    @UprightBiped.

    I’m not confused by it in the least. I’m not the one calling the shadow of a rock “information”, you are. I’m not the one saying that photons bouncing off the surface of a rock encodes information in that rock, you are. The shadow is nothing more than the state of the ground being illuminated or not. That form only becomes information when it is transcribed into the arrangement of a representation, in this particular case by the organization of the human eye into neural patterns.

    You are confused if you suppose your understanding is not privileging humans (or minds) to information: your paragraph here could not be more stark as an example of this.

    Phyics is computation – it is information processing, fundamentally. For a sodium atom with an extra electron and a flourine atom with missing electron to combine into a sodium flouride, there must be information, and information processing. It must be the case that the NA+ is “+”, that there is a actual state (this is information) about this atom that will facilitate combination with a F- which is in the actual state of “-” (looking for an electron), and this is information, a discrete local state for the F atom.

    Information is just the reduction of possibilities, the elimination of uncertainties. NA is a neutral sodium atom, and it doesn’t interact with F- the way NA+ atoms do. NA+ (not our term for it, but the actual atom we’re referring to) has information — local state — that eliminates other possibilities. NA+ excludes that atom being neutral. This is information, and it’s essential to the principles of chemistry and physical. It’s a fundamental aspect of physics from the lowest levels right on up.

    And it’s got nothing to do with humans. Our fascination with “information” that’s meaningful to us is, including mappings and symbologies that we create for our own purposes is just a parochial preference for what interests us, because we are the ones thinking about it. But it’s just information like every other physical configuration is information.

    Think about your comment on the rock and the shadow. If the information were not present in the configuration of the scene — the regions of the ground in light and shadow in relation to the geometric shape of the rock, there would not be any way for a human or other mind to synthesize a mental concept of “azimuth is 47 degrees”. It can’t be *just* just “ground illuminated or not”, or there would be no determining the azimuth. Every aspect of physical configuration is information, right down to the spin of an elementary particle. How humans process that and come up with their own concepts and symbols related to that is also information, but it’s just more information. The fact that humans or minds are the context for these new configurations (states of the brain) is irrelevant from a general, physics-based view. It’s only of particular interest to us because we are humans.

    We’re conceited that way. 😉

  47. 47
    Upright BiPed says:

    UB: I’m not confused by it in the least. I’m not the one calling the shadow of a rock “information”, you are. I’m not the one saying that photons bouncing off the surface of a rock encodes information in that rock, you are. The shadow is nothing more than the state of the ground being illuminated or not. That form only becomes information when it is transcribed into the arrangement of a representation, in this particular case by the organization of the human eye into neural patterns.

    eigen: You are confused if you suppose your understanding is not privileging humans (or minds) to information: your paragraph here could not be more stark as an example of this.

    Please note the bolded text. And let us quickly compare that with your previous formulation: “Information is just form that is of particular interest to minds”

    Phyics is computation – it is information processing

    Physics is a human construct, a human activity. You’ve confused the map with the territory.

    For a sodium atom with an extra electron and a flourine atom with missing electron to combine into a sodium flouride, there must be information, and information processing.

    This is a hopeless projection of human information processing onto the whole of reality. Actually, it’s even less than that. The way in which information is processed in the living kingdom has no analogy with the formation of sodium fluoride.

    Information is just the reduction of possibilities, the elimination of uncertainties.

    Information is form instantiated in the arrangement of a material representation. The translation of that representation imparts specificity (i.e. your reduction in uncertainty).

    Think about your comment on the rock and the shadow. If the information were not present in the configuration of the scene — the regions of the ground in light and shadow in relation to the geometric shape of the rock, there would not be any way for a human or other mind to synthesize a mental concept of “azimuth is 47 degrees”.

    Form is present in the scene. Without the representation of that form, there would be no way to calculate an azimuth. 47 is the translated effect of that representation, it isn’t “encoded” in the rock.

  48. 48
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Z

    So while working scientists investigate the origin of life, ID “scientists” do not investigate the designer.

    Working scientists do not investigate the definitions and terms of science, while ID scientists investigate evidence for design.

    That’s just one of many reasons why ID is considered pseudoscience.

    ID is considered science. It’s evolution which is a pseudoscience.

    You say you make a conclusion of design, and the scientific door closes.

    Well, you said that and you just lied about me saying it.

    Per your own reckoning ID is scientifically sterile.

    Per my reckoning, ID is scientifically fruitful.

    To fellow IDists: If anyone is interested in seeing me continue to banter with Zachriel’s impersonation of an 8 yr old, please let me know. Otherwise, his mindless follow-up will the be the last thing said here (for my part).

  49. 49
    Upright BiPed says:

    SA, I know how you feel.

  50. 50
    StephenB says:

    eigenstate

    It’s a brain state. We can refer to the overall activity of the brain as “mind”, and a specific subset of that activity as “having an idea” (science doesn’t support anything like the intutions we have of an ‘idea’ as a discrete and sepearate ‘thing’, but for the purposes of discussion, we can use the term to point to brain states that correlate to our intuitions). An “idea” is just one of many brain states that make up the activity of the mind.

    This does not resolve your difficulty. It is the nature of activities that they are tied up with motion and change. If ideas are activities of the brain, or subsets of those activities, then they are, by virtue of being activities, in a constant state of flux. For that reason, ideas, which require distinct and unchanging boundaries– necessary condition for meaning, substance, and rationality–cannot, as you would have it, be changing activities.

    No, but “mind” is conceptual construct we find handy as humans to describe mental activity. “Mind” is description of the activity of the brain, and doesn’t exist as ding an sich.

    Exactly. For the materialist, the mind is nothing but changing matter. Under the circumstances, no mind or idea can last if both are in a constant state of flux.

    Does “walking” exist, or come into being and go out of being each time a person [performs the activity we call ‘walking’]?

    The related question would be, “does life come into existence and go out of existence while walking.” Normally, the answer would be no—unless I am reckless enough to define life as the activity of walking, in which case life starts when the activity of walking starts and death occurs when it stops.

    This is the problem with defining the mind as the brain’s “activity.” Minds and ideas come and go as an inexorable consequence of change. That is why the only rational definition of a mind is an unchanging “faculty” for thinking, which produces stable ideas with rational boundaries and clear definitions, With that understanding everything falls into place. The mind is a faculty or entity, not a process or activity.

    Does brain-activity go into and out of existence with the creation of each new idea?

    By your definition, it is the mind and the idea that must ultimately go in and out of existence with the changes in brain activity. If minds and ideas are in a state of flux, then no mind or idea can last.

  51. 51
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Thanks, UB. It’s good encouragement not to give more credibility to his nonsense.

  52. 52
    eigenstate says:

    @UprightBiped

    Physics is a human construct, a human activity. You’ve confused the map with the territory.

    Wasn’t referring tot he science or human knowledge there, but that which science models — the referent. This is quite clear if you read what I’m saying (there is no need for human maps for information to obtain – it’s a ubiquitous feature of the territory)

    This is a hopeless projection of human information processing onto the whole of reality. Actually, it’s even less than that. The way in which information is processed in the living kingdom has no analogy with the formation of sodium fluoride.

    Do you suppose a NA neutral atom will form sodium flouride with an F- atom in the same way an NA+ atom will?

    This nothing to do with how we think about it. This is just what our empirical models indicate — and our models do not dictate what natural processes do our how phyiscal processes work, they are only descriptive; in nature, apart from any humans or any thinking at all, information — the configuration and local states of matter and energy — must obtain. Else our models wouldn’t work as they do.

    So nature is not dependent on what we think, but our models don’t work and can’t work if information is not fundamental to STEM — all distinguishable, discrete states are information, different from others states, and thereby by excluding possibilities.

    Information is form instantiated in the arrangement of a material representation. The translation of that representation imparts specificity (i.e. your reduction in uncertainty).

    “Form” — I don’t understand this term apartment from something you fabricated as an arbitrary means of privileging human or mental configurations of matter and energy. Could you point me to a formal definition of “form”, and show where it’s used in a scientific model? Otherwise I’d say this is what I diagnosed originally — self serving fluff.

    Information is form instantiated in the arrangement of a material representation. The translation of that representation imparts specificity (i.e. your reduction in uncertainty).

    We’re talking about isomorphisms. There is a mapping – a direct and principled correlation — between the angle of the incoming sunlight and the geometry of the rock and ground to make the shadow occur where it does. It doesn’t matter if you call that “mapping”, a “function”, an “isomorphism” or a “relationship” — that’s all just word and term preferences. There is a computational, rule based phenemenon that can be modeled. Which is to say it has information. As for “form”, I invite you to make an effort to give that term some actual semantic value, and then it will be something that compete with the existing models and frameworks (depending on your success in make it an operative concept).

    Good luck with that!

  53. 53
    eigenstate says:

    @StephenB,

    This does not resolve your difficulty. It is the nature of activities that they are tied up with motion and change. If ideas are activities of the brain, or subsets of those activities, then they are, by virtue of being activities, in a constant state of flux. For that reason, ideas, which require distinct and unchanging boundaries– necessary condition for meaning, substance, and rationality–cannot, as you would have it, be changing activities.

    No, if you are thinking about ideas in Platonic terms, there’s perfectly no basis for this in a scientific view of our world. Scientific models are nominalist in nature, which is to say the affirm emprically (through observation and testing) the predicates for universals and abstracts, but do not identify the universal referents themselves. That means, for example, humans can have an idea with an abstract referent, e.g., “three-ness”, but while the concept in the physical brain is perfectly real, no “three-ness” exists in any model, or adds anything to any model.

    Your ideas about ideas are quite obsolete, to read you, and do not connect at all with what we understand about human cognition through science. You can wax philosophic all you like, but if you can’t tie your terms and concepts to performative models, models that bear weight empirically, it’s just hand waving and say-so.

    You can’t step in the same river twice, it is said. And yet, we have no problem identifying the Colorado River, even though it’s contents as I type this are different than the contents it has when you read this. Similarly, by ‘mind’ we are not describing an inventory of ideas or abstracts or concepts, but rather the mental states and configurations of the brain. It’s dynamic, and the description or reference is not dependent on any particular contents, but denotes “whatever activity and states the brain has” at any given time, and is associated with that body/brain, not any particular set of ideas or states, in the same way we don’t identify the Colorado River with the particular water molecules and other things floating along toward the ocean at any given time.

    No, but “mind” is conceptual construct we find handy as humans to describe mental activity. “Mind” is description of the activity of the brain, and doesn’t exist as ding an sich.

    Exactly. For the materialist, the mind is nothing but changing matter. Under the circumstances, no mind or idea can last if both are in a constant state of flux.
    Why? The hard drive in my MacBook is in a constant state of flux, and yet, some files I have stored there appear to exist exactly as I last left them a year or more ago? How can this be? Flux does not entail complete annihilation, that’s why. Some concepts, memories and states get destroyed (or more accurately, replaced). Others persist “as is” for long periods of time, based on what we can observe scientifically. Others persist but degrade or change somewhat (see studies of memories that persist but become less accurate or detailed over time, for example).

    Does “walking” exist, or come into being and go out of being each time a person [performs the activity we call ‘walking’]?

    The related question would be, “does life come into existence and go out of existence while walking.” Normally, the answer would be no—unless I am reckless enough to define life as the activity of walking, in which case life starts when the activity of walking starts and death occurs when it stops.

    The brain has constant activity when it is at least unconscious – alive. So the mind — by which is meant the activity of the brain, never stops until death. It is “constantly walking”, so to speak, in light of the walking analogy. So it’s contents and particulars in activity change over time, but but the process of being active itself, of being a mind, does not stop either, by definition.

    This is the problem with defining the mind as the brain’s “activity.” Minds and ideas come and go as an inexorable consequence of change. That is why the only rational definition of a mind is an unchanging “faculty” for thinking, which produces stable ideas with rational boundaries and clear definitions, With that understanding everything falls into place. The mind is a faculty or entity, not a process or activity.

    This is a distinction without a difference, just expressed as folk-psychology. Whether you call it a “faculty” or “activity”, the brain does what it does, and constantly processes new input and reacts to new input. There is no model that supports or allows for something “apart” from the brain activity as the basis of cognition, thinking and action. If you have a model, please present it!

    Just saying “That’s the only rational way it can be” is, again, just so much hand-waving, and a perfect example of what eliminative materialism suggests is to be eliminated. What you call ideas, concepts and beliefs, etc. in folk-psychological terms have real phenomena they refer to, they just don’t work at all like you suppose.

    Does brain-activity go into and out of existence with the creation of each new idea?

    By your definition, it is the mind and the idea that must ultimately go in and out of existence with the changes in brain activity. If minds and ideas are in a state of flux, then no mind or idea can last.

    Again, that doesn’t follow. The SSD drive in my MacBook is in a constant state of flux, and yet many of my files persist, intact, bit-for-bit, over longs periods of time. How can this be, if what you say is true?

  54. 54
    Upright BiPed says:

    As for “form”, I invite you to make an effort to give that term some actual semantic value

    Sure, I’ll make it easy for you. Form is what you think information is.

  55. 55
    eigenstate says:

    @UprightBiped,

    It can’t be, by your own words, as you’ve said, more than once in just this thread, that these are not the same thing.

    Just a quick example from above:

    That form only becomes information when it is transcribed into the arrangement of a representation, in this particular case by the organization of the human eye into neural patterns.

    If “form” for is the same as what I’m referring to as “information”, there is no “becoming information” via transcription or any other means, it’s *all* information in the first place! Adding in human representation (there goes the anthropocentrism alarm, again) does not and cannot give it “more information-ness” or “less information-ness”, no matter how beloved our human predilections are for human linguistics or symbologies.

    Your post here directly contradicts what you’ve said upthread. You can’t have responded the way you have if you believe what you’ve said here.

    Which is it, this short dodge, or your posts previous to it?

  56. 56
    Upright BiPed says:

    If “form” for is the same as what I’m referring to as “information”, there is no “becoming information” via transcription or any other means, it’s *all* information in the first place!

    No shit Sherlock.

    Adding in human representation (there goes the anthropocentrism alarm, again) does not and cannot give it “more information-ness” or “less information-ness”, no matter how beloved our human predilections are for human linguistics or symbologies.

    Human representation has nothing whatsoever to do with the existence of form, and I never said it did. You need to work on your reading comprehension, Skippy. You’re going in circles.

  57. 57
    Upright BiPed says:

    This is a cake.

    >> No it’s not; those are the ingredients of cake. It becomes a cake when it’s mixed and baked.

    I don’t understand what you mean by “ingredients”.

    >> I’ll make it easy for you. Ingredients are what you think cake is.

    If “ingredients” are the same thing as what I am referring to as cake, then there is no “becoming a cake” via baking or any other means, it’s *all* cake in the first place!

    >> No shit Sherlock.

  58. 58
    eigenstate says:

    @UprightBiped,

    You said:

    That form only becomes information when it is transcribed into the arrangement of a representation, in this particular case by the organization of the human eye into neural patterns.

    So, clearly, form != information in your view. And I’ve read enough of your posts to understand the anthropic dynamic here, namely that “information” in your idiosyncratic sense of the term depends on some sort of symbolism, some sort of symbolism humans or minds idenfity. If not, by all means, give me your acid test for what promotes form to information, and what the operative definition of “representation” is.

    It’s all representation. The shape of the shadow on the ground *represents* the angle of the sun; there is a rule-based isomorphism, a computable function in the configuration. If the sun is higher in the sky, the shadow occurs on a different patch of the ground. If it’s lower, the shadow has yet a different shape on the ground. For each position in the sky, there is a “mapped” shadow, due to the physical dynamics in nature, and each shadow thus represents a corresponding position of the sun.

    There’s no humans involved, there’s no language, there’s just physical processes doing what they do. And yet, representation, everywhere.

    That humans assign “dog” as a string or as a verbal utterance to some group of animals by agreement, creating a symbol that represents or points to its referent in no way impinges on any of the representations we can find literally everywhere at any time. The only privilege those representations have is that they are made by humans (or minds more generally if you want allow for other kinds of minds). That’s where the substance of my “anthropocentrism” charge obtains: human representations are apparently special just because they are human.

    I can certainly understand that conceit, but fundamentally, representations are representations. Isomorphisms occur everywhere. Where you have natural principles, processes that can be modeled, phenomena are necessarily representative. They could not be modeled if there were no mapping, no rule-based model to apply.

  59. 59
    Virgil Cain says:

    eigenstate:

    Who is “they” and what is this outcome needed for?

    “They” are all materialists and they need it otherwise their position is dead.

    Scientists do hope for breakthroughs and progress, regardless of the track record, but with the train of successes and breakthroughs trailing behind it, there certainly is evidential grounding for such anticipation.

    Geologists will show that Stonehenge is a natural formation well before someone shows the genetic code is reducible to some physio-chemical processes. So the breakthrough will be realizing that ID is true and we need to adjust our research accordingly.

  60. 60
    Virgil Cain says:

    Codons represent amino acids. They do not become amino acids via some physio-chemical process. There isn’t any law that determines the codon to amino acid pairings. It is as arbitrary as Morse code in that regard.

    Evos have to deny all of that as that alone shoots their position full of holes.

  61. 61
    eigenstate says:

    @Joe,

    “They” are all materialists and they need it otherwise their position is dead.

    I can’t think why that would be. It may never be knowledge we acquire. But that doesn’t and can’t falsify materialism.

    Geologists will show that Stonehenge is a natural formation well before someone shows the genetic code is reducible to some physio-chemical processes. So the breakthrough will be realizing that ID is true and we need to adjust our research accordingly.

    If what you say were true, there’d be a mad rush to fund and develop ID-based research. There’s no such thing happening. It’s not a practical research program, by it’s own choices. As a political requirement it must avoid the nature and qualities and identity of any putative Designer. To pursue this would out the movement for the religious apologetic program that it is.

    But the ramification of this is that even a well-intended putative researcher cannot get her project off the ground. If we don’t have any model of the Designer, or the design goals and constraints, or the capabilities of the designer even if we lack any way to identify the Designer, there’s no way to build and test a model.

    ID has insulated itself from questions and hypotheses about the Designer for very solid and pragmatic reasons. But in doing so, it’s rendered itself impotent as the basis of a research program.

  62. 62
    Popperian says:

    @StephenB#32

    I wrote:

    However, this leaves out an entire class of emergent explanations and phenomena. And when I pointed this out, you said you consider it equivalent to “magic” and therefore omitted it because you thought it didn’t help. But this would be to conflate the concept of emergent properties with a man “emerging from behind a tree”. The explanations for emergent properties occur at a different level. They represent a level of abstraction that is quasi independent of things, such as atoms.

    I’ve given examples of this in the case of launching objects into orbit. The fact that it’s possible to retain our explanation, despite Einstein claiming something completely different what happening in reality at a reductionist level, is a concrete example of an emergent explanation that is quasi independent.

    StephenB

    Would you mind running that by me one more time? What is emerging from what?

    Your question seems to indicate you too have conflated the idea of something emerging, such as fire magically emerging from someone’s hand, with emergent properties, which can be well explained in terms of high level phenomena with no direct reference to anything at the atomic level or below. Emergence represents a kind of explanation, not a verb or a verb modifier in the sense you are implying.

    IOW, there is an entire class of high-level behavior that is quasi-autonomous, in that it is almost completely self contained. When explicability resolves at a higher, quasi-autonomous level, this is known as emergence.

    If launching objects into space was not quasi-autonomous, because it made a direct reference to something at the atomic level or below, it would have had to change when Einstein’s theory of relatively indicated that something completely different was happening, in reality, as compared to Newton. But no such change is necessary. So this is a concrete example of phenomena that can be explained at a higher level.

    For example, when we discovered that Newton’s laws of motion were false, we didn’t have to change our explanation of how to launch objects into space. Specifically, Einstein’s theory indicates something completely different is happening in reality, compared to Newton’s theory. And so did Kepler before him. In regards to orbits, we have in succession: no force needed, an inverse square law force needed, and again, no force needed. Yet, our ability to solve problems related to launching objects into space are, for the most part, are unaffected. This is possible because sweeping way underlying entities by which a theory makes an explanation is not necessarily the same as sweeping way the entirety of the explanation.

  63. 63
    Popperian says:

    Unlike a watch, the sun is not well adapted for the purpose of telling time. As such, the knowledge of how to use the sun to tell time exists in us and our sundials, not the sun.

  64. 64
    StephenB says:

    eigenstate

    No, if you are thinking about ideas in Platonic terms, there’s perfectly no basis for this in a scientific view of our world.

    No, I am thinking about ideas and concepts in the only rational way they can be conceived. An idea has boundaries and is unchangeable. An idea or concept cannot be a changing activity for the many reasons I indicated.

    That means, for example, humans can have an idea with an abstract referent, e.g., “three-ness”, but while the concept in the physical brain is perfectly real, no “three-ness” exists in any model, or adds anything to any model.

    Irrelevant to the fact that the concept of “threeness” is unchanging, just as the idea of a triangle is an unchanging concept. Neither can be a changing activity, which is the way you have defined concepts and ideas.

    Your ideas about ideas are quite obsolete, to read you, and do not connect at all with what we understand about human cognition through science.

    Philosophical truths do not change; scientific ideas about cognition are always changing. The fact that the mind cannot logically be a changing activity is a philosophical truth that doesn’t change and cannot change. Science has nothing to say about it. That you would inject science into the discussion is a clear indication that you do not sufficiently understand the subject matter.

    You can’t step in the same river twice, it is said. And yet, we have no problem identifying the Colorado River, even though it’s contents as I type this are different than the contents it has when you read this. Similarly, by ‘mind’ we are not describing an inventory of ideas or abstracts or concepts, but rather the mental states and configurations of the brain. It’s dynamic, and the description or reference is not dependent on any particular contents, but denotes “whatever activity and states the brain has” at any given time, and is associated with that body/brain, not any particular set of ideas or states, in the same way we don’t identify the Colorado River with the particular water molecules and other things floating along toward the ocean at any given time.

    You keep making my argument for me. Brain states or activities at one time are different from brain states or activities at another time. That is why they cannot be unchanging concepts. Concepts or ideas cannot be made of changing matter. It isn’t logically possible.

    Similarly, the changing water molecules in the Colorado River are irrelevant to the fact that the Colorado River will never be the Nile River. It has nothing at all to do with science. You can conduct empirical studies all day long and it will not make the slightest bit of difference.

    No, but “mind” is conceptual construct we find handy as humans to describe mental activity. “Mind” is description of the activity of the brain, and doesn’t exist as ding an sich.

    The mind is a faculty for thinking. It is an entity, not a process. I think I have made it clear why this must be so.

    The hard drive in my MacBook is in a constant state of flux, and yet, some files I have stored there appear to exist exactly as I last left them a year or more ago? How can this be?

    You are making my point for me. Because it is physical, your hard drive will someday become destroyed and junked. Eventually, it will change into another kind of changing matter. Concepts are not, and cannot be, like that. The meaning of a triangle will never change. The boundaries that close in on its definition will always be the same. Time will never transform it into a rectangle or anything else. The form will never change. That is why it is not transformable. Accordingly, It cannot be a changing, physical thing. It is logically impossible.

    Flux does not entail complete annihilation,

    Flux entails the annihilation of one form as it changes into another form. Concepts and ideas do not change form. That is another reason why they cannot be in flux, as all physical activities or brain states must be.

    Whether you call it [mind] a “faculty” or “activity”, the brain does what it does, and constantly processes new input and reacts to new input.

    Only an immaterial faculty can apprehend immaterial or unchanging truths. A physical brain cannot do that.

    There is no model that supports or allows for something “apart” from the brain activity as the basis of cognition, thinking and action. If you have a model, please present it!

    That’s easy. The immaterial mind produces immaterial thoughts, which can be processed through a physical organ called the brain. That is why it can apprehend Immaterial and unchanging concepts.

    Materialism, on the other hand, has no model to explain the origin of an idea, nor does it even have the potential to do so. Science is also helpless in the face of that problem.

    Again, that doesn’t follow. The SSD drive in my MacBook is in a constant state of flux, and yet many of my files persist, intact, bit-for-bit, over longs periods of time. How can this be, if what you say is true?

    It follows as surely as night follows day. Time will destroy it all. On the other hand, the definition of a triangle will always be the same. That is why it cannot be a changing activity of the brain.

  65. 65
    Mung says:

    eigenstate @ 29:

    If you read the researchers on this, your position isn’t warranted. I have a book called Codes of Life published by Springer and related to Springer’s Journal of Biosemiotics that discusses this at length), and by way of example, Diego Gonzalez …

    You’ll have to read the article … The key here is that this is not, then, fundamentally arbitrary.

    This is the same author then who likewise wrote:

    Thus the genetic code is truly a code in the sense of communication theory: it is a set of arbitrary symbols used for the scope of communication, i.e., for information transmission.

    (my emphasis)
    Codes of Life, Barbieri, Springer Netherlands, 2007, p116.

    On literally the same page you reference he compares the genetic code to human oral and written languages.

    “To an arbitrary sequence of letters, i.e., an arbitrary word, is assigned one or more definite meanings.”

    And on page 114:
    “…it’s been demonstrated that the codes is in many senses arbitrary, that is given tRNA can be modified to bind with different codons, thus changing the meaning of the code.”

    And:
    “…the code is to a great extent arbitrary at a chemical level…”

    See also the footnote on p. 114.

    I’m sure Upright BiPed would love to have his own copy though. 🙂

  66. 66
    Upright BiPed says:

    UB: That form only becomes information when it is transcribed into the arrangement of a representation, in this particular case by the organization of the human eye into neural patterns.

    eigen: So, clearly, form != information in your view. And I’ve read enough of your posts to understand the anthropic dynamic here, namely that “information” in your idiosyncratic sense of the term depends on some sort of symbolism, some sort of symbolism humans or minds idenfity..

    Good grief.

    I have never said that humans or humans minds are required for information. They are not.

    Really eigen, your reading comprehension is abhorrent. We’ve already been here. I have no interest in once again repeating myself to someone who is determined to ignore what I say.

    You are now wasting my time.

  67. 67
    StephenB says:

    popperian

    Your question seems to indicate you too have conflated the idea of something emerging,

    No conflation here. We are discussing the materialist claim that one thing can simply emerge from another thing in the absence of sufficient causal conditions. It’s just another way of saying that an effect can occur without a sufficient or proportional cause.

    If you have a different idea of emergence, then you are not really addressing the topic. The point is and always has been that a cause cannot give what it does not have to give. Materialists challenge this obvious truth by claiming that some things can come into existence without a sufficient cause, which is irrational.

  68. 68
    Virgil Cain says:

    eigenstate:

    I can’t think why that would be.

    That doesn’t surprise me. Materialism requires a physio-chemical connection. It can’t explain arbitrary connections.

    If what you say were true, there’d be a mad rush to fund and develop ID-based research.

    That doesn’t follow. There wasn’t a mad rush to fund and support Darwin. And no one is doing any unguided evolution research. The concept can’t be modeled, offers up no predictions and is totally useless.

    Most biologists are specialists and their speciality doesn’t give a rat’s behind about evolutionism.

    It’s not a practical research program,

    Of course it is. We can use it to determine design exists and then study it accordingly. We can only flesh out the biological information under an ID framework. Evolutionism offers us nothing as a practical research program- “wait illions of generations and maybe you will have something new”.

    As a political requirement it must avoid the nature and qualities and identity of any putative Designer.

    Wrong again. As a scientific requirement it must not say anything about the designer A) until design has been detected and B) until the design and all relevant evidence have been studied. ID is about the detection and study of (intelligent) design in nature.

    Look, eigenstate, if you don’t like the design inference then by all means step up and offer a testable alternative. Unguided evolution can’t be modeled whereas guided evolution can be and has been used successfully in the form of evolutionary and genetic algorithms. You can’t even point to cases of variation (microevolution) that can extrapolated into universal common descent (macroevolution).

    BTW, ID does not prevent anyone from looking into the designer and the specific processes used. ID makes those separate questions as obviously you don’t even ask them until you have determined design existes.

  69. 69
    Virgil Cain says:

    Upright Biped and Mung- Do these guys also remind you of Emily Litella?

    (Saturday Night- Gilda’s character)

  70. 70
    Box says:

    StephenB #50 #64,

    Excellent argument! Thank you.

    Eigenstate: No, if you are thinking about ideas in Platonic terms, there’s perfectly no basis for this in a scientific view of our world.

    Translation: Materialism cannot ground unchanging ideas.

    Eigenstate: humans can have an idea with an abstract referent, e.g., “three-ness”, but while the concept in the physical brain is perfectly real, (…)

    A question: why do you hold that the concept of “three-ness” is perfectly real in the physical brain? Did neurological studies turn up hard empirical physical evidence of that concept?

  71. 71
    eigenstate says:

    @Mung,

    This is the same author then who likewise wrote:

    Yes, it’s part of the same article. That’s the basis for the investigation. He begins with the question of why the codon mapping is the way it is, and develops his hypothesis and research ideas from there. Upright Biped apparently didn’t see the connection, but again, this may be just due to the size of the excerpt. The article makes it quite clear that a) this is a question to be answered, and b) there are promising paths toward answers for science. That was the point of bringing it up in the first place, to show that UprightBiped’s impossibility-in-principle or “if we don’t know how it happened naturally it didn’t happen naturally” claims are novel in this space. This is not how scientists and researchers approach the question.

  72. 72
    StephenB says:

    Hi Box:

    You write,

    e

    A question: why do you hold that the concept of “three-ness” is perfectly real in the physical brain? Did neurological studies turn up hard empirical physical evidence of that concept?

    I don’t think the concept of threeness is perfectly real in the physical brain. I think it is abstractly real in the non-physical mind, as is the concept of chair, bear, or table. It is the specific experience of this or that individual physical chair (or bear or table etc.) that it in the senses, which are part of the brain. The universal concept of chair in the mind, on the other hand, is what all individual chairs have in common.

  73. 73
    Barry Arrington says:

    eigenstate

    a) this is a question to be answered, and b) there are promising paths toward answers for science

    Materialist promissory note number 1,373,832. Hey eigy, why should we take note 1,373,832 when you have not paid note 1 yet? Keep the faith baby. On second thought, you really should abandon that faith. It is irrational.

  74. 74
    Popperian says:

    StephanB:

    If you have a different idea of emergence, then you are not really addressing the topic.

    Suggesting you are confused about emergence by demanding an reductionist explanation is addressing the topic. It’s unreasonable demand. As is ponting out that other concrete examples of emergence are not magic.

    StephanB:

    The point is and always has been that a cause cannot give what it does not have to give. Materialists challenge this obvious truth by claiming that some things can come into existence without a sufficient cause, which is irrational.

    Again, that’s like assuming that the atoms that make up water must be wet, the atoms that make up steel must be hard, wool atoms must be soft, etc. This commits the fallacy of division.

    It also assumes that the unseen, which we use to explain the seen, resembles the seen. It’s a form of inductivism. God resembles us in that he is a conscious agent that chooses things but is infinitely more good, powerful, knowing, etc. God is a cause you accept because he is a cause that resembles us. However, unseen aspects of the material world do not resemble the seen (which we do not actually see anyway). As such, you do not consider them causes.

    Beyond this, it is not clear how God would be a sufficient cause beyond mere definition of an ultimate cause. Saying “God wanted it that way” does not actually explains anything, as you’re just pushed the problem into an inexplicable mind that exists in an explicable realm.

    So it seems that your actual objection is: materialists lack an ultimate justification that you accept as an ultimate justification. But the idea that there must be an ultimate justification of any kind is itself a specific philosophical idea, which isn’t limited to theism, and is implicitly smuggled into your argument.

    Furthermore, I’m suggesting the idea that there must be an ultimate justification is bad philosophy.

    From this article on Fallibilism

    Fallibilism, correctly understood, implies the possibility, not the impossibility, of knowledge, because the very concept of error, if taken seriously, implies that truth exists and can be found. The inherent limitation on human reason, that it can never find solid foundations for ideas, does not constitute any sort of limit on the creation of objective knowledge nor, therefore, on progress. The absence of foundation, whether infallible or probable, is no loss to anyone except tyrants and charlatans, because what the rest of us want from ideas is their content, not their provenance: If your disease has been cured by medical science, and you then become aware that science never proves anything but only disproves theories (and then only tentatively), you do not respond “oh dear, I’ll just have to die, then.”

  75. 75
    StephenB says:

    Box

    Translation: Materialism cannot ground unchanging ideas.

    Precisely. You have summed it up in five words. Thank you.

  76. 76
    StephenB says:

    Popperian

    Suggesting you are confused about emergence by demanding an reductionist explanation is addressing the topic.

    This is not as hard as you are trying to make it. Effects do not occur in the absence of sufficient causal conditions. This is one of the first principles of rational thinking. Materialism challenges this claim by asserting that some effects emerge from conditions that are not causality sufficient. Indeed, materialism claims that some events can occur without any cause at all.

    Your task, then, as a materialist, is to explain this: If even one effect can occur without a proportional cause, why cannot any and all effects occur without a proportional cause. In keeping with that point, how can science search for causes if it can’t be sure they are always needed to explain physical events? Under the circumstances, how would you know which effects were caused and which ones were not?

  77. 77
    StephenB says:

    Box @72, please excuse me. I notice that your question was for eigenstate and not for me. It is a good question>

  78. 78
    Popperian says:

    UB,

    How does your “emergence of non-dynamic relationships.” differ from a programmable constructor in constructor theory?

    From this paper on Constructor Theory.

    2.1 Catalysis
    A catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without undergoing any net chemical change itself. Chemical equations describing catalysis are written like this:

    (1) (2) C (1) (2)
    n1R +n2R +...------>m1P +m2P +..., (3)

    which conforms to the pattern (1) with the catalyst C as the constructor. Since a catalyst changes only the rate of a reaction, not the position of equilibrium, it is sometimes deemed a mistake to regard catalysts as causing reactions. However, that argument would deny that anything causes anything. Even without a factory, the components of a car do spontaneously assemble themselves at a very low rate, due to Brownian motion, but this happens along with countless other competing processes, some of them (such as rusting away) much faster than that self-assembly, and all of them much slower than the assembly effected by the factory. Hence a car is overwhelmingly unlikely to appear unless a suitable constructor is present. So if causation is meaningful at all, catalysts and other constructors do indeed cause their characteristic constructions.
    When one is not specifically discussing the catalyst, one usually omits it, describing the reaction as a construction task instead:

    n1 R(1)+n2 R(2)+... -> m1 P(1)+m2 P(2)+.... (4)

    This is convenient because most laws of chemistry are only about the reagents; that is to say, they hold regardless of what the catalyst may be, and hence assert nothing about the catalyst. For example, the law of definite proportions requires the coefficients n1,n2… and m1,m2… in (3) or (4) to be integers, depending only on the chemical identities of the reagents and products. It says that any catalyst capable of catalysing (4) can do so only for integer values of the coefficients. Similarly, (4) has to balance (expressing the fact that chemical processes cannot create or destroy atoms); it has to scale (be the same whether the terms refer to molecules, moles or any other measure proportional to those); the free energy of the products must not exceed that of the reagents; and so on. All these laws hold whatever causes the reaction while remaining unchanged in its ability to do so.
    Imposing the prevailing conception of fundamental physics on chemistry would entail treating the catalyst as another reagent. One would rewrite (3) as

    kC+n1 R(1)+n2 R(2)+... -> kC+m1 P(1)+m2 P(2)+... (5)

    for some k. But then the catalyst violates the law of definite proportions: since each catalyst molecule may be re-used, (5) can proceed for a huge range of values of k. Nor does (5) scale: the minimum number of catalyst molecules for which it outpaces competing reactions is some k0 , but for x times the number of reagent molecules, the minimum number may be much lower than xk0 , and will depend on non-chemical factors such as the size of the container, again contrary to the law of definite proportions.

    The customary distinction between catalysts and other reagents therefore correctly reflects the fact that they are treated differently by laws of nature – in this case, laws of chemistry. But there is no significant distinction between catalysts and other constructors. For example, the synthesis of ammonia,

    3 H + 2 N ----> 2 NH , will not 223

    happen in empty space, because at near-zero pressure the process of diffusing away is much faster than the chemical reaction. Hence a container or equivalent constructor is among the conditions required in addition to the catalyst. Indeed, some catalysts work by being microscopic containers for the reagents.
    Chemical catalysis has natural generalisations. Carbon nuclei are catalysts for nuclear reactions in stars. A living organism is both a constructor and a product of the construction that is its life-cycle which, for single-celled photosynthesising organisms, is simply:

    cell
    small molecules+light -----> cell+waste products . (6)

    Inside cells, proteins are manufactured by ribosomes, which are constructors consisting of several large molecules. They function with the help of smaller catalysts (enzymes) and water, using ATP as fuel:

    RNA+ribosome+enzymes+H O 2
    aminoacids+ATP -----------------------------> protein+AMP+wasteproducts. (7)

    I mention this reaction in particular because the RNA plays a different role from the other catalysts. It specifies, in a code, which protein shall be the product on a given occasion. Thus, the catalysts excluding the RNA constitute a programmable constructor. The general pattern is:

    program
    v
    programmable constructor
    input state of substrates ---------------------> output state of substrates. (8)

    Constructor theory is the ultimate generalization of the idea of catalysis.

  79. 79
    eigenstate says:

    @Barry,

    Materialist promissory note number 1,373,832. Hey eigy, why should we take note 1,373,832 when you have not paid note 1 yet? Keep the faith baby. On second thought, you really should abandon that faith. It is irrational.

    How so? Are you aware of the number of subjects and questions that science has made breakthrough discoveries on and built knowledge and models around? In case you are not aware, it’s a really solid record. If someone followed you around for a few days and recorded your actions, you be relying on a whole lot more on the cashed out promissory notes of science past than you do on your supernaturalism. Try reading this post with you spiritual computer, for example.

    Does that guarantee success in every inquiry, or any particular inquiry? No, not hardly. But it’s laughable to look at the track record of the scientific enterprise and suggest one is even being bold in taking an expectant position on this inquiry or that. In areas where science can’t reach empirically – like the multiverse or t=0, we understand the epistemic limitations. But cognition and models of the human mind are not so limited. They are enormously complex, but they tractable problems so far as we can see, and its tractability gets lets promissory and more realized every year that goes by.

    It doesn’t take faith, Barry. You just have to pay attention!

  80. 80
    Popperian says:

    StephanB

    This is not as hard as you are trying to make it.

    Emergence isn’t difficult to understand. The difficulty is trying to overcome misleading and disingenuous presentations of emergence in the OP and elsewhere.

    Effects do not occur in the absence of sufficient causal conditions. This is one of the first principles of rational thinking. Materialism challenges this claim by asserting that some effects emerge from conditions that are not causality sufficient.

    Except, my comment criticized the rationality of your thinking about what is or is not a casually sufficient cause, which you did not address. Specifically, It’s unclear why only God is a casually sufficient cause beyond merely defining him as such, committing the fallacy of division or appealing to inductivism. You’ve address none of these points.

    Your task, then, as a materialist, is to explain this: If even one effect can occur without a proportional cause, why cannot any and all effects occur without a proportional cause. In keeping with that point, how can science search for causes if it can’t be sure they are always needed to explain physical events? Under the circumstances, how would you know which effects were caused and which ones were not?

    Again, we’re getting ahead of ourselves, as we have yet to address what i means to rationally talk about what it means for a cause to be sufficient.

    If by proportional, you mean a unseen causes that resemble the seen or is merely defined as being sufficient, then my standing criticism still applies. Why should we use the criteria as indicate above? Especially, since doing so would exclude causes that we’ve already identified in existing theories?

  81. 81
    Box says:

    Popperian,

    A quick comment related to your discussion with StephenB on ’emergence’ and ‘insufficient causes’.

    Rational inference cannot “emerge” from nonrational interactions of matter. Nonrational interactions of matter is an insufficient cause for rational inference.
    If physicalism is true it follows that logical relationships are irrelevant to what actually happens in the world. However during rational inference thoughts cause one another in virtue of their content and of the logical relationships in which they stand. Rational inference requires rational causes, and if it is produced by nonrational causes then it cannot have been rationally inferred.

    Reppert: . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as [C S] Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

  82. 82
    bornagain77 says:

    Popperian states:

    Are you aware of the number of subjects and questions that science has made breakthrough discoveries on and built knowledge and models around?

    I’m aware of a few breakthroughs, and naturalism/materialism certainly did not provide the catalyst for those breakthroughs:

    1. Naturalism/Materialism predicted time-space energy-matter always existed. Theism predicted time-space energy-matter were created. Big Bang cosmology now strongly indicates that time-space energy-matter had a sudden creation event approximately 14 billion years ago.

    2. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that the universe is a self sustaining system that is not dependent on anything else for its continued existence. Theism predicted that God upholds this universe in its continued existence. Breakthroughs in quantum mechanics reveal that this universe is dependent on a ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, cause for its continued existence.

    3. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that consciousness is an ‘emergent property’ of material reality and thus should have no particularly special position within material reality. Theism predicts consciousness precedes material reality and therefore, on that presupposition, consciousness should have a ‘special’ position within material reality. Quantum Mechanics reveals that consciousness has a special, even a central, position within material reality. –

    4. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the rate at which time passed was constant everywhere in the universe. Theism predicted God is eternal and is outside of time. – Special Relativity has shown that time, as we understand it, is relative and comes to a complete stop at the speed of light. (Psalm 90:4 – 2 Timothy 1:9) –

    5. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the universe did not have life in mind and that life was ultimately an accident of time and chance. Theism predicted this universe was purposely created by God with man in mind. Scientists find the universe is exquisitely fine-tuned for carbon-based life to exist in this universe. Moreover it is found, when scrutinizing the details of physics and chemistry, that not only is the universe fine-tuned for carbon based life, but is specifically fine-tuned for life like human life (R. Collins, M. Denton).-

    6. Naturalism/Materialism predicted complex life in this universe should be fairly common. Theism predicted the earth is extremely unique in this universe. Statistical analysis of the hundreds of required parameters which enable complex organic life to be possible on earth gives strong indication the earth is extremely unique in this universe (Gonzalez). –

    7. Naturalism/Materialism predicted it took a very long time for life to develop on earth. Theism predicted life to appear abruptly on earth after water appeared on earth (Genesis 1:10-11). Geochemical evidence from the oldest sedimentary rocks ever found on earth indicates that complex photosynthetic life has existed on earth as long as water has been on the face of earth. –

    8. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the first life to be relatively simple. Theism predicted that God is the source for all life on earth. The simplest life ever found on Earth is far more complex than any machine man has made through concerted effort. (Michael Denton PhD) –

    9. Naturalism/Materialism predicted the gradual unfolding of life would (someday) be self-evident in the fossil record. Theism predicted complex and diverse animal life to appear abruptly in the seas in God’s fifth day of creation. The Cambrian Explosion shows a sudden appearance of many different and completely unique fossils within a very short “geologic resolution time” in the Cambrian seas. –

    10. Naturalism/Materialism predicted there should be numerous transitional fossils found in the fossil record, Theism predicted sudden appearance and rapid diversity within different kinds found in the fossil record. Fossils are consistently characterized by sudden appearance of a group/kind in the fossil record(disparity), then rapid diversity within that group/kind, and then long term stability and even deterioration of variety within the overall group/kind, and within the specific species of the kind, over long periods of time. Of the few dozen or so fossils claimed as transitional, not one is uncontested as a true example of transition between major animal forms out of millions of collected fossils. –

    11. Naturalism/Materialism predicted animal speciation should happen on a somewhat constant basis on earth. Theism predicted man was the last species created on earth – Man (our genus ‘modern homo’ as distinct from the highly controversial ‘early homo’) is the last generally accepted major fossil form to have suddenly appeared in the fossil record. (Tattersall; Luskin)–

    12. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that the separation of human intelligence from animal intelligence ‘is one of degree and not of kind’(C. Darwin). Theism predicted that we are made in the ‘image of God’- Despite an ‘explosion of research’ in this area over the last four decades, human beings alone are found to ‘mentally dissect the world into a multitude of discrete symbols, and combine and recombine those symbols in their minds to produce hypotheses of alternative possibilities.’ (Tattersall; Schwartz). Moreover, both biological life and the universe itself are found to be ‘information theoretic’ in their foundational basis.

    13. Naturalism/Materialism predicted much of the DNA code was junk. Theism predicted we are fearfully and wonderfully made – ENCODE research into the DNA has revealed a “biological jungle deeper, denser, and more difficult to penetrate than anyone imagined.”. –

    14. Naturalism/Materialism predicted a extremely beneficial and flexible mutation rate for DNA which was ultimately responsible for all the diversity and complexity of life we see on earth. Theism predicted only God created life on earth – The mutation rate to DNA is overwhelmingly detrimental. Detrimental to such a point that it is seriously questioned whether there are any truly beneficial, information building, mutations whatsoever. (M. Behe; JC Sanford) –

    15. Naturalism/Materialism predicted morality is subjective and illusory. Theism predicted morality is objective and real. Morality is found to be deeply embedded in the genetic responses of humans. As well, morality is found to be deeply embedded in the structure of the universe. Embedded to the point of eliciting physiological responses in humans before humans become aware of the morally troubling situation and even prior to the event even happening.

    16. Naturalism/Materialism predicted that we are merely our material bodies with no transcendent component to our being, and that we die when our material bodies die. Theism predicted that we have minds/souls that are transcendent of our bodies that live past the death of our material bodies. Transcendent, and ‘conserved’, (cannot be created or destroyed), ‘non-local’, (beyond space-time matter-energy), quantum entanglement/information, which is not reducible to matter-energy space-time, is now found in our material bodies on a massive scale (in every DNA and protein molecule).

    Popperian then states:

    In case you are not aware, it’s a really solid record. If someone followed you around for a few days and recorded your actions, you be relying on a whole lot more on the cashed out promissory notes of science past than you do on your supernaturalism. Try reading this post with you spiritual computer, for example.

    Actually, contrary to what Popperian wants to believe in, (who, by the way, prefers to believe in gazillions of Popperians in gazillions of parallel universes than believe in God), the computer he is currently using, even the building he is sitting in, and even the entire universe, is ‘spiritual’ not material:

    The Mental Universe – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: The only reality is mind and observations, but observations are not of things. To see the Universe as it really is, we must abandon our tendency to conceptualize observations as things.,,,
    The universe is entirely mental,,,, The Universe is immaterial — mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy.
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/The.mental.universe.pdf

    Reality doesn’t exist until we measure it, (Delayed Choice) quantum experiment confirms –
    Mind = blown. – FIONA MACDONALD – 1 JUN 2015
    Excerpt: “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” lead researcher and physicist Andrew Truscott said in a press release.
    http://www.sciencealert.com/re.....t-confirms

    New Mind-blowing Experiment Confirms That Reality Doesn’t Exist If You Are Not Looking at It – June 3, 2015
    Excerpt: The results of the Australian scientists’ experiment, which were published in the journal Nature Physics, show that this choice is determined by the way the object is measured, which is in accordance with what quantum theory predicts.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Truscott in a press release.,,,
    “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,” he said.
    Thus, this experiment adds to the validity of the quantum theory and provides new evidence to the idea that reality doesn’t exist without an observer.
    http://themindunleashed.org/20.....at-it.html

    In fact, the computer itself is far more reliant on ‘spiritual’ principles than Popperian apparently seems, or wants, to realize:

    10 Real-world Applications of Quantum Mechanics – 2013
    Excerpt: The study of quantum mechanics led to some truly astounding conclusions. For instance, scientists found that electrons behave both as waves and as particles, and the mere act of observing them changes the way they behave. Revelations like this one simply defied logic, prompting Einstein to declare “the more success the quantum theory has, the sillier it looks.”
    Einstein’s sentiments still resonate today, more than a century after humanity’s first insights into the quantum world; quantum mechanics makes perfect sense mathematically but defies our intuition at every turn. So it might surprise you that, despite its strangeness, quantum mechanics has led to some revolutionary inventions over the past century and promises to lead to many more in the years to come. Read on to learn about 10 practical applications of quantum mechanics.
    10. The Transistor
    9. Energy Harvesters
    8. Ultraprecise Clocks
    7. Quantum Cryptography
    6. Randomness Generator
    5. Lasers
    4. Ultraprecise Thermometers
    3. Quantum Computers
    2. Instantaneous Communication (highly debatable)
    1. Teleportation (with huge caveats)
    Go here to read details of each
    http://dsc.discovery.com/tv-sh.....hanics.htm

    Describing Nature With Math By Peter Tyson – Nov. 2011
    Excerpt: Mathematics underlies virtually all of our technology today. James Maxwell’s four equations summarizing electromagnetism led directly to radio and all other forms of telecommunication. E = mc2 led directly to nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The equations of quantum mechanics made possible everything from transistors and semiconductors to electron microscopy and magnetic resonance imaging.
    Indeed, many of the technologies you and I enjoy every day simply would not work without mathematics. When you do a Google search, you’re relying on 19th-century algebra, on which the search engine’s algorithms are based. When you watch a movie, you may well be seeing mountains and other natural features that, while appearing as real as rock, arise entirely from mathematical models. When you play your iPod, you’re hearing a mathematical recreation of music that is stored digitally; your cell phone does the same in real time.
    “When you listen to a mobile phone, you’re not actually hearing the voice of the person speaking,” Devlin told me. “You’re hearing a mathematical recreation of that voice. That voice is reduced to mathematics.”
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/p.....-math.html

  83. 83
    Silver Asiatic says:

    e

    In areas where science can’t reach empirically – like the multiverse or t=0, we understand the epistemic limitations.

    True, but it’s important to recognize the epistemic problems of materialism as a worldview and/or foundation for science also.

    But cognition and models of the human mind are not so limited. They are enormously complex, but they tractable problems so far as we can see, and its tractability gets lets promissory and more realized every year that goes by.

    We don’t know any of that. A material reductionist view may be moving farther away from the answers. We see that with evolutionary theory – neo-Darwinism is not growing in explanatory power but continues to require alternative explanations added on to it. Some of those move in a radically different direction (self-organization for one).

  84. 84
    Barry Arrington says:

    Popperian

    Again, we’re getting ahead of ourselves, as we have yet to address what i means to rationally talk about what it means for a cause to be sufficient.

    No, we are not. You simply refuse to acknowledge that which is contrary to your faith commitments. You have an intense faith that the mental can emerge from the physical. You might as well say the image of a house I have in my mind right now emerged from bricks.

  85. 85
    Virgil Cain says:

    eigenstate:

    Are you aware of the number of subjects and questions that science has made breakthrough discoveries on and built knowledge and models around?

    Neither materialism nor evolutionism can be modeled. No one even knows where to start.

  86. 86
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Supposedly, each mental thought, imagination, idea emerges from a unique physical configuration.

    The number 32 is a certain configuration. The number 32,000,000,000,000,000 is another one.

    Actually, each letter in a sentence is a unique physical configuration in the brain.

    So, the brain has infinite power. All from some mutations and selection.

  87. 87
    Popperian says:

    No, we are not. You simply refuse to acknowledge that which is contrary to your faith commitments.

    When I point out the idea that like things can only beget like things commits a specific fallacy or is a form of inductivism, that is your response? I’m the one with the faith commitment?

    I always find this sort of talk is very confusing. I’m merely open to the possibility that our folk conceptions of what is a sufficient cause is false. Apparently, you’re not. And we’re the ones that are not open minded?

    Why would you think that our folk conceptions of sufficient causation are true? Why do you think we would get it right in the first place? The assumption that we would get it right would be based on some underlying philosophical view, like it’s possible to infallibly identify and interpret an infallible source, or the unseen we use to explain the seen resembles the seen, or that steel atoms must be hard, or that all knowledge comes to us though the senses.

    However, we have no good explanation for how the former is possible. And the latter simply isn’t the case, in practice, so that assumption has already been violated.

    For example, imagine someone in the early 1700’s said that there can be no meaning if we could not touch another human being. (Note I’m not suggesting this is your argument. I’m making an analogy.) If our common sense of touch is “fake”, then everything is meaningless. Fast forward to today. We now know that the strong nuclear force actually repels our fingers before they actually touch anything. Nor is our sense of touch, with a sense of having a specific location in space, actually generated by the tips of our fingers. Not to mention that we do not experience touch for what it is, because what our fingers generate are electrical crackles, which do not resemble our experience of touch. So, in that sense, our common-sense idea of touch is actually “fake”. Would discovering that our common-sense idea is false mean that life would not have meaning?

    IOW, we already know the common-sense, inductive idea that the unseen that we use to explain the seen resembles the seen is false. It’s unclear why you think this must also be the same in the case when it comes to our brains and consciousness, etc.

    You have an intense faith that the mental can emerge from the physical. You might as well say the image of a house I have in my mind right now emerged from bricks.

    Now you’re trying to grossly misrepresent my position to make it appear absurd and deflect my criticism. Is a mere calculator a universal computer? No, it’s not. Neither is a bunch of bricks.

  88. 88
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Every brain is unique, so each thought in each brain is unique. The only thing that could produce that physically is some kind of random driver. But though-generation is not random.

  89. 89
    Zachriel says:

    Zachriel: You say you make a conclusion of design, and the scientific door closes.

    Silver Asiatic: Well, you said that and you just lied about me saying it.

    Silver Asiatic: Once a scientific conclusion is drawn that there is Design, then any number of projects are available to follow on, including philosophical and theological research.

    Note the absence of any mention of scientific research. You might want to simply point to scientific research on measurable characteristics of the artisan.

  90. 90
    Zachriel says:

    Silver Asiatic: Every brain is unique, so each thought in each brain is unique. The only thing that could produce that physically is some kind of random driver.

    Every person is unique (other than identical twins). The “random driver” is recombination.

  91. 91
    bornagain77 says:

    “The “random driver” is recombination.”

    MMM, Actually no, Recombination is not ‘random’:

    Duality in the human genome – Nov. 28, 2014
    Excerpt: According to the researchers, mutations of genes are not randomly distributed between the parental chromosomes. They found that 60 percent of mutations affect the same chromosome set and 40 percent both sets. Scientists refer to these as cis and trans mutations, respectively. Evidently, an organism must have more cis mutations, where the second gene form remains intact. “It’s amazing how precisely the 60:40 ratio is maintained. It occurs in the genome of every individual – almost like a magic formula,” says Hoehe.
    http://medicalxpress.com/news/.....enome.html

    also of note:

    Sex Is Not About Promoting Genetic Variation, Researchers Argue – (July 7, 2011)
    Excerpt: Biology textbooks maintain that the main function of sex is to promote genetic diversity. But Henry Heng, Ph.D., associate professor in WSU’s Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, says that’s not the case.,,,
    ,,,the primary function of sex is not about promoting diversity. Rather, it’s about keeping the genome context — an organism’s complete collection of genes arranged by chromosome composition and topology — as unchanged as possible, thereby maintaining a species’ identity. This surprising analysis has been published as a cover article in a recent issue of the journal Evolution.,,,
    For nearly 130 years, traditional perceptions hold that asexual reproduction generates clone-like offspring and sexual reproduction leads to more diverse offspring. “In reality, however, the relationship is quite the opposite,” said Heng.,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....161037.htm

  92. 92
    Zachriel says:

    bornagain77: Actually no, Recombination is not ‘random’

    You might read the article you cited.

    More than 85 percent of all genes have no predominant form which occurs in more than half of all individuals. This enormous diversity means that over half of all genes in an individual, around 9,000 of 17,500, occur uniquely in that one person – and are therefore individual in the truest sense of the word.

  93. 93
    bornagain77 says:

    and what part of this did you miss:

    “It’s amazing how precisely the 60:40 ratio is maintained. It occurs in the genome of every individual – almost like a magic formula,” says Hoehe.

    That split is not certainly ‘random’ as you had claimed for recombination!

    In fact the ‘non-random’ nature of the 60:40 split is what garnered a good portion of their surprise in their study.

    Moreover, that the genes are being radically ‘tailored’ in a unique way for each of us, that appears to be, at first glance, non-deleterious in their overall effects, instead of being overtly deleterious as all ‘randomly induced’ mutation studies indicate, then that strongly supports the contention that the mutations are somehow happening in a designed way, as I would hold, instead of a completely random way as you would hold.

    Multiple Overlapping Genetic Codes Profoundly Reduce the Probability of Beneficial Mutation George Montañez 1, Robert J. Marks II 2, Jorge Fernandez 3 and John C. Sanford 4 – May 2013
    Excerpt: It is almost universally acknowledged that beneficial mutations are rare compared to deleterious mutations [1–10].,, It appears that beneficial mutations may be too rare to actually allow the accurate measurement of how rare they are [11].
    http://www.worldscientific.com.....08728_0006

    Ask an Embryologist: Genomic Mosaicism – Jonathan Wells – February 23, 2015
    Excerpt: humans have a “few thousand” different cell types. Here is my simple question: Does the DNA sequence in one cell type differ from the sequence in another cell type in the same person?,,,
    The simple answer is: We now know that there is considerable variation in DNA sequences among tissues, and even among cells in the same tissue. It’s called genomic mosaicism.
    In the early days of developmental genetics, some people thought that parts of the embryo became different from each other because they acquired different pieces of the DNA from the fertilized egg. That theory was abandoned,,,
    ,,,(then) “genomic equivalence” — the idea that all the cells of an organism (with a few exceptions, such as cells of the immune system) contain the same DNA — became the accepted view.
    I taught genomic equivalence for many years. A few years ago, however, everything changed. With the development of more sophisticated techniques and the sampling of more tissues and cells, it became clear that genetic mosaicism is common.
    I now know as an embryologist,,,Tissues and cells, as they differentiate, modify their DNA to suit their needs. It’s the organism controlling the DNA, not the DNA controlling the organism.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....93851.html

    “It is difficult (if not impossible) to find a genome change operator that is truly random in its action within the DNA of the cell where it works’
    James Shapiro – Evolution: A View From The 21st Century – (Page 82)

    Revisiting the Central Dogma in the 21st Century – James A. Shapiro – 2009
    Excerpt (Page 12): Underlying the central dogma and conventional views of genome evolution was the idea that the genome is a stable structure that changes rarely and accidentally by chemical fluctuations (106) or replication errors. This view has had to change with the realization that maintenance of genome stability is an active cellular function and the discovery of numerous dedicated biochemical systems for restructuring DNA molecules.(107–110) Genetic change is almost always the result of cellular action on the genome. These natural processes are analogous to human genetic engineering,,, (Page 14) Genome change arises as a consequence of natural genetic engineering, not from accidents. Replication errors and DNA damage are subject to cell surveillance and correction. When DNA damage correction does produce novel genetic structures, natural genetic engineering functions, such as mutator polymerases and nonhomologous end-joining complexes, are involved. Realizing that DNA change is a biochemical process means that it is subject to regulation like other cellular activities. Thus, we expect to see genome change occurring in response to different stimuli (Table 1) and operating nonrandomly throughout the genome, guided by various types of intermolecular contacts (Table 1 of Ref. 112).
    http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.ed.....0Dogma.pdf

  94. 94
    Zachriel says:

    bornagain77: That split is not certainly ‘random’ as you had claimed for recombination!

    It’s apparently random enough that every individual is unique, which was the original question.

  95. 95
    bornagain77 says:

    Whatever Zach, contrary to what you desperately want to believe as a Darwinist, the genetic evidence now decidedly supports ‘top down’ control instead of just ‘happenstance’ variation as was originally held by Darwinists

  96. 96
    Virgil Cain says:

    The “random driver” is recombination.

    Except that you don’t have any idea if recombination is random. Your ignorance is not an argument.

  97. 97
    StephenB says:

    Popperian

    Emergence isn’t difficult to understand. The difficulty is trying to overcome misleading and disingenuous presentations of emergence in the OP and elsewhere.

    Emergence is easy to understand. As materialists would have it, effects can occur without sufficient causal conditions. That seems to be your claim as well.

    In fact, effects do not occur in the absence of sufficient causal conditions. This is one of the first principles of rational thinking. Materialism challenges this principle.

    Except, my comment criticized the rationality of your thinking about what is or is not a casually sufficient cause, which you did not address.

    I have answered it indirectly, but I will now answer it directly. A sufficient or proportional cause is one that is capable of producing the effect, which is defined as a change or the coming into existence of another thing. Accordingly, a cause cannot give what it does not have to give. Matter, for example, does not have the power to reflect on itself, so it cannot confer or transmit that quality to humans. The advocates of emergence challenge the point and insist that matter does not need any such power to produce that effect. They hold that the effect can simply emerge in the absence of those necessary causal conditions. This is not rational position.

    In order to defend their position, they often claim, among other things, that “wetness” emerges from water, as if the causal conditions for wetness were not already present in the elements, as if negative electrons and positive protons did not have the inherent power to cause reactions, as if some molecules were not more tightly bonded that others, causing variations in hardness, viscosity, etc.

    Even at that, the argument falls on its face because wetness, hardness, or viscosity are not even recognized in some quarters are real qualities. Many believe that wetness, for example, is simply a description of the human experience of coming into contact with water. In that context, they argue that water is not really wet, but that it causes other things to get wet. I don’t hold that position, but the point dramatizes how inappropriate the example would be as a means of defending the irrational notion of emergence.

    Specifically, It’s unclear why only God is a casually sufficient cause beyond merely defining him as such, committing the fallacy of division or appealing to inductivism.

    It is not the case that God is the only sufficient cause. Humans are a sufficient cause. The laws of nature can be a sufficient cause. With respect to the universe, it should be obvious that a supernatural cause is necessary to bring nature into existence. Materialists argue that it simply popped into existence from nothing. On the contrary, “nothing” does not have nature to give.

    SB: Your task, then, as a materialist, is to explain this: If even one effect can occur without a proportional cause, why cannot any and all effects occur without a proportional cause. In keeping with that point, how can science search for causes if it can’t be sure they are always needed to explain physical events? Under the circumstances, how would you even know which effects were caused and which ones were not?

    Again, we’re getting ahead of ourselves, as we have yet to address what i means to rationally talk about what it means for a cause to be sufficient.

    Now that you know, you can provide your answer.

  98. 98
    Barry Arrington says:

    Popperian:

    When I point out the idea that like things can only beget like things commits a specific fallacy or is a form of inductivism, that is your response?

    No, that is not what I said. I (and StephenB) have said that an effect (consciousness for example) cannot be brought about by a cause that is incapable of producing the effect. My analogy is apt. A pile of bricks is incapable of being a cause that produces the effect of the image of a house in my mind. Similarly, the physical chemicals in my head are incapable of producing mental images. Physical and mental are in separate unbridgable ontological categories.

    Your response to this obvious fact is to stamp your feet and repeat the word “emergence, emergence, emergence, emergence” like a mantra.

    You are the one who has proposed “emergence” as the process by which the cause produces the effect. Therefore, it up to you, as the proponent of the proposition, to describe how that could possibly happen.

    Until you do, the OP stands unrefuted, and invoking emergence is equivalent to invoking magic.

  99. 99
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Zachriel: You say you make a conclusion of design, and the scientific door closes.

    You lied about what I said.

    You’re acting like a childish troll, looking for attention.

    You have no qualifications in science at all. There are scientists far more credentialed and qualified than you are who support ID. Your opinions are basically worthless.

    If you had something to say it would be one thing. If you had a personality or something to say about yourself that might be worthwhile. But double-speak and lies from an unqualified, anonymous troll gets quite boring.

    I don’t know why anyone wastes time on you. I can’t see that you have anything to say.

  100. 100
    Box says:

    #99

    I agree with Silver Asiatic 100%.

  101. 101
    Mapou says:

    Arrington:

    Similarly, the physical chemicals in my head are incapable of producing mental images. Physical and mental are in separate unbridgable ontological categories.

    IMO, it is a mistake to assert that the brain has nothing to do with the mental. The mental (conscious cognition) is the result of the yin-yang interactions between the spirit and the brain. If not, who needs the brain and, if you are a Christian, what is the promised resurrection good for?

  102. 102
    Barry Arrington says:

    Mapou,

    IMO, it is a mistake to assert that the brain has nothing to do with the mental.

    A mistake that I did not commit. There is a difference between necessary and sufficient.

  103. 103
    Box says:

    The brain orders sensory input and is the control system of the body. Especially the former function can have a strong impact on the mental (memory, reason and emotional state).

    And no, the brain does NOT think; see #81

  104. 104
    Mapou says:

    Of course, the brain thinks. We can use MRI to pinpoint exactly where in the brain a certain type of thinking takes place.

    The human spirit uses the brain to think. This is what makes thinking a conscious process. The spirit cannot think without the brain. Consciousness requires a knower (spirit) and a known (brain). Nothing can be its own opposite.

    Thinking is a cause-effect phenomenon. It does not have to be conscious. In fact, probably more than half of the thinking that goes on in the brain is unconscious. Furthermore, there are good reasons to believe that animals are unconscious meat machines. Animals do think. Rationality is a causal phenomenon.

  105. 105
    Zachriel says:

    Zachriel: Note the absence of any mention of scientific research. You might want to simply point to scientific research on measurable characteristics of the artisan.

    Silver Asiatic: You’re acting like a childish troll, looking for attention.

    Of note, you failed to answer the query.

    UDEditors: Z, we are not quite sure what you mean. Are you complimenting him for refusing to respond to an asshat question? If you are, good for you.

  106. 106
    Box says:

    Mapou #104: Thinking is a cause-effect phenomenon.

    NOT of a physical nature.

    1. All men are mortal
    2. Socrates is a man.
    3. Socrates is mortal

    If physicalism is true it follows that logical relationships are irrelevant to what actually happens in the world. However during rational inference thoughts cause one another in virtue of their content and of the logical relationships in which they stand. Rational inference requires rational causes, and if it is produced by nonrational causes then it cannot have been rationally inferred.

    Reppert: . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as [C S] Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    Mapou: It does not have to be conscious.

    Speak for yourself.

  107. 107
    Mapou says:

    Box, why do I even bother arguing with someone who ignores half my argument to say something devoid of any sense?

    First off, I did not say a word about materialism being true. I am a dualist, not a materialist. Materialists are monists and so are you, apparently, since you believe you can think without your brain. Second, the Aristotelian logic example you gave:

    1. All men are mortal
    2. Socrates is a man.
    3. Socrates is mortal

    is a trivial thing to do in a computer program. Logic is based on symbols and computers have no problem manipulating symbols. In fact, the modern computer is a direct consequence of the rules of logic developed by Augustus De Morgan and George Boole.

  108. 108
    Box says:

    Mapou #107,

    Computers function as they do because they have been constructed by human being endowed with rational insight. A computer, in other words, is merely an extension of the rationality of its designers and users; it is no more an independent source of rational thought than a television set is an independent source of news and entertainment.

    [Hasker, Metaphysics, 49.]

  109. 109
    Mapou says:

    So the designers created a fantastically beautiful and incredibly complex organ with 100 billion neurons and trillions of synapses just for grins and giggles? Or did they design it just so you and I can have arguments over it?

  110. 110
    Mapou says:

    Box:

    Computers function as they do because they have been constructed by human being endowed with rational insight. A computer, in other words, is merely an extension of the rationality of its designers and users; it is no more an independent source of rational thought than a television set is an independent source of news and entertainment.

    [Hasker, Metaphysics, 49.]

    And you don’t think that the brain’s rationality is genetically determined? Meaning that it was designed to be rational by its designers? You obviously do not believe that mentally ill people (bipolar disorder and schizophrenia) are ill because of some neurological disorder since, according to you, the brain does not think. That is blatantly ridiculous and absurd.

  111. 111
    Box says:

    Mapou #109,

    The external world is a lot to take in — the brain orders a massive amount of sensory input. Also the body needs an elaborate control system.

    BTW did the designers’ brains do the designing of our brains? If so, who or what programmed the designers’ brains wrt the use of symbols?

    Mapou #110, read #103 again wrt ‘strong impact’.

  112. 112
    Mapou says:

    Box:

    BTW did the designers’ brains do the designing of our brains?

    Certainly.

    If so, who or what programmed the designers’ brains wrt the use of symbols?

    Well, it goes without saying that the designers could not have used their brains to create their brains. So where did the designers’ brains come from? Here’s my hypothesis based on my research of the ancient texts.

    Obviously their spirits must have created their brains. But how, since spirits are not intelligent? Well, IMO, spirits do not need to be intelligent in order to create complex and beautiful things. Spirits are concerned only with spiritual things such as order or beauty. Even something like a color or a taste is spiritual. The colors that you see do not come from the physical world (not even your brain) but from your spirit.

    Some of the spirits of the designers (Yahweh Elohim) are non-random search agents that do one thing: create beautiful and ordered patterns. In the beginning, this is all they could do because they did not have brains to think with. Thus an evolution must have ensued, but unlike Darwinian evolution which is stochastic, this spiritual search is non-random. And when non-random things happen, they evolved in beauty and complexity, eventually giving rise to complex mechanisms. Other spirits started using the mechanisms to create even more beautiful things such as music and mathematics. Eventually, after eons of trial and error, they grew in knowledge and power to the point of being able to create entire universes. They eventually settled on their current form. They tell us that they look like us.

    I remember reading this somewhere: “I, Yahweh Elohim” am the first among all the other Elohim.” I think it was in the book of Isaiah. It’s obvious there was a beginning.

  113. 113
    Box says:

    Mapou #112, my compliments to you on having given that problem some extensive thought already.
    That’s not to say that ‘unintelligent spirits’ and ‘rational brains’ make sense to me.

    Thank you for now.

  114. 114
    mike1962 says:

    Box: no, the brain does NOT think

    Just curious, but have you ever taken any mind altering drugs? Ever consumed alcohol to the point of mental impairment? What about when your brain goes into sleep mode: are you still able to think and reason then? What about people who suffer strokes or brain damage from car crashes, and who obviously acquire impaired reasoning and thinking skills because of it?

    AFAICT, all the evidence available seems to point to the fact that the brain is a necessary, but not sufficient, component of human thought and reasoning. Why do you believe otherwise?

  115. 115
    Box says:

    Mike1962,

    I hold that the effects of drugs, car crashes and so forth on the mental can be explained by an impaired ordering of sensory input combined with an impaired control system of the body.

    Mike1962: AFAICT, all the evidence available seems to point to the fact that the brain is a necessary, but not sufficient, component of human thought and reasoning. Why do you believe otherwise?

    My reasons for believing otherwise are mainly of a philosophical nature.
    In short: I hold that “I” is one. I’m a unity. I don’t consist of disjoint parts that work in concert. Awareness, rationality, will power and sentience are aspects of one thing: “I”.

    BTW how about the evidence that stem from NDE experiences?

  116. 116
    mike1962 says:

    Box:I hold that the effects of drugs, car crashes and so forth on the mental can be explained by an impaired ordering of sensory input combined with an impaired control system of the body.

    The extent of impairment can go beyond senses and body control. What do you do with the fact that people with brain impairments due to injury can have great difficulty in reasoning and procedural thinking in ways that they didn’t have prior to the injury?

    Have you ever been mentally impaired where your ability to reason was diminished? Is your ability to think and reason while dreaming the same as when waking? If not, how do you explain the difference?

  117. 117
    EugeneS says:

    Eigenstate #46,

    Norbert Wiener: Information is information, not matter or energy.

    Information is inherently non-naturalistic. It is an idea even though it does have the entropic dimension to it. Its entropic/physical dimension does not explain what information is about. Information has an intrinsic property of ‘aboutness’. It is the semantic aspect of information that makes it non-naturalistic.

    To be able to encode/decode information, a material system needs to satisfy certain nontrivial properties.

    Regularity, which stems from the naturalistic laws of nature, is a killer of information. It is poisonous to it because the information carrying capacity of regular structures is next to 0.

    Functionality of any kind is an artifact simply because functional systems are those which deliver pragmatic value or utility while the laws of nature could not care less about pragmatic utility of multi-component systems.

    Biological systems are inherently functional. Biology is chemistry + information. The information that organisms encode, pass on, receive and process, is the enabler of their functionality.

    To say that biology rests on semiosis does not mean to fall into anthropocentrism because information is an objective phenomenon. Several researchers in the past questioned objectivity of information (probably because they realized it was otherwise implying a limit to explanatory power of naturalism) but nowadays it seems to be taken as consensus. Autonomous information processing systems, biosystems included, operate independent of you or me knowing about them. The contention is not whether information really exists, it is where it comes from.

  118. 118
    Box says:

    Mike1962: The extent of impairment can go beyond senses and body control. What do you do with the fact that people with brain impairments due to injury can have great difficulty in reasoning and procedural thinking in ways that they didn’t have prior to the injury? Have you ever been mentally impaired where your ability to reason was diminished?

    Yes it goes beyond senses and body control, since, as I have stated, if people no longer have access to properly ordered sensory input and bodily control it effects the mental. Things can get quite confusing. During earthly life we identify with the physical body. The illusion ends at the moment of death.

    Mike1962: Is your ability to think and reason while dreaming the same as when waking? If not, how do you explain the difference?

    You seem to hold that dreaming and sleeping are something the brain does — “brain goes into sleep mode” — in my view dreaming and sleeping are mental states.

  119. 119
    Popperian says:

    I wrote:

    When I point out the idea that like things can only beget like things commits a specific fallacy or is a form of inductivism, that is your response?

    Barry:

    No, that is not what I said. I (and StephenB) have said that an effect (consciousness for example) cannot be brought about by a cause that is incapable of producing the effect.

    Again, I questioned how you know what something is capable of. So, if I’ve got it wrong, then what is your criteria and how is it different. Please be specific.

    My analogy is apt. A pile of bricks is incapable of being a cause that produces the effect of the image of a house in my mind. Similarly, the physical chemicals in my head are incapable of producing mental images.

    Are making bad analogies par for the course with ID proponents?

    Again, that’s like saying that, if someone was defeated by a computer in a game of chess, they were defeated by atoms, since computers are made of atoms. Emergent properties are phenomena that can be well explained without referring to anything at the atomic level or lower. As such, atoms are not the cause of the players defeat. The fact that no such explanation for that defeat is possible using just atoms in no way prevents us from explaining how the player was defeated.

    So, if your analogy is apt at anything, it’s how confused you are about what it means to say a property is emergent.

    In the same way, no explanation for conciseness or other mental phenomena will be possible using just chemicals. As such, to point out that any such explanation will be emergent is not to appeal to magic. It’s pointing out that your demand for a reductionist explanation is irrational.

    Second, even if we ignore the fact that you’re confused about emergence, that anything is or is not capable of producing an effect is knowledge. So the question is, how does knowledge, including the capabilities of a thing, grow? To exclude something as a cause because we have not observed it actually causing that effect in the past is inductivism. Furthermore, all observations are theory laden. So, our ideas about what anything is capable of producing are based on theories. To exclude an unseen cause because it does not resemble the seen is also a form of inductivism. The assumption that steel atoms must have properties of steel, such as being hard, before it can be considered being capable of producing that effect commits the fallacy of division.

    If none of the above, then how do you know what anything is capable of? Please be specific.

    Again, the idea that we need to produce a reductionist theory or that something needs to be “grounded” is a specific philosophical view. When I keep pointing this out, you simply have no response. However, to say the OP has not be refuted implicitly assumes those specific views.

    Since you know theists share those philosophical views, you know you do not have to explicitly present, argue for them or even acknowledge they are philosophical views at all. After all, why expose those views to unnecessary criticism? IOW, you’re simply preaching to the choir.

  120. 120
    Popperian says:

    Barry:

    Until you do, the OP stands unrefuted, and invoking emergence is equivalent to invoking magic.

    What is the OP? How did I “invoke” emergent properties and emergent explanations?

    Ironically enough, materialists are a mystical lot. They say they reject irrational and superstitious beliefs, but when one pushes them past their ability to explain life, the universe and everything in materialist terms, they are very quick to resort to obscurantist pseudo-explanations. And “it emerged” is their favorite dodge.

    The funny thing is, I didn’t say “it emerged”, as if it were a verb. That’s is your words, not mine. I’ve been making the same arguments all along. Including arguing against the same ideas that were presented here as well.

    I wrote:

    BA wrote:

    But as SB said, what we are composed of determines what we are capable of. A materialist says nothing exists but space, time, particles and energy.

    Surely, you can do better than this. Right?

    On one hand, you’ve spent an inordinate about of time arguing against emergent levels of explanation presented by “materialists”. Yet, when you supposedly speak for them, you completely ignore it.

    Apparently, “materialism” is what ever Barry Arrington happens to accept, or whatever he happens to agree with, when it suits his purpose.

    And your response is? Keep pushing the same misrepresentation.

    Popperian @ 98.

    “It emerged” and “It was magic” are equivalent in their explanatory power. I don’t see how invoking magic helps your case.

    And you’ve continued to present this same misrepresentation in each post, despite being corrected in each post.

  121. 121
    Barry Arrington says:

    Popperian, you are getting tiresome. Unless you can demonstrate how chemicals result in thoughts, then you’ve got nothing. And in fact you’ve got nothing.

    You don’t have the first inkling of a hint of a notion of how that could possibly be. Yet you keep going on and on and on as if you are certain that it is.

    That’s enough. Put up or shut up. Show us how thoughts arise from chemicals. Or admit that you can’t.

  122. 122
    eigenstate says:

    @EugeneS

    Norbert Wiener: Information is information, not matter or energy.

    Norbert Wiener is neither matter or energy, that much is safe to say.

    Seriously, though, that is really not a quote or perspective you want to start with, or even happen by as you think about this. Information is physical, which is not to say it “is” matter or energy. It is neither, but it is an implicit characteristic of both. Information is the reduction of uncertainty, the exclusion of possibilities. So even the most basic objects in our universe, an elementary particle, necessarily has information, local state that excludes other possibilities. “Spin” for example. You can’t have mass be mass, or energy be energy without information, so it’s as fundamentally natural as anything you could name.

    Information is inherently non-naturalistic.

    No, that is precisely backwards. You’re contradicting the whole of physics and natural science in saying this, as is your prerogative, but this negates the most fundamental and thoroughly tested knowledge we have about the universe we live in. Google “Maxwell’s Demon” or the “Black hole wars” between Hawking and Susskind, et al. These are just two interesting examples of fundamental physics debates that are all predicated on the physical nature of information.

    It is an idea even though it does have the entropic dimension to it. Its entropic/physical dimension does not explain what information is about. Information has an intrinsic property of ‘aboutness’. It is the semantic aspect of information that makes it non-naturalistic.

    No, that’s a non-scientific and casual understanding of the term. Information in science and math does not map the colloquial use of “information” as “meaningful”. It certainly can be meaningful when minds are involved, but information is just states and configurations that are exclusive of other possibilities. Like I was pointing out to UprightBiped, who’s similarly confused on this, the neutrality of a sodium atom (NA) has different binding characteristics with a flouride Atom (F-) with a negative charge than a Na+ atom. The charge here is not “information” in the human vernacular sense, it’s not relevant or meaning for to humans in the way a sales chart might be to sales manager. But this local state, this state that excludes other states (Na vs. Na- or Na+) is (determinative) for the interaction of the atom with other atoms.

    I think the major problem here, reading this far, is a basic talking-past-each-other on terms. The concept you have of “information” is not applicable to the scientific usage. It will confuse you and be problematic so long as you keep to that connotation when considering scientific subjects.

    Norbert Wiener, by the way, was a “father” of the seminal work Claude Shannon in information theory. If you’re not familiar with all that, these theory and frameworks explicitly disavowing any integration of addressing of “meaning”.

    To be able to encode/decode information, a material system needs to satisfy certain nontrivial properties.

    Regularity, which stems from the naturalistic laws of nature, is a killer of information. It is poisonous to it because the information carrying capacity of regular structures is next to 0.

    No, but then possibly I don’t know what you mean by structure. In a quantum computer, for example, a qubit is storage for a bit realized in a single particle, via its polarization or charge. This is mind-bogglingly dense storage, and if you could get that kind of storage density put into something size of the smallest SSD drive on the market, you could store the whole internet on a part of that drive. That’s a tricky feat as a matter of practical manufacturing as of yet, but the point is that nature’s information capacity is being staggering, by comparison to puny and primitive scales we like to (or used to) think are impressive. A single particle can encode a bit (and quite possibly more).

    Functionality of any kind is an artifact simply because functional systems are those which deliver pragmatic value or utility while the laws of nature could not care less about pragmatic utility of multi-component systems.

    That’s not an operating concept in physics. That would in the more subjective, soft domains of engineering by humans, manufacturing, etc.

    Biological systems are inherently functional. Biology is chemistry + information. The information that organisms encode, pass on, receive and process, is the enabler of their functionality.

    That’s redundant. Everything physical is information. If it exists, it has state, it is information. Biology is rich with information, but that’s just an artifact of being a higher level description of physics.

    To say that biology rests on semiosis does not mean to fall into anthropocentrism because information is an objective phenomenon.

    Yes, but the way you’ve put it equivocates on “information”. “Information” in the scientific denotation of the term is an objective, measurable (at least in principle) characteristic of some element or aggregation. That is, it’s an inevitable feature of the objective state of a natural entity, anything with state, anything that exists in some way but could exist otherwise (a photon being “here” rather than “there” bears such information – by being “here” it is excluding all the other possible “theres”, when it’s location is realized.

    When you talk about “information” as “meaningful”, it’s a whole different concept, and intrinsically tied to the subjectivity of minds (mind is a transcendental requirement for meaning). That is just fine as a concept and is useful for lots of applications, but these are not compatible or interchangeable concepts, even though they are frequently confused and conflated.

    Several researchers in the past questioned objectivity of information (probably because they realized it was otherwise implying a limit to explanatory power of naturalism) but nowadays it seems to be taken as consensus. Autonomous information processing systems, biosystems included, operate independent of you or me knowing about them. The contention is not whether information really exists, it is where it comes from.

    I don’t think either is in question. If you go ask your friendly professor of physics at your local university, you will find that neither is a mystery or the source of controversy. Unless you want an explanation for “casual information” rather than “physical information”. Then you’d certainly have some tough problems to tackle in terms of the origin and evolution of linguistics and semantics as a feature of human psychology… but that’s not what science is referring to when you read about “information” in a physics or biology (biology is chemistry is physics) context.

  123. 123
    Box says:

    Suitable for beginners at chess:

    Here we see a very simple chess position. Simple for us humans. NOT so for computers.
    Anyone who is slightly familiar with chess ‘sees’ that the position is a dead draw. The pawns are immovable. The white king cannot enter the black territory and the same goes for the useless white bishops (which would still be harmless if they could).
    This seeing is from overview — or bird’s eye view. Top-down 🙂

    We humans don’t have to look at all the various king and bishop moves to be sure that they are all perfectly useless.

    A computer however does not see this. Houdini, current number 3 of the world in computer chess, “thinks” that white is up 3 pieces and is totally winning.

  124. 124
    EugeneS says:

    Eigenstate: Information is the reduction of uncertainty, the exclusion of possibilities.

    Eigenstate, that is simply your philosophical position.

    Yes, information has that dimension, as I said. But not only. And the problem is not that I make it ‘anthropocentric’ or vernacular. It is that the entropic side of information simply does not reflect meaning. Looking at information as the reduction of uncertainty is legitimate but it has huge limitations. The rules of chess are inexplicable at the level of describing the motion of chessmen as solid or elastic bodies.

    Interestingly, Shannon’s work is ‘a mathematical theory of communication’, not information. Information has a lot more to it than just entropy. What Shannon has as a given is the semantic context. All he is concerned about is reliably passing a message over a physical noisy channel as a sequence of bits. All the rest, the pragmatic context, is out of the equation.

    It seems that you are conflating physicality (bifurcations, equilibrium states, motion of particles, etc) with what can be done about those physicality effects. Physicality cannot do it by itself. Information in its entirety cannot be reduced to the motion of particles of matter. And therefore it is not just an aspect or characteristic of physicality. It can be viewed as such but this view has limitations. Information only has a projection into physicality.

    Where I think you are grossly wrong is in saying that the aspect of meaning or pragmatic utility is non-scientific. There is a whole lot of science in decision making and decision support. Biological systems are inherently decision making systems.

    Physicality has no potency to produce biological systems because biology is about logic, rules, pragmatic utility and control whereas physicality is indifferent to all these. Physicality cannot decide.

  125. 125
    Virgil Cain says:

    Information requires matter and energy to be transmitted and stored in this universe but information is not physical nor is it energy.

    Just because all things physical contain information does not mean information is physical.

  126. 126
    Popperian says:

    Popperian, you are getting tiresome.

    Do you have a specific criticism? After all, one could say the same about gravity.

    I wrote:

    … that anything is or is not capable of producing an effect is knowledge. So the question is, how does knowledge, including the capabilities of a thing, grow? To exclude something as a cause because we have not observed it actually causing that effect in the past is inductivism. Furthermore, all observations are theory laden. So, our ideas about what anything is capable of producing are based on theories. To exclude an unseen cause because it does not resemble the seen is also a form of inductivism. The assumption that steel atoms must have properties of steel, such as being hard, before it can be considered being capable of producing that effect commits the fallacy of division.

    If none of the above, then how do you know what anything is capable of? Please be specific

    Barry:

    Unless you can demonstrate how chemicals result in thoughts, then you’ve got nothing. And in fact you’ve got nothing.

    To say I have nothing “Unless you can demonstrate” is to exclude something as a cause unless you’ve observing it actually causing that effect in the past. That’s a specific philosophical view which you have’t argued for or even acknowledged.

    So, not only are you moving the goal posts, you’re not even disagreeing with me.

  127. 127
    Barry Arrington says:

    Popperian, you are simply wrong as I have already demonstrated. I exclude “pile of bricks” as a cause of “imaginary unicorn.”

    Popperian: “Just because you’ve never seen a pile of bricks cause an imaginary unicorn does not mean we can exclude “pile of bricks” as a possible cause of “imaginary unicorn, because that would be inductivism.”

    That statement is absurd isn’t it. Yeah, we can exclude, in principle, certain causes as being capable of producing certain effects.

    Stamping your feet and saying “It’s poss-i-bool; it’s poss-i-bool” really gets you nowhere unless you show how it is possible.

  128. 128
    eigenstate says:

    Eigenstate, that is simply your philosophical position.

    Yes, information has that dimension, as I said. But not only. And the problem is not that I make it ‘anthropocentric’ or vernacular. It is that the entropic side of information simply does not reflect meaning. Looking at information as the reduction of uncertainty is legitimate but it has huge limitations. The rules of chess are inexplicable at the level of describing the motion of chessmen as solid or elastic bodies.

    Information at a physical level doesn’t entail “meaning”. But “meaningful” information is a subset of information. A paragraph of English text is rendered always as a configuration of matter and energy, and any meaning it may have, any symbolism or semantic connotations it may elicit in minds or machines are a) also configurations of matter/energy and b) themselves information by virtue of their capactity to reduce uncertainty or exclude possibilities. The word “Ford” may mean different things to different people, but to the extent it connotes something to the reader, it is informational, and its meaning corresponds to reduction of uncertainties by what it excludes in its symbolism. “Ford” excludes “Apple” or “United Airlines” or “cowboy hat” or innumerable other symbols we might list.

    Interestingly, Shannon’s work is ‘a mathematical theory of communication’, not information. Information has a lot more to it than just entropy. What Shannon has as a given is the semantic context. All he is concerned about is reliably passing a message over a physical noisy channel as a sequence of bits. All the rest, the pragmatic context, is out of the equation.

    Information is not entropy. Entropy is a measuring concept we can apply, but as I said, information is the reduction of uncertainly, or alternatively phrased the exclusion of other possibilities. If we allow (I don’t think this nearly captures Shannon’s ambitions but that doesn’t matte for this exchange) that Shannon’s only goals was reliable message passing, that is a sufficient requirement to demand a formal model of information. For example, measuring bit through a channel requires a metric for bits — a statistical model. And it’s no accident that the formula for entropy is so named per Von Neumann’s suggestion due to its parallel form with thermodynamic entropy. That has also caused major confusion since it was named, and may be a big mistake for that reason, but the formalisms are the same, which is the point.

    To be able to implement noise correction, one must be able to measure and manipulate information, mathematically, statistically, in quantum units (bits) and all in a way that matches our empirical tests and observations. It was a huge breakthrough that transcended channel bandwidth optimization and noise correction.

    It seems that you are conflating physicality (bifurcations, equilibrium states, motion of particles, etc) with what can be done about those physicality effects.

    Higher levels descriptions of information transactions still reduce to the same physics of information in the same way that human physical actions reduce to biology which reduces to chemistry which reduces to physics. Our levels of description change the scope and terms we use, but the underlying fundamentals are the same across the board. Which is why we call them ‘fundamental’.

    Physicality cannot do it by itself. Information in its entirety cannot be reduced to the motion of particles of matter. And therefore it is not just an aspect or characteristic of physicality. It can be viewed as such but this view has limitations. Information only has a projection into physicality.

    It’s intrinsic to STEM – space/time/energy/matter. The way matter subsists in our natural universe entails information. The spin of the most rudimentary particle is endemic to its physical dynamics, its behavior and activity in nature. If there is no information, there is no particle qua particle. And vice versa. “Information” is just a synonym “physical” a synonym we use to point to state and and configuration.

    You don’t have to just accept this from me. This is vanilla physics. A handy college text book or your local physics professor will be able to develop this for you without me.

    Where I think you are grossly wrong is in saying that the aspect of meaning or pragmatic utility is non-scientific.

    Didn’t say that and don’t believe that. Meaning and semantics are just as natural as phenomena as any other natural phenomenon you could. Because it is complex function of the brain, it’s just not well understood yet. But the more we learn, the more the fundamentals apply.

    There is a whole lot of science in decision making and decision support. Biological systems are inherently decision making systems.

    Yes, humans are extremely complex biological machines. It’s not magic or mystical, it’s just a case of extremely complex systems to reverse engineer. Semantic processing is already starting to be mapped by our instrumentation, which seems like sci-fi stuff compared to what we had a couple decades ago, but are crude tools indeed compared to what we expect to have decades hence. The expectation is that the complexity and “fuzziness” of semantic processing in the mind will continue to make headway hard won, but what working models we do develop will reduce to the same physics as, say, our other biological processes (e.g. walking as a higher-level description of physics, and cultural innuendos as a higher level description of information and communication — also physics).

    Physicality has no potency to produce biological systems because biology is about logic, rules, pragmatic utility and control whereas physicality is indifferent to all these. Physicality cannot decide.

  129. 129
    Mung says:

    eigenstate: But “meaningful” information is a subset of information.

    Meaningless information is an oxymoron.

  130. 130
    eigenstate says:

    @Mung,

    Meaningless information is an oxymoron.

    Not in the scientific usage of the term “information”.

    Of course we could always just “meaning-ify” any aspect of any physical object. The meaning of the “spin” of some electron in some distant galaxy is information, in the scientific terms, but I suppose we could say that is now meaningful because, well, here we are talking about it!

    Unless you want to equate “reduction of uncertainty” with “meaningful” — and for many human cases of this, say, choosing one word over another, that makes good sense — most of the “information” in the world around us in science terms is not meaningful in the sense we commonly use it.

    That’s tricky, because the popular usage of the term “information” connotes some level of meaning for us. If some content we might asses is not meaningful to us, we might say “that wasn’t informative”. It didn’t convey something that was relevant and meaningful to us.

    In physics, “information” is not tied to that concept at all.

  131. 131
    EugeneS says:

    Eigenstate: “Higher levels descriptions of information transactions still reduce to the same physics of information”.

    In current physics models, yes. But not in reality. Reality is richer. It all depends on the axiomatics and operational definitions. If meaning is not part of it, what can you expect of the models?

    No one is compelled to your views just because you think they are scientific. Your philosophical reductionist position does not sit well with a lot of research findings in the last few decades. Like I said, chess is not explicable at the level of the laws of motion.

    Recently I watched a nice 10 minute video by a specialist in history of biology. She said that a majority of biologists today are no longer subscribing to reductionism because they realize that reductionism is no longer capable of explaining the observations.

    Biology cannot be reduced to physics because it includes logic that is inexplicable at the level of moving particles of matter. Logic, information are fundamentally non-physical. If you insist otherwise, the burden of proof is on you to explain how exactly meaning could emerge from matter. Attempts to do I am aware of are rather speculative. They assume what they are purported to prove.

    Eigenstate: In physics, “information” is not tied to that concept at all.

    So? There are other disciplines. You are not trying to say that everything reduces to the four types of physical interaction. I can’t believe you are.

    There are other views on information that are not intersecting with yours. So what? There is even a view that physics is a corner case of biology, not the usual way around. What you are trying to sell here is just one particular view which already cannot adequately explain biology today.

  132. 132
    EugeneS says:

    Eigenstate,

    Using the same physical/chemical medium different information content can be transferred. Therefore the physical medium itself has no bearing on the content. On the other hand, the meaning (=intended pragmatic effect, utility) of the same message that is transferred via different media is invariant to the physical properties of the channel. The semantic cargo of the message and its pragmatic utility do not depend on the physical properties of the source, coder, channel, decoder or the receiver.

    I can relate the same message with various means from pen and paper, to body language or the internet. A piece of paper with or without things written on it is subject to the same laws of physics that are completely indifferent to the content and function that the message has.

    A message can have an objective function, i.e. to maximize utility. This function can be objectively identified. It has absolutely nothing to do with anthropocentrism.

  133. 133
    Upright BiPed says:

    Hi ES, well said.

    I noted this earlier exchange:

    ES: Biology is chemistry + information.

    Eigen: That’s redundant. Everything physical is information. If it exists, it has state, it is information.

    As the living product of translated information, Eigen is endowed with the capacity to observe form(s) within his environment and create information from his sensory experience of that form(s). He can apply human symbols to the information he’s created, and can make calculations regarding the various states of objects in his environment. From the success of his abilities, he conceives that the various states of all things he perceives in his environment are “information”. He further anthropomorphizes his environment by formalizing that “information” is a reduction of uncertainty in the interaction of differing states of objects – a “computation” or “information processing” as he refers to it — such as an atom of some particular charge interacting with another atom of some other particular charge. Of course, it is not a reduction of uncertainty *in* the atom (atoms are neither certain nor uncertain) but is only a reduction in certainty calculated within eigenstate’s symbol system. He then looks at the success of those calculations and is irrevocably convinced that there is information in everything. That is his model.

    What he fails to account for is that the processing of information, such as it actually occurs in the living kingdom, has nothing whatsoever in common with the purely dynamic interaction of one atom with another. In the natural world, information is *translated* to produce physical effects, and that process of translation can only occur if the system of translation preserves the natural discontinuity between the arrangement of the medium and its translated effect. The “processing of information” is not the purely dynamic process that Eigen envisions. He has conflated two entirely different physical processes, yet he turns to those who recognize the distinction and points them out as “equivocating” on terms.

    It is seems generally pointless to engage someone who refuses to acknowledge the distinction. The types of temporal effects required for life to occur *cannot* be produced by local dynamics alone. Why? Because the systems that create those effects are entirely dependent on the discontinuity instantiated in the process. Those systems are based on a relational architecture – where one arrangement of matter evokes an effect within a system, while another arrangement of matter establishes what the effect of that arrangement will be. If those discontinuities were not preserved by the organization of those systems (as they clearly are in the natural world) then life would simple not exist on this planet. There would be no physical process by which to organize the heterogeneous living cell.

  134. 134
    EugeneS says:

    UB,

    Thanks! Indeed, physical configurations can only be regarded as information by a processor. Neither the processor, nor the ‘information’ or data has any point one without the other. Information and the processor form a complex whole.

  135. 135
    naturalistictheist says:

    I have a way to completely demonstrate the illogical insanity of any position which attempts to describe subjectivity as emergent from unconscious processes. What is it, in simplest terms? “Subjectivity is not objectivity”. In other words, first person experience is never part of any third person picture that directly leaves out first person experience. You cannot *be* some other person solely by looking at the material constituents of that person’s body. This is what would be necessarily possible if subjectivity was somehow reducible to objectivity. Pointing this out, then, demonstrates that the materialist appeal to emergence is yet again an appeal to something out of nothing. Some form of smaller subjectivity inherent in extremely small things can build up larger subjectivity and complex conscious processes, but a complete absence of subjectivity can build up into absolutely nothing. A materialist position is not that B is truly contained in A. It is A can magically turn not B into B without doing anything. It is ex nihilo creationism of subjectivity, done by something completely devoid of experience. I guess they’re comfortable with this sort of thing though- they seem to pretend the start of the universe is this sort of thing, even though there are potentials for alternatives that don’t invoke God (in an ex nihilo or non ex nihilo sense) but aren’t exactly physical, such as a dialectical neutral monism of sorts, with a necessary natural dialectical potential generating all existence. (This is Taoism’s position) However, in any case, these absurdities in their beliefs need to be pointed out, stomped on, publicly mocked, exposed, and ridiculed for the insanities they are. Science has reached a stagnation point due to their thinking, whereby novel theories get squashed and experiments never get done.

  136. 136
    naturalistictheist says:

    You want a mechanism for design? Here’s a three part physical mechanism. The first part is double aspect theory. Without any emergentist appeals to magic, we acknowledge that for every physical thing is attached some form of subjective experience. These things can combine, and as objective complexity rises, so does subjective complexity. From here, we realize that quantum indeterminacy means that positions and trajectories of particles cannot truly be predicted from the physical description alone, and from the Schrodinger equation that their movements are unpredictable physically, only predictable in a probabilistic sense. The last part will show that it is the subject-side of matter that produces this probability. The quantum Zeno effect allows any measurer to deterministically control the wavefunction, allowing one to make particles move in particular ways by merely measuring successively in particular patterns. So the proposed mechanism for design is this: matter itself, with its sentience, focuses its attention in particular manners on itself probabilistically (that is, it does so without being fully predictable how it does so, in each moment), thus moving itself consciously to some extent. From there, these little subjective agents seek novelty, aesthetics, and other such things, resulting in them grouping together into more and more complex, and thus more and more intelligent systems. Autonomy is sought after, and that gives rise to biological life. Everything in cosmology, then, is evolution, but such evolution is naturally intelligent. Likewise, for every integrated wavefunction, there is an associated mind. Since spacetime’s properties are emergent from the wavefunction of the universe, the universal wavefunction is necessarily integrated, thus associated with a mind. That mind, then, sets trajectories of behaviors, and relationships of spacetime, in a particular way, so as to make it appear unlikely that biological life would ever exist, but so that the habits and constants fall just into the range necessary, while likewise nudging the subsystems to seek autonomy. These patterns of behaviors of the universal wavefunction appear to us as constants, which seem finely tuned, when the reality is that they are just habits, not constants, and the small probability range was intentionally set so as to demonstrate intellect, so that other intelligent life can interact with the mind of the universe.

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