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Since you asked: A response to Professor Coyne


Over at WEIT, Professor Jerry Coyne has put up three interesting posts during the past few days, with questions for his readers relating to free will, the irrationality of belief in Divine revelation, and climate skepticism. I’d like to briefly respond to his questions.

Free will

In a post titled, Once again with free will: a question for readers (August 16, 2016), Professor Coyne laments the persistence of popular belief in libertarian free will – the view that whenever I make a choice, I could have chosen otherwise, otherwise my choice would not be free. Professor Coyne contrasts this view (which he calls view A) with the hard determinist view (called view B), which he espouses. On this view, the libertarian understanding of free choice is correct, but free choice is an illusion: no matter how free we feel when we act, our brains are bound by the laws of physics, and our behavior is determined by either our genes or our environment, and by nothing else. There is a third opinion, called soft determinism (view C), whose proponents agree with hard determinists that our actions are determined (“with all molecules configured identically, we can do only a single thing,” as Professor Coyne puts it), but disagree with hard determinists about the meaning of freedom: on this view, determinism is compatible with some conception of free will (insofar as I still act rationally and willingly), but not with the libertarian contra-causal view of free will.

Professor Coyne considers the difference between views B and C to be “largely semantic,” and observes (correctly) that if determinism is true, then “[y]ou simply CANNOT freely accept whether or not to hold Christ as your savior, or Muhammad as Allah’s prophet.” He concludes by posing a question to his readers (my emphases):

Philosophers squabble about the difference between classes [or views – VJT] B and C, whereas to Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus) [that’s Jerry Coyne’s nickname for himself on his Website – VJT], a far more important argument is to be had between members of combined class (B + C) — the determinists — versus members of class A, the libertarians. To me, the latter argument, B + C vs. A, is of vital importance for making society better, while the argument between B vs. C is basically a semantic squabble that has an import on academic philosophy but not on society.

Do you agree with me or not? State your reasons. (Try to be briefer than I’ve been!)

I agree with Professor Coyne on this point: the debate between libertarians and determinists about whether we have the power to do otherwise (contra-causal free will) is an all-important one. But my reason has nothing to do with making society better, although that certainly matters. Rather, my reason has to do with making individual people better. To build a good society, you need good people. And in order for people to be good, they have to believe not only that they can change the world around them; they have to believe that they can change themselves – indeed, conquer themselves – in order to free themselves from the chains of vice and overcome their character weaknesses. Determinism discourages such a belief: someone who believes that they lack the power to do otherwise when they make a choice is more likely to shrug their shoulders when confronted with a temptation and think, “I am what I am, and I might as well not try to fight it.” Belief in determinism is massively demoralizing, whereas belief in libertarian free will is ennobling. It’s as simple as that.

And of course, if we have libertarian free will, then we can freely choose our philosophy of life, and our religion, too.

Is that brief enough for you, Professor Coyne?

Coyne’s “proof” that the Scriptures are entirely man-made

In another post titled, Proof that the scriptures are man-made and don’t convey God’s word (August 16, 2016), Professor Coyne relates the story of a brilliant argument against revealed religion, which occurred to him at 2 o’clock in the morning. He begins by quoting from a Wikipedia article on ethics in the Bible:

Elizabeth Anderson criticizes commands God gave to men in the Old Testament, such as: kill adulterers, homosexuals, and “people who work on the Sabbath” (Leviticus 20:10; Leviticus 20:13; Exodus 35:2, respectively); to commit ethnic cleansing (Exodus 34:11-14, Leviticus 26:7-9); commit genocide (Numbers 21: 2-3, Numbers 21:33–35, Deuteronomy 2:26–35, and Joshua 1–12); and other mass killings.

Coyne observes: “These days nobody feels obliged to carry out such commands.” He then asks: why not? Coyne then puts forward his fatal trilemma: either God didn’t really mean what he said (i.e. it’s all metaphor); or God did mean it, but times have changed; or God didn’t say it, and the Scriptures are entirely a product of human morality.

Coyne rejects the first option because the Biblical injunctions are presented in the context of “historical accounts” of what God commanded. He rejects the second option because it is tantamount to relativism: if God’s commands regarding slavery and homosexuality can change when the circumstances change, then anything goes. That leaves us with the third option: “the morality ‘dictated by God’ was really a reflection of a morality held by humans.”

Let me begin by pointing out that Coyne’s trilemma is flawed, because it fails to consider a fourth possibility (defended by Christian thinkers such as William Lane Craig and C. S. Lewis): that while much of the Bible comes from God, parts of it have been corrupted by human beings. This option might seem a redundant one, but it has the merit of being able to account for passages in Scripture that preach a transcendent morality: laws that mandate acts of charity to people in need; laws designed to ensure that needy individuals of low social status would be taken care of, rather than being left to die; laws that tell people to love foreigners “as yourself”; and laws that forbid even secret feelings of hatred towards other people. And I’m not talking about the New Testament here. I’m talking about Leviticus 19. Leviticus is about as Old Testament as you can get.

As I wrote in a previous post, five years ago:

From an evolutionary standpoint, such laws are very, very odd. What is striking about these laws is that they are written from the transcendent perspective of a Being who reads our innermost thoughts, who knows if we are harboring hatred in our hearts, who witnesses deceitful words and deeds, and who sees and avenges acts of injustice. At the end of every command, this Being announces His presence: “I am the Lord.”

The idea of a transcendent judge is a notion that goes beyond our human categories: it appeals to a standard of morality which is personal and at the same time larger than any human mind can conceive. It is an idea which is bound to cause headaches for an evolutionary biologist who holds that all human concepts can be explained within a naturalistic framework. Where did a community of social primates get the idea of a transcendent lawgiver from? The idea cannot be naturalized: nothing within Nature furnishes us with an adequate source for the concept of a Reality that lies beyond Nature.

Coyne might complain about the harsh penalties meted out by God in Leviticus 20 (which I have previously discussed here, but unless he can account for the transcendent morality in Leviticus 19, his naturalistic hypothesis lies in tatters.

Coyne appeals to Plato’s famous “Euthyphro argument” in an attempt to prove that we don’t need God in order to know what’s right and what’s wrong. However, all his argument establishes is the necessity of human reason, when attempting to distinguish right from wrong. What Coyne is arguing for, though, is the sufficiency of human reason: he believes that reason (coupled with our ingrained sense of empathy) is all we need to tell right from wrong. His argument therefore fails to prove the point he wants to make.

Coyne is not done yet, however: he thinks he has another decisive argument against Biblical inspiration, for he adds:

The priors [i.e. antecedent probabilities – VJT] for humans making up the Bible are surely higher than the priors for some Palestinian scribes channeling the word of a God who never left any evidence for His existence. (This is, of course, irrelevant to the issue of whether Jesus or Moses really existed as non-divine beings.)

First, it is ridiculous to say that there is no evidence for God’s existence. Even if there were no good evidence, the fact remains that poor evidence is still evidence. Second, there is in fact good eyewitness evidence for miracles, as I have argued here and here. Evidence for miracles is strong prima facie evidence for God. Third, if there is evidence for God’s existence, then appealing to prior or antecedent probabilities in order to argue against the inspiration of Scripture is irrelevant. We have to deal with the posterior probability that Scripture is (in whole or in part) inspired by God, in the light of the evidence we now have. That is what makes my fourth option a more reasonable one than the third option proposed by Professor Coyne in his trilemma above.

Climate change

In a third post titled, Brian Cox has a genius response to a climate-change hater!, Professor Coyne wrote about the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Q&A” show, which recently featured physicist Brian Cox on a panel which included an Australian Senator, Malcolm Roberts, who denies the reality of man-made climate change. Here’s a short excerpt from the show, courtesy of Youtube:

And here’s the graph used by Brian Cox during the show, which Malcolm Roberts derided as a NASA fake:

And here’s another graph which presents the temperature change data more clearly:

And here’s how it looks if you use a normal scale, with degrees Fahrenheit on the vertical axis (courtesy of Suyts space):

Not quite so alarming, is it?

I’d like to offer my own quick comments on the ABC show, and on the threat of global warming.

First, let me say up-front that anyone who thinks NASA has faked the climate change data is just silly. As Steve Mosher pointed out in a recent comment on Anthony Watts’ climate change blog, “NASA doesn’t adjust data.. they ingest NOAA data.” I might add that Senator Malcolm Roberts’ views are extreme and not at all typical of global warming skeptics: most of them readily acknowledge the reality of man-made global warming, but maintain that it is nowhere near as alarming as the IPCC predicts it will be. In other words, they’re lukewarmers, not “deniers.”

Second, Senator Malcolm Roberts appealed to the authority of Steve Goddard (whose real name is Tony Heller), who has been shown to be factually wrong on a number of issues.

Third, the 97% consensus figure has been severely critiqued on the Internet, for reasons which are summarized in a 2014 article on Popular Technology.net, titled, 97 Articles Refuting The “97% Consensus”. However, the latest research (see also here and here) appears to establish beyond reasonable doubt that 90 to 100% of climate experts do, in fact, agree that the global warming in recent years is man-made – although I should point out that the exact definition of “recent” varies from survey to survey. Additionally, the greater the level of climate expertise among the various kinds of scientists surveyed, the higher their level of agreement that global warming is indeed caused by human beings. So I think we can conclude that Brian Cox is right, regarding the existence of a scientific consensus on climate change.

Fourth, the consensus that Cox appeals to is a relatively modest one: most of the warming we have experienced in recent years (especially since the mid-20th century) is man-made. And that’s all. Currently, there’s no scientific consensus that global warming is likely to be catastrophic. And if it’s not going to be catastrophic, then Cox’s worries about the dangers of global warming are misplaced. While it’s reasonably certain that the rise in global temperatures since the late 1970s has been largely man-made, what’s not certain is how much temperatures will eventually rise in the future, as a result of further greenhouse gas emissions – in other words, the equilibrium climate sensitivity (or ECS), which is defined as the equilibrium change in global mean air temperatures near the Earth’s surface that would result from a sustained doubling of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide. The scientific disagreement on this subject relates not to the effects of carbon dioxide but to the feedback effects of water vapor, which the IPCC claims will magnify the effects of carbon dioxide increases by a factor of two, three or four, or perhaps even six. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) states that “there is high confidence that ECS is extremely unlikely [to be] less than 1°C and medium confidence that the ECS is likely between 1.5°C and 4.5°C and very unlikely [to be] greater than 6°C.” That’s quite a range of uncertainty.

Fifth, climate models have a bad track record of over-estimating the impact of man-made global warming, as this graph demonstrates. Thus Brian Cox’s alarmist claims that large areas of the Middle East will become uninhabitable as a result of global warming are decidedly premature: the claims relate to estimates for the year 2100, which are highly likely to be over-estimates.

Sixth, the cost of fighting global warming has been estimated by Professor Mark Jacobson at $100 trillion, which is higher than the entire world’s annual GDP, and 1,000 times more than the cost of the Apollo program, in today’s dollars. If you’re going to spend $100 trillion, common sense dictates that you should make sure you’re spending the money intelligently, and not investing it in any snake oil cures. Although the costs of solar and wind energy are falling, there’s a good reason for thinking that these renewable sources won’t be enough to solve the problem of global warming: as Professor John Morgan explains in an online article titled, The Catch-22 of Energy Storage, the ratio of energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) for solar and wind power plants is far too low for them to be viable as power sources in Western countries. In short: not only are current plans to fight global warming astronomically expensive, but they may not even work, anyway. Instead of rushing headlong into building more renewable energy power stations, we should be investing more money in research, which will probably save us money in the long run, and make the fight against global warming more affordable. In a recent interview, businessman Bill Gates has candidly acknowledged that it will take “clean-energy miracles” to solve the problem of global warming. “Today’s technologies,” he writes, “are a good start, but not good enough.” He argues that “we need a massive amount of innovation in research and development on clean energy.” Nevertheless, there are signs of hope: according to Gates, there are currently a dozen promising technology paths for clean sources of energy, and he believes that “in the next 15 years we have a high probability of achieving” energy which is “measurably less expensive than hydrocarbons, completely clean and providing the same reliability.” Gates also calls for more investment in next-generation nuclear power.

Finally, as I argued on a recent post, the fight against global warming, important as it is, must take second place to efforts to eradicate starvation, malnutrition and disease:

…[E]ven if the direst prognostications of the IPCC forecasters turn out to be correct, it would be morally wrong to withhold money from children who are dying now, in order to save generations of as-yet-unconceived children. Starvation, malnutrition and disease are clear and present dangers which kill millions. Future dangers can never take precedence over these crises. For this reason, I believe that citizens should actively resist proposals to spend tens of trillions of dollars fighting a long-term menace (global warming), at a time when children are dying of malnutrition.

Well, I think that three questions are quite enough for one day. What do readers think?

Regarding Determinism: Preaching determinism is a fool's errand - if you're right, it doesn't matter because everyone's response is already determined, you can't "change their mind". Arguing about it is doubly so. Regarding the Bible: Ably addressed above, especially re Paul's letter to the Romans. I fall in a modified version of Option 2 - God treats with man differently over time. God allowed man to be guided by his knowledge of good/evil - man learned he couldn't succeed on that. God then made a covenant with a special people and gave them specific rules on what was needed to be holy. Man failed at that too. Having thus given man a chance to try salvation by works, God provided the final option (which was always available - see Enoch) - salvation by faith. (Side note: God Himself provides a way to know if the Bible is from God or man - prophecy. If a man prophesies true, it is from God, if not, not. While prophecy is a common trope in fantasy novels, in real life only the Bible can lay claim to accurate, detailed foretellings of the future). Regarding Climate Change: There is simply no way for climate change activists to defend against the charges above: the raw data is manipulated, the forecast models are horribly inaccurate, the effects of global warming are unknown and possibly more beneficial than harmful (e.g. crop yields), the cost/benefit ratio of spending money on climate change vs. global wealth increase is a crap shoot, etc., etc. Imagine the state of the world's poor in India, Africa, etc. if we'd been spending money on renewable energy sources and limiting use of fossil fuels, instead of GM-crops, clean water projects, pharmaceuticals, national energy and transportation infrastructure, etc. drc466
Great posts PaV, John S @19, and Ba77. Many years ago, I read an article by a meteorologist who had happened to have historical climate data on his hard drive. When he noticed that the online data had been altered (i.e. "corrected"), he plotted the change, which depressed the past values and increased the present. While I've heard since then that the "corrections" were in many cases interpolated values, the fact is that the original data was altered. IN SCIENCE, ONE IS NOT ETHICALLY ALLOWED TO ALTER MEASURED DATA. People lose their jobs when they do that in cancer research, for example. However, when it serves the current political agenda, such anti-scientific actions are lauded and rewarded. Shame on them! One more thing. Perhaps, I can assume that the majority of the climate change alarmists are evolutionists. Plants thrive at a higher level of carbon dioxide. More plants means more oxygen, more food, and a planet with a richer diversity of life. For example
In very general terms, long-term reconstructions of atmospheric CO2 levels going back in time show that 500 million years ago atmospheric CO2 was some 20 times higher than present values.
An accompanying chart shows a very alarming trend indeed, something that needs to be remedied immediately before all life on earth vanishes! http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/virtualmuseum/images/CO2History.html Malcolm Roberts needed to hold up this graph and ask Brian Cox whether he thought it was faked. -Q Querius
The story of Pilate is an interesting study in free will. And this apart from any belief in the divinity of Jesus. (Mark 15:1-15, Matt 27:11-26, Luke 23:1-24 and John 18:28-19:16 where he gives a more detailed psychological account.) Pilate on first meeting Jesus senses that he is innocent, and that the charges are trumped up by envious priests. So what are the issues? 1. Jesus is innocent. 2. Pilate has had a good Roman education and is an appointee of Caesar and has some compunction about condemning innocent men to death. 3. The priests can hurt his standing before Caesar. 4. His wife sends a note to him telling him of a troubling dream and that he should have nothing to do with "that innocent man". 5. He learns that Jesus is called a "Son of God", which could mean he has some sort of divine office and it would be wise to set him free. 6. Perhaps many other internal and external influences. Pilate in the end "chooses" to go along with the priests to avoid a bad report to his superior, an act almost uniformly condemned as unjust. However, the decision was not one taken without deep internal turmoil. John 19:12 even says after Jesus speaks of the divine origin of Pilate's power, "From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free ..." Such internal conflict does not seem like anything but the act of a free will struggling with a difficult decision. Allen Shepherd
Sorry. I was referring to the entanglement issue. Axel
No room for the whims of the Divine Tinkerer, of course. Much. Axel
If global warming...
If a : in the event that b : allowing that c : on the assumption that d : on condition that Not much evidence there. Andrew asauber
Why on earth does it bother the ID community so much, to learn that their position is not logically chosen, but actually the unchosen product of physical causes?
I didn't become a Christian by force of logic, or by force of nature, I was converted. Mung
If global warming turns out to be catastrophic, it will be by far the biggest cause of starvation, malnutrition and disease.
No, that would be greed, not global warming. On another note, perhaps a good dose of global worming is just what the doctor ordered. Mung
Supplemental note; Here is further falsification of reductive materialism by quantum mechanics:
Quantum correlations do not imply instant causation - August 12, 2016 Excerpt: A research team led by a Heriot-Watt scientist has shown that the universe is even weirder than had previously been thought. In 2015 the universe was officially proven to be weird. After many decades of research, a series of experiments showed that distant, entangled objects can seemingly interact with each other through what Albert Einstein famously dismissed as "Spooky action at a distance". A new experiment by an international team led by Heriot-Watt's Dr Alessandro Fedrizzi has now found that the universe is even weirder than that: entangled objects do not cause each other to behave the way they do. http://phys.org/news/2016-08-quantum-imply-instant-causation.html Experimental test of nonlocal causality - August 10, 2016 DISCUSSION Previous work on causal explanations beyond local hidden-variable models focused on testing Leggett’s crypto-nonlocality (7, 42, 43), a class of models with a very specific choice of hidden variable that is unrelated to Bell’s local causality (44). In contrast, we make no assumptions on the form of the hidden variable and test all models ,,, Our results demonstrate that a causal influence from one measurement outcome to the other, which may be subluminal, superluminal, or even instantaneous, cannot explain the observed correlations.,,, http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/2/8/e1600162.full
the fight against global warming, important as it is, must take second place to efforts to eradicate starvation, malnutrition and disease
If global warming turns out to be catastrophic, it will be by far the biggest cause of starvation, malnutrition and disease. CLAVDIVS
Here is a more detailed explanation of the closing of the freedom of choice loophole
Significant-loophole-free test of Bell’s theorem with entangled photons – Dec. 2015 Excerpt page 5: By closing the freedom-of-choice loophole to one natural stopping point—the first moment at which the particles come into existence—we reduce the possible local-realist explanations to truly exotic hypotheses. Any theory seeking to explain our result by exploiting this loophole would require to originate before the emission event and to influence setting choices derived from spontaneous emission. It has been suggested that setting choices determined by events from distant cosmological sources could push this limit back by billions of years [46]. http://arxiv.org/pdf/1511.03190.pdf
Here is a video lecture of the preceding paper:
Marissa Giustina: Significant loophole-free test of Bell’s theorem with entangled photons – video Published on Jul 5, 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgoWM4Jcl-s
Moreover, if you truly believe that your free will choices were ‘superdetermined’ all the way back at the big bang, then I say welcome to Christianity since strict Calvinists have, for centuries, held to a ‘superdeterminism’ view of reality. Here is an excellent sermon by Tim Keller that gets the Calvinist’s ‘God is omniscient we are not’ position across very well.
Does God Control Everything? – Tim Keller – (God’s sovereignty, evil, and our free will, how do they mesh? Short answer? God’s Omniscience!) – video (12:00 minute mark) https://youtu.be/MDbKCZodtZI?t=727
Of personal note, although, because of my high view of God’s sovereignty, I lean heavily towards Calvinism, for the most part, being true, none-the-less, because of ‘personal responsibility’ side of the debate, I hold that some amount of personal free will has to be in play. Especially in regards to personally accepting or rejecting Christ.
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.” – C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
As CS Lewis clearly pointed out, although free will is often thought of as allowing someone to choose between a veritable infinity of options, in a theistic view of reality that veritable infinity of options all boils down to just two options. Eternal life, (infinity if you will), with God, or Eternal life, (infinity again if you will), without God. And exactly as would be expected if the Christian view of reality were correct, we find two very different eternities in reality. An ‘infinitely destructive’ eternity associated with General Relativity and a extremely orderly eternity associated with Special Relativity:
Special and General Relativity compared to Heavenly and Hellish Near Death Experiences – video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbKELVHcvSI&list=PLtAP1KN7ahia8hmDlCYEKifQ8n65oNpQ5
Moreover, due to the finding of conserved non-local 'quantum information' in our bodies, in every DNA and protein molecule, the Christian Theist is now also vindicated in his belief that we have a transcendent component to our body that lives past the death of our material bodies:
Molecular Biology - 19th Century Materialism meets 21st Century Quantum Mechanics – video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCs3WXHqOv8 Scientific evidence that we do indeed have an eternal soul (Elaboration on Talbott's question “What power holds off that moment — precisely for a lifetime, and not a moment longer?”)– video 2016 https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1116313858381546/?type=2&theater
–Deuteronomy 30: 19-20 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days.”
In the following experiment, the claim that past material states determine future conscious choices (determinism) is directly falsified by the fact that present conscious choices effect past material states:
“If we attempt to attribute an objective meaning to the quantum state of a single system, curious paradoxes appear: quantum effects mimic not only instantaneous action-at-a-distance but also, as seen here, influence of future actions on past events, even after these events have been irrevocably recorded.” Asher Peres, Delayed choice for entanglement swapping. J. Mod. Opt. 47, 139-143 (2000). Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past – April 23, 2012 Excerpt: According to the famous words of Albert Einstein, the effects of quantum entanglement appear as “spooky action at a distance”. The recent experiment has gone one remarkable step further. “Within a naïve classical world view, quantum mechanics can even mimic an influence of future actions on past events”, says Anton Zeilinger. http://phys.org/news/2012-04-quantum-physics-mimics-spooky-action.html
You can see a little better explanation of the “delayed-choice entanglement swapping” experiment at the 9:11 minute mark of the following video:
Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser Experiment Explained – 2014 video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6HLjpj4Nt4
In other words, if my conscious choices really are just merely the result of whatever state the material particles in my brain happen to be in in the past (deterministic) how in blue blazes are my present choices on how to measure a particle instantaneously effecting the state of other material particles in the past? This experiment is simply impossible for any coherent materialistic presupposition that holds that my current thoughts are merely the result of whatever state the particles of my brain happened to be in in the past! Moreover, due to these recent advances in quantum mechanics, the materialist is now forced to claim that our free will choices, if they were determined, instead of being determined by the random jostling of the material particles in our brain, as atheists had originally claimed, is now forced to claim that our free will choices, if they really were determined, were somehow ‘superdetermined’ almost all the way back to the Big Bang itself:
But why is the quantum world thought spooky anyway? – September 1, 2015 Excerpt: Zeilinger also notes that there remains one last, somewhat philosophical loophole, first identified by Bell himself: the possibility that hidden variables could somehow manipulate the experimenters’ choices of what properties to measure, tricking them into thinking quantum theory is correct.,,, Leifer is less troubled by this ‘freedom-of-choice loophole’, however. “It could be that there is some kind of superdeterminism, so that the choice of measurement settings was determined at the Big Bang,” he says. “We can never prove that is not the case, so I think it’s fair to say that most physicists don’t worry too much about this.” https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/physics/but-why-is-the-quantum-world-thought-spooky-anyway/ Closing the 'free will' loophole: Using distant quasars to test Bell's theorem - February 20, 2014 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140220112515.htm
And in this recent video Prof. Anton Zeilinger mentions that the freedom of choice loophole is closed:
Prof. Anton Zeilinger of the University of Vienna at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology lecture: Entangled Photons - from Bell Tests (closing all loopholes, including the freedom of choice loophole, at 16:40 minute mark) to Applications - Published on Jul 25, 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzMdKCcCGDI
Why on earth does it [fail to] bother the [anti-]ID [evolutionary materialist] community so much, to learn that their position is not logically chosen, but actually the unchosen product of [blind, non-responsible, non-rational] physical causes?
Is the issue of self-referential incoherence and self-falsification clearer now? Reppert helps, if that is not so:
. . . 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.
. . . giving meat to Haldane's bones:
"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. Cf. here on (and esp here) on the self-refutation by self-falsifying self referential incoherence and on linked amorality.]
If such does not concern you, it should. For your talking point would let grand delusion loose. To be able to responsibly and freely, logically reason, we must have a freedom of mind that transcends blind chance and mechanical necessity multiplied by GIGO in computational substrates. Computing [an inherently mechanical and blind process no better than its input data, assumptions, mechanical functional organisation and algorithms] is not equal to reasoning. KF kairosfocus
#25 rvb8 writes, "Why on earth does it bother the ID community so much, to learn that their position is not logically chosen, but actually the unchosen product of physical causes? If you truly understand the 'hard determinism' argument, and hold to it, then there is no need to even ask the question. It bothers the ID community because the ID community has no other options than to do exactly what it does, driven to by forces of nature to the extent that no choice to think otherwise, to be any less 'bothered' are available. Nobody is arguing that any number of events, configurations, episodes, etc. etc. play no role in shaping and influencing individuals. The 'hard determinism' argument goes much further, stating that no options have ever been available, that all events that have ever happened, including all states of mind experienced by the tens of billions of humans who have lived upon this earth (thus totaling in the trillions upon trillions) have been the only things that could have POSSIBLY happened. Anything else would be a violation of the laws of physics. Do you accept that position? If you do, there is no need for you to ask why on earth 'the ID community' would be bothered by anything, would think differently than you on any number of issues, or be anything other than exactly what it is. The answer to your question is simply, 'because, physics'. soundburger
I don't agree man can affect or has the climate. its exactly where it would be if no people around. The globe is too big and powerful for our puffs of smoke. THE THING about climate change is that they do the same thing as in evolution. They say all science/scientists agree with it and thats that. any deniers are to be ignored. ONCE again how many people?, how much evidence to go over to justify many people looking over the same evidence, and is it trivial data and finally is it any more then a thermometer and comparing it to 20 years ago? THEY do rely on authority and not the merits because you can always find someone making a seeming good case on the merits. . Robert Byers
gpuccio, I understand that ID does not deal with anything that transcends the domain of science, but I believe that it has been revealed to us (in ancient scriptures) at least part of that transcendent reality. However, one can accept it only through reasonable faith, which is not manifested in all people.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. [Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)]
For the time being, only faith can see the future, as it receives the promises of God. [Reformation Study Bible provided by Ligonier Ministries] The writer of Hebrews begins his example list with a two-part definition of faith: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” The word hypostasis, translated by the niv as a participle (“being sure”), is in fact a noun, which was used variously to communicate the idea of substance, firmness, confidence, a collection of documents establishing ownership, a guarantee, or a proof. It probably should be understood in 11:1, as in 3:14, in the sense of a “firm, solid confidence” or a “calm courage” with reference to things hoped for. Thus, we can translate this part of the verse: “Now faith is the resolute confidence.…” The examples that follow demonstrate a posture of firm confidence in the promises of God even though the believers had not yet received the fulfillment of those promises (11:39). This interpretation stands in parallel with the assertion in the second half of the verse: “and certain of what we do not see.” The word elenchos, used here, means a conviction [that] is not a static emotion of complacency but something lively and active, not just a state of immovable dogmatism but of a vital certainty which impels the believer to stretch out his hand, as it were, and lay hold of those realities on which his hope is fixed and which, though unseen, are already his in Christ. Some realities are unseen because they belong to the spiritual realm and some because they lie in the future, when that realm will break into the earthly sphere. In either case, the person of faith lives out a bold confidence in God’s greater realities. It was by a life lived in this bold confidence, this firm assurance in what was not immediately observable, that the Old Testament saints “were commended” by God (v. 2). In other words, not only did they bear witness to God, he bore witness to them, affirming their lives of faith. This principle of faith grasping the reality of the invisible may be seen in the believer’s confession that God created the world (v. 3). The author states what would have been a foundational point of theology for his community, namely, that God brought the visible, created order into being by his word and out of nothing. The author of Hebrews probably has in mind the creation song of Genesis 1, in which the creative word of God called forth the various aspects of creation. Faith is what looks at that created order and has a firm and resolute confidence in the God to whom it bears witness, who, though unseen, has provided a foundation for such a confidence through his mighty acts.[NIV Application Commentary] Here we have, I. A definition or description of the grace of faith in two parts. 1. It is the substance of things hoped for. Faith and hope go together; and the same things that are the object of our hope are the object of our faith. It is a firm persuasion and expectation that God will perform all that he has promised to us in Christ; and this persuasion is so strong that it gives the soul a kind of possession and present fruition of those things, gives them a subsistence in the soul, by the first-fruits and foretastes of them: so that believers in the exercise of faith are filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Christ dwells in the soul by faith, and the soul is filled with the fullness of God, as far as his present measure will admit; he experiences a substantial reality in the objects of faith. 2. It is the evidence of things not seen. Faith demonstrates to the eye of the mind the reality of those things that cannot be discerned by the eye of the body. Faith is the firm assent of the soul to the divine revelation and every part of it, and sets to its seal that God is true. It is a full approbation of all that God has revealed as holy, just, and good; it helps the soul to make application of all to itself with suitable affections and endeavours; and so it is designed to serve the believer instead of sight, and to be to the soul all that the senses are to the body. That faith is but opinion or fancy which does not realize invisible things to the soul, and excite the soul to act agreeably to the nature and importance of them. [Matthew Henry's Commentary] Dionisio
#26 correction: Word 'thank' misspelled. Sorry. Dionisio
rvb8 at 25 says: "If we, as individuals, are the product of our upbringing, the product of our environment, the people we interact with, and the class, religion, political structure, sports, art, literature, and culture we absorb, then surely these mold our neural connections? Our brains are moulded entirely by our experiences. In this sense, determinism is entirely correct." It would seem from this that there are thus no "bad decisions". All of the decisions are a result of all the forces mentioned, duking it out within, and our being powerless to do differently than they dictate: we really have no power but are hapless creatures of even less than habit itself. No, then, bad decisions at all. Where then is learning? It is all stimulus/response, the stronger stimuli getting the bigger response. And the only way or righting wrong is to force an individual to do as society deems appropriate. Experience seems to indicate differently. Allen Shepherd
gpuccio, Very insightful comments @6 & @23. Tank you. Dionisio
If we, as individuals, are the product of our upbringing, the product of our environment, the people we interact with, and the class, religion, political structure, sports, art, literature, and culture we absorb, then surely these mold our neural connections? Our brains are moulded entirely by our experiences. In this sense, determinism is entirely correct. Isn't it odd that Muslim children grow up in Muslim countries, and Christian children in Christian ones. The ones that rebel against these deterministic environments will have had rebellious deterministic inputs within their environments moulding (physically) their neural connections. Simple! Why on earth does it bother the ID community so much, to learn that their position is not logically chosen, but actually the unchosen product of physical causes? You can still be a decent human, indeed knowing you are the product of forces beyond your control, or choice, is quite liberating. This of course does not absolve me of responsibility for anti-social actions, because the same evolved determined actions that allow me to develop an individual personality, also constrain my actions to socially acceptable (collective evolutionary advantageous) behaviour. rvb8
On WEIT's free will post, it is refreshing to see that many readers are forcefully challenging Prof. Coyne's position. This is rare, because that site has a thin-skinned atmosphere in general, with Coyne flashing his 'Roolz' in order to ensure that people who, gasp, dare to disagree with him are made to feel unwelcome. He hasn't answered the challenges yet, but an extremely self-assured commenter named Ben Goren has taken on that role with relish, although his arguments don't seem to be convincing to the critics any more than Coyne's. Which, precisely according to the hypothesis that Coyne and Goren present, is as it should be. Goren would necessarily argue that there is nothing 'special' about his argument; it just happens to exist as one time-space continuum expression of the Big Bang's consequential make-up; which is exactly what the opinions of those who disagree with him are, no more, no less. He can convince himself that his arguments have the advantage of being 'true', and theirs 'false', but in fact - again according to his logic - 'true' and 'false' are themselves merely 'baked in' (using his words) elements of nature having been set into motion by the Big Bang. Which leads one to wonder why he thinks it is so important to insist, quite haughtily I might add, upon his own view and its supposed 'superiority'. soundburger
jdk: "Thanks to gpuccio for his excellent paragraph." Thanks to you! :) The idea of a quantum interface between consciousness and brain is not certainly mine. It goes back to Eccles, and has been seriously considered, in different ways, by many thinkers, including Penrose. I have argued, many times, that a similar model can explain biological design: a quantum interface between the consciousness of the designer, or designers, and biological matter. So, human design and biological design would share, among other things, also the basic modality of implementation: conscious representations outputted by quantum interactions with the physical world. I agree with you that "we can never know anything about what is on the other side of the quantum curtain", at least by conventional scientific reasoning. I believe that the I that perceives, and therefore explains all subjective experiences, including free will, is transcendental. However, we do know intuitively many things about consciousness and its ways, simply because we can perceive a lot about that in our own consciousness. So, in a sense, the mystery is not a complete mystery, and can in some way be "touched" by our cognition. gpuccio
Although I know it's fashionable these days to invoke quantum phenomena for all sorts of speculations, I like what gpuccio wrote at #6 above:
My views about libertarian free will are well known: in a word, I believe that free choice is a faculty of our cognitive consciousness, which allows us to change really the course of things by changing how we react to what happens to us. A basic consciousness-matter interface at quantum level allows that to happen without violating any laws of causality.
This idea “solves” (in theory) the problem of how the non-material interacts with the material. It also is consistent with the idea of science studying just the material aspect of the world, because if this quantum interface with the non-material doesn’t violate any laws of causality, then what we see, no matter how deep we look, will be part of the natural world. As a friend of mine once said, we can't look "behind the quantum curtain". We may be affected by, and able to draw upon, a non-material world that "invisibly" interacts with the material world via quantum phenomena, but we can't know that non-material world in any direct way. My thoughts about the Tao of Taoism is consistent with gpuccio's idea. However, just as "the Tao that can be spoken is not the real Tao", we can never know anything about what is on the other side of the quantum curtain: all we can ever know are the material manifestations which are embedded in the ongoing nature of the natural world. Thanks to gpuccio for his excellent paragraph. jdk
Just a reminder: materialism denies non-material libertarian free will, but atheism does not necessarily: e.g., Buddhism jdk
Edward Feser has an article up just in time. Adventures in the Old Atheism, Part II: Sartre
Nor is his insistence on the reality of free will (contra Sam Harris and other New Atheists) a wish-fulfilling attempt to salvage some shred of human specialness in the face of atheism and the advance of science.
regarding OT commands that 'nobody feels obligated to carry out' i would continue in the vein of one of the comments but I believe it goes much further. The OT laws were made for a physically distinguished people of God. The were separate by physical signs and proximity to God (tabernacle and temple) including converts from pagan peoples. So the people of God were distinct in a tangible, physical way and the commands of God were meant for those people - a physical, earthly kingdom of God = Israel. Many of the commands probably had meaning to people of those days that is completely lost on us. They were designed to keep them distinct and holy - separate - from the surrounding nations and their false gods for their own good, not by some random whims of a deity. And the 'harsh' punishments were a reflection of God's holiness and his wrath against rebellion and sin. God's wrath is still against sinners only restrained now until the Day of the Lord when it will be poured out in a much more 'harsh' way that any time in the past. And God even used pagan nations to harshly punish his own people Israel. God is not fickle, he is Holy. And the harsh punishments were deserved by all who received them. They got justice (which we should all receive apart from mercy in Christ). Now in Christ, God's people are a spiritual nation across all borders and physical distinctions. The commands pertaining to the physical Israel do not apply, they are not abolished but rather fulfilled in Christ. God's law of Love (Law of Christ) is now his command for his people in a spiritual kingdom. Civil government is to perform the earthly justice and we are to pray they do it in accord with righteousness. That is why Christians today eat shellfish and wear polyester and don't feel obligated to do OT commands (unless specifically reiterated in the NT). I gather that this is called New Covenant Theology. I call it Biblical, but it also makes the most sense of the transition from OT to NT. We don't need to try to figure out which commands from the OT are still in effect, which are ceremonial, moral, or civil - who could possibly claim to be the authority to do that?! They are ALL fulfilled in Christ, we are free from the written code, we have the teachings of Christ and the apostles as our direction in being disciples and to deal with those who would 'spy on' this freedom we have in Christ to eat whatever is put before us and observe or not observe whatever days we want to or don't want to. The OT commands are certainly good and helpful in other ways, and mostly to convict us of sin. But the NT also tells us not to steal, lie, commit adultery, to obey and honor parents, that God hates divorce, et al. The NT is not lacking anything as pertains to being a disciple of Christ, and how to live as a son of God in His kingdom led by His Spirit living within us. John S
VJT said
Let me begin by pointing out that Coyne’s trilemma is flawed, because it fails to consider a fourth possibility (defended by Christian thinkers such as William Lane Craig and C. S. Lewis): that while much of the Bible comes from God, parts of it have been corrupted by human beings.
As much as I respect your writing Dr. Torley, I have to criticize this portion of your article. Your unfortunate phrasing makes it sound like the only way around the Coyne argument is to give up the reliability of the scriptures. (I wrote this comment before reading your response to Pav, but the criticism that the article gives the impression that the only way to defeat Coyne's argument is to give up the reliability of the scriptures still stands. I see that my position is similar to the nuances that you stated. ) There is an easy 5th possibility that I think is very popular amongst Biblical Christians and does not depend upon the corruption of the Scriptures as its out. The teachings of Jesus and Paul show that in the eternal plan of God ( as opposed to his progressive revelation given to His earthly people Israel) the point of the laws to Israel was never to produce a good human society that lived according to these exact laws, it was to teach the utter horribleness of sin and the inability of man to live up to the law. ( See Romans 1 - 3 and follow Paul's argument very carefully) The law was also never about ultimate justice because ultimate justice does not depend upon how we die here in the finite life on earth, but how we live eternally. If we find the laws for dealing with homosexuality, adultery, and sabbath desecraters unthinkable, note that we do not have any idea how God thinks about these crimes or how violation/non-violation of these crimes fit into the plan of God. The overall plan of God as played through history has many things the modern secularist has a hard time understanding. I suppose they find it much harder to comprehend the need to wipe out the Canaanites (sometimes men, women and children ) then to put to death an adulterer. The problem with the Coyne proof is it only proves that Coyne does not understand the purpose of God in the scriptures, not that the scriptures were corrupted or generated by fallible men. The sad thing is that it appears (as of now) Jerry Coyne will never be able to see this. He is absolutely convinced that, although he doesn't really have free will, he has successfully chosen to believe the truth about the origin of the scriptures. The fact that he cannot see that this is an incoherent argument ( that he both implicitly claims to have free will at the same time he denies its existence ) is just a part of his overall foolishness. JDH
Thanks, Andrew. BTW, Mt. Pinatubo's major eruption was being 'remembered' in 2011. The major eruption took place in 1991. But IIRC, we've had some kind of major eruption recently in the western Pacific. Same scenario. [Mount Merapi eruptions: at Wikipedia, 2010] PaV
PaV, A cursory examination of sea level rise science will show that it employs the same presentation techniques as air temperature science. There are many factors that affect both SLR and air temps that make a simple explanation of each impossible. But what you get as an end product is a squiggly line that goes up on the end. Yes, if you suspect there's marketing involved here, you'd be right. Andrew asauber
Coyne: … it’s harder to convince the average person that their behaviors and “choices” are determined solely by the laws of physics ….
If choices are solely determined by the laws of physics, then they are no longer choices. Coyne is right to enclose the term between quotation marks. What’s baffling is that Coyne doesn’t seem to realize that, by rejecting free will, rationality goes out the window.
Coyne: Hard determinists. (I am one of these.) Those are people who believe that our brains, being material objects operating under the laws of physics, can give only a single output from the inputs they receive (barring any quantum indeterminacy operating in our neurons).
Jerry, you and your ilk have no choice whatsoever in believing what you believe. Your belief is, by your own admission, entirely determined by blind particles in motion. Do you understand where this is going? Try to answer this question by Kairosfocus:
How can one trust oneself to argue rationally and responsibly if one hath not responsible, rational freedom?
Coyne: Our behaviors are solely and uniquely decided by our genes and our environments, and nothing else.
Jerry, what you are saying is that you are not in control of “your” behavior, which tells us that you are irrational (or worse).
Coyne: There is no dualism …
Says who, Jerry? Blind particles in motion? Origenes
Climatology for Today: Here's the abstract from a very recent paper.
Based on the satellite altimeter data, sea level off the west coast of the United States has increased over the past 5 years, while sea level in the western tropical Pacific has declined. Understanding whether this is a short-term shift or the beginning of a longer-term change in sea level has important implications for coastal planning efforts in the coming decades. Here, we identify and quantify the recent shift in Pacific Ocean sea level, and also seek to describe the variability in a manner consistent with recent descriptions of El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and particularly the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). More specifically, we extract two dominant modes of sea level variability, one related to the biennial oscillation associated with ENSO and the other representative of lower-frequency variability with a strong signal in the northern Pacific. We rely on cyclostationary empirical orthogonal function (CSEOF) analysis along with sea level reconstructions to describe these modes and provide historical context for the recent sea level changes observed in the Pacific. As a result, we find that a shift in sea level has occurred in the Pacific Ocean over the past few years that will likely persist in the coming years, leading to substantially higher sea level off the west coast of the United States and lower sea level in the western tropical Pacific.
Now, in the press release I included in my previous post we have scientists who want to imply that the reason that sea levels have risen is that the 'heat' that would have normally elevated air temperatures has been, let us say, 'swallowed' by ocean resulting in expansion of the ocean's water. In this article, the authors are simply identifying possible ocean current causes (IOW, mechanical instead of caloric) of this sea level rise. But I noticed that the paper I've just quoted said the rise has taken place over the last "5 years." That reminded me of what a climatologist said over twenty years ago. He said that the precipitation along the West Coast is easy to figure out: [I'm pararphrasing here] "every time Mt. Pinatubo erupts in the Phillipines there is cooling, and heightened precipitation. Then, as time passes, it returns to a more normal level." He said that this pattern extends back throughout the entire 20th Century. The principle cause for the cooling and increased precipitation is 'volcanic ash'! That is, the ash is in the air, reflecting sunlight, with less sunlight falling on the waters in the western Pacific, causing the currents to cool, and decreasing ocean temperatures along the California, Oregon and Washington coasts. Well, what would be the side-effect of this 'volcanic ash'? Yes, of course, a cooling of ocean waters, which would make the water more dense, with the result that sea levels should fall. Meanwhile over eastern Pacific waters (except along the coast itself) the water would receive the normal amount of sunlight, resulting in the 'western' density ( and sea level drop) causing a 'lift' in the eastern Pacific. All of this is plausible; and none of it involves CO2. So, I did a 'google search' and put in 2011 and Mt. Pinatubo. Yes, that's right, the last really major eruption? 2011. Oh, my. IOW: scientists are 'using' sea level changes to 'justify' what they now call the "global warming hiatus." Ah, yes, pseudo-science. Quite entertaining. PaV
vjt: BTW, here's an interesting press release on phys.org. The authors say:
"Our research shows that the internal variability of the global climate system can conceal anthropogenic global warming, and at other times the internal variability of the system can enhance anthropogenic warming." The next step, he said, is figuring out the mechanisms that allow the Pacific to change the global surface temperature so quickly.
There are TWO sources of 'heat' on earth: the Sun, and nuclear radiation in the Earth's core. If you want to know what's going on with the Earth's temperature, those are the places to look. CO2 'warms' indirectly: via H2O in the air=water vapor. Well, guess what: what if the Earth's core heats up a little more than usual? Where does that extra 'heat' go? You guessed it: into the atmosphere as 'water vapor.' And what is a by-product of this extra heat? The release of CO2 which is present in large amounts in the ocean, in a condensed form, and which can easily be released when ocean waters 'heat up' slightly. (E.g., along the mid-Atlantic Ridge, they have recently discovered that there is a much greater amount of magma oozing out of the mantle than previously thought. Just imagine the effect that this has on the ocean's overall temperature.) IOW: increased CO2 is the 'result' of ocean warming; not the 'cause' of it, which means that CO2 is a lagging indicator of increased heat. Of course, this is precisely what the historical record shows. The rest is really no more than blather. Science has become pseudo-science, ready to be hired by anyone who is willing to pay scientists, whether it is the NSF, or NASA, or whomever, even, let's say, manufacturers of wind turbines. PaV
I might add that while many of these laws still apply today, the punishments do not. In a fledgling society, still vulnerable to pagan corruption, where sexual immorality could wreak social havoc and destroy lives (think of VD epidemics and abandoned illegitimate children), extremely harsh penalties for infractions of the natural law were unfortunately necessary; today, they’re not.
This illustrates Divine Revelation as we have it in the Bible. Inspiration is two-sided: on the part of the author, and on the part of the hearer. God must be at work in both to have true revelation. In the case of what appears to be merciless punishment, what the author 'said,' and what was 'heard,' are different. IOW, what was 'said' had a deeper, spiritual meaning. So, while the punishment is inviolate and severe, the true 'meaning' of the punishment is that one must be 'inviolate and severe' with oneself. One can easily compare this to what is found in the Quran and how it is understood: IOW, what is missing in the religion of Islam is an authoritative interpretation of revelation. The radical extremists take the harsh language of the Quran, e.g., "jihad," literally, while many Moslems sensibly see it in a 'spiritual' way: i.e., we do 'war' against our sinful selves. But there is no overall authority here. Any imam can declare 'jihad' for almost any reason at all. This is where, IMO, Islam break down. (And, for over 1300 years.) As to 'inerrancey,' the Catholic position as stated in the Concilliar document, Verbum dei, is that in whatever concerns our eternal salvation, the Bible is 'inerrant.' I think this states things quite nicely. PaV
“[y]ou simply CANNOT freely accept whether or not to hold Christ as your savior”
LOL, this has been the Reformed position for centuries. Luther, Calvin, the Puritans, ...ehem... the Apostles Paul & John. But I guess it depends on what you mean by 'freely'. We freely choose based on our desires, but we can't freely choose our desires; they are what they are (that much seems obvious to me). The Devil is in the details here, and I would say Libertarians and Determinists don't dig deep enough. [edit: I would also say that we can’t freely choose what we believe, but I guess that might be out of scope on this one.] M. Holcumbrink
How can one trust oneself to argue rationally and responsibly if one hath not responsible, rational freedom? KF kairosfocus
Hi PaV, Thank you for your post. You asked:
If Scripture has been corrupted, then why didn’t Jesus (who said that ‘divorce’ was not what God intended) say that this was the case when they brought the woman caught in adultery before him?
Let me say first of all that the fourth option which I put forward in my post does not necessarily represent my own personal view. Rather, it represents the position I'd take if I were debating Jerry Coyne in public. My own view is a more nuanced one, which is difficult to articulate and not easy to defend. Some of the troubling commands from God in the Bible were intended for people living at a particular time (e.g. Sabbath laws, which played a vital role in giving the Jewish people a sense of religious identity, and setting them apart from pagan religions). However, natural law (as expressed in the Noachide Code) is universal. Hence God could not decree that adultery is OK. Some of the troubling commands from God were intended literally, but need to be understand in the context of the oral laws of the Jews, which soften their bluntness by describing the exact circumstances under which they apply, and how they should be enforced. (Thus if you look at the oral traditions regarding the laws on adultery and homosexuality, you'll find that the standard of evidence required in order to secure a conviction is very high, and that offenders would have previously received warnings about their conduct. Likewise, the laws about the stoning of rebellious sons sound pretty harsh, but the parents were the ones who had to throw the first stone. Obviously we aren't just talking about a cheeky kid here, as it would be psychologically impossible for parents to kill their own children for such a trivial offense.) I might add that while many of these laws still apply today, the punishments do not. In a fledgling society, still vulnerable to pagan corruption, where sexual immorality could wreak social havoc and destroy lives (think of VD epidemics and abandoned illegitimate children), extremely harsh penalties for infractions of the natural law were unfortunately necessary; today, they're not. Lastly, some of the troubling commands from God were not intended literally, but that doesn't make them metaphorical, either. I suspect they may have been intended as "horror stories," designed to warn the Israelites' pagan neighbors not to mess with Yahweh. What better way to deter Midianite attacks than to concoct and preserve a national legend describing in gruesome detail how their men, women and children were slaughtered after they attacked the Israelites? In reality the entire episode may never have happened. That would be the approach I'd adopt: tackle the commands on a case-by-case basis. But it's a very difficult approach to defend in debate, and it's much easier to defend the view that most but not all of Scripture is inspired. As for Jesus' own views: I wouldn't be too sure that He necessarily viewed all of Scripture as inspired. Consider what He said on the Mosaic law allowing divorce: "Moses gave you this, law on account of the hardness of your hearts." Note: Moses, not God. And regarding the woman caught in adultery, Jesus sidestepped the question of whether she deserved to be stoned. He simply told her not to sin again. I suppose I consider the view that Scripture contains some errors as a good fall-back position, which I myself would adopt if Biblical inerrancy became no longer tenable. I hope that helps answer your questions, PaV. vjtorley
Dionisio: Thank you for the comments (and the threats! :) ) Compatibilism is one of the great intellectual mistifications of our sad times. I definitely prefer an old good determinist to a compatibilist, exactly as I prefer an old good neo darwinist (a la Dawkins) to any post-post-neo darwinist with brilliant vague trendy philosophies. About compatibilism, and Dennett's fans, you can check the Stanford site: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/ My views about libertarian free will are well known: in a word, I believe that free choice is a faculty of our cognitive consciousness, which allows us to change really the course of things by changing how we react to what happens to us. A basic consciousness-matter interface at quantum level allows that to happen without violating any laws of causality. Free will is not an illusion, but an inherent property of conscious cognition and action. It's as simple as that. gpuccio
gpuccio @1 Though I prefer your posts on pure biology-related issues, your comment here is very interesting. Definitely I'm not well versed in philosophical categories (or anything else for that matter), hence I had to look for all the terms in the dictionary. Confirming your commentary, the term 'compatibilism' failed to appear in the lexical Merriam-Webster dictionary. :) The English language institution pointed to a more general dictionary which includes 'slang' terminology. :) Other online sources refer to that term as 'soft determinism' and things like that. Now, here's a simple question: why were you born in Palermo instead of Danzig? Did your ancestors decide that for you? BTW, if that was the case, good for you! At least from climate/weather perspective. :) Actually, why is Danzig now called Gdansk? Was it the result of a democratic referendum among the local population? Why did Mozart's music compositions become more famous than Salieri's? The movie 'Amadeus' might give a hint, though perhaps it's not historically accurate. :) Off topic (with VJT's permission) - please, don't forget to treat many of us here with an OP on what you call 'hidden procedures' in biological systems. We won't let you get away without doing that for us. Ok? :) Dionisio
"First, let me say up-front that anyone who thinks NASA has faked the climate change data is just silly." This is ignorant. NASA manipulates data just like all other climate data producers. So please tell me, what's the difference between manipulating data to fit your warming model of the earth and faking data? Andrew asauber
On the subject of "global warming," ("climate change" is a farcical term: are they afraid that the climate will change? Of course not; they're afraid of the world heating up. Why should they be allowed to change the terms of the debate when it suits them, and simply to avoid being embarrassed by record low temperatures here and there?): last summer I looked into temperature records since the 1960's. All of the hullabaloo over a warming planet started just as the climatologists switched from human-recorded temperatures, to electronically recorded temperatures. There was a graph of recorded temperatures which included both pre- and post-introduction of the electronic sensors. Pre-introduction (i.e., humans manually recording temperatures) showed a very stable scatter of temperatures. Once the electronics were introduced, the scatter of data was all over the place. It was an incredible chart to look at. The impression was that what went before had nothing at all to do with what followed. I wrote on the blog that it looked like this whole issue of warming had nothing more to do than with this switch. It was a blog where experts were posting. No one contested my view. Further, all of these 'electronic' measuring devices have been "corrected" for low temperature readings. Well, isn't that interesting? So global warming appears just when they're adding a 'correction' to actual electronically recorded temperatures. Why were they adding temperature? Because it was too cold?! But once the additions were made, they tell us it's becoming too hot. Their computer models are completely wrong. Anyone who has ever done any modeling knows that these models are most accurate at first, and become increasingly less accurate. This is no more, now, then pseudo-science. So, let's ask the question: should we trust NASA? Here's this from their website:
July 19, 2016 2016 Climate Trends Continue to Break Records Two key climate change indicators -- global surface temperatures and Arctic sea ice extent -- have broken numerous records through the first half of 2016, according to NASA analyses of ground-based observations and satellite data.
But then a ship sent to the Arctic to study this loss of Arctic sea ice gets stuck. And the year before, too. In my estimation, they have lost all credibility. They ask us to believe in something we should have seen years ago. This is the essence of pseudo-science: an appeal, not to evidence, but evidence that is to come (like all those 'intermediates' in the fossil record). Something is terribly wrong here. That is the bottom line. Let's look at it this way. Temperatures started rising in the 1800's. Ask any so-called expert why this temperature rise began and they are at a complete loss to explain it in terms of man-made sources. They say silly things like it was the rise of the railroads. Well, this is silly. So, there is some natural reason for the warming that they either cannot discover, or not willing to discover. But, with this said, I think your bottom line, vj, is the right one. It would be a monumental disgrace to spend money to 'fix' this problem when more pressing problems exist in our world. And, of course, these same scientists are now saying the world is going to cool down for the next 12 to 13 years, but this is only a mask on underlying global warming. Really? How do they know? More importantly, just what do they know? PaV
vjt: Let me begin by pointing out that Coyne’s trilemma is flawed, because it fails to consider a fourth possibility (defended by Christian thinkers such as William Lane Craig and C. S. Lewis): that while much of the Bible comes from God, parts of it have been corrupted by human beings. If Scripture has been corrupted, then why didn't Jesus (who said that 'divorce' was not what God intended) say that this was the case when they brought the woman caught in adultery before him? PaV
VJ: I absolutely agree with Coyne on the following point: "Philosophers squabble about the difference between classes [or views – VJT] B and C, whereas to Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus) [that’s Jerry Coyne’s nickname for himself on his Website – VJT], a far more important argument is to be had between members of combined class (B + C) — the determinists — versus members of class A, the libertarians. To me, the latter argument, B + C vs. A, is of vital importance for making society better, while the argument between B vs. C is basically a semantic squabble that has an import on academic philosophy but not on society. Do you agree with me or not? State your reasons. (Try to be briefer than I’ve been!)" I could not have said it better. IOWs, differences between determinism and compatibilism are simply "a semantic squabble". IOWs, as I have always said here, compatibilism is a word fraud, and nothing else. IOWs, determinism and libertarian free will are the only two games in town. I absolutely agree. Of course, one is wrong and the other one is right. Everybody knows what I think about that. gpuccio

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