Intelligent Design

RDFish Brings the Entire Law Down Like a House of Cards

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Over the last several days I’ve been watching StephenB thrash RDFish in this post.

Several times SB has asked Fish this question:

Is a murderer a different kind of cause than accidental death or is it not?

Now obviously Fish is in a pickle, between the proverbial Scylla and Charybdis so to speak.  If he says that a murderer is in the same category of causation as accidental death, he will look like an idiot, because everyone knows they are not.  But if he says they are in different categories, then SB has him right where he wants him, because the next, obvious, question will be: what makes them different?  And the answer to that question is also obvious; death by murderer is caused by the act of an intelligent agent, and accidental death is not.  And inevitably that leads to this question:  Are there objective indicia that allow us to discern which is which?

Instead of admitting the obvious, Fish asserts:

You have failed to provide an objective method for discovering which arrangements of matter are “for a purpose”. There is no such method, which is why you cannot describe it.

There you have it.  Fish’s Axiom:  “There is no objective method for discovering which arrangements of matter are for a purpose.”

Wait a minute.  Wait a minute.  Isn’t it a corollary to Fish’s Axiom that the entire edifice of the law is built upon a house of cards?  And doesn’t Fish’s Axiom pull out the critical foundational card so that the entire structure of the law has come tumbling down in a twisted tangled heap?

Allow me to explain.  Almost every aspect of criminal law and much of civil law turns on the issue of intent, i.e., purpose.  The law treats accidents differently than intentional acts.  Duh.  But if Fish’s Axiom is true, then as a practical matter the distinction between purposeful (i.e., intentional) conduct and accidental conduct is meaningless.

Some years ago there was a case in which a spectator at a softball game (let’s call him “Bob”) became enraged at a call, marched out onto the field, and beat the umpire to a bloody pulp.  Naturally, the umpire was upset about this and decided to sue Bob.  But the umpire did not sue Bob for assault.  He sued him for negligence instead.  Why?  Easy.  Bob was not rich, and the umpire figured out pretty quickly that they only path to money was through Bob’s insurance company.  The umpire had a problem though.  Every insurance policy ever written has an exclusion for “intentional conduct.”  In other words, insurance companies cover you when you cause an injury by accident; for obvious reasons they don’t cover you if you cause the injury on purpose.

In a “strange bedfellows” incident, the umpire and Bob both agreed to say the whole incident was an accident, that Bob’s fists unintentionally and accidentally repeatedly made contact with the umpire’s face.  Remarkably, the jury went along, and a judgment against Bob was entered on that basis.  The umpire took the judgment to Bob’s insurance company and said, “I’ve got a judgment against your insured for an accidental injury.  Your policy covers accidental injuries.  Pay up.”  Now the insurance company decided it was not going to play along.  It brought a new lawsuit claiming that its policy exclusion for intentional conduct applied and it had no obligation to pay.  The court in that case agreed, holding that the conduct was obviously intentional and not accidental, even if both of the participants now said otherwise, and entered judgment for the insurance company.

What does all of this have to do with Fish’s Axiom?  Well, obviously if there is no objective method for discovering which arrangements of matter are for a purpose, then the second court was wrong to say that objectively Bob acted purposefully.  It gets worse.  In order to convict someone of murder, the prosecution has to prove objectively that the accused acted with the purpose of killing the victim.  In order to convict someone of robbery, the prosecution has to prove the accused acting with the purpose of depriving the victim of his property.  In order to . . .

You get the picture.  The law is saturated with “purpose talk.”  In almost every criminal trial that has ever gone to a judge or a jury from the dawn of legal procedure to this very day, “purpose” has been a critical issue.  But if Fish’s Axiom is right, if we can never objectively determine whether an agent acted for a purpose, the entire project has been one massive fraud.  Who knew?

135 Replies to “RDFish Brings the Entire Law Down Like a House of Cards

  1. 1
    mike1962 says:

    “Is a murderer a different kind of cause than accidental death or is it not?”

    Don’t you see, Barry, murderers, non-murderers, they’re all the same, just like soap, in fact. No difference whatsoever. 😀

    The problem with Fish is that in order to brazen out his position, he has to deny something that is fundamental and immediately obvious about himself and to each of us about ourselves: we have the ineffable power of conscious choice. No mere argument or hypothesis can overthrow this fact. And sane people rightfully giggle in derision when nincompoops make the attempt.

  2. 2

    Well, we can’t really fault biological machines programmed by sequences of chance events for saying stupid things; after all: garbage in, garbage out.

  3. 3
    Mung says:

    You have failed to provide an objective method for discovering which arrangements of matter are “for a purpose”. There is no such method, which is why you cannot describe it.

    Just how ignorant can one fish be?

  4. 4
    REC says:

    I don’t presume to speak for someone else, but I find it hard to believe, given his words, that he thinks HUMAN intent can not be discerned by other humans. Indeed, it seems a certain point of emphasis:

    “All of your examples are of HUMAN BEINGS doing these things you consider to be “arranged for a purpose”. I know you hate to hear that, which is why I have used BOLD CAPS to emphasize your problem. As far as your examples show, what “arranged for a purpose” means is “produced by a HUMAN BEING“.

    …..

    HUMAN BEINGS build these things. Since human beings are natural, then natural things build sand castles, rob houses, and so on. To say “nature” per se does these things is to anthropomorphize nature, which is a fallacy.

    I think that CSI is a property of human beings and other complex living organisms. Don’t you?”

  5. 5
    Barry Arrington says:

    REC @ 4:

    And what do those human beings and other complex organism have in common? Intelligence. And what does their intelligence allow them to do? It allows them to arrange matter for a purpose. And are there objective indicia of such activity? Of course there are. RDFish denies it, but, as I’ve said before, RDFish is an idiot.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N:
    From The Free Dictionary site:

    Mens Rea

    As an element of criminal responsibility, a guilty mind; a guilty or wrongful purpose; a criminal intent. Guilty knowledge and wilfulness.

    A fundamental principle of Criminal Law is that a crime consists of both a mental and a physical element. Mens rea, a person’s awareness of the fact that his or her conduct is criminal, is the mental element, and actus reus, the act itself, is the physical element.

    The concept of mens rea developed in England during the latter part of the common-law era (about the year 1600) when judges began to hold that an act alone could not create criminal liability unless it was accompanied by a guilty state of mind. The degree of mens rea required for a particular common-law crime varied. Murder, for example, required a malicious state of mind, whereas Larceny required a felonious state of mind.

    Today most crimes, including common-law crimes, are defined by statutes that usually contain a word or phrase indicating the mens rea requirement. A typical statute, for example, may require that a person act knowingly, purposely, or recklessly.

    Sometimes a statute creates criminal liability for the commission or omission of a particular act without designating a mens rea. These are called Strict Liability statutes. If such a statute is construed to purposely omit criminal intent, a person who commits the crime may be guilty even though he or she had no knowledge that his or her act was criminal and had no thought of committing a crime. All that is required under such statutes is that the act itself is voluntary, since involuntary acts are not criminal.

    Occasionally mens rea is used synonymously with the words general intent, although general intent is more commonly used to describe criminal liability when a defendant does not intend to bring about a particular result. Specific Intent, another term related to mens rea, describes a particular state of mind above and beyond what is generally required.

    West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

    In short, the objective reality of intent that is further freighted with moral character (conforming or failing to conform to the good to others as oneself by doing willful harm) is foundational to law.

    We see further evidence of the en-darkening effects of evolutionary materialism and fellow travellers, predictably leading into confusion, absurdity and marches of folly.

    KF

  7. 7
    RDFish says:

    Not one of you have bothered to read and understand any of my arguments.

    Quote what I’ve said to StephenB, and don’t take the quotes out of context. Debate in good faith, doing your best to actually understand others’ points rather than trying to find ridiculous interpretations of them.

    When you make silly caricatures of others’ arguments you might get a brief satisfaction that you’ve vanquished the heathen at the gates for now, but somewhere in the back of your mind you’ll know that its a pyrrhic victory. By battling strawmen instead of other’s considered opinions, you reveal yourself to be afraid to actually engage the debate.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  8. 8
    StephenB says:

    HUMAN BEINGS build these things. Since human beings are natural, then natural things build sand castles, rob houses, and so on. To say “nature” per se does these things is to anthropomorphize nature, which is a fallacy.

    I will reveal the deception that is lurking in every phrase:

    —“Since human beings are natural,”…..

    This formulation is meaningless until the word “natural” is defined. It has been put there to mislead. The idea is to smuggle in the false idea that a human being is a natural cause without explicitly making that claim.

    —“natural things build castles.”

    ……this phrase is also meaningless since it builds on the meaninglessness of the first clause. Indeed, it creates a false impression. Natural things do not build castles, human beings use castles. Now all of a sudden, when it is important to speak of “human beings,” nothing is said.

    —“To say “nature” per se does these things is to anthropomorphize nature, which is a fallacy.”

    More obfuscation. More evasion. More deception. Acts of nature are the genus, specific acts, such as water erosion or volcanic eruption are the species. It is perfectly reasonable to speak in general terms about nature’s power to act, especially when referring to natural causes. There is no need to be specific every time. If water erosion and volcanic eruptions are acts of nature, and they clearly are, then this is nature acting. It is nature causing something to happen. It is pure, unbridled sophistry to say that nature doesn’t act. It acts every time it causes something to happen. That is why we call such a happening a natural cause.

    The whole game here is to conflate intelligent causes with natural causes by making them appear as one and the same. It’s all a trick of language.

  9. 9
    Tim says:

    Mr. Fish,
    With all due respect,

    I have followed the series of posts in which both Stephenb and UprightBiped have been schooling you and at every turn you just look worse and worse. I am not saying this to you to be merely pedantic or to try to win an argument. I am just telling you what I see.

    Now, in this post you make the claim that pulling your post out of context is somehow an unfair rhetorical ploy, but I have read your previous posts and cannot imagine even for a moment what additional context could be provided to clarify (and/or make right) the, well, the stupidity of your statement. Again, not arguing, just letting you know how you appear to me. Full disclosure: my sympathies are completely and totally with ID versus the Darwinian synthesis, nevertheless, you must admit that for ANYONE to slog through your writing, that person must have a mind that is open to the possibility of new ideas of merit, or at least of refinement.

    In this case, and I hope you understand that I am writing this as simply something for you to consider, as I read further into the thread, I could anticipate many of your posts and in turn the way in which your ideas would be criticized. The only refinement was in the writing of your opponents who clarify while at every turn you continue to get more opaque. I have to laugh as I write this as I realize that it is impossible that you believe me. Nevertheless, that was the trajectory of the thread. Trust me. And, if you don’t, follow my advice (upcoming) anyway.

    Might I offer a suggestion. Try to present your argument using nothing more than classical syllogism(s) and words of less than three syllables. (Do this on your own and do not post it until someone you trust to be a critic in the best sense has read it.) Yet again, this is not me trying to get over on you or tell you what is what, just some advice that is a lot friendlier than you might imagine.

    Finally, and this is rather important. Please do not mistake the fact that the (previous) thread grew long as any type of endorsement of the strength of your argument; it simply takes a great deal of writing to undo and correct the mistakes you are making. (it is quite obvious that this could be true of those opposing your stance, and I have noted that you are very quick to characterize their writing as mistaken, but most everybody sees right through your rhetoric in this area.) And yet again, here I am just letting you know where you stand.

    Perhaps this might help: after I read (almost) the entire thread, i.e. all posts by you, SB, and UB, I often wondered if you are indeed literally a strawman, a figment of SB and UB’s imaginations, they themselves having created “your” posts, so that they can knock you down. Yes, that is how it is beginning to look.

    Add to that the fact that the amount of patience they must have to continually renail your jello to the wall would seem to be far more than most could have, I have my doubts whether they could tolerate your posts for so long were they not actually making them up.

    One final note: I note it is your habit to simply attack the posts of your critics. In this case, should you attack this post you will probably “win” as I am unlikely to respond. I have a feeling, however, that many who visit this site would love to see a good ol’ syllogism instead of your somewhat endless characterizations of what someone has written, or their motives, or their abilities, or their limits, or their focus, or their . . .

    Just lay it on us simply in the most straightforward way: premise, premise . . . premise: conclusion, maybe then you will convince somebody of something.

  10. 10
    Virgil Cain says:

    Hi RDFish:

    Not one of you have bothered to read and understand any of my arguments.

    You ignore all refutations of your stupidity. You don’t understand science and ID.

    By battling strawmen instead of other’s considered opinions, you reveal yourself to be afraid to actually engage the debate.

    Exactly! So why do you continue to do so?

  11. 11
    Virgil Cain says:

    You have failed to provide an objective method for discovering which arrangements of matter are “for a purpose”. There is no such method, which is why you cannot describe it.

    1- the ordering of separate components to achieve an identifiable function that depends sharply on the components. Dr Behe

    2- The specified complexity of the artifact

    3- The workmanship required to reproduce the artifact

    That’s 3 and you will ignore them. And you will think that your willful ignorance somehow gets by any readers of this blog. Very strange.

    1) The only known intelligent beings (things that can learn, solve novel problems, experience conscious awareness) are living things

    2) Therefore the cause of the first living things is an intelligence beyond ours.

    We follow the evidence for intelligent design and if it leads us to a non-biological intelligence then so be it.

    But that is irrelevant to the question of what intelligence is responsible for life on earth?

  12. 12
    Mung says:

    RDFish:

    Not one of you have bothered to read and understand any of my arguments.

    This must be true. Poor you.

    But doing and saying anything to avoid the obvious does not constitute an argument.

  13. 13
    Box says:

    RDFish’s main argument seems to be:

    1) Intelligence cannot exist without a brain/body.

    Therefore

    2) There cannot be an intelligent designer without a brain/body.

    Conclusion: there cannot be an intelligent designer of the very first life in the universe and the universe itself.

    Premise (2) and the conclusion follow validly from premise (1). In response I have been arguing against RDFish’s first premise.
    Meanwhile I realize that Virgil Cain is absolutely right in pointing out that ID is not about the very first life in the universe, but instead about the origin (of certain features) of earthly life — which allows for brained aliens as intelligent designers.
    However I feel that accommodating RDFish’s argument is unacceptable.

  14. 14
    Carpathian says:

    Box:

    Meanwhile I realize that Virgil Cain is absolutely right in pointing out that ID is not about the very first life in the universe, but instead about the origin (of certain features) of earthly life — which allows for brained aliens as intelligent designers.

    Virgil Cain now says that life on Earth is a result of colonization.

    StephenB has actually taken a stand about the Creator and says he must be non-materiel.

    I wish that the IDists here would all take a position on ID that accurately reflects their true beliefs.

    Something non-living must have designed the first life-forms if life could not have come into being without intelligent intent.

    This includes aliens.

    The alien argument could be used to claim cars were not built by people.

    This is true as most everything in a vehicle is built on an automated assembly line by robots, but it is not the real answer.

    The assembly line was built by us.

    So, who designed life?

  15. 15
    Virgil Cain says:

    Carpathian:

    Virgil Cain now says that life on Earth is a result of colonization.

    I said it could be and I have been saying that for decades.

  16. 16
    Mung says:

    RDFish:

    You have failed to provide an objective method for discovering which arrangements of matter are “for a purpose”.

    So?

    RDFish:

    There is no such method, which is why you cannot describe it.

    So?

  17. 17
    Mung says:

    I said it could be and I have been saying that for decades.

    And we’re getting tired of hearing it!

  18. 18
    Virgil Cain says:

    I am tired of saying it! 🙂

  19. 19
    Zachriel says:

    Box: 1) Intelligence cannot exist without a brain/body.

    Rather, human intelligence is not observed to exist without a brain. The implication is that the brain is necessary, but perhaps not sufficient for human intelligence.

    Box: Therefore 2) There cannot be an intelligent designer without a brain/body.

    “Intelligence” and “design” are ill-defined in ID. Depending on the definition, evolution may be considered an intelligent designer.

  20. 20
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    “Intelligence” and “design” are ill-defined in ID.

    How would you know? I can easily show that they are both well-defined.

    Depending on the definition, evolution may be considered an intelligent designer.

    Only directed evolution can design.

  21. 21
    Seversky says:

    Is a murderer a different kind of cause than accidental death or is it not?

    For the purposes of deciding if a crime has been committed, yes, it is.

    But a human being can be considered as much a part of the natural order of things as any other creature so, from that perspective, what a human being does is a natural cause.

    The problem, if I understand RDFish correctly, is that there is no reliable, objective method for distinguishing between unintended and intended effects.

    For example, a man is found killed by a falling boulder. Was it pushed, in which case it is a criminal offense, or was it shaken loose by natural causes such as a minor earth tremor? Or a man is found lying dead in the forest, killed by a bullet from his rifle which is on the ground next to him. Did he kill himself? Was he killed by someone else who had seized the rifle for whatever reason? Or was it a tragic accident? Had he been handling a rifle that was loaded and cocked but the safety was off and something had snagged the trigger, causing it to discharge.

    Obviously, in the cases above, there would be an investigation. But if no evidence was found, other than what I have described above, there would be no way to decide whether the dearths were accidental or intentional.

    We can do it in some cases but RDFish is right in that we do not have a reliable, objective means of distinguishing between the intentional and the accidental that will work in all cases.

  22. 22
    Virgil Cain says:

    Seversky:

    But a human being can be considered as much a part of the natural order of things as any other creature so, from that perspective, what a human being does is a natural cause.

    That is your opinion and only an opinion.

    The problem, if I understand RDFish correctly, is that there is no reliable, objective method for distinguishing between unintended and intended effects.

    And yet I have posted three ways to do so.

  23. 23
    Box says:

    Zachriel #19,

    Zachriel:

    Box:
    RDFish’s main argument seems to be:

    1) Intelligence cannot exist without a brain/body.

    Rather, human intelligence is not observed to exist without a brain. The implication is that the brain is necessary, but perhaps not sufficient for human intelligence.

    What it boils down to is that “intelligence cannot exist without a brain/body”, just like I said.

    Zachriel:

    Box (paraphrasing RDFish’s argument):

    Therefore
    2) There cannot be an intelligent designer without a brain/body.

    “Intelligence” and “design” are ill-defined in ID. Depending on the definition, evolution may be considered an intelligent designer.

    Zach, we are talking about RDFish’s argument and he wouldn’t agree with you. In fact, he discards evolution as an explanation for life.

    RDFish #343: Again, I agree that our tests reveal that no currently understood process – including evolutionary processes – can account for what we observe. (…)
    We agree our scientific tests reveal biological phenomena that cannot have arisen by any known means.

  24. 24
    Zachriel says:

    Box: What it boils down to is that “intelligence cannot exist without a brain/body”, just like I said.

    Not sure why you misunderstand our clear statement. There could certainly be disembodied intelligence, at least in principle, but we have no evidence of such.

    Zachriel: Depending on the definition, evolution may be considered an intelligent designer.

    Box: In fact, he discards evolution as an explanation for life.

    While evolutionary theory doesn’t purport to explain the origin of life, that is not relevant to our statement.

  25. 25
    Box says:

    Zach: Not sure why you misunderstand our clear statement. There could certainly be disembodied intelligence, at least in principle, but we have no evidence of such.

    Again, we are talking about RDFish’s argument. RDFish holds that disembodied intelligence is not possible. Obviously, you are free to disagree with him.

    Zach: While evolutionary theory doesn’t purport to explain the origin of life, that is not relevant to our statement.

    It is your statement that doesn’t seem relevant. RDFish’s rejects evolution as an explanation for “biological phenomena”. Unlike you, I find no indication that he focuses specifically on the origin of life. Perhaps reading the quote again will help:

    RDFish:

    I agree that our tests reveal that no currently understood process – including evolutionary processes – can account for what we observe. (…)
    We agree our scientific tests reveal biological phenomena that cannot have arisen by any known means.

  26. 26

    Zachriel said:

    There could certainly be disembodied intelligence, at least in principle, but we have no evidence of such.

    Can you support this assertion?

  27. 27
    Zachriel says:

    Box: Again, we are talking about RDFish’s argument.

    RDFish:

    1) The only known intelligent beings (things that can learn, solve novel problems, experience conscious awareness) are living things

    2) Therefore the cause of the first living things is unlikely to have been intelligent.

  28. 28
    Zachriel says:

    William J Murray: Can you support this assertion?

    The key term there was “in principle”.

  29. 29

    Zachriel,

    I’m asking you to support your assertion. Can you do it, or not?

  30. 30
    Zachriel says:

    William J Murray: I’m asking you to support your assertion.

    Seriously? You want support for a claim that something is conceivable? We observe that intelligence is incorporated in conjunction with biological organisms, but because we have conceptualized intelligence as an abstract, we can conceive of intelligence independent of any incorporation. Whether this is possible in practical terms is another matter entirely.

  31. 31

    Z said:

    Seriously? You want support for a claim that something is conceivable?

    No. I want you to support your claim that “..we have no evidence of such.”

    Please support your claim that we have no evidence for disembodied intelligence.

  32. 32

    RDFish said:

    The only known intelligent beings (things that can learn, solve novel problems, experience conscious awareness) are living things.

    Can RDFish support this assertion?

  33. 33
    Box says:

    Here is another RDFish quote:

    RDFish #218:

    I’m talking about empirical knowledge, and in our shared and uniform experience (as ID author Stephen Meyer would say), there is nothing that is conscious and has mental function that does not also have a functioning brain.

  34. 34
    Zachriel says:

    William J Murray: Please support your claim that we have no evidence for disembodied intelligence.

    “in our shared and uniform experience (as ID author Stephen Meyer would say), there is nothing that is conscious and has mental function that does not also have a functioning brain.”

  35. 35

    Zachriel @34,

    So, you’re backing up your assertion by referring to another assertion – one by Stephen Meyer? Does this mean you think that supporting one’s assertion is as simple as quoting some other person’s similar assertion?

    Or does it mean you cannot actually support your assertion and you think you can slide by if you quote an ID proponent who says pretty much the same thing? Do you think I care what Stephen Meyer has to say on the subject or something?

  36. 36
    Zachriel says:

    William J Murray: So, you’re backing up your assertion by referring to another assertion

    No, we’re referring to observational evidence, that is, shared and uniform experience. Do you have observational evidence of intelligent beings (things that can learn, solve novel problems, experience conscious awareness) that are not living things?

  37. 37

    Z said:

    No, we’re referring to observational evidence, that is, shared and uniform experience. Do you have observational evidence of intelligent beings (things that can learn, solve novel problems, experience conscious awareness) that are not living things?

    I’m not the one that made the claim, Z, so the onus is not on me to support anything. Reiterating your original assertion is not supporting the original assertion. Since you have done this twice now, it seems you are just making empty assertions for their rhetorical value.

  38. 38
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, have you given an observationally grounded molecular level answer that shows per observed capacity how blind watchmaker processes gave rise to what we see. I suggest, not. With all respect, what you have is quite clearly ideologically controlled just so stories dressed up in lab coats. KF

    PS: There is an annoying test bug.

  39. 39
    Zachriel says:

    William J Murray: I’m not the one that made the claim, Z, so the onus is not on me to support anything.

    Yes, and we pointed to known scientific evidence. In reply, instead of waving your hands, you could simply point to scientific evidence of a disembodied intelligence.

    kairosfocus: have you given an observationally grounded molecular level answer that shows per observed capacity how blind watchmaker processes gave rise to what we see.

    Huh? The question is whether there is scientific evidence of a disembodied intelligence.

  40. 40

    Z said:

    Yes, and we pointed to known scientific evidence. In reply, instead of waving your hands, you could simply point to scientific evidence of a disembodied intelligence.

    You have referred me to zero scientific evidence to support this claim, and so far have only referred to someone else’s assertion. Please provide a link or a reference with pertinent quotes (if possible) and, if you will, a brief paragraph describing how the evidence supports your assertion. Please stop trying to shift the burden to me; it’s hardly my job to refute a claim you have yet to support beyond the level of mere assertion.

    BTW, are you now moving the goalpost? At first you claimed “we have no evidence of such”; are you now changing that claim to “scientific” evidence?

    The question is whether there is scientific evidence of a disembodied intelligence.

    No, the question is whether or not you can support your assertion that there is no evidence for non-embodied intelligences? Can you? Also, would you support the associated claim that it is “shared and uniform experience” that “we” do not experience what could be reasonably described as non-embodied intelligences?

  41. 41
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM,

    Ironically, the same objectors know full well that computation is a non-rational, mechanical process, whether analogue or digital. The subunits neither know nor care that hey are involved in an analogue or digital computational system, they are blindly following mechanical forces (including of course electrical ones), whether analogue or digital.

    The reasonableness and accuracy of the results is wholly dependent on highly functionally specific and complex, purposeful organisation, which we have abundant experience of as coming from intelligence. When, we directly observe the cause.

    Moreover, there is no empirical basis for claiming that conscious contemplation and rational reflection — our first experiences through which we access all others — are accounted for on such blindly mechanical computational substrates.

    Going further, we have no reason to believe that the one accounts for the other as mV action potentials and ion gradients in neurons are simply categorically different from truth or falsity, rightness or wrongness, good and evil, awareness or unconsciousness, ground-consequent inference, observation, responsible freedom etc, all of which are inextricably involved in our intelligent behaviour.

    So, in fact we have a case of failing the vera causa demonstrated adequacy as a basis for scientific explanation test, but ideological imposition by lab coat clad evolutionary materialist scientism leads to unquestioned assumptions and assertions delivered with confident manner as though they were established facts. Indeed, we even see redefinitions of what fact means being attempted.

    So, no, Z’s bluff is called.

    We have direct experience of conscious, rational responsible freedom and linked intellectual and moral struggle.

    We have every right to start from that, noting along the way that mechanical, material computational mechanisms, analogue or digital, are grossly inadequate to account for same.

    So, we have every reason to accept that here is something more, an undiscovered country that we need not blind our eyes to just because somebody is shaking his lab coats at us.

    Next, when we look to the origin of life and the cosmos, we find in both a pattern of complex arrangements tht bear every mark of purposeful, skilled, deeply knowledgeable, elegantly clever design.

    Never mind, the same are even more excitedly shaking heir lab coats.

    Boo, they cry!

    Boo right back.

    It is a reasonable person’s view that responsible, rational, conscious freedom is datum no 1, and so far the only serious ontological explanation of that on the table is that it speaks to a different order, mind-soul-spirit.

    The mechanical substitutes put up as an alternative show every sign of being derivative, designed, and limited, not rising to the requisite level.

    I can accept the brain as a very powerful neural network computer which handles i/o, control, interfacing, storage etc, but the best model I see, by Smith, opens up the second interface, to a higher order controller — the conscious I.

    And, if we are open to reasonable evidence, there is every reason to believe that there are forms of living, conscious existence that transcend the brain-body substrate.

    KF

  42. 42
    Zachriel says:

    William J Murray: You have referred me to zero scientific evidence to support this claim

    You want evidence that there is no scientific evidence? That doesn’t require an exhaustive search of the universe, but just of the available scientific evidence.

    After having examined the scientific evidence — something you can do as well —, we have found no scientific evidence of disembodied intelligence. Perhaps we are wrong. If you think we are, we’d be happy to look at any scientific evidence of disembodied intelligence you provide.

  43. 43
    kairosfocus says:

    Z,

    what has actually happened is that you have imposed a question-begging redefinition on the term science, to equal a priori evolutionary materialism or a fellow traveller thereof, and then have used that to lock out considering anything but mechanical behaviour and/or blind chance.

    The consequence of which is fatally self referential incoherence as such cannot account for responsible freedom. Without responsible freedom, we cannot be truly rational, and so the notion of a reasoned, “scientific” worldview evaporates also. As I just noted to WJM, the fact that we find ourselves to be conscious, rational, responsible thinkers and actors itself is strong evidence pointing beyond a world of blind chance and /or equally blind mechanical necessity with mind reduced to mechanical computational substrates of one form or another. For, a computational substrate is a mechanical system perhaps perturbed by chance, it is inherently non-rational. It is subject to GIGO, and there is in fact no good account of the spontaneous origin of the computational substrates in the brain and cns generally, apart from implicit question-begging. But this is also a reductio ad absurdum for the evolutionary materialistic view.

    Reppert is apt, but as a rule unheeded:

    . . . 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 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.

    Pearcey is equally apt and is equally unheeded:

    A major way to test a philosophy or worldview is to ask: Is it logically consistent? Internal contradictions are fatal to any worldview because contradictory statements are necessarily false. “This circle is square” is contradictory, so it has to be false. An especially damaging form of contradiction is self-referential absurdity — which means a theory sets up a definition of truth that it itself fails to meet. Therefore it refutes itself . . . .

    An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.

    But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth — which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.

    Astonishingly, many prominent thinkers have embraced the theory without detecting the logical contradiction. Philosopher John Gray writes, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,… the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” What is the contradiction in that statement?

    Gray has essentially said, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.

    Self-referential absurdity is akin to the well-known liar’s paradox: “This statement is a lie.” If the statement is true, then (as it says) it is not true, but a lie.

    Another example comes from Francis Crick. In The Astonishing Hypothesis, he writes, “Our highly developed brains, after all, were not evolved under the pressure of discovering scientific truths but only to enable us to be clever enough to survive.” But that means Crick’s own theory is not a “scientific truth.” Applied to itself, the theory commits suicide.

    Of course, the sheer pressure to survive is likely to produce some correct ideas. A zebra that thinks lions are friendly will not live long. But false ideas may be useful for survival. Evolutionists admit as much: Eric Baum says, “Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth.” Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false.

    To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.
    So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.

    A few thinkers, to their credit, recognize the problem. Literary critic Leon Wieseltier writes, “If reason is a product of natural selection, then how much confidence can we have in a rational argument for natural selection? … Evolutionary biology cannot invoke the power of reason even as it destroys it.”

    On a similar note, philosopher Thomas Nagel asks, “Is the [evolutionary] hypothesis really compatible with the continued confidence in reason as a source of knowledge?” His answer is no: “I have to be able to believe … that I follow the rules of logic because they are correct — not merely because I am biologically programmed to do so.” Hence, “insofar as the evolutionary hypothesis itself depends on reason, it would be self-undermining.”

    But then, that does not faze the committed, who will happily cling to absurdities as long as there is sufficient support that they can get away with it.

    However, gradually, there will be an ever widening recognition that the emperor is parading in a deluded state, denuded of clothing.

    KF

  44. 44
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: what has actually hapened is that you have imposed a question-begging redefinition on the term science

    No. We use the standard definition, hypothetico-deduction.

  45. 45

    Z said:

    You want evidence that there is no scientific evidence?

    I just want you to support your assertions.

    That doesn’t require an exhaustive search of the universe, but just of the available scientific evidence.

    I have yet to see you reference any actual scientific evidence whatsoever.

    After having examined the scientific evidence — something you can do as well —, we have found no scientific evidence of disembodied intelligence. Perhaps we are wrong. If you think we are, we’d be happy to look at any scientific evidence of disembodied intelligence you provide.

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding your use of the term “we”. Who is “we”? Are you saying that you are personally not aware of any such evidence, and that it is your personal “shared and uniform experience”? That’s taking referring to oneself in the pluralistic third person to confusing levels, Z.

    As far as I can now tell, you’re not claiming that there is no such evidence, but rather that you are not personally aware of any such evidence. Correct? Otherwise you’d be making an assertion involving a universal negative you have no hope of supporting.

    Also, let’s point out that you are in fact now moving the goalposts on that assertion form “evidence” to “scientific” evidence. I don’t really care much that you’re basically just announcing what you are personally ignorant of, but your personal ignorance of evidence is not the same thing as there not being any such evidence. You’re just wording your statement of ignorance in an inappropriate way – as if you know no such evidence exists.

    Now, moving on to your other problematic claim you make (either by saying it yourself or endorsing a claim someone else might have made), whose “shared and uniform experience” are you making an assertion about, and how did you go about vetting that claim?

    Or, do you wish to withdraw that assertion as well? Or perhaps change the goalposts?

  46. 46
    kairosfocus says:

    Zachriel,

    with all due respect, no.

    You have no actual adequate explanation for the FSCO/I in the computational substrate, or you would have given it.

    You have no actual adequate explanation for its “programming,” or you would have given that too.

    Worse, speculations about sophisticated looping etc notwithstanding, you have no adequate explanation for pivotal mental phenomena to the point where there are constant attempts to undermine them. Such as: responsible freedom, free logical reasoning, purposing, deciding and more.

    If I am wrong, simply give it, and tell us who won the Nobel prizes for it: __________________

    Instead, we find impositions like these by the US National Science Teachers in a well known July 2000 Board declaration, supposedly reflective of “Science,” but only managing to be evolutionary materialist scientism in a lab coat:

    Although no single universal step-by-step scientific method captures the complexity of doing science, a number of shared values and perspectives characterize a scientific approach to understanding nature. Among these are a demand for naturalistic explanations [–> = evolutionary materialist scientism dressed up in a lab coat] supported by empirical evidence that are, at least in principle, testable against the natural world. Other shared elements include observations, rational argument, inference, skepticism, peer review and replicability of work . . . .

    Science, by definition, is limited to naturalistic methods and explanations

    And, there is a lot more where that came from.

    KF

  47. 47
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, it has recently become clear that Z is a collective. KF

  48. 48

    Zachriel said:

    No. We use the standard definition, hypothetico-deduction.

    Can you refer me to some authoritative source where this “standard definition” of science is offered?

  49. 49

    KF said:

    WJM, it has recently become clear that Z is a collective. KF

    I think what’s become clear is that Z likes to say things in a way that makes them appear to be much more substantive than they actually are. It seems to me he refers to himself in the pluralistic simply in order to give his personal, unsubstantiated views more weight than they actually carry.

    “There is no evidence” and “our shared and uniform experience” indeed. It appears that if Z doesn’t know about it, it doesn’t exist, and if Z doesn’t experience it, nobody else does, either.

  50. 50
    Zachriel says:

    William J Murray: I just want you to support your assertions.

    We have, but are more than willing to consider any evidence that might contradict our stance.

    William J Murray: I have yet to see you reference any actual scientific evidence whatsoever.

    You might start with Kandel et al., Neuroscience: Principles of Neural Science Fifth Edition, McGraw-Hill 2012. If that’s too much for you, try an encyclopedia.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroscience

    William J Murray: As far as I can now tell, you’re not claiming that there is no such evidence, but rather that you are not personally aware of any such evidence.

    The claim is accurate to our knowledge, but as we have said repeatedly, we are willing to consider scientific evidence of a disembodied intelligence.

  51. 51
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: You have no actual adequate explanation for the FSCO/I in the computational substrate …

    Sorry, but that is not the topic under discussion.

    William J Murray: Can you refer me to some authoritative source where this “standard definition” of science is offered?

    Seriously? You might try a standard source, such as an encyclopedia.

    Encyclopedia Britannica: Scientific method, experimental techniques employed in the natural sciences; more specifically, techniques used in the construction and testing of scientific hypotheses.

  52. 52
    kairosfocus says:

    Z,

    that’s an evasion.

    Let’s clip the section you cleverly snipped just a small part of:

    You have no actual adequate explanation for the FSCO/I in the computational substrate — note the clipped off continuation — , or you would have given it.

    You have no actual adequate explanation for its “programming,” or you would have given that too.

    Worse, speculations about sophisticated looping etc notwithstanding, you have no adequate explanation for pivotal mental phenomena to the point where there are constant attempts to undermine them. Such as: responsible freedom, free logical reasoning, purposing, deciding and more.

    If I am wrong, simply give it, and tell us who won the Nobel prizes for it: __________________

    Your evasion is a backhanded implicit admission.

    You have tried to confine mind to brains.

    I roll tape from 42:

    Z, 42: >>After having examined the scientific evidence — something you can do as well —, we have found no scientific evidence of disembodied intelligence [–> in short, mind = brains thesis]. Perhaps we are wrong. If you think we are, we’d be happy to look at any scientific evidence of disembodied intelligence you provide.>>

    So I have pointed out that a priori evolutionary materialism has problems with the FSCO/I in brains, the computational substrate. (Actually, it starts with the FSCO/I in neurons and indeed the living cell.)

    I then went on to highlight the further explanatory gap between computation and rational, conscious contemplation requiring responsible freedom to be trustworthy.

    This is now self-referential, as to have a discussion, this has to be in the background or discussion becomes noise or manipulation rather than responsible rational discourse.

    From this, I am highlighting a fatal hole in the lab coat clad evolutionary materialist picture that is often presented as though it were unquestionable, duly lab coat clad scientific fact, i.e. with question-begging, inappropriate use of authority and the linked fallacy of confident manner.

    So, the whole pretence that there is nothing un-addressed on the table, it is superstition to think in terms of responsible, rational, purposeful freedom, mind or even soul, breaks down.

    KF

    PS: The pretence that evolutionary materialist scientism, presented in the guise of hypothetico-deductive reasoning exhausts science and its methods (and often by suggestion the sphere of serious knowledge), also collapses.

  53. 53
    Box says:

    Kairosfocus, thank you for your thoughts.

    Kairosfocus:

    what has actually happened is that you have imposed a question-begging redefinition on the term science, to equal a priori evolutionary materialism or a fellow traveller thereof, and then have used that to lock out considering anything but mechanical behaviour and/or blind chance.

    The consequence of which is fatally self referential incoherence as such cannot account for responsible freedom. Without responsible freedom, we cannot be truly rational, and so the notion of a reasoned, “scientific” worldview evaporates also.

    I could not agree more: “without responsible freedom, we cannot be truly rational.”
    At the very start of rational inquiry we must presuppose our rationality and its prerequisite “responsible freedom”. We must be in control of our thoughts in order for rationality to exist. To deny this in any way is self-referential incoherent.
    Next, logic informs us that there cannot be responsible freedom in a universe ruled by blind chance and /or equally blind mechanical necessity.
    Conclusion: everyone who holds that rationality is real must reject naturalism on the onset.

  54. 54
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    The claim is accurate to our knowledge, but as we have said repeatedly, we are willing to consider scientific evidence of a disembodied intelligence.

    And we are willing to consider scientific evidence for undirected evolution producing something like a bacterial flagellum. Unfortunately no one can find any. 😛

  55. 55
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: So I have pointed out that a priori evolutionary materialism has problems with the FSCO/I in brains, the computational substrate.

    Whether brains have FSCO/I or CSI or DENIAL, or not, we still don’t have scientific evidence of disembodied intelligence.

  56. 56
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, we do have evidence that embodiment and computational substrates do not get us to responsible, rational, self aware freedom. Which is our first datum of experience and without which rational discussion collapses in self-referential absurdity of incoherence. In short, the evidence points to, in order to explain or have conscious, responsibly free intelligent mind, we have to go beyond material substrates. So, the claim of lack of evidence for disembodied intelligence collapses into irrelevancy and question begging imposition of evolutionary materialism. Worse, said lab coat clad ideology cannot even get us to the FSCO/I in a living cell much less a neuron, much less a brain-body system. In sum, you have rhetorically jumped over a mountain of difficulties to present an ideologically loaded suggestion as though it were scientifically established fact. Bluff called. KF

  57. 57
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: we do have evidence that embodiment and computational substrates do not get us to responsible, rational, self aware freedom.

    So we can rule out the “aliens made brains” faction of the Intelligent Design Movement.

    kairosfocus: rational, self aware freedom. Which is our first datum of experience

    So introspection, not scientific evidence. If brains are complex, then consciousness based in the brain would presumably be complex as well. That doesn’t get us to evidence of disembodied conscious intelligence.

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, kindly explain to us how per scientific, conclusive evidence, neuron networks or other similar substrates in brains, etc, give rise to responsible, rational freedom; which is a pre-requisite for responsible, reasoned discussion . . . and label and discuss does not count. Let us hear it: _________, and the Nobel prizes for it are ______ . I predict, you will not be able to cogently fill in these blanks. KF

  59. 59
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: Z, kindly explain to us how per scientific, conclusive evidence, neuron networks or other similar substrates in brains, etc, give rise to responsible, rational freedom

    There is as yet no scientific explanation. That doesn’t get us to evidence of disembodied conscious intelligence.

  60. 60
    kairosfocus says:

    Z:

    1 –> questionable promissory note, AKA invitation to blind faith in materialism and scientism. (As these are inherently self-refuting, declined.)

    2 –> Admission of failure to date to demonstrate emergence of rational, responsibly free self-aware, conscious mind from a computational substrate.

    3 –> What was shown in outline is that there is an ontological gap between blindly mechanical computation and linked signal processing, and what is experienced and required for responsibly free reasoned discussion. (A gap in kind, not just quantity or structure. This shows a gaping hole in the heart of the reductionism of mind to brains in bodies carrying out computations.)

    Further to all this, we see empirical evidence of a reality beyond matter in motion by chance and necessity to effect gigo-constrained blind computation, and rational, responsibly free conscious contemplation.

    Bluff further called.

    KF

    PS: If you want evidence — observations, findings of fact and reasoning pointing to mind beyond matter, first consider the contingent nature of the only observed physical world. Then, even through multiverse speculations, note fine tuning for C chemistry aqueous medium, cell based life at locally deeply isolated cosmological operating point. This points to purpose, contrivance, skill and deep knowledge backed by awesome power. Such imply purpose, plan, intent, rational reflection, thus design antecedent to matter. Multiply by the implications of possible/impossible, contingent/necessary being, want of causal capacity of non being and we see necessary being root of reality. Compound such by our finding ourselves under inescapable moral government, thus the need to bridge the IS-OUGHT gap. Where, were there ever utter nothing, such would forever obtain. Thus we see just one serious candidate root of reality, the inherently good eternal creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable service of doing the good in accord with our evident nature. And no, imposing scientism and evolutionary materialism — self refuting — does not make the cut.

  61. 61

    Z said:

    Whether brains have FSCO/I or CSI or DENIAL, or not, we still don’t have scientific evidence of disembodied intelligence.

    This is just another case of someone with an ideologically-committed position reiterating unsupported, purely rhetorical assertions long after their game has been exposed, as if continuing to reiterate = actually providing support for their blanket assertions.

    I’ve noticed that “There is no evidence for …” is one of the naturalist/materialist community’s favorite rhetorical devices, as well as using the all-encompassing “we” or “us” when they make their unsupported assertions. It makes their ideological beliefs appear to carry the weight of factual universality, when in fact their views are often in the extreme minority and they cannot (as Z demonstrates above) offer any support whatsoever for these kinds of claims.

  62. 62
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, prezactly. KF

  63. 63
    LarTanner says:

    KF (60) –

    we see empirical evidence of a reality beyond matter in motion by chance and necessity to effect gigo-constrained blind computation, and rational, responsibly free conscious contemplation.

    Pretty exciting. What is the empirical evidence of this specific reality? Inquiring onlookers will surely want to know.

  64. 64
    Virgil Cain says:

    LT:

    What is the empirical evidence of this specific reality?

    For starters the genetic code is a real code and as such unexplainable via physio-chemical processes. The only known source of codes is intelligent agencies and biology is ruled by codes.

  65. 65
    LarTanner says:

    Virgil,

    For starters the genetic code is a real code and as such unexplainable via physio-chemical processes. The only known source of codes is intelligent agencies and biology is ruled by codes.

    Seems you are claiming at least two things:
    (1) Physio-chemical processes are in principle incapable of producing “a real code” such as genetic code.
    (2) This incapability constitutes evidence of a “reality beyond matter in motion,” since some other force must have produced genetic code if physio-chemical processes alone were not up to the task.

  66. 66
    Virgil Cain says:

    LarTanner:

    (1) Physio-chemical processes are in principle incapable of producing “a real code” such as genetic code.

    Exactly so. there is a $3.1 million award for anyone who can demonstrate they can.

    (2) This incapability constitutes evidence of a “reality beyond matter in motion,” since some other force must have produced genetic code if physio-chemical processes alone were not up to the task.

    Information is neither matter nor energy.

  67. 67
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: questionable promissory note

    Didn’t make any promises. Just pointed out that there is currently no scientific explanation of conscious intelligence. That doesn’t get us to evidence of disembodied conscious intelligence.

    William J Murray: This is just another case of someone with an ideologically-committed position reiterating unsupported, purely rhetorical assertions long after their game has been exposed, as if continuing to reiterate = actually providing support for their blanket assertions.

    You’ve had ample opportunity to provide the evidence you apparently believe exists. We’re more than willing to be enlightened.

  68. 68
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Just pointed out that there is currently no scientific explanation of conscious intelligence.

    There is currently no scientific explanation for the origin of life. there is currently no scientific explanation for the existence of humans. The list for which there is currently no scientific explanation for is very long and yet these things exist.

  69. 69
    LarTanner says:

    Virgil Cain

    there is a $3.1 million award for anyone who can demonstrate they can.

    If physio-chemical processes are in principle incapable of producing “a real code,” then there can be no demonstration.

    Information is neither matter nor energy.

    OK. Not sure of your point.

  70. 70
    Virgil Cain says:

    LarTanner:

    If physio-chemical processes are in principle incapable of producing “a real code,” then there can be no demonstration.

    And your position fails.

    Not sure of your point.

    Matter in motion cannot account for information, yet information exists. Your position fails.

  71. 71
    Box says:

    Z: Just pointed out that there is currently no scientific explanation of conscious intelligence.

    Scientific explanations are not possible without conscious intelligence. Blind particles in motion are not interested in science. Any rational inquiry presupposes conscious intelligence.

    Why do we have to explain this? These are testing times.

  72. 72
    Zachriel says:

    Box: Scientific explanations are not possible without conscious intelligence.

    Saying there’s no scientific explanation of conscious intelligence doesn’t equate to saying there is no such thing as conscious intelligence. In any case, that doesn’t get us to evidence of disembodied conscious intelligence.

    (Computers can propose and test hypotheses.)

  73. 73
    sean samis says:

    I apologize if I missed something in the 70+ comments to this OP, but I’m gonna take my shot at it.

    The OP begins with:

    Over the last several days I’ve been watching StephenB thrash RDFish in this post. [http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-religion/]

    Several times SB has asked Fish this question:

    Is a murderer a different kind of cause than accidental death or is it not?

    Now obviously Fish is in a pickle, between the proverbial Scylla and Charybdis so to speak. If he says that a murderer is in the same category of causation as accidental death, he will look like an idiot, because everyone knows they are not. But if he says they are in different categories, then SB has him right where he wants him, because the next, obvious, question will be: what makes them different? And the answer to that question is also obvious; death by murderer is caused by the act of an intelligent agent, and accidental death is not. And inevitably that leads to this question: Are there objective indicia that allow us to discern which is which?

    What makes “murder” a categorically different cause of death from “accident”?

    Generally:

    Murder; n. the killing of a human being by a sane person, with intent, malice aforethought (prior intention to kill the particular victim or anyone who gets in the way) and with no legal excuse or authority.

    dictionary.law.com/default.aspx?selected=1303#ixzz3oZaakrhH

    If some death has been shown to be a “murder” then a means of murder has been identified. A death in which the cause cannot be identified will not likely be regarded as a “murder” (although it may be ruled suspicious).

    Further, in a murder, the means must be something that is shown to not be unintentional. For example, death by gunshot is not necessarily “murder”; accidental shootings happen frequently.

    Please note that a death may be found to be a murder even if the murderer is never identified. At a later trial, a fact-finder may rule the death “accidental”. Until a trial, a finding of murder is merely a provisional conclusion a competent person arrived at based on the evidence they have available to them.

    Regarding: “Are there objective indicia that allow us to discern which is which?; that is the more difficult question.

    The answer is “sometimes.

    The first question is: have we established the cause of death? If not, then we are probably going to be unable to discern a murder.

    The second question is: is there evidence that the cause was “natural” or “accidental”? If these are regarded as improbable, then they are indicia of murder; and these almost certainly are objective indicia (though not always).

    Then we get to the hard stuff; assuming we have identified a suspect:

    Was the actor sane at the time they acted?
    Did the actor have intent?
    Did the actor act with malice or forethought?
    Did the actor lack a legal excuse or authority?

    If a fact-finder answers any of these with a “No.” then something other than murder is found.

    Of those 4 elements, only the last one can usually be objectively known.

    Whether anyone is sane is less than certain. There are persons who are obviously insane, but there are also marginal cases where the conclusion is often disputed; it is not really objective unless they are manifestly insane. At then end of the day, the law normally presumes sanity unless evidence to the contrary is shown; so a finding of sanity is usually not objective but presumptive.

    Whether anyone was sane at some specific point in the past (at the time of the killing) is dicier. Fact-finders can make reasonable inferences but those can be challenged in some extreme circumstances. Again, a finding of sanity is usually not objective but presumptive.

    Malice can only be inferred. It cannot be observed even in the present moment, much less in the past. It cannot be objectively known. We can decide it seems reasonable to infer it was there, but that is merely a subjective valuation.

    Malice cannot be observed. Malice can be experienced in one’s self, but it cannot be observed in others. Only the indicia of malice can be observed, and the indicia of malice can be faked or concealed. So their presence is not an objective indicator of malice.

    Forethought also can only be inferred unless there is evidence of premeditation (such as evidence of preparation for the killing or it’s concealment).

    RDFish may have been in a pickle, but only if RDFish didn’t go to Law School (or did poorly there).

    sean s.

  74. 74
    StephenB says:

    sean samis, you don’t understand the issue. Let me help you out with another example:

    Can you differentiate between the intelligent agentsthat created the artifacts of ancient Pompei and the volcano that buried them?

  75. 75
    sean samis says:

    StephenB @74:

    Can you differentiate between the intelligent agentsthat [sic] created the artifacts of ancient Pompei [sic] and the volcano that buried them?

    Can I differentiate between human beings and volcanoes? Yes.

    sean s.

  76. 76
    sean samis says:

    BTW, the OP lies.

    The question “Is a murderer a different kind of cause than accidental death or is it not?” is first asked in #331 of that long thread at http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-religion/

    In #334, RDFish answered it: “A “murderer” is a human being. Accidental deaths are caused by other things, like slipping on banana peels, or getting hit by meteors, or drowning in the bathtub.

    Since the question is about a murderer as a cause RDFish’s answer is on topic.

    In #337, StephenB replied to RDFish: “Non responsive: Is a murder a different kind of cause than an accidental death? Yes or no. Don’t forget that the forensic scientists are looking over your shoulder.

    BUT NOTICE: StephenB CHANGED THE QUESTION! Now he’s asking about murder as a cause.

    RDFish’s reply in #334 what precisely on topic. I suspect that StephenB. just isn’t asking the question he wants to.

    RDFish’s comment “You have failed to provide an objective method for discovering which arrangements of matter are “for a purpose”. There is no such method, which is why you cannot describe it.” occurs first in #334, but in response to a different statement by StephenB.

    The OP misrepresents the conversation.

    Just do a little homework, and you can see the OP is a lie.

    sean s.

  77. 77
    StephenB says:

    sean samis

    Can I differentiate between human beings and volcanoes? Yes.

    You are missing the point. Please try again. Can you differentiate between human-made artifacts and the volcanic remains that covered them?

  78. 78
    StephenB says:

    sean samis

    The question “Is a murderer a different kind of cause than accidental death or is it not?” is first asked in #331 of that long thread at

    In #334, RDFish answered it: “A “murderer” is a human being. Accidental deaths are caused by other things, like slipping on banana peels, or getting hit by meteors, or drowning in the bathtub.”

    RDFish did not answer the question. I asked if a murderer is a different kind of cause.

    Since you are taking up where RDFish left off, the question goes to you.

    The OP misrepresents the conversation.

    Just do a little homework, and you can see the OP is a lie.

    The OP gets it exactly right. The point about two different kinds of causes has always been evident, as in the case of human/volcano–burglar/tornado–murderer/accidental death. Everyone knows that RDFish was evading and obfuscating, just as you are.

    His thesis has always been that an inference to design is impossible. My examples proved him wrong. He realized that he could not answer my refutations, so he retired from the thread.

  79. 79

    Z said:

    You’ve had ample opportunity to provide the evidence you apparently believe exists. We’re more than willing to be enlightened.

    It’s not necessary to rebut bald assertions which have not been even remotely supported.

  80. 80
    Zachriel says:

    William J Murray: It’s not necessary to rebut bald assertions which have not been even remotely supported.

    It’s hardly a bald assertion that there is no evidence of disembodied intelligence. Human intelligence, hive intelligence, and machine intelligence, are all embodied in a physical substrate. However, we’d be happy to consider any scientific evidence you have to the contrary.

  81. 81
    sean samis says:

    StephenB @77:

    You are missing the point.

    Ah, as I thought. I am NOT missing the point; you just haven’t said what your point is, so I merely answer the questions you ask. Which questions you keep changing on me.

    Now your question is can I “differentiate between human-made artifacts and the volcanic remains that covered them?
    So, just to be clear, you’re asking about the “artifacts” now.

    Even though I am neither an archeologist nor a volcanologist, I think I could generally differentiate human-made artifacts from volcanic artifacts. A team of experts (including an archeologist familiar with First Century Roman digs, and a volcanologist familiar with European volcanoes) probably can correctly differentiate these artifacts with very high reliability.

    But I bet this is still not your question!

    @78

    RDFish did not answer the question. I asked if a murderer is a different kind of cause. …

    … The OP gets it exactly right. The point about two different kinds of causes has always been evident, as in the case of human/volcano–burglar/tornado–murderer/accidental death. Everyone knows that RDFish was evading and obfuscating, just as you are.

    If anyone is being evasive, it is you: the one who keeps changing the questions.

    In #334, RDFish wrote that murderers are human beings, accidental causes are other things (“slipping on banana peels, or getting hit by meteors, or drowning in the bathtub”) So that seems to be an answer: “Yes.” because those are different kinds of causes.

    RDFish is guilty only of not expressly stating “Yes.” If RDFish’s answer is not on-point or sufficient, then you need to ask the question in a way that we all can tell what you’re getting at.

    His thesis has always been that an inference to design is impossible. My examples proved him wrong.

    I have no interest in defending this thesis, even if it actually is RDFish’s thesis. As my comment #76 makes plain, I cannot trust reports here of other people’s actions or ideas.

    sean s.

  82. 82
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, your problem, first, is that when someone like you demands a “scientific” “explanation” or “evidence,” there is typically an a priori loading of evolutionary materialist scientism, clad in a lab coat. Such both begs the question and is self-refuting. Beyond, the directly relevant evidence is that responsible, rational freedom to think, decide and act are simply not on the same category as blindly mechanical cause effect chains driven by blind chance and necessity. So either you surrender rationality or you acknowledge that even our own thought goes beyond mechanical computation on neural network substrates. Where, already this same issue fatally undermines the materialistic ontology that is so often imposed on thought in our day/ Not that your ilk are likely to pay such any much attention, but then only in the past few weeks here at UD that same ilk was busily resisting self evident first principles of reason. So, the balance on the merits is not at all as you seem to imagine, there is no good reason to confine self-aware, responsibly free and rational contemplation to GIGO-driven blindly mechanical computation. And, to deny rational responsible freedom is to fatally undermine rationality and reasoned discussion. But then, I have no more confidence that you will attend to this this time around, the fatal pull of the flickering bonfires of evolutionary materialist scientism and its fellow traveller ideologies draws in all too many in our dying civilisation. KF

  83. 83
    kairosfocus says:

    SS, SB’s question pivots on distinct identity thus the first principles of right reason. Beyond, it points to what your ilk are so desperate to selectively deny or dismiss or distract attention from on any rhetorical excuse, the reality that intelligently, purposefully produced artifacts are commonly chock full of empirically tested and testable, reliable signs of cause by intelligently directed configuration. That is, design. KF

  84. 84
    StephenB says:

    Sean samis

    Even though I am neither an archeologist nor a volcanologist, I think I could generally differentiate human-made artifacts from volcanic artifacts. A team of experts (including an archeologist familiar with First Century Roman digs, and a volcanologist familiar with European volcanoes) probably can correctly differentiate these artifacts with very high reliability.

    That is correct. You would recognize that the effects of human intelligence as a cause are noticeably different from the effects of a volcano as a cause. You would immediately know that a volcano cannot produce a beautiful painting —just as you would recognize that a tornado, as a natural cause, cannot ransack a room, run off with the jewelry, and sell it to a pawn shop, which is something that only an intelligent cause (agent) can do. It is called an inference to design.

    RDFish did not answer the question. I asked if a murderer is a different kind of cause. …

    In #334, RDFish wrote that murderers are human beings, accidental causes are other things (“slipping on banana peels, or getting hit by meteors, or drowning in the bathtub”) So that seems to be an answer: “Yes.” because those are different kinds of causes.

    No, that is not the same thing at all. RDFish tries to argue that all causes are natural causes.

    I have no interest in defending this thesis, even if it actually is RDFish’s thesis. As my comment #76 makes plain, I cannot trust reports here of other people’s actions or ideas.

    If you have no interest in RFDish’s thesis, then you don’t know why he was avoiding the question. I do know why he was avoiding the question.

    Do you agree with Fish’s thesis? Do you say that it is impossible to draw an inference to design on the basis of empirical evidence/ Keep in mind, that you just acknowledged that you can, indeed, draw an inference to design when you pointed out that you can distinguish designed artifacts from natural remains.

  85. 85
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: Z, your problem, first, is that when someone like you demands a “scientific” “explanation” or “evidence,” there is typically an a priori loading of evolutionary materialist scientism, clad in a lab coat.

    No, just the usual hypothesis-testing.

  86. 86
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, the issues at stake here, at the level of observed computational substrates lead to an explanatory gap as noted but repeatedly studiously ignored. At the next level, responsible rational freedom is antecedent to doing science or any other activity requiring freedom to think logically. KF

  87. 87
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: the issues at stake here, at the level of observed computational substrates lead to an explanatory gap as noted but repeatedly studiously ignored.

    Hardly ignored. Without gaps in knowledge, scientists would have nothing to do.

  88. 88
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, the gap in question is one of kind. Computation is inherently a mechanical, non-rational, GIGO-limited process; one incapable of grounding responsible, rational freedom based on the inherent nature of mechanical cause-effect chains and chance processes. You just tried to imply yet another promissory note reeking of overly optimistic scientism, without outright saying so. Which has already been highlighted as a problem. KF

  89. 89

    Z said:

    It’s hardly a bald assertion that there is no evidence of disembodied intelligence.

    Reiterating your bald assertion is not supporting your bald assertion. Claiming it is not a bald assertion doesn’t change the fact that it is.

    Human intelligence, hive intelligence, and machine intelligence, are all embodied in a physical substrate.

    Pointing out intelligences that are embodied has nothing to do with supporting the assertion that there is no evidence of non-embodied intelligence.

    However, we’d be happy to consider any scientific evidence you have to the contrary.

    No “evidence to the contrary” is required for bald, unsupported assertions, no matter how many times the assertion is reiterated.

  90. 90
    Zachriel says:

    William J Murray: Reiterating your bald assertion is not supporting your bald assertion.

    Actually, we pointed to a list of known sources of intelligence, and all were embodied. We also pointed to neuroscience, as a foundation for the claim. Furthermore, you have been unable to provide scientific evidence of disembodied intelligence.

  91. 91
    kairosfocus says:

    Z:

    we pointed to a list of known sources [–> cases] of intelligence, and all were embodied

    See the basic problem, as in confusing cases with sources?

    We have seen various cases that are embodied, but that is not the whole story. (Indeed, we have no good reasons to hold that particular cases exhaust possibilities, or — as will now be explored — that embodiment is a requisite or even just an observed ground of intelligence.)

    There is the known fact regarding computational substrates, analogue and digital, neural network etc, that computation is not autonomous, it is a mechanical cause-effect chain crucially dependent on its design/architecture and tuning to problems to yield useful results, also being just as much dependent on initial conditions, signals, algorithms and/or organisation etc. And it is further dependent on collection and presentation of results, independent insightful understanding and values laden decisions about results. All of this can be readily seen from the ICT industrial sector and the famous IPO model, bearing in mind the GIGO — garbage in, garbage out — principle and caution.

    In short, we are right back to the blindly mechanical, cause-effect structure of computational substrates. Computation is simply not a rational, insightful responsibly free process.

    Intelligence at a level sufficient to reason, discuss and have credible conclusions must be.

    In short, we are back at the point about self-referential incoherence on mind made at the turn of the 1930’s by Haldane:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    Beyond this, blind chance and mechanical necessity cannot credibly account for the functionally specific, complex organisation and/or associated information [FSCO/I] in computational substrates due to needle in haystack search challenges in beyond astronomical configuration spaces. Of course you and others of your collective’s ilk refuse to acknowledge the force of this, but that does not deflect the force of the point. Namely, that while you can point to embodied intelligent beings with CNS-based neural network computational substrates, you cannot even account for the origin of such FSCO/I rich systems i/l/o the OOL and origin of body plan challenges faced by evolutionary materialism.

    Going beyond, you and your ilk of evolutionary materialist scientism advocates and/or advocates of fellow- traveller ideologies face the gap between computation and responsibly free rational contemplation. In order for there to be real reasoning, credible knowledge and discussion, we have to be responsibly free and rational; on pain of self-referential absurdity. Which, is simply not grounded on the necessarily blindly mechanical nature of the cause-effect chains and chance phenomena associated with computational substrates.

    There is therefore no basis for assigning the source of intelligent agency to embodiment. Yes, we have evidence of embodied intelligences, but we have evidence that such embodiment does not adequately account for the features required, and is in fact not even headed in the right direction.

    In short, evolutionary materialist scientism and fellow travellers, in trying to account for intelligence on computational substrates, are trying to get North by insistently heading due West.

    KF

  92. 92

    Z said:

    Actually, we pointed to a list of known sources of intelligence, and all were embodied.

    Pointing to several cases of white swans doesn’t help support the assertion that there are no black swans.

    We also pointed to neuroscience, as a foundation for the claim.

    A literature/genre bluff where you provided no specific text references, quotes, and summary of how anything specific supports your assertion.

    Furthermore, you have been unable to provide scientific evidence of disembodied intelligence.

    Try as you might to shift the burden to me, I didn’t make any assertions that require evidential support. There’s no reason for me to attempt to rebut a groundless assertion on your part.

    The record on this thread is here for everyone to see: you have only reiterated a groundless assertion over and over and have provided zero support for it other than by waving your hand at an entire field of science and literature but offering zero specifics.

  93. 93
    sean samis says:

    StephenB @84:

    That is correct. You would recognize that … It is called an inference to design.

    It is called an inference to design”? well, that may be what you call it, but I don’t accept that terminology because it seems misleading. “Design” (if that means created with intent, or for a purpose) has little to do with the examples you give.

    No, that is not the same thing at all. RDFish tries to argue that all causes are natural causes.

    What RDFish argues elsewhere is irrelevant in this instance: you asked about murderers, he replied on point.

    More importantly, the OP falsely claimed that RDFish gave some total non sequitur; he did not. If RDFish’s answer was so bad, why misrepresent it? The OP’s choice to lie about it implies they didn’t think it too bad.

    If you have no interest in RFDish’s thesis, then you don’t know why he was avoiding the question. I do know why he was avoiding the question.

    I know he DID answer your question, you are avoiding his answer.

    Do you agree with Fish’s thesis?

    I don’t know what RDFish’s thesis actually is; I will not rely on your representations of it.

    Do you say that it is impossible to draw an inference to design on the basis of empirical evidence

    First; I cannot expect to distinguish artifacts from Pompeii based on “design” (if that means created with intent, or for a purpose) or the absence there of.

    Some object might appear to be entirely natural but was in fact designed by a person for some specific use that no one is aware of anymore.

    I might recognize some artifact as man-made even if I have no clue what it was made for, or why. I can distinguish man-made artifacts because of their construction or assembly.

    Design (if that means created with intent, or for a purpose) need not enter into my considerations in any significant way.

    Second; Empirical evidence includes the evidence of observation or experiment; if an artifact exhibits construction or assembly similar to other artifacts known to be man-made, then I can say the evidence of experience supports a conclusion that the artifact in question is at least probably man-made. In some cases it will be all but certain. In other cases even experts will shake their heads and shrug their shoulders.

    The “design motive or purpose” is not a significant factor until I decide to wonder what the artifact was constructed for.

    Third; Inference is “the act or process of deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true.”

    In Logic, inferenceis “the process of deriving the strict logical consequences of assumed premises, or the process of arriving at some conclusion that, though it is not logically derivable from the assumed premises, possesses some degree of probability relative to the premises, or a proposition reached by a process of inference.

    Given these, can one legitimately, logically draw an inference to artificiality on the basis of empirical evidence? It is possible, but the results of such an inference are far, FAR from certain. Their accuracy depends on the accuracy of the assumptions inferred FROM. If the assumptions cannot be validated, then the inference must be provisional.

    Sorry I can’t give you a “yes” or “no” answer because neither of those is very good in this circumstance.

    sean s.

  94. 94
    sean samis says:

    William J Murray @89:

    To Zachriel you wrote,

    Reiterating your bald assertion is not supporting your bald assertion. Claiming it is not a bald assertion doesn’t change the fact that it is.

    Claiming that an assertion of “no evidence” is merely a bald assertion is the logical equivalent of saying you HAVE evidence.

    Since that is your claim (that it’s a bald assertion) that means that you are claiming to have evidence of disembodied intelligence. Please provide references. If you have no evidence, then you endorse Zachriel’s assertion that there is no evidence.

    If you claim you have such evidence but fail to provide it, then your claim that you have evidence is merely a bald assertion.

    No “evidence to the contrary” is required for bald, unsupported assertions, no matter how many times the assertion is reiterated.

    Providing evidence to the contrary is necessary to refute an assertion of “no evidence”. Zachriel asserts you have no evidence, you imply you do. Only you can settle this; until you do a rational person will have to think that you actually don’t have any evidence; which makes Zachriel correct.

    ————————————————————

    I have to borrow a line from StephenB, who, in #78 here, wrote that RDFish, “realized that he could not answer my refutations, so he retired from the thread.

    Have you likewise retired from the Lydia McGrew thread? http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ing-moral/

    It was just starting to get interesting.

    sean s.

  95. 95
    Zachriel says:

    kairosfocus: We have seen various cases that are embodied, but that is not the whole story.

    Can you provide scientific evidence of a disembodied intelligence? You might want to provide a basic definition of intelligence, as well.

    William J Murray: Pointing to several cases of white swans doesn’t help support the assertion that there are no black swans.

    The claim isn’t that there are no black swans, but that there is no scientific evidence of black swans. You then repeat that we have provided no evidence that there is no scientific evidence of black swans. We point to books on swans. We review examples of non-black swans. We say we would be happy to consider evidence of black swans if you would be kind enough to provide it.

    Then you start over again. Not sure if you mean to have a productive discussion or not.

  96. 96

    Like many others, Sean Samis will dance, hand-wave, obfuscate, and self-deceive in order to avoid the obvious conclusion that we can, at least in some cases, be confident that a thing was intentionally designed by an intelligent agent, regardless of if we know or believe a human was involved, and that at least in some cases, there is an obvious difference between “natural causes” and “intentionally designed”.

    But, admitting this obvious fact swings the door wide open to a room Sean Samis and others of his ilk simply do not want to have to deal with.

    It doesn’t matter if we know or believe that humans generate crop circles; we can be confident that they are intentionally designed by an intelligent agency. If we found certain kinds of phenomena on other planets man has never before visited, we would be confident they were intentionally designed by an intelligent agency.

    Insisting on using the term “man made” is simply Sean Samis’ way of refusing to honestly consider the argument actually being made. Such terms are self-imposed ideological blinkers; as long as he can focus his sight on the term “man-made”, he doesn’t have to account for any alternative roadways that might take him off his path.

    As soon as he admits that we can be confident, at least in some cases, that a thing was intentionally designed by an intelligence whether or not that intelligence was a human, the door is open and the game is lost.

  97. 97

    Z said

    The claim isn’t that there are no black swans, but that there is no scientific evidence of black swans.

    You apparently didn’t understand the analogy. “White swan” meant “scientific evidence for a embodied intelligence”, and “black swan” meant “scientific evidence for non-embodied intelligence”.

    No one is disputing that intelligence can be embodied (no one is disputing that white swans exist), so offering instances of the former is entirely irrelevant to the task of supporting the latter claim (that there is no evidence for black swans).

    It’s odd that you cannot see that pointing at a white swan (evidence for embodied intelligence) is offering zero support for the claim that no black swans (evidence for non-embodied intelligence) exist.

    You then repeat that we have provided no evidence that there is no scientific evidence of black swans. We point to books on swans.

    It’s not my job to search the literature or read entire books for support of your assertion when you have provided absolutely no quotes and summaries from such books and literature that support your assertion in the first place. That’s your job, Z. Until you do so, all you are doing is bluffing.

    We review examples of non-black swans. We say we would be happy to consider evidence of black swans if you would be kind enough to provide it.

    It’s not my job to support claims I did not make, nor to attempt to rebut an assertion that has not been in any way supported.

    Then you start over again. Not sure if you mean to have a productive discussion or not.

    I don’t know about you, but I’m having a very productive discussion here. Every time you reiterate your assertion and provide zero support of it, the community here gets to observe you dodging, handwaving, avoiding questions (like the one you’ve apparently abandoned concerning “our shared and uniform experience”) and attempting to shift the burden.

    Has anyone here actually seen you provide a quote from any book in the field you mentioned, or provide a link to research with an abstract? Has anyone seen you provide a summary of why such quoted and referenced material supports your assertion? No. All they have seen in this thread is you asserting that some books and an entire field of science supports your view and, when challenged, simply repeating that assertion as if it actually supported your view.

    I’m happy to continue this as long as you wish because I’m sure it is quite revealing to onlookers.

  98. 98

    Sean Samis said:

    Claiming that an assertion of “no evidence” is merely a bald assertion is the logical equivalent of saying you HAVE evidence.

    Your ideologially biased logic is pitiful. An assertion is merely a bald assertion until someone provides substantive support for that assertion. I have challenged Z to provide support for his assertion and he has only referred to someone else’s assertion and has hand-waved to an entire field of science and literature without providing any specifics whatsoever – no quotes, no specific references, no abstracts of research, no synopsis or summary of how the quoted material supports his assertion.

    If I said, “There is a lot of scientific research that supports the existence of intelligent life on Mars, go look in books about Mars and in the field of astrobiology”, and then if I refused to provide specific quotes, research, abstracts, and summaries, would that be the same thing as actually supporting my assertion?

    Of course not. Until I provide specifics, you would naturally (and rightfully) assume I was bluffing.

    Would anyone who challenged my assertion be doing the same thing as making the claim that no intelligent life exists on Mars?

    Of course not. They would be merely challenging me to substantively support my assertion.

    If you claim you have such evidence but fail to provide it, then your claim that you have evidence is merely a bald assertion.

    I appreciate that you’re trying to provide cover for Z by shifting the burden to me, but I’ve not made or implied any such claim. I’ve challenged Z to support his claim, and that is all I’ve done. If you wish to take up the challenge, then you can proceed to support the claim that there is no scientific evidence for non-embodied intelligence.

    Or, you can admit that you cannot support such a claim and change it, perhaps to “I am not personally aware of any scientific evidence that supports the hypothesis that intelligence doesn’t require embodiment to exist.”

    It’s a much more modest and reasonable assertion even if it lacks the rhetorical power of the original.

  99. 99
    kairosfocus says:

    Z

    First, your term “Scientific” for cause is suspect of being tainted with evolutionary materialist scientism and its fellow travellers.

    Second,

    E1: I did in fact outline highly relevant evidence regarding the demonstrated nature of computation and the limits of associated blind, GIGO driven mechanical cause-effect chains and/or chance processes that process coded information or analogue information bearing signals. (Have you designed or built computational substrates, operational amplifiers or analogue computers? Do you see why on the strength of such sometimes frustrating experience, I speak like this? Do you understand the difference between mV or V level signals or states, ion flows, FET pinchoffs, or angles of balls, disks and shafts, and meaning, truth, entailment, warrant, justified inference, right and wrong, truth and error? In short there are huge categorical gaps manifestly present.)

    E2: Such cannot even per vera causa, explain the rise of computational substrates with the FSCO/I involved.

    E3: Whether analogue or digital, neural, silicon, pneumatic, hydraulic, electromechanical or whatever, computation and signal processing are inherently blind, non-rational matters of mechanical forces, they are at cross-directions to responsibly free rational contemplation.

    E4: Simply in order to participate in a discussion, you are forced to imply that we are responsibly free and rational, reasoning and knowing, intentional agents, or else all of this reduces to so much electrochemical noise and meaningless mouth flapping . . . an unacknowledged reductio challenge that lurks behind the so-called hard problem of consciousness.

    E5: We have massive observation that intelligent, intentional agents can and do create FSCO/I rich computational substrates and organised systems more generally.

    E6: We find that cell based life and its body plans including ours, are full of such FSCO/I and info-communication systems, starting from the molecular ones of the cell.

    E7: This warrants inference to intelligent design antecedent to biological life on earth, and on the conventional timeline, active 3.5 BYA.

    E8: Further, we find on observing the cosmos, that it is multiply and astonishingly fine-tuned in its physics and circumstances in ways that set up a basis for C-chemistry, aqueous medium, cell based life, and that it had a beginning conventionally dated at 13.7 BYA or so; which, even through a multiverse speculation — by virtue of being at a locally deeply isolated operating point — strongly points to intelligent design, antecedent to a physical world.

    E9: There is no good reason to think that atomic embodiment is a necessary condition of intelligence, or is its causal source, so there is no reason — apart from question begging ideology — to rule out, deride or dismiss other platforms for intelligence, purpose and agency.

    E10: So, in fact there is no good reason to conclude that atomic matter based computational substrates are the causal source of our own intelligence, responsible freedom and rationality.

    E11: Further, we have evidence pointing to intelligent design before biological life on our planet and before a material world as we inhabit, and indeed causative of such.

    E12: Therefore, there is much evidence, including evidence of scientific character, that reasonably supports the conclusion that conscious, responsibly free and rational intelligence needs not be embodied in a physical computational substrate, indeed, such a substrate cannot credibly be its causal source.

    Of course, there is no evidence that you and others of your ilk are open to such reasoning. But that is now immaterial, we sit at the table of serious viewpoints as of right, not by grudging sufferance.

    KF

  100. 100
    StephenB says:

    sean samis

    I might recognize some artifact as man-made even if I have no clue what it was made for, or why.

    Of course. You would know that it was not produced by natural causes. Right?

    I can distinguish man-made artifacts because of their construction or assembly.

    Precisely. That is the point. You would know that nature cannot construct or assemble objects in that way. Right?

    Design (if that means created with intent, or for a purpose) need not enter into my considerations in any significant way.

    Can you name or describe a man-made artifact that is not purposefully arranged matter? I don’t think so.

    The “design motive or purpose” is not a significant factor until I decide to wonder what the artifact was constructed for.

    That is correct. It is not necessary to know what the purpose was in order to conclude that a purpose was involved. As you said earlier, “I might recognize some artifact as man-made even if I have no clue what it was made for, or why.”

    Third; Inference is “the act or process of deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true.”

    ID’s inference is an inference to the best explanation. Given an object, you conclude that it was produced either by nature or an intelligent agent based on observed patterns. It is called “abductive reasoning.” You have already indicated that you can, in some cases, recognize those things that were produced by an intelligent agent, which means that you had to rule out the prospect that it was the result of natural causes.

  101. 101

    Sean Samis said:

    I have to borrow a line from StephenB, who, in #78 here, wrote that RDFish, “realized that he could not answer my refutations, so he retired from the thread.”

    Have you likewise retired from the Lydia McGrew thread? http://www.uncommondescent.com…..ing-moral/

    It was just starting to get interesting.

    First, I’m not stephenb. Second, I just never happened to see, in the recent comment column, where you had responded. I do have a rather busy life and keeping track of your increasingly inane “arguments” is not exactly a high priority of mine.

    So, let me inform you beforehand: if I stop responding to you, it’s because either (1) I didn’t see where you had made a comment, or (2) I’m satisfied with the current state of the discussion and have nothing further to add.

  102. 102

    Here’s a rather glaring problem for your morality, Sean Samis, which we haven’t even gotten around to: you claim that there are social consequences for you if you don’t do the right thing, but that assumes that the right thing lines up with social norms and so by violating social norms you will get bad consequences.

    But, in the Nazi Germany case, your bad repercussions will likely be the result of doing the right thing. if one is obligated to moral thing because of the supposedly likely social consequences, then what is one’s obligation if it is likely one will suffer negative social consequences for doing the moral thing?

    Where is the obligation derived from, under your moral system, to do the right thing even if it most likely will result in very negative consequences? Why should one do “the right thing” even if it means likely negative social consequences?

  103. 103

    You can see my fuller response and respond in that other thread so we don’t hijack this one.

  104. 104

    If one cannot admit that (1) human design is a case of intelligent design and (2) intelligent design could be, at least in some cases, recognized as such even if we are fairly sure that humans were not involved, then there is just no room for honest, meaningful debate.

  105. 105
    Mung says:

    Can I differentiate between human beings and volcanoes? Yes.

    Give that man a cigar.

    I wonder if he can differentiate between a sand castle and a pile of sand.

  106. 106
    Zachriel says:

    William J Murray: “White swan” meant “scientific evidence for a embodied intelligence”, and “black swan” meant “scientific evidence for non-embodied intelligence”.

    The Black Swan metaphor refers to the surprise of finding a black swan based on prior knowledge. Human knowledge is somewhat easier to search nowadays than the globe was in the 16th century when the metaphor became popular.

    William J Murray: It’s not my job

    You can pretend to be blind, but it’s not convincing.

    A search of various scientific and scholarly databases for “disembodied intelligence” (including specific journals, such as Nature, Science, Neuroscience) gives us many non-relevant returns. Some refer to artificial intelligence, which concern the fact that computers don’t have biological bodies with all their attendant sensations. Others are non-scientific papers, such as those found in philosophical, literary, or theological sources. None of the references appear to involve scientific research.

    This provides a reasonable overview. However, it is quite possible something was missed. If you have anything to add beyond waving your hands, please feel free to enlighten us.

    kairosfocus: I did in fact outline highly relevant evidence regarding the demonstrated nature of computation and the limits of associated blind

    You pointed out that humans make complex things (dFSCI, CPSD, FSCO/I, FIIRDS, bCSI), and therefore complex things are made by intelligent agents. However, evolution can also produce complex things.

  107. 107

    Z said:

    The Black Swan metaphor refers to the surprise of finding a black swan based on prior knowledge. Human knowledge is somewhat easier to search nowadays than the globe was in the 16th century when the metaphor became popular.

    Then it should be that much easier for you to support your assertion with – you know – actual specific references and quotes.

    You can pretend to be blind, but it’s not convincing.

    I can only pretend to be blind to something if you’ve actually put something on the table for me to look at; so far, you’ve provided nothing but assertions, literature bluffs and hand-waving.

    A search of various scientific and scholarly databases for “disembodied intelligence” (including specific journals, such as Nature, Science, Neuroscience) gives us many non-relevant returns. Some refer to artificial intelligence, which concern the fact that computers don’t have biological bodies with all their attendant sensations. Others are non-scientific papers, such as those found in philosophical, literary, or theological sources. None of the references appear to involve scientific research.

    Your response to being called out for a literature bluff is another literature bluff? Once again, please provide references, quotes, and a short summary/synopsis that supports your assertion that there is no evidence for disembodied intelligence.

    This provides a reasonable overview. However, it is quite possible something was missed. If you have anything to add beyond waving your hands, please feel free to enlighten us.

    A reiterated literature bluff is not a “reasonable overview”. You have provided zero support for your assertion, and continue to do nothing but hand-wave, double-down on literature bluffs and attempt to shift the burden to others.

    If you cannot support your assertion, the proper thing to do is retract it and replace it with a more reasonable, supportable assertion.

  108. 108
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel chokes, again:

    You pointed out that humans make complex things (dFSCI, CPSD, FSCO/I, FIIRDS, bCSI), and therefore complex things are made by intelligent agents.

    Except CSI and all of its derivatives are much more than mere complexity.

    However, evolution can also produce complex things.

    What kind of evolution can produce complex things? Please be specific and show your work- although it is a given that you won’t do either of those.

  109. 109
    mike1962 says:

    I’d like to know: what kind of evolution can produce a human brain from a chimp-like brain? Please be specific and show your work.

  110. 110
    bornagain says:

    “Please be specific and show your work.”

    Here is the supposedly irrefutable evidence that provides all the proof that the typical internet atheist ever needs in order to believe without any doubt whatsoever that the unbelievably complex human brain ‘randomly’ evolved from some chimp-like brain:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ci9jfMvoLb4

  111. 111
    Zachriel says:

    William J Murray: Your response to being called out for a literature bluff is another literature bluff?

    The claim concerns the lack of scientific evidence for disembodied intelligence. A systematic search for scientific evidence on the subject is precisely what is required to answer that question.

  112. 112
    mike1962 says:

    BA @ 110

    Haha

  113. 113

    Z said:

    The claim concerns the lack of scientific evidence for disembodied intelligence. A systematic search for scientific evidence on the subject is precisely what is required to answer that question.

    I see. So here you’re admitting that your assertion is entirely based upon your personal inability to find any scientific research via a google search that supports the disembodied intelligence hypothesis.

    Of course, rational people that cannot find a thing do not jump to the irrational conclusion that the thing doesn’t exist, and they certainly do not assert as a fact that a thing doesn’t exist just because it doesn’t show up in a google search.

    But then, that’s about the level of logical rigor I’ve come to expect from Z.

  114. 114
    Seversky says:

    William J Murray @ 113

    Of course, rational people that cannot find a thing do not jump to the irrational conclusion that the thing doesn’t exist, and they certainly do not assert as a fact that a thing doesn’t exist just because it doesn’t show up in a google search.

    But then, that’s about the level of logical rigor I’ve come to expect from Z.

    Congratulations, WJM, you’ve scored a fine debating point. Zachriel has not provided evidence to support the claim that disembodied intelligence doesn’t exist. That doesn’t necessarily mean the contrary is true of course but you’re right.

    Except you’re not.

    Zachriel’s original claim was

    There could certainly be disembodied intelligence, at least in principle, but we have no evidence of such.

    In other words, the claim was not that disembodied intelligence doesn’t exist but that he, she or it does not know of any evidence that it doesn’t exist – a rather different claim.

    You’re right that Zachriel has been unable to prove what they don’t know but then I know of no way to prove what I don’t know or, indeed, for anyone to prove that they don’t know something. If you know of some way to prove what you don’t know then please provide it.

    Regardless, the outcome of all this logic-chopping seems to be that position is the same as when it all started: the question of disembodied intelligence is still undecided. Unless you know something we don’t, of course.

  115. 115
    Zachriel says:

    William J Murray: So here you’re admitting that your assertion is entirely based upon your personal inability to find any scientific research

    A systematic search for scientific evidence on the subject is precisely what is required to answer that question. The nice thing is that you can verify the results yourself! Let’s try the journal Nature.
    http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=site%.....2&l=1

  116. 116
    sean samis says:

    William J Murray @96:

    Like many others, Sean Samis will dance, hand-wave, obfuscate, and self-deceive in order to avoid the obvious conclusion that we can, at least in some cases, be confident that a thing was intentionally designed by an intelligent agent, regardless of if we know or believe a human was involved, and that at least in some cases, there is an obvious difference between “natural causes” and “intentionally designed”.

    William J Murray will dance, hand-wave, obfuscate, and self-deceive in order to avoid the obvious conclusion that I agree that we can, at least in some cases, be confident that a thing was intentionally designed by a human being. But so far there is no case where we can be confident that a non-human intelligent agent is needed to explain some thing we are aware of.

    William J Murray will dance, hand-wave, obfuscate, and self-deceive in order to avoid the obvious conclusion that I agree that, at least in some cases, there is an obvious difference between “natural causes” and “intentionally designed”.

    But, admitting this obvious fact swings the door wide open to a room Sean Samis and others of his ilk simply do not want to have to deal with.

    I have an ilk? Nobody ever tells me these things! We should have a party! BYOB.

    If we found certain kinds of phenomena on other planets man has never before visited, we would be confident they were intentionally designed by an intelligent agency.

    … but only after we’d confidently eliminated the possibility of natural causes. Sometimes that would be easy, sometimes it would not and we’d have to resist the temptation to leap to a “design” conclusion because we all just WANT there to be the first to recognize a non-human intelligence.

    Insisting on using the term “man made” is simply Sean Samis’ way of refusing to honestly consider the argument actually being made. Such terms are self-imposed ideological blinkers; as long as he can focus his sight on the term “man-made”, he doesn’t have to account for any alternative roadways that might take him off his path.

    Insisting on using the term “intelligent agent” is simply William J Murray’s way of refusing to honestly consider the argument actually being made. Such terms are self-imposed ideological blinkers; as long as he can focus his sight on the term “intelligent agent” then he doesn’t have to account for the total absence of any evidence of alternative roadways, which leaves no way to his desired path.

    As soon as he admits that we can be confident, at least in some cases, that a thing was intentionally designed by an intelligence whether or not that intelligence was a human, the door is open and the game is lost.

    As soon as WJM admits that we can be confident in every case that we know of that an intentionally designed thing was designed by humans, the door is closed and his game is lost.

    Until we know of another intelligent agent, or have positively and simultaneously excluded both human activity and natural causes, the only intelligence we know of SO FAR is humanity. Everything else, to the best of our knowledge is due to natural causes.

    @103:

    Like you, I’ll take my response to this thread: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ing-moral/

    104:

    If one cannot admit that (1) human design is a case of intelligent design and (2) intelligent design could be, at least in some cases, recognized as such even if we are fairly sure that humans were not involved, then there is just no room for honest, meaningful debate.

    1. Human design is a case of intelligent design.
    2. Intelligent design could be, at least in theory, recognized as such even if we are fairly sure that humans were not involved.
    3. There are no known, bona fide cases in which non-human intelligent design has been demonstrated or necessitated.

    The whole argument between Zachriel and WJM is like a bad middle school drama:

    Z: We have no evidence that disembodied intelligence exists.

    W: Prove it!

    Z: Prove what? That we have no evidence…?

    W: Yes. Prove it!

    Z: Do you know of any evidence?

    W: That’s not my job. Prove your bald assertion!

    S: Well, if you’re too lazy to provide some evidence, then there’s no reason to go further. I don’t know of any, neither does Z. and neither (apparently) do you. Z’s assertion is proved: we don’t know of any evidence that disembodied intelligence exists.

    W: So your inability to find evidence is all you have to go on?

    S: When your assertion is that something is not known, the inability to find evidence of that something is all the evidence you need.

    sean s.

  117. 117
    sean samis says:

    StephenB @100:

    Of course. You would know that it was not produced by natural causes. Right?

    That’s what I wrote.

    You would know that nature cannot construct or assemble objects in that way. Right?

    That’s what I wrote.

    Can you name or describe a man-made artifact that is not purposefully arranged matter? I don’t think so.

    Footprints. A midden. Debris. I don’t need to know what intent or purpose a maker had to be able to see that an artifact is so constructed that it is very likely to be man-made.

    It is not necessary to know what the purpose was in order to conclude that a purpose was involved.

    Doesn’t matter; it is not necessary to think that it had a purpose to conclude it was constructed or assembled by humans.

    ID’s inference is an inference to the best explanation. Given an object, you conclude that it was produced either by nature or an intelligent agent based on observed patterns. It is called “abductive reasoning.” You have already indicated that you can, in some cases, recognize those things that were produced by an intelligent agent, which means that you had to rule out the prospect that it was the result of natural causes.

    No, it’s not. Inference of design is only a “best explanation” if the “creator” is known, or is probably a member of a known group of creatures capable of creating the artifact.

    Inference of design by a wholly unknown and novel creator (such as an ET, a deity, or a disembodied intelligence) is always a “last resort explanation”. So far, we’ve never needed that last resort to explain anything.

    sean s.

  118. 118
    Box says:

    Inspired by Zachriel’s search (see #115) I did a search on nature.com for articles on Near-Death-Experiences. Obviously NDE research could be all-decisive. What is at stake here? EVERYTHING. Who we are. Our future. The NDE witness’ accounts are a source of hope for many.
    However there are people who don’t want there to be a God. Who don’t want the universe to be like that.
    Number 1 on Google search results list, the following article; excerpt:

    Mark Stokes: Can neuroscience shed light on one of life’s biggest mysteries – death? In a new study just published in PNAS, researchers observed a surge of brain activity just moments before death. This raises the fascinating possibility that they have identified the neural basis for near death experiences.

    [my emphasis]

    F-A-S-C-I-N-A-T-I-N-G. I mean … really? The fascinating possibility that random disturbances in the electromagnetic field of a dying brain explains it all and dead is indeed just dead. The fascinating possibility that we do not return to our lost loved ones. The fascinating possibility that there is no justice, no God, that there is nothing but empty indifferent blackness after all.

    Fascinating …

    Mark Stokes: First, to put this research into context, death-related brain activity was examined in rats, not humans. For obvious reasons, it is easier to study the death process in animals rather than humans.

    What is wrong with these people?

  119. 119

    Zachriel said;

    A systematic search for scientific evidence on the subject is precisely what is required to answer that question.

    A systematic search is wholly insufficient to answer that question, Z. An exhaustive search is what is required. And then, an exhaustive reading of all material that might remotely be considered such evidence would be required; and then if any evidence is found that might support the hypothesis, an argument must be prepared to rebut the possibility that it does support the hypothesis.

    We all know you cannot support your assertion as it stands. Nobody can support a claim that is a universal negative about the non-existence of a particular thing (in this case, evidence for non-embodied intelligence) unless that thing is a logical or physical impossibility, and you’ve already admitted it was possible.

    The best you can do is state that you are personally unaware of any such evidence. Anything beyond that is irrational rhetoric.

    Seversky said:

    In other words, the claim was not that disembodied intelligence doesn’t exist but that he, she or it does not know of any evidence that it doesn’t exist – a rather different claim.

    Good grief, seversky, Read the thread first and then actually write something coherent. Z’s claim is that there is no evidence of non-embodied evidence. Z has agreed to this as being what Z’s claim is in this thread. I’ve already suggested that Z dial back his universal negative claim to one of simply not being aware of any such evidence.

    Z stubbornly refuses to do so – I suspect because Z is fond of the rhetorical value of the original claim.

    My point here is not to argue that there is evidence for non-embodied intelligence, but rather to point out that Z is making entirely unsupported assertions for their rhetorical value.

  120. 120

    Sean Samis said:

    I don’t know of any, neither does Z. and neither (apparently) do you. Z’s assertion is proved: we don’t know of any evidence that disembodied intelligence exists.

    If Z’s assertion was only that he wasn’t aware of any such evidence, I wouldn’t have said a word. Read the entire exchange – I asked him if his assertion wouldn’t be more properly phrased as him simply not personally being aware of any such evidence. He also moved the goalpost from “evidence” to “scientific evidence”, and apparently entirely abandoned his by proxy assertion about “shared and uniform experience”.

    When your assertion is that something is not known, the inability to find evidence of that something is all the evidence you need.

    ROFLMAO!

    We should start a thread of atheist/materialist maxims that pass for logic in their world. This is a beaut.

  121. 121
    bornagain says:

    The evidence from quantum mechanics that consciousness precedes material reality is overwhelming. I would even dare say that the evidence is now conclusive:

    A Short Survey Of Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness
    Excerpt: Putting all the lines of evidence together the argument for God from consciousness can now be framed like this:
    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.
    Four intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect)
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uLcJUgLm1vwFyjwcbwuYP0bK6k8mXy-of990HudzduI/edit

    As well, the evidence from Near Death Experiences that our consciousness survives the death of our temporal bodies is also overwhelming. I would even dare say that the evidence is now conclusive. In fact we have far more observational evidence for survival beyond death than we have observational evidence for Darwinian evolution ever creating functional complexity/information:

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species , (or the origin of life, or the origin of a protein/gene, or a molecular machine), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

    Moreover, as a backdrop that provides a stark contrast to this evidence for consciousness preceding material reality and surviving the death of our temporal bodies, I remind you guys that materialists/atheists have not the least bit of empirical evidence explaining how consciousness can possibly ’emerge’ from a material basis:

    ‘But the hard problem of consciousness is so hard that I can’t even imagine what kind of empirical findings would satisfactorily solve it. In fact, I don’t even know what kind of discovery would get us to first base, not to mention a home run.’
    David Barash – Materialist/Atheist – evolutionary biologist and professor of psychology at the ­University of Washington

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientist Sebastian Seung makes this clear in his book “Connectome,” saying:

    “Every day we recall the past, perceive the present and imagine the future. How do our brains accomplish these feats? It’s safe to say that nobody really knows.”

    There is simply no direct evidence that anything material is capable of generating consciousness. As Rutgers University philosopher Jerry Fodor says,

    “Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. Nobody even knows what it would be like to have the slightest idea about how anything material could be conscious. So much for the philosophy of consciousness. Regardless of our knowledge of the structure of the brain, no one has any idea how the brain could possibly generate conscious experience.”

    As Nobel neurophysiologist Roger Sperry wrote,

    “Those centermost processes of the brain with which consciousness is presumably associated are simply not understood. They are so far beyond our comprehension at present that no one I know of has been able even to imagine their nature.”

    From modern physics, Nobel prize-winner Eugene Wigner agreed:

    “We have at present not even the vaguest idea how to connect the physio-chemical processes with the state of mind.”

    Contemporary physicist Nick Herbert states,

    “Science’s biggest mystery is the nature of consciousness. It is not that we possess bad or imperfect theories of human awareness; we simply have no such theories at all. About all we know about consciousness is that it has something to do with the head, rather than the foot.”

    Physician and author Larry Dossey wrote:

    “No experiment has ever demonstrated the genesis of consciousness from matter. One might as well believe that rabbits emerge from magicians’ hats. Yet this vaporous possibility, this neuro-mythology, has enchanted generations of gullible scientists, in spite of the fact that there is not a shred of direct evidence to support it.”

    Thus, with such a sheer poverty of any substantiating evidence for the materialist/atheist’s claim that consciousness emerges from a material basis, and with such an overwhelming abundance of evidence supporting the Theist’s claim that consciousness precedes material reality and also supporting the claim that our eternal souls survive death, the most reasonable conclusion, indeed the ONLY conclusion scientifically available to us right now, as far as empirical evidence itself is concerned, is that the Theistic position is the correct position and atheism is false.

    But alas, atheists have never believed in their preferred nihilistic worldview based on reason and evidence anyway, but have instead primarily based their nihilistic beliefs on their emotions and their fertile imaginations.

    Study explores whether atheism is rooted in reason or emotion – Jan. 2015
    Excerpt: “A new set of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that atheists and agnostics report anger toward God either in the past or anger focused on a hypothetical image of what they imagine God must be like. Julie Exline, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University and the lead author of this recent study, has examined other data on this subject with identical results. Exline explains that her interest was first piqued when an early study of anger toward God revealed a counterintuitive finding: Those who reported no belief in God reported more grudges toward him than believers.”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....r-emotion/

    In fact, atheists are found to live in irrational denial of their intuitive ability to see Design in nature:

    Design Thinking Is Hardwired in the Human Brain. How Come? – October 17, 2012
    Excerpt: “Even Professional Scientists Are Compelled to See Purpose in Nature, Psychologists Find.” The article describes a test by Boston University’s psychology department, in which researchers found that “despite years of scientific training, even professional chemists, geologists, and physicists from major universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Yale cannot escape a deep-seated belief that natural phenomena exist for a purpose” ,,,
    Most interesting, though, are the questions begged by this research. One is whether it is even possible to purge teleology from explanation.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65381.html

    Infants ‘have natural belief in God’ – July 26, 2008
    Excerpt: INFANTS are hard-wired to believe in God, and atheism has to be learned, according to an Oxford University psychologist.
    Dr Olivera Petrovich told a University of Western Sydney conference on the psychology of religion that even preschool children constructed theological concepts as part of their understanding of the physical world.
    Pyschologists have debated whether belief in God or atheism was the natural human state. According to Dr Petrovich, an expert in psychology of religion, belief in God is not taught but develops naturally.
    She told The Age yesterday that belief in God emerged as a result of other psychological development connected with understanding causation.
    It was hard-wired into the human psyche, but it was important not to build too much into the concept of God. “It’s the concept of God as creator, primarily,” she said. Dr Petrovich said her findings were based on several studies, particularly one of Japanese children aged four to six, and another of 400 British children aged five to seven from seven different faiths.
    “Atheism is definitely an acquired position,” she said.
    http://www.theage.com.au/natio.....-3l3b.html

    Verse and Music:

    Revelation 1:8
    “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

    Apocalypitca – Nothing Else Matters –
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSMXMv0noY4

  122. 122
    Zachriel says:

    Box: The fascinating possibility that random disturbances in the electromagnetic field of a dying brain explains it all and dead is indeed just dead.

    Brain activity is embodied by any reasonable definition.

    sean samis: W: So your inability to find evidence is all you have to go on?

    Heh.

    William J Murray: A systematic search is wholly insufficient to answer that question, Z. An exhaustive search is what is required.

    A systematic search is sufficient to constitute reasonable support, certainly more than “Is not!”

  123. 123
    bornagain says:

    Zach, (not that you care for the truth, but), in your unsubstantiated claim that the material brain generates consciousness, you have a gargantuan hole in your claim that undermines your entire materialistic/atheistic worldview:

    You see Zach, if your materialistic premises are true then the ‘sense of self’, the subjective knowledge that ‘you’ really exist as a real person, becomes merely a fiction, i.e. an illusion.
    This is not a minor problem for ‘you’ since, as Descartes pointed out, the fact that we really exist as real persons is the most sure thing we can ever know about reality.

    David Chalmers on Consciousness (Descartes, Philosophical Zombies and the Hard Problem) – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK1Yo6VbRoo

    Moreover, if your sense of self, and your free will, are merely illusions as you hold that they are, then why in blue blazes should I, or anyone else, ever hold your arguments for materialism to be coherent and true in the first place?

    “What you’re doing is simply instantiating a self: the program run by your neurons which you feel is “you.””
    Jerry Coyne

    The Confidence of Jerry Coyne – January 6, 2014
    Excerpt: But then halfway through this peroration, we have as an aside the confession that yes, okay, it’s quite possible given materialist premises that “our sense of self is a neuronal illusion.” At which point the entire edifice suddenly looks terribly wobbly — because who, exactly, is doing all of this forging and shaping and purpose-creating if Jerry Coyne, as I understand him (and I assume he understands himself) quite possibly does not actually exist at all? The theme of his argument is the crucial importance of human agency under eliminative materialism, but if under materialist premises the actual agent is quite possibly a fiction, then who exactly is this I who “reads” and “learns” and “teaches,” and why in the universe’s name should my illusory self believe Coyne’s bold proclamation that his illusory self’s purposes are somehow “real” and worthy of devotion and pursuit? (Let alone that they’re morally significant: But more on that below.) Prometheus cannot be at once unbound and unreal; the human will cannot be simultaneously triumphant and imaginary.
    http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.c.....oyne/?_r=0

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....66221.html

    (1) rationality implies a thinker in control of thoughts.
    (2) under materialism a thinker is an effect caused by processes in the brain.
    (3) in order for materialism to ground rationality a thinker (an effect) must control processes in the brain (a cause). (1)&(2)
    (4) no effect can control its cause.
    Therefore materialism cannot ground rationality.
    per Box UD

    In fact Zach, it is impossible for you to live your life as if materialism were true, (not that you care for truth anyway)

    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt:,,,Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/.....tml?page=3

    Darwin’s Robots: When Evolutionary Materialists Admit that Their Own Worldview Fails – Nancy Pearcey – April 23, 2015
    Excerpt: Even materialists often admit that, in practice, it is impossible for humans to live any other way. One philosopher jokes that if people deny free will, then when ordering at a restaurant they should say, “Just bring me whatever the laws of nature have determined I will get.”
    An especially clear example is Galen Strawson, a philosopher who states with great bravado, “The impossibility of free will … can be proved with complete certainty.” Yet in an interview, Strawson admits that, in practice, no one accepts his deterministic view. “To be honest, I can’t really accept it myself,” he says. “I can’t really live with this fact from day to day. Can you, really?”,,,
    In What Science Offers the Humanities, Edward Slingerland, identifies himself as an unabashed materialist and reductionist. Slingerland argues that Darwinian materialism leads logically to the conclusion that humans are robots — that our sense of having a will or self or consciousness is an illusion. Yet, he admits, it is an illusion we find impossible to shake. No one “can help acting like and at some level really feeling that he or she is free.” We are “constitutionally incapable of experiencing ourselves and other conspecifics [humans] as robots.”
    One section in his book is even titled “We Are Robots Designed Not to Believe That We Are Robots.”,,,
    When I teach these concepts in the classroom, an example my students find especially poignant is Flesh and Machines by Rodney Brooks, professor emeritus at MIT. Brooks writes that a human being is nothing but a machine — a “big bag of skin full of biomolecules” interacting by the laws of physics and chemistry. In ordinary life, of course, it is difficult to actually see people that way. But, he says, “When I look at my children, I can, when I force myself, … see that they are machines.”
    Is that how he treats them, though? Of course not: “That is not how I treat them…. I interact with them on an entirely different level. They have my unconditional love, the furthest one might be able to get from rational analysis.” Certainly if what counts as “rational” is a materialist worldview in which humans are machines, then loving your children is irrational. It has no basis
    within Brooks’s worldview. It sticks out of his box.
    How does he reconcile such a heart-wrenching cognitive dissonance? He doesn’t. Brooks ends by saying, “I maintain two sets of inconsistent beliefs.” He has given up on any attempt to reconcile his theory with his experience. He has abandoned all hope for a unified, logically consistent worldview.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....95451.html

    [Nancy Pearcey] When Reality Clashes with Your Atheistic Worldview – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0Kpn3HBMiQ

    Existential Argument against Atheism – November 1, 2013 by Jason Petersen
    1. If a worldview is true then you should be able to live consistently with that worldview.
    2. Atheists are unable to live consistently with their worldview.
    3. If you can’t live consistently with an atheist worldview then the worldview does not reflect reality.
    4. If a worldview does not reflect reality then that worldview is a delusion.
    5. If atheism is a delusion then atheism cannot be true.
    Conclusion: Atheism is false.
    http://answersforhope.com/exis.....t-atheism/

    Most people realize that if you can’t realistically live as if materialism is true then materialism must be false. But alas, it seems even this simple step in rudimentary logic is beyond the mental capacity of most hardcore atheists.

    I use to think such stubbornness to acknowledge even the simplest of facts was purposeful deceit on the materialists part, but recently mental impairment in problem solving was shown to be linked to atheism. Thus, now atheism, at least in so far as it is truly held, is shown to be a form of mental illness.

    “Shutting down part of the brain that’s responsible for problem solving” causes atheism.

    Shutting down part of brain changes views on God, immigrants: study – October 14, 2015
    Excerpt: Temporarily shutting down part of the brain that’s responsible for problem solving can suppress your religious views and prejudices toward immigrants, a new study has found.
    Researchers out of the University of York, in England, and the University of California, Los Angeles, used magnetic energy to safely and temporarily shut down specific regions of the brain of some study participants.
    When the posterior medial frontal cortex — a part of the brain located near the surface and roughly a few inches up from the forehead — was shut down, participants reported a decrease in their religious convictions and were more positive toward new immigrants critical of their country.
    http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/s.....-1.2609612

  124. 124
    Zachriel says:

    bornagain: in your unsubstantiated claim that the material brain generates consciousness

    We didn’t make that claim. However, the brain appears to be necessary for consciousness, if perhaps not sufficient.

    bornagain: ‘you’ really exist as a real person, becomes merely a fiction, i.e. an illusion.

    Rather it is a sensation.

  125. 125
    bornagain says:

    Your first sentence is poorly defined fluff

    as to your second sentence, “You” have sensations. “You” are NOT a sensation.

    But the “we” of “you” cannot even write a sentence without referring to yourself in the plurality of “we”, thus I can see how the entire concept of “I” and “You” would be lost on the “we” of “you”. (If “you” even had a ‘mind’ for a concept of “I” to be lost in in the first place)

  126. 126
    Virgil Cain says:

    We didn’t make that claim.

    You and Betty? Is that the “we” you are talking about?

  127. 127
    Zachriel says:

    bornagain: Your first sentence is poorly defined fluff

    Changing someone’s position in order to refute it, is called a strawman argument, an informal fallacy. Not sure why you would admit to such.

    bornagain: as to your second sentence, “You” have sensations. “You” are NOT a sensation.

    One has a sensation or experience of self. That doesn’t mean the self is an illusion. People have a sensation of their hand, but that doesn’t mean their hand doesn’t exist.

  128. 128
    Virgil Cain says:

    Zachriel:

    Changing someone’s position in order to refute it, is called a strawman argument, an informal fallacy.

    Then why do you do it all of the time?

  129. 129
    bornagain says:

    Zach, you have to clearly define a position in order to have it refuted. You have done no such thing. You merely denied that you hold onto strict materialism and left your semi non-materialistic definition of ‘mind’ hanging in a fog. So what? I don’t care for word play or for those who stoop to word play. I refuted materialism which is the mainstream position of academia that you are trying to defend through your foggy haze of poor definition.

    And if you are not trying to defend materialism is a strict sense then welcome to Theism, or at least welcome to some form of ‘mind’ centered reality.

    As to your second claim

    “One has a sensation or experience of self. That doesn’t mean the self is an illusion. People have a sensation of their hand, but that doesn’t mean their hand doesn’t exist.”

    And exactly who is this ‘you’ who is having a ‘sensation of self’ and a ‘sensation of hand’? Moreover, does the hand know that the hand exists? It takes a ‘mind’ to know that self exists and that hand exists. i.e. No consciousness, no reality.
    For something to be ‘real’ to us personally we first have to be aware of it. In other words, if there is no conscious awareness of something then there can be nothing ‘real’ for us to perceive in the first place. i.e. Consciousness is a perquisite for something to be ‘real’ for us.

    “No, I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
    Max Planck (1858–1947), the originator of quantum theory, The Observer, London, January 25, 1931

    “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.”
    (Schroedinger, Erwin. 1984. “General Scientific and Popular Papers,” in Collected Papers, Vol. 4. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences. Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden. p. 334.)

    “In any philosophy of reality that is not ultimately self-defeating or internally contradictory, mind – unlabeled as anything else, matter or spiritual – must be primary. What is “matter” and what is “conceptual” and what is “spiritual” can only be organized from mind. Mind controls what is perceived, how it is perceived, and how those perceptions are labeled and organized. Mind must be postulated as the unobserved observer, the uncaused cause simply to avoid a self-negating, self-conflicting worldview. It is the necessary postulate of all necessary postulates, because nothing else can come first. To say anything else comes first requires mind to consider and argue that case and then believe it to be true, demonstrating that without mind, you could not believe that mind is not primary in the first place.”
    – William J. Murray
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-583491

  130. 130
    Zachriel says:

    bornagain: You have to clearly define a position in order to have it refuted

    Our position is that the self is not an illusion, but a sensation of the workings of the mind when it reflects on itself.

  131. 131
    bornagain says:

    Zachriel, and you believe your conscious mind comes from where exactly? Please be precise.

  132. 132
    Zachriel says:

    bornagain: you believe your conscious mind comes from where exactly?

    There is no complete theory of consciousness. While the brain appears necessary, no one knows if it is sufficient.

  133. 133
    bornagain says:

    “While the brain appears necessary, no one knows if it is sufficient.”

    So you lean heavily towards materialism (i.e. brain generating consciousness), to start with and then you waffle on materialism whenever you get cornered by the inherent incoherence of postulating ‘you’ are not real but are merely a neuronal illusion’?

    Moreover, to repeat, as shown in quantum mechanics and NDEs, the brain is certainly NOT required for consciousness to exist, and as also explained halfway down post 121, the brain is grossly insufficient to ever adequately explain consciousness.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-583478

    I know how you love to play stupid word games for hours and hours Zach, so, seeing as I have clearly made my point, I will let you chase your own tail in a circle and desist from feeding the troll (i.e. “you”) any longer on this thread.

    The last word is all yours.

  134. 134
    Zachriel says:

    bornagain: So you lean heavily towards materialism (i.e. brain generating consciousness), to start with

    That is not our position. Our position is the brain is necessary, but perhaps not sufficient, for consciousness.

    bornagain: and then you waffle on materialism whenever you get cornered by the inherent incoherence of postulating ‘you’ are not real but are merely a neuronal illusion’?

    Again, that is not our position. Our position is that the self is not an illusion, but a sensation of the workings of the mind when it reflects on itself.

    Do you enjoy fighting your strawman?

  135. 135
    Seversky says:

    William J Murray @ 119

    Good grief, seversky, Read the thread first and then actually write something coherent.

    I do. You should try it some time.

    Again, Zachriel’s original claim was:

    There could certainly be disembodied intelligence, at least in principle, but we have no evidence of such.

    Notthere is no…” but “We have no…”. I shouldn’t have to state the obvious but for data to be adduced as evidence to support a claim both the claim and the data must first be known.

    If you read Zachriel’s original claim it is quite clear that the possibility of disembodied intelligence is not being ruled out but that, as of this time, we have no evidence of such – which can be expanded to the claim that there is no known evidence of such without any change in meaning.

    This is just a transparent attempt to inflate a sophomoric debating-point into a logical “gotcha” that falls flat on its face. If you really wanted to land a glove on Zachriel’s argument the most effective thing would be to present evidence for the existence of disembodied intelligence. That you haven’t done so thus far speaks for itself.

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