Intelligent Design

The Fallacy of Creeping Omniscience

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Yesterday, in his “Critics agree with Dembski” post, Eric Holloway raised the issue of a fallacy that is so significant in the design theory context that it deserves its own name: The Fallacy of Creeping Omniscience.

He provided a description that with some minor adjustments, can serve as a working definition:

It is commonly noted that when smart or educated or famous, or wealthy or powerful people or the like achieve expertise or noted success in a certain area, they suddenly think they are experts in many others, even when lacking the necessary knowledge. When listening to smart or educated or famous, or wealthy or powerful people, it is always wise to take this into consideration, and listen most closely to their opinions about what they’re carefully studied. (But, even on those topics where they have genuine expertise, we should note that no expert is better than his or her facts, assumptions and reasoning.)

It is always helpful to give a key example or two, and the now notorious NYRB 1997 clip from Professor Richard Lewontin makes a very good first example:

. . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out . . .   the problem is to get them to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[ –> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . .
To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident [[ –> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . ] that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test  [[ –> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[ –> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[ –> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. (NB: if you have been led to imagine that the immediately following words JUSTIFY the above, kindly follow the link and read the full clip and notes.)]

No wonder, Philip Johnson corrected:

For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”
. . . .   The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

As a second example, Professor William Provine’s 1998 Darwin Day Address at University of Tennessee is useful:

Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . . 

The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . . .

Natural selection is a process leading every species almost certainly to extinction . . . Nothing could be more uncaring than the entire process of organic evolution. Life has been on earth for about 3.6 billion years. In less that one billion more years our sun will turn into a red giant. All life on earth will be burnt to a crisp. Other cosmic processes absolutely guarantee the extinction of all life anywhere in the universe. When all life is extinguished, no memory whatsoever will be left that life ever existed.  [[Evolution: Free Will and Punishment and Meaning in Life, Second Annual Darwin Day Celebration Keynote Address, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, February 12, 1998 (abstract).]

When major and highly contentious philosophical assertions or assumptions appear “obvious” to adherents of a given theory or model or ideology, that is usually a sign that they have been embedded in it from the beginning and have been swallowed unreflectively.

In this case, following the same errors made by Lewontin, not only has the circle of a priori materialism been begged, so that we move in effect from science “must” think in a materialistic circle — not! — to materialistic science determines what is real, to therefore no God exists, but as a direct worldview consequence ethics has been reduced to radical relativism, and thence to might or manipulation makes “right.” Just as Plato warned against 2,350 years ago in The Laws, Bk X.

These are bad enough, but the real tickler is in Provine’s fifth consequence: freedom to decide and think for oneself has now vanished in the evolutionary materialist circle. While he desperately tries to make this seem to be a good thing (he actually says: “We will all live in a better society when the myth of free will is dispelled . . .”), he overlooks a pretty direct consequence, the disintegration of freedom to think for oneself above one’s genetic, socio-cultural and institutional conditioning. For if one is not free, one is a plaything of blind mechanical necessity and accidents of circumstance that may lead one to things that are adaptive in the sense of promoting reproductive success [including by way of career and bank account success] but that comes at a stiff price indeed. Professor Provine has unwittingly undercut his own ability to think and reason and know above and beyond delusions rooted in genes and memes that happen to help jumped-up apes from East Africa struggling in a Malthusian world to have more offspring. Chance Variation and Natural Selection, multiplied by conscious or unconscious eugenics forces in cultures, reward survival and reproductive success, not truth. (And of course, there is the little challenge that the survival of the fittest does not explain the arrival of the fittest (starting with first, cell-based life), but that is a topic for another post.)

To see the full  scope of that price, let us turn to a third witness and case,  Nobel Prize holder Sir Francis Crick in his 1994 The Astonishing Hypothesis:

. . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing. [[Cf. dramatisation of unintended potential consequences, here.]

No wonder, Philip Johnson rebutted, in his 1995 Reason in the Balance, that Dr Crick should therefore be willing to preface his books: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” (In short, as Prof Johnson then went on to say: “[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.”

In short, reduction to self-referential incoherence and absurdity.

In each of these cases, a well-known scientific and/or academic figure, has traipsed beyond what he has primarily studied, and is essaying, unbeknownst, into deep philosophical waters. Only, to find himself caught up in swirling currents and tossing waves of question-begging and self-referential incoherence.

The root problem is that materialist myth-making while wearing a lab coat is still myth-making, and most of today’s scientists and the like have little or no exposure to, training in or capability to use the techniques that are relevant to critical analysis of worldviews and cultural agendas,where also the border between science and philosophy is rather fuzzy.

It would greatly help if high school and college education in science embedded some basic exposure to philosophy of science themes, and related epistemology, logic and general critical awareness; without imposing evolutionary materialism — today’s reigning orthodoxy — as a censoring a priori. END

100 Replies to “The Fallacy of Creeping Omniscience

  1. 1
    William J Murray says:

    Unfortunately, many who argue for Darwinism and materialism today don’t even consider their arguments to be philosophical, but rather make the claim that their position is based on empirical observation and facts (as per recent is/ought arguments). They don’t realize that science, empiricism itself, and the logic necessary to arbit empirical exploration are all branches of philosophy, and are necessarily rooted in the metaphysical assumptions of a deeper philosophical context.

    They believe they have discarded metaphysics, but in fact all they have done is discard the only means they have of real self-reflection and error-correction. As Lewontin said, materialist empiricism becomes not one way among many that is moderated by deeper philosophical considerations and first principles; it is cut off from its supporting and limiting grounding and placed on a pedestal, becoming the only way with no context or peers to ground its influence.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    OT kf; you may appreciate this short clip I just found:

    C.S. Lewis – Evolution and The Christian Experience
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/7060815/

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    Looks like we have example no 4 here.

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    Lewis always has an unusual take! [And I suspect that is the real voice, too.)

  5. 5
    Philip says:

    The idea of free will is a puzzle for atheists, who have to explain how it fits with physical determinism, and for theists, who have to explain how it fits with divine predestination.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    Off topic (and off-subject — BTW, while some calvinists do struggle in this area, that is not generally a problem for theists: the power to love requires the power to choose, and choice must be free . . . ).

    I think you need to redirect your remarks to the right thread.

  7. 7
    africangenesis says:

    “[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.”

    how so? Mightn’t his mass of neurons be well trained, disciplined and highly experienced, having survived the peer review paper mill? The theorist could claim the causal chain was explanation enough, no exception needed, rather he might consider himself supporting evidence.

  8. 8
    Bruce David says:

    The statement “Professor Provine has unwittingly undercut his own ability to think and reason and know above and beyond delusions rooted in genes and memes that happen to help jumped-up apes from East Africa struggling in a Malthusian world to have more offspring.” while true, is in a sense not really relevant, since no atheist/materialist I have ever run across is willing to accept the consequences of his/her philosophy when it comes to their own certainty regarding their ability to determine truth.

    It’s comical, really. They cannot see that their certainty that their minds are nothing more than machines programmed by evolution for survival completely undermines any confidence they can have in the truth of the belief, or indeed in the truth of any conclusion whatsoever they draw regarding any subject whatsoever. Materialism is in fact a completely self-destructive philosophy. It refutes itself.

  9. 9
    africangenesis says:

    Bruce David,

    “no atheist/materialist I have ever run across is willing to accept the consequences of his/her philosophy when it comes to their own certainty regarding their ability to determine truth.”

    Most atheists I know have less certainty regarding their ability to determine the truth than believers, well, except maybe those at pharyngula.

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers (and AG):

    The above is sadly revealing.

    Observe the refusal to engage the issue on the merits, even though presented a few days ago in easy access to the very same AG [this is a displaced debate from another thread — the better to answer in its apparent absence], step by step at 101 level and given onward links to more sophisticated argumentation.

    That evasiveness to a straightforward argument is revealing.

    What is happening just above is that the objectors are free-riding on the cultural understanding that mind does work, and failing to see that the real problem is not whether mind works, but whether that ability of mind is well-founded on materialistic premises. This is the same problem so often seen with the challenge to the inherent amorality of evolutionary materialism.

    So, for instance, we see the following question-begging strawman:

    Mightn’t his mass of neurons [mind] be well trained, disciplined and highly experienced, having survived the peer review paper mill?

    Is that what the anti-evo forums could spit out after some hours of reactive debate? (And, onlookers, I have actually seen forums where suggested sock-puppet talking points are put up as an offer to come to UD to play at rhetorical games. That should tell us a lot about what is really going on and has been going on.)

    Sadly revealing.

    Of course, the real issue that would hold for a jumped up bit of pond scum by way of being an ape emigrated from the East African savanahs, is that the imagined forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity have never been shown on observation to have the capacity to create linguistic, much less logical much less epistemological competence. That key question is being spectacularly begged [as well, the trick of answering a point in another thread is revealing on the lack of confidence in the answer], and the very act of objection is showing the want of an answer to whence cometh this gift of language, and of knowing, reasoning mind.

    And so we come to an even more spectacular question-begging:

    The theorist could claim the causal chain was explanation enough, no exception needed, rather he might consider himself supporting evidence.

    Let’s translate: well, the only route we will allow that we might have got here by is the evolutionary materialistic one (and you are an anti-scientific creationist hiding in a cheap tuxedo if you think different), so the fact of the o0utcome is the proof of the capacity of the process we imagine. No need for actual empirical observational evidence of that capacity or for analytical demonstration, or to answer objections.

    Begging the question and refusing to engage the process of inference to best explanation on comparative difficulties and observational evidence.

    BD is apt:

    no atheist/materialist I have ever run across is willing to accept the consequences of his/her philosophy when it comes to their own certainty regarding their ability to determine truth.

    It’s comical, really. They cannot see that their certainty that their minds are nothing more than machines programmed by evolution for survival completely undermines any confidence they can have in the truth of the belief, or indeed in the truth of any conclusion whatsoever they draw regarding any subject whatsoever. Materialism is in fact a completely self-destructive philosophy. It refutes itself.

    To which we see a snide little ad hominem from AG:

    Most atheists I know have less certainty regarding their ability to determine the truth than believers, well, except maybe those at pharyngula.

    And that is as though the original post did not contain the following remark in the very definition of the fallacy of creeping omniscience [alongside several examples from people at a level distinctly above the run of the Pharyngula Blogs of this world]:

    It is commonly noted that when smart or educated or famous, or wealthy or powerful people or the like achieve expertise or noted success in a certain area, they suddenly think they are experts in many others, even when lacking the necessary knowledge. When listening to smart or educated or famous, or wealthy or powerful people, it is always wise to take this into consideration, and listen most closely to their opinions about what they’re carefully studied. (But, even on those topics where they have genuine expertise, we should note that no expert is better than his or her facts, assumptions and reasoning.)

    See how a handy, ad hominem laced strawman has been set up?

    AG, a little reading assignment, from a course I taught to — shudder — seminary students [who also saw the already linked short presentation that builds on what I would routinely teach fourth to sixth form students about basic critical thinking for science].

    You may also profit from an examination of first principles of right reason and construction of worldviews, here, from a work in progress course.

    You are not dealing with an imaginary strawman ignorant, stupid, insane and/or wicked “intelligent Design [Neo-]Creationist,” you are dealing with a very specific person who has developed a very specific pattern of thought, and who in the original post above is raising a very specific challenge to a pattern of fallacious abuse of authority and celebrity.

    If you are going to answer in this thread, kindly, answer to that please.

    And for your convenience onlookers, I will next footnote the very same 101 summary that appears in the riots thread at 15.1.1.1 that AG has managed to duck and deflect attention on in two separate threads in recent days.

    GEM of TKI

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: here is the summary on the self-referential reductio ad absurdum of the evolutionary materialist derivation of mind, from the IOSE course (and Anti-Evo objectors, attempted schoolyard namecalling to ridicule a case does not answer to the matter on the merits), via the riots thread:

    __________

    >> it is at least arguable that self-referential absurdity is the dagger pointing to the heart of evolutionary materialistic models of mind and its origin. This can be addressed at a more sophisticated level [[cf. Hasker in The Emergent Self (Cornell University Press, 2001), from p 64 on, e.g. here], but without losing its general force, it can also be drawn out a bit in a fairly simple way:

    a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity.

    b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.

    (This is physicalism. This view covers both the forms where (a) the mind and the brain are seen as one and the same thing, and those where (b) somehow mind emerges from and/or “supervenes” on brain, perhaps as a result of sophisticated and complex software looping. The key point, though is as already noted: physical causal closure — the phenomena that play out across time, without residue, are in principle deducible or at least explainable up to various random statistical distributions and/or mechanical laws, from prior physical states. [[There is also some evidence from simulation exercises, that accuracy of even sensory perceptions may lose out to utilitarian but inaccurate ones in an evolutionary competition. “It works” does not warrant the inference to “it is true.”] )

    c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains.

    d: These forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [[“nature”] and psycho-social conditioning [[“nurture”], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism].

    e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

    f: For further instance, we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely error, but delusion. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be an illustration of the unreliability of our reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

    g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

    h: That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil’s Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence.

    i: The famous evolutionary biologist J. B. S. Haldane made much the same point in a famous 1932 remark:

    “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.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]

    j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt and (v) the “conclusions” we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or logical validity.

    (NB: The conclusions of such “arguments” may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or “warranted” them. It seems that rationality itself has thus been undermined fatally on evolutionary materialistic premises. Including that of Crick et al. Through, self-reference leading to incoherence and utter inability to provide a cogent explanation of our commonplace, first-person experience of reasoning and rational warrant for beliefs, conclusions and chosen paths of action. Reduction to absurdity and explanatory failure in short.)

    k: And, if materialists then object: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must immediately note that — as the fate of Newtonian Dynamics between 1880 and 1930 shows — empirical support is not equivalent to establishing the truth of a scientific theory. For, at any time, one newly discovered countering fact can in principle overturn the hitherto most reliable of theories. (And as well, we must not lose sight of this: one is relying on the legitimacy of the reasoning process to make the case that scientific evidence provides reasonable albeit provisional warrant for one’s beliefs etc. Scientific reasoning is not independent of reasoning.)

    l: Worse, in the case of origins science theories, we simply were not there to directly observe the facts of the remote past, so origins sciences are even more strongly controlled by assumptions and inferences than are operational scientific theories. So, we contrast the way that direct observations of falling apples and orbiting planets allow us to test our theories of gravity.

    m: Moreover, as Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin reminds us all in his infamous January 29, 1997 New York Review of Books article, “Billions and billions of demons,” it is now notorious that:

    . . . It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel [[materialistic scientists] to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    n: Such a priori assumptions of materialism are patently question-begging, mind-closing and fallacious.

    o: More important, to demonstrate that empirical tests provide empirical support to the materialists’ theories would require the use of the very process of reasoning and inference which they have discredited.

    p: Thus, evolutionary materialism arguably reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, as we have seen: immediately, that must include “Materialism.”

    q: In the end, it is thus quite hard to escape the conclusion that materialism is based on self-defeating, question-begging logic.

    r: So, while materialists — just like the rest of us — in practice routinely rely on the credibility of reasoning and despite all the confidence they may project, they at best struggle to warrant such a tacitly accepted credibility of mind relative to the core claims of their worldview. (And, sadly: too often, they tend to pointedly ignore or rhetorically brush aside the issue.) >> [Onward links are at the IOSE site]
    __________

    My concluding comment of a few days ago still obtains:

    >> In short there is a problem here that cannot simply be asserted away or breezily brushed aside.

    Cause-effect is not ground-consequent, and the forces that drive the former and their consequences have little or nothing to do with the capacity to carry out the other by choosing to infer from grounds to their consequences in light of warrant. And in particular mechanical necessity and chance are not the ground in which soundness grows.

    That is, evolutionary materialism runs into a barrier of self referential incoherence when it comes to mind and morals.

    This you may choose to rhetorically brush aside, but that has nothing to do with its warrant. To address warrant you will have to cogently address the structure of the argument on evident facts and the way logical inferences work. While you are at it, see if you can account for the origin of the linguistic ability that lies behind that process on evo mat premises as well, especially the problem of bridging to islands of complex, specifically organised function in vast, beyond astronomical, configuration spaces.

    And, the laws of physics are only inferrable by beings who are significantly free to conceptualise, choose to follow steps of evidence and reason, etc. So, those laws do not exhaust reality. (The implicit assumption that they do, is the core assumption of physicalism, aka evolutionary materialism, i.e I am highlighting the question-begging circle of argument you are doing the laps in.)

    You are right to show that some people have a breakdown in rational ability, due to drink or drugs or defects of mind and body including brain, which only shows some necessary causal factors at work — and that too is a major problem, we often do not understand the difference between necessary and sufficient cause [cf remarks here, please do the half-burned match experiment] — think about what happens when something goes wrong with a hard drive or a wireless link.

    Has that suddenly made the computer only what it is as a found object, or has it shown that components put in by its designers are required to be in working order for it to work? >>

    GEM of TKI

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2: It is also worth asking: do you see any significant want of committed “true believerist” certitude on the part of Lewontin, or Sagan [as alluded to], or of Crick or of Provine as cited in the original post? Why then do we see the attempt to skewer and dismiss Christians — that is the implied context — as blind, closed-minded “true believers”? [Cf here and here on, on the subject of core warrant for Christian faith, as a start-point; though properly a full discussion of that subject belongs to another forum than UD. But there is a reasonable right of reply to such a gross ad hominem.]

  13. 13
    africangenesis says:

    GEM of TKI,

    selective quoting? Perhaps I was a bit flippant, but I was responding to:

    ““[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.”

    And other such statements that are mere assertions, presented “point by point” as if one were purporting a rigorous logical sequence. While your response has been more repetition and characterizing mine as unresponsive, with me left to guess which were the particulars you thought should be persuasive.

    I had been hoping you would get to your point, but perhaps this statement is finally it:

    “Of course, the real issue that would hold for a jumped up bit of pond scum by way of being an ape emigrated from the East African savanahs, is that the imagined forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity have never been shown on observation to have the capacity to create linguistic, much less logical much less epistemological competence. That key question is being spectacularly begged [as well, the trick of answering a point in another thread is revealing on the lack of confidence in the answer], and the very act of objection is showing the want of an answer to whence cometh this gift of language, and of knowing, reasoning mind.”

    I am quite confident in the answer. I agree that this has never been shown by observation. As to an “answer”, we’d have to make do with plausible hypotheses that these characteristics while seemingly dramatic in their consequences, are not qualitatively that different in related animals. The conceptual distance to these related animals is not as hard to bridge as that to pond scum, but even among living evidence we can see a near continuous range of complexity between the pond scum and the bonobo.

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 3: I have taken up AG’s arguments point by point here.

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    AG:

    The issue is not at all a mere assertion, when taken in context, it is a way to summarising that the argument is self referentially incoherent.

    It is to be noted that when you tried to address point j in my summary you did the same thing, picking out a conclusive summary out of context where it had been first grounded step by step then setting it up as a strawman to pummel.

    Onlookers who did not follow the actual case in more details would not know that not only is this a theoretical issue but it has been a repeated theme in historic and current cases of naturalistic accounts of rationality and mind as well as morality.

    In addiition on the wider issue you have yet to provide an empirically observed case that shows the origin of functionally specific complex information by blind forces of necessity and chance, but that is the usual story with evolutionary materialism: a priori lock out anything that could provide an empirically warranted account on observed sources of FSCI, then present weak and long past sell-by date icons as though they were proofs of an already a priori imposed framework.

    Philip Johnson’s rebuke is apt:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

    Later, if more details are needed.

    GEM of TKI

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    Note: I clip AG from above and interleave comments, correcting the errors:

    ______________

    >> selective quoting? Perhaps I was a bit flippant, but I was responding to:

    ““[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.”

    And other such statements that are mere assertions, presented “point by point” as if one were purporting a rigorous logical sequence.

    1 –> Dismissive assertion that fails to acknowledge, much less respond to the actual logic.

    While your response has been more repetition and characterizing mine as unresponsive,

    2 –> If you ignore, snip out of context and strawmannise, what must I do other than to show to at least the onlooker what you are studiously ducking or distorting?

    with me left to guess which were the particulars you thought should be persuasive.

    3 –> If this were not so sad, it would be laughable. You have a connected, step by step argument, which you patently cannot cogently address step by step so you want to excuse snipping out of context and strawmannising.

    I had been hoping you would get to your point

    4 –> Onlookers, how many times do I need to show, step by step then state the conclusion, how evolutionary materialism reduces itself to self-referential incoherence on the credibility of mind, and that it leads to amorality and might makes right nihilism? [As in, those who so often push it step out beyond whatever scientific competence they have to beg worldview level questions and end in absurdities, as the original post for this thread highlights.]

    5 –> Again, the answer is obvious: no number of times will suffice to correct the true believer in evolutionary materialism dressed up in a holy lab coat. However if enough of us see though the fallacies, eventually the repeated failure of the system will lead the adherents to begin to ask themselves, why this is not working.

    , but perhaps this statement is finally it:

    “Of course, the real issue that would hold for a jumped up bit of pond scum by way of being an ape emigrated from the East African savanahs, is that the imagined forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity have never been shown on observation to have the capacity to create linguistic, much less logical much less epistemological competence. That key question is being spectacularly begged [as well, the trick of answering a point in another thread is revealing on the lack of confidence in the answer], and the very act of objection is showing the want of an answer to whence cometh this gift of language, and of knowing, reasoning mind.”

    6 –> Again, picking out a summary conclusion without addressing the framework in which it arises.

    I am quite confident in the answer. I agree that this has never been shown by observation.

    7 –> An apt statement of belief in a priori materialism, and of intent to restate its problems as though they were solutions.

    As to an “answer”, we’d have to make do with plausible hypotheses that these characteristics while seemingly dramatic in their consequences, are not qualitatively that different in related animals.

    8 –> neatly vague, as per the passive aggressive rulebook of deniably ambiguous statements.

    9 –> If by this you actually mean that the a priori materialistic evolutionary materialist framework for body plan level macroevolution is well warranted on empirically observed data, I suggest onlookers that a quick look here on will help disabuse the informed onlooker of that notion. (Even without looking at the prior issue of origin of life, here on.)

    10 –> If you do not have time to work through the full discussion and videos, at least try to watch Sternberg on whale evolution issues on population genetics and required changes, and to look at the Darwin’s Dilemma embed on implications of the Cambrian Life revolution. A glance at he problems with typical icons and the reality of mosaic creatures will also help.

    The conceptual distance to these related animals is not as hard to bridge as that to pond scum, but even among living evidence we can see a near continuous range of complexity between the pond scum and the bonobo.

    11 –> I have already linked on why the breezily rhetorically bridged gaps are not crossed on the evidence. >>
    _______________

    Onlookers, let me know if you need more.

    Later

    GEM of TKI

  17. 17
    William J. Murray says:

    Unfortunately, many who argue for Darwinism and materialism today don’t even consider their arguments to be philosophical, but rather make the claim that their position is based on empirical observation and facts (as per recent is/ought arguments). They don’t realize that science, empiricism itself, and the logic necessary to arbit empirical exploration are all branches of philosophy, and are necessarily rooted in the metaphysical assumptions of a deeper philosophical context.

    They believe they have discarded metaphysics, but in fact all they have done is discard the only means they have of real self-reflection and error-correction. As Lewontin said, materialist empiricism becomes not one way among many that is moderated by deeper philosophical considerations and first principles; it is cut off from its supporting and limiting grounding and placed on a pedestal, becoming the only way with no context or peers to ground its influence.

    (Moderator – will you please approve my new posting name – William J Murray, without the period after J – so I can use that name from now on? Thank you.)

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    Note: A Plantinga lecture relevant to the above, here.

    Useful snippet (but do read context):

    ___________

    >> B. DARWIN’S DOUBT

    One possibility: perhaps Darwin and Churchland mean to propose that a certain conditional probability is low: the probability of human cognitive faculties’ being reliable, given that human cog faculties have been produced by evolution (Dawkin’s blind evolution, unguided by the hand of God or any other person). If (naturalistic) evolution is true, then our cognitive faculties will have resulted from blind mechanisms like natural selection, working on sources of genetic variation such as random genetic mutation. And the ultimate purpose or function (Churchland’s ‘chore’) of our cognitive faculties, if indeed they have a purpose or function, will be survival – of individual, species, gene, or genotype. But then it is unlikely that they have the production of true beliefs as a function. So the probability or our faculties’ being reliable, given naturalistic evolution, would be fairly low. Popper and Quine, on the other side, judge that probability fairly high.

    P(R/N&E)

    N is metaphysical naturalism. (Crucial to metaphysical naturalism, of course, is the view that there is no such person as the God of traditional theism.) E: human cognitive faculties have arisen by way of evolution (as conceived by contemporary evolutionary science). R: the claim that our cognitive faculties are reliable
    And the question is: What is the probability of R, given N&E? Darwin and Churchland propose that this probability is relatively low, while Quine and Popper think it fairly high.

    1. THE DOUBT DEVELOPED
    Suppose we think, first, not about ourselves and our ancestors, but about a hypothetical population of creatures rather like ourselves on a planet similar to Earth. (Darwin proposed that we think about another species, such as monkeys.) Suppose these creatures have cognitive faculties, hold beliefs, change beliefs, make inferences, and so on; and suppose these creatures have arisen by way of the selection processes endorsed by contemporary evolutionary thought. What is the probability that their faculties are reliable? What is P(R/N&E), specified, not to us, but to them? According to Quine and Popper, rather high: belief is connected with action in such a way that extensive false belief would lead to maladaptive behavior, in which case it is likely that the ancestors of those creatures would have displayed that pathetic but praiseworthy tendency Quine mentions.

    But: first, perhaps it is likely that their behavior is (or was) adaptive; but nothing follows about their beliefs. Everything depends upon the way in which their behavior is related to their beliefs.

    (a) maybe their beliefs do not cause their behavior. (Epiphenomenalism: T H Huxley) If so, they would be invisible to evolution; and then the fact that they arose during the evolutionary history of these beings would confer no probability oat all on the idea that they are mostly true, or mostly nearly true, rather than wildly false. Indeed, the probability of their being mostly true would have to be estimated as fairly low; the probability that a randomly chosen large set of propositions contains vastly more true beliefs than false beliefs is low. (It couldbe that one of these creatures believes that he is at that elegant, bibulous Oxford dinner, when in fact he is slogging his way through some primeval swamp, desperately fighting off hungry crocodiles.) JM Smith: “A few years ago, he wrote that he had never understood why organism have feelings. After all, orthodox biologists believe that behavior, however complex, is governed entirely by biochemistry and that the attendant sensations – fear, pain, wonder, love – are just shadows cast by that biochemistry, not themselves vital to the organism’s behavior . . . . Time De. ’92

    (b) beliefs do indeed cause behavior, but only by virtue of their electro-chemical properties, not by virtue of their content. This possibility is said to be the “received opinion” by Rob Cummins (Meaning and Mental Representation); if you accept materialism re minds, it’s hard to see any alternative.

    (c) A third possibility: it could be that belief cause behavior by way of content but is maladaptive. Again, low.

    (d) the beliefs or our hypothetical creatures cause their behavior and also adaptive. Probability (on this possibility together with N&E) that their cognitive faculties are reliable?

    Not as high as you might think. Beliefs don’t causally produce behavior by themselves; it is beliefs, desires, and other factors that do so together. Then the problem is that clearly there will be any number of different patterns of belief and desire that would issue in the same action; and among those there will be many in which the beliefs are wildly false. Paul is a prehistoric hominid; the exigencies of survival call for him to display tiger avoidance behavior. There will be many behaviors that are appropriate: fleeing, for example, or climbing a steep rock face, or crawling into a hole too small to admit the tiger, or leaping into a handy lake. Pick any such appropriately specific behavior B. Paul engages in B, we think, because, sensible fellow that he is, he has an aversion to being eaten and believes that B is a good means of thwarting the tiger’s intentions.

    But clearly this avoidance behavior could result from a thousand other belief-desire combinations: indefinitely many other belief-desire systems fit B equally well . . . .

    But now suppose we return to the person convinced of N&E who is agnostic about P(R/N&E): something similar goes for him. He is in the same position with respect to any belief B of his, as is the above believer in God. He is in the same condition as the person who comes to think she has been created by that Cartesian evil demon. So he too has a defeater for B, and a good reason for being agnostic with respect to it.

    3.THE ARGUMENT
    Now for the argument that it is irrational to believe N&E: P(R/N&E) is either low or inscrutable; in either case (if you accept N&E) you have a defeater for R, and therefore for any other belief B you might hold; but B might be N&E itself; so one who accepts N&E has a defeater for N&E, a reason to doubt or be agnostic with respect to it. If he has no independent evidence, N&E is self-defeating and hence irrational.

    Could he get a defeater rot this dereater – a defeater-defeater? Maybe by doing some science, by, e.g., determining by scientific means that his faculties really are reliable?

    But of course that would presuppose that his faculties are reliable. Thomas Reid (Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man):

    If a man’s honesty were called into question, it would be ridiculous to refer to the man’s own word, whether he be honest or not. The same absurdity there is in attempting to prove, by any kind of reasoning, probable or demonstrative, that our reason is not fallacious, since the very point in question is, whether reasoning may be trusted.(276)

    Is there any sensible way at all in which he can argue for R? Any argument he might produce will have premises; and these premises, he claims, give him good reason to believe R. But of course he has the very same defeater for each of those premises that he has for R

    so this defeater can’t be defeated.

    We could also put it like this: any argument he offers, for R, is circular or question begging. Naturalistic evolution gives its adherents a reason for doubting that our beliefs are mostly true; perhaps they are mostly mistaken; for the very reason for mistrusting our cognitive faculties generally, will be a reason for mistrusting the faculties that produce belief in the goodness of the argument.

    Hence the devotee of N&E has a defeater D for N&E – a defeater, furthermore, that can’t be defeated. So N&E is self-defeating, and can’t rationally be accepted.

    One who contemplates accepting N, and is torn, let’s say, between N and theism, would reason as follows: if I were to accept N, I would have good and ultimately defeated reason to be agnostic about N; so I shouldn’t accept it. (An argument for the irrationality of N, not for its falsehood.)

    The traditional theist, on the other hand, has no corresponding reason for doubting that it is a purpose of our cognitive systems to produce true beliefs, nor any reason for thinking the probability of a belief’s being true, given that it is a product of her cognitive faculties, is low or inscrutable. She may indeed endorse some form of evolution; but if she does, it will be a form of evolution guided and orchestrated by God. And qua traditional theist — qua Jewish, Moslem, or Christian theist – she believes that God is the premier knower and has created us human beings in his image, an important part of which involves his giving them what is needed to have knowledge, just as he does.

    The conclusion to be drawn, therefore, is that the conjunction of naturalism with evolutionary theory is self-defeating: it provides for itself an undefeated defeater. It is therfore unacceptable and irrational. >>
    ___________

  19. 19
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: of course all of this is really a matter of responding to the latest sock-puppet talking points. They are not meant to convince the un-convince-able [the point of a sock puppet is to push talking points, not to actually seriously discuss a matter], but to show that there is some warrant for the conclusion that the talking points are fallacious.

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    Very well said!

  21. 21
    Bruce David says:

    Well, certainly atheists have no corner on being certain that they are correct, but most atheists I know are pretty certain that there is no God and that the Creation is entirely material. Those that are less than certain tend to be agnostics.

    But that is not really my point. Rather, it is that materialism undermines any confidence that materialism is true, since that conclusion is the product of a material brain, which cannot recognize any flaws in its “programming”, just as any computer program is incapable of recognizing flaws in its programming. The only logically consistent intellectual stance of a materialist is “I don’t know.”

    In fact, it is my belief that no materialist really believes materialism is true when it comes to their own power of reason. Deep within, they know that their minds are not the product of a material brain at all, but they refuse to recognize the conflict between their stated beliefs and their actual intellectual mode of operation.

  22. 22
    africangenesis says:

    Yes, “And if materialism is true, then SOME [emphasis mine] materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction” but that particular theory must be consistent with the evidence. The “regardless of the evidence”, gives the impression that this is an inconsistency, when the deduction assumed we were restricting ourselves to evidence based theories in the first place, i.e., what you are calling materialism. So, in no way, is it really “regardless of the evidence”.

  23. 23
    William J. Murray says:

    Africangenesis said:

    Yes, “And if materialism is true, then SOME [emphasis mine] materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction” but that particular theory must be consistent with the evidence.

    You say that as if logic can be used to evaluate statements produced by materialist physics, but under materialism, logic is just another set of thoughts and statements produced by material forces. You’re using ruler A to verify that ruler A correctly measures things, which is self-referential nonsense.

    Logic can only arbit and verify truthful statements IF logic is independent of that which produced the statements; if the same faulty, error-prone mechanism (physics) produces both the statement and the logic employed to evaluate it, why bother?

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    AG:

    Kindly look again, and in the context of responding to the a priori Lewontinian materialism that is force fitted unto the evidence so IT CENSORS ‘PERMISSIBLE” INTERPRETATIONS.

    You are trying to twist what is plainly being confessed into pretzels to escape the implication of outright censorship.

    It is that implication that Johnson was responding to, by highlighting that once the a priori is accepted, then something rather like darwinism is in the “must be so” category.

    Notice how Lewontin says that in the circles he knows, it seems SELF_EVIDENT that the a priori materialist approach puts us in touch with reality. That is an unwitting sign of question-begging being mistaken for that which is true and undeniably so on pain of absurdity, like 2 + 3 = 5.

    GEM of TKI

  25. 25
    africangenesis says:

    GEM of TKI,

    I was actually granting that you were presenting a step by step case, which makes this criticism irrelevant:

    “which you patently cannot cogently address step by step so you want to excuse snipping out of context and strawmannising”

    A step by step case fails if any step fails. It is more efficient to address selected steps to show the problems with the argument. Some of the other steps may be fully accepted or conceded and the argument still fails. If your argument is truly rigorous, alternative explanations or interpretations of that step also cause that step to fail.

    I think is this selected step, you are trying to argue from the disagreeableness of the conclusion to the premises in the previous steps must be disagreeable as well:

    “4 –> Onlookers, how many times do I need to show, step by step then state the conclusion, how evolutionary materialism reduces itself to self-referential incoherence on the credibility of mind, and that it leads to amorality and might makes right nihilism? ”

    Both the cartesian and hegelian branches of philosophy lead to nihilism, so I concede that part of the point. But there is more than one kind of nihilism, in fact, the situation is what we make of it. I had already mentioned at this site, although perhaps it wasn’t in our thread main thread, that nihilism may well lead to the classical liberal recognition that men are not fit to rule other men without standards, checks and balances, and to the reciprocal agreement to rights. Nothing, not even might, can “make right”, in the sense that “right” is being used in philosophical nihilism (call it materialistic nihilism if you prefer), “might” can just do what it does. Of course there are other alternatives to the classical liberal social contract type of solution, there is tradition and cultural relativism, and of course, the chaos and license that you are alluding to. But there is a might vs right issue in theology also, if God determines what is right, then that is “might makes right”, but then God isn’t “good” by some independent standard, so there is the problem of what it means for God to be good, and whether a “good” that God made by might has any real moral force.

    So what do we make of your step number 4? It it an irreplacable cog in an argument, the denouement, or an aside with its own persuasive purpose? Does what comes after really follow? Does what comes after falter if nihilism isn’t necessarily “might makes right”?

  26. 26
    africangenesis says:

    ad hominem? I’m unaware of any talking points, I’ve done my own analysis all along, of course, I wasn’t born in a vacuum. I have been to Creation Science and ID forums, and read the literature, both because I’m part of that community socially and because I like challenges and I like refining the consistency of my world view and I am curious apparent contradictions. I’ve met Dr Behe and Dr. Humphreys. I do my own analyses. If these look like talking points you’ve previously seen, perhaps those ultimtely originated with me, or there is just a logical or inferential convergence.

    I try to build bridges and increase understanding between communities. Taking a contrarian viewpoint got me banned at pharygula, even though I was always civil and participating in good faith.

  27. 27

    I was thinking exactly the same thing when I first read this post the other day. It seems like Dawkins thinks he’s an expert not only on zoology, but politics and theology as well. Oh, and parenting so as to avoid child abuse.

  28. 28

    Bruce,

    Well stated. “I know, therefore I’m more than what I think I know I am.”

  29. 29
  30. 30

    Perhaps the practice of trying to take a contrarian view is not serving you well. If you’re truly trying to understand, you might want to state clearly where you agree and where you disagree. That might help you to actually build the bridges you claim to be concerned with, All I’ve seen from you so far are the familiar talking points we routinely address on here from outsiders; which in my estimation will not lead to any successful bridge building.

    Incidentally, not that it’s that important, but Creation Science and ID are not social movements, so how could you be a part of a movement socially that is not a social movement? You either support the movement or you don’t, in which case you are not a part of it. Let’s be clear about that.

  31. 31
    africangenesis says:

    Being a “materialist” at a supposedly materialist site, pharyngula my positions often were contrarian. Now I often do take a contrary view when people claim certainty or rigor or make generalizations that I don’t think should go unquestioned, because even if I agree with their conclusion, I may not agree with their certainty or justification.

    I didn’t mean to imply that ID and creation science were social movements, they were the “forums”, I attended. The social “community” (not movement), I’m a part of is Christian, yes, they tolerate non-believers in that community.

  32. 32

    “Now I often do take a contrary view when people claim certainty or rigor or make generalizations that I don’t think should go unquestioned, because even if I agree with their conclusion, I may not agree with their certainty or justification.”

    I’m not sure you realize how incoherent this statement is; especially given your recent posts.

    To claim that taking a contrarian view against other peoples’ “certainty” requires a certainty that taking a contrarian view is what should be your position. To question others’ views still requires some certainty that is contrary; otherwise it’s simply skepticism without direction.

    Also, I don’t find that KF has made any generalizations. He’s quite clear about what he means with references and clear argument. A generalization is to make a blanket statement about a phenomenon that applies to more than it’s intent and without reference to anything that can be examined.

    . (Philosophy / Logic) Logic the derivation of a general statement from a particular one, formally by prefixing a quantifier and replacing a subject term by a bound variable. If the quantifier is universal (universal generalization) the argument is not in general valid; if it is existential (existential generalization) it is valid
    5. (Philosophy / Logic) Logic any statement ascribing a property to every member of a class (universal generalization) or to one or more members (existential generalization)

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/generalization

    I fail to see in anything that KF has written (particularly regarding your own posts) that fits the definition of generalization.

    And if you question his certainty about this, you have to question your own certainty that they are generalizations in order to be consistent. i.e., don’t question others’ certainty without first questioning your own.

  33. 33
    kairosfocus says:

    AG:

    Unfortunately, we have seen all too many sock-puppets for the agendas we are dealing with try to ingratiate themselves with us in much the way you are speaking, while spouting the standard talking points.

    Only when we see what comes across as serious two-way dialogue that genuinely tries to deal with the matters on the merits, does it begin to appear that we are dealing with something genuine, at this point.

    Such is the legacy of the Alinsky school of thought that has been injected into the discourse on these matters tied to origins science.

    To get an idea of what is going on, contrast the articles on Intelligent Design in New World Encyclopedia and Wikipedia. If the latter comes across to you as a fair minded introduction, you’ve been had.

    GEM of TKI

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    AG:

    A step by step case fails if any step fails.

    1 –> if the argument is a simple, geometry proof type deductive chain, that is so.

    2 –> but if we are dealing with an inductive, cumulative argument that is NOT so in general, as the strands of argument may interact like the short weak fibres in a rope that twist together and grip in a way that is mutually reinforcing, so twist then counter twist cumulates to give a rope.

    3 –> in short, by a picture I am pointing to a case of the fallacy of composition.

    4 –> Further to this, you have not actually shown that the step by step exposition has failed, you are snipping out a concluding summary and strawmannising it as I pointed out above.

    5 –> in particular, you failed to address the specific cases of the precise sort of self-referential incoherence I highlighted. Start with the marxists, Freudians, behaviourists, Crick, Lewontin and others of like ilk.

    6 –> Also, you have not engaged the wider context where I have pointed to Hasker, Plantinga and Reppert. I am presenting at 101 survey level, but there is a lot of meat behind it.

    7 –> So, if you are serious, you will break apart the argument and show how the stages fail to mutually support and how they fail to have INDUCTIVE strength in themselves, where that is relevant. We are not just dealing with a simple deductive chain.

    8 –> in particular remember the underlying context of all this is inference to best explanation at worldviews level.

    9 –> And the reductio is not just a matter of theory it is a matter that I have had to deal with on the ground for decades, starting with the Marxists.

    10 –> the easiest way would be to clip the argument and then show how the steps fall apart, one by one. (Let’s just say, it’s been tried by others, before . . . let’s see if you have better luck.)

    GEM of TKI

  35. 35
    kairosfocus says:

    I would adjust slightly, Improper or hasty generalisation.

  36. 36
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: let’s take the first block of the argument I have given above:

    a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity.

    b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.

    (This is physicalism. This view covers both the forms where (a) the mind and the brain are seen as one and the same thing, and those where (b) somehow mind emerges from and/or “supervenes” on brain, perhaps as a result of sophisticated and complex software looping. The key point, though is as already noted: physical causal closure — the phenomena that play out across time, without residue, are in principle deducible or at least explainable up to various random statistical distributions and/or mechanical laws, from prior physical states. [[There is also some evidence from simulation exercises, that accuracy of even sensory perceptions may lose out to utilitarian but inaccurate ones in an evolutionary competition. “It works” does not warrant the inference to “it is true.”] )

    c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains.

    d: These forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [[“nature”] and psycho-social conditioning [[“nurture”], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism].

    e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

    1 –> a and b summarise the core assumptions and implications of evolutionary materialism. This should not be controversial, the materialist sees the world as being a closed material system, in which what happens has causal antecedents within the system.

    2 –> c simply applies that to the particular region of matter between our ears.

    3 –> d explains these as being rooted in the physical, through the genetic and sociocultural.

    4 –> e provides cases in point, showing by practical cases how the self-referential incoherence emerges as a direct consequence of a to d.

    Going on:

    f: For further instance, we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely error, but delusion. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be an illustration of the unreliability of our reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

    g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

    h: That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil’s Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence.

    5 –> f and g bring out the case of the accusation of mass delusion for the religious [widely believed by materialists], and points out that he issue of genes and memes giving rise of adaptive, survival enhancing behaviour that materialists hold is not accurate to reality, is then brought home as implying the lack of credibility of the mind on materialist premises; which is then cast back to the materialists as a question of self-referential incoherence.

    6 –> h cites Dawkins on the matter,using the same sauce for the goose for the gander too. If thoughts are driven and controlled by unconscious forces irrelevant to truth and rationality so that we have no free will but are determined by deep seated material cause-effect not logical and epistemological ground-consequent factors, once we move up to the sort of level we are addressing then materialism is in the same boat as the much despised religion. [The strand that deals with the “scientific” pretensions will come up later in the list.]

    So, let us proceed further:

    i: The famous evolutionary biologist J. B. S. Haldane made much the same point in a famous 1932 remark:

    “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.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]

    j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt and (v) the “conclusions” we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or logical validity.

    (NB: The conclusions of such “arguments” may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or “warranted” them. It seems that rationality itself has thus been undermined fatally on evolutionary materialistic premises. Including that of Crick et al. Through, self-reference leading to incoherence and utter inability to provide a cogent explanation of our commonplace, first-person experience of reasoning and rational warrant for beliefs, conclusions and chosen paths of action. Reduction to absurdity and explanatory failure in short.)

    7 –> i cites Haldane’s summary of this sort of determinism in chemical terms.

    8 –> j summarises, and the bracketed remark highlights that it is rationality on materialistic premises that is being deconstructed. Not that materialists do not reason, but that heir system’s worldview level roots decisively undermine their claim to be rational.

    And,

    k: And, if materialists then object: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must immediately note that — as the fate of Newtonian Dynamics between 1880 and 1930 shows — empirical support is not equivalent to establishing the truth of a scientific theory. For, at any time, one newly discovered countering fact can in principle overturn the hitherto most reliable of theories. (And as well, we must not lose sight of this: one is relying on the legitimacy of the reasoning process to make the case that scientific evidence provides reasonable albeit provisional warrant for one’s beliefs etc. Scientific reasoning is not independent of reasoning.)

    l: Worse, in the case of origins science theories, we simply were not there to directly observe the facts of the remote past, so origins sciences are even more strongly controlled by assumptions and inferences than are operational scientific theories. So, we contrast the way that direct observations of falling apples and orbiting planets allow us to test our theories of gravity . . . .

    o: More important, to demonstrate that empirical tests provide empirical support to the materialists’ theories would require the use of the very process of reasoning and inference which they have discredited.

    p: Thus, evolutionary materialism arguably reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, as we have seen: immediately, that must include “Materialism.”

    q: In the end, it is thus quite hard to escape the conclusion that materialism is based on self-defeating, question-begging logic.

    r: So, while materialists — just like the rest of us — in practice routinely rely on the credibility of reasoning and despite all the confidence they may project, they at best struggle to warrant such a tacitly accepted credibility of mind relative to the core claims of their worldview. (And, sadly: too often, they tend to pointedly ignore or rhetorically brush aside the issue.)

    9 –> Skipping over the further example of Lewontin, we see that the concept of empirical support to a conceptual claim coming from scientific findings, requires the reasoning process in a context of being freely able to follow the evidence on ground-consequent steps not mere physical cause-effect bonds. (This is close to TGP’s point that linguistic and logical connexions are utterly distinct from physical ones.)

    10 –> So we see materialists borrowing the confidence in reason from the Judaeo-Christian theists who founded modern science, and then trying to replace the worldview foundations that gave that confidence, only to find that their own proposed foundations undermine rationality itself.

    11 –> We can safely add here, that appeals to “emergence” are little more than word-magic.

    _____________

    So, now AG, where has this fallen apart, and why?

    GEM of TKI

  37. 37

    You took my generalization and specified it; which AG should mark as a strength common to all of your posts.

  38. 38
    africangenesis says:

    Since when is physics an error prone mechanism? For physical “truth”, a logic consistent with the physical world would seen appropriate.

  39. 39
    africangenesis says:

    Why does the material brain have to recognize flaws in its programming? A computer program can be made to recognize errors and deviations from its goals, can construct maps or models of terrain and navigate, detect when a trajectory or route isn’t working and plot another when conditions change. A material brain can correct its models which are working to ones that work better. “Programming” can be robust to errors. And the type of errors we that are relevent to these conclusions are not necessarily programming rather than model errors.

    If the intellectual stance of the materialist is “the model works”, rather than “I don’t know”, and your statement is that “I don’t know” is the only logically consistent stance, then you should be able to show the contradiction in the alternate stance that “the model works”.

    Where is the contradition?

  40. 40
    africangenesis says:

    What are you describing as censorship? Is it that scientific journals only publish materialism based peer review papers? They may be less open to intelligent design publications than they should be, at the same time, I can see how they would censor the result that something must be designed, just by default because the issue being studied presents difficulties and there isn’t an alternate explanation other than design yet. But I would generally allow publication of results reporting the interesting cases, with the difficulties as the “result”, and any design inference would have to be in the “discussion” part of the paper, unless there is evidence of the presence and action of the designer itself.

    The “censorship” of non-science in scientific journals is hardly an indictment of materialism as a world view. There are other venues to make non-scientific claims that are still respectable such as journals of philosophy and theology.

  41. 41
    africangenesis says:

    GEM of TKI,

    I now take it that your argument is not a step by step geometrical proof, but an attempt at a persuasive argument with some interdependence between the steps, but where the failure of any single step is not necessarily fatal, and some of the steps are conclusions which shouldn’t be criticized without first addressing earlier steps that provide the context. I hope I have managed to phrase this in a fair way that is not just dismissive. But in fairness, I should not have to refute each step, but should be able in some cases to just address how persuasive it is on its own and in context.

    I admit I am now getting a bit confused by the mixing of numbers and letters on the steps, I will try to address both.

    a) Our deterministic universe is governed by physical laws is nonlinear dynamic and chaotic, and not necessarily “random”. It possesses lots of examples of spontaneous order and mathmatically describable regularities.

    b) not much to disagree with here, but consider this generalization:

    “mechanical necessity acting on material objects”

    Lets not forget that life is not just passive in this universe, even though life is acted upon by physical forces, it also utilizes chemical energy to act within and upon its environment.

    c) Crick is wrong. Thoughts can be understood in other ways. We knew a lot about biology before we were very good at reducing it to chemistry. Hunter gatherer groups knew a lot about their environments even though they had anthropomorphized natural phenomena and animals. The scientific assumption is that we can make progress in understanding and predicting the world through certain disciplines of thought and method, and that this may eventually include reducing thought to electrical interactions and chemistry. However, thoughts are so complex they will probably never be “understood” in the sense of being comprehended at the chemical level, but they are considered and assumed to be subject to the same physical laws as the rest of the universe.

    But there is no evidence of intent at the at the level of the physical laws, so Crick is correct in that regard. Intent is a property we recognize in ourselves and infer to exist in other life forms.

    I’ve already addressed Philip Johnson’s rebuttal, no exception needs to be made for the theorist, Crick’s preface doesn’t need to be dismissively phrased that his thoughts “consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules”. The assembly of nerve cells has a complex organization, and as I mentioned before, Crick could also cite his training, education and the mental disciplines involving evidence and reasoning to support his conclusions. Since Crick is utilizing chemical energy he can act on his environment. There is no inherent contradiction in a being subject to physical laws being able to comment upon the underlying physics of his thoughts. You need to do more than imply there is.

    d) The statement here is selective in its emphasis:

    “These forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [[“nature”] and psycho-social conditioning [[“nurture”], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism].”

    It emphasizes the passive elements, but the life form is acting itself, so influences its own development and a nonlinear dynamic relationship with its environment. But there is not much to dispute here, I assume it is a stepping stone to e)

    e) There were lots of contradictions in marxism, of course they had somehow escaped their conditioning so they must not have considered it absolute, in fact their statements about others being subject to their conditioning was an attempt to persuade them to look at their pre-concieved notions critically and to change them. Marxists were also hypocritical in the beliefs in historical determinism, which they weren’t willing to wait for and felt a need to accelerate. The dialectic was imbued with supernatural force despite their identification as materialists. Their hegelian philosophical lineage was demonstrated to ultimately reduce to nihilism by Max Stirner (nee Johann Caspar Schmidt).

    Yes, Freudian’s used dismissive rhetoric too but like the marxists they accepted that the past conditioning could be understood and escaped.

    Behaviorist fundamentalism has been rejected in current science. Jane Goodall was part of the revolution that made it acceptable to infer intent and internal mental states in animals again.

    It is a stretch to assume that these hypothesized analogies imply anything for something as complex as the firing and organization of Crick’s neurons.

    f) I’ve advanced the idea that religion is adaptive many times myself. Religion is just one of many examples of the unreliability of our reasoning faculties and alternatively their lack of dominance in our beliefs, feeling and thinking. But because these failings are all too real, they are not just a problem for “the assumption of evolutionary materialism.” You are intending to imply that examples of human irrationality and unreliability of their reasoning call into question not the “assumption” but the conclusion of evolutionary materialism. The examples of the errors that human thinking is prone to are numerous. Statistical reasoning is poor. Many logical fallacies have persuasive power. But all this indicates, as I previously noted, is that “thinking is hard”, and but there is no contradiction in the idea that mental disciplines and scientific methodology improve our models of the universe and our ability to predict and control it.

    g) What is good for the goose is good for that gander? Turnabout is fair play, but is it rigorously defensible here. Religion is around because it is adaptive despite being irrational, therefore, materialism may just be adaptive and irrational too? Has materialism hasn’t been an important part of human thinking for much of written history, much less evolutionary history. What about it is adaptive? As a model that allows better prediction and control of the environment it may well be adaptive. There is no reason to assume that it is irrational just because religion is. Since it also espouses a mental discipline, it may actually result in more practice of rational thinking, with practice may come improvement. We’ve already discussed whether any of models are ever the “truth”, the main thing is that they can work, they can aid in predicting and controlling our environment as perceived through our senses. Even general relativity is probably not the “truth”, is has singularities like black holes and the big bang, and problems patched up by dark matter and dark energy. Ultimately, the “truth” may be just what works.

    h) Yes, under materialism our brains and thoughts don’t violate the laws of physics. In that sense our beliefs, including our beliefs in materialism and religion are “caused”. I admit that religion and materialism are alike in that respect. I admit that had I been raised by Islamic parents I would probably believe in Allah, I might even have been a Christian in this culture if I had been raised in a protestant family. I was raised in a Catholic family and earnestly tried to be good, but God was harsh and judgemental, at least as exemplified by the humans representing him. As a would be saint, I had the temerity to go to confession without anything to confess after a whole week. It turned out this was the even worse sin of pride, I got harshly rebuked and assigned several times the usual number of Hail Marys and Our Fathers. But I also had parents who valued education and encouraged my love of science and nature. It was a relief when I no longer had to believe in such a God, and could continue to peruse my search for truth and love of knowledge. My beliefs are a product of my past, but I subject them to mental disciplines, that assure me they are more evidence based, if not more “true”.

    i) I’ve already discussed Haldane at length. Yes, because his brain is sound chemically doesn’t mean his thoughts are sound logically. However, Haldane’s musing is not evidence unless you are arguing from authority. If you are going to cite him for having “no reason” to believe his brain is composed of atoms and “no reason” to believe his beliefs are true, you should supplement it with evidence because his authority is not conclusive. He may well be correct, HE had “no reason”, but that doesn’t mean that WE have no reason, we might have looked a little harder and we have the advange of a few decades more scientific advancement. Why are you citing this person?

    j) “The conclusions of such “arguments” may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or “warranted” them.”

    A brain forged by having to work over millions of years of evolution doesn’t work by “astonishingly lucky coincidence”. I’ve discussed this extensively.

    k) I agree with this one. I made the same point about General Relativity above.

    l) I agree, origin hypotheses are hampered lack of access to and preservation of relevant evidence.

    o) what happened to m) and n)?

    “More important, to demonstrate that empirical tests provide empirical support to the materialists’ theories would require the use of the very process of reasoning and inference which they have discredited.”

    No, how has this been discredited? Who are the they, Haldane’s musing decades ago? Cricks chemistry and neuron statements don’t discredit it. Scientific reasoning and inference have been very successful and productive.

    p) “Thus, evolutionary materialism arguably reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, as we have seen: immediately, that must include “Materialism.”.

    Hmmm, no rather than illusion, reason remains a well developed, productive and successful mental discipline that works! There is no “thus” here, in the deductive or inferential sense.

    q) “In the end, it is thus quite hard to escape the conclusion that materialism is based on self-defeating, question-begging logic.”

    This wasn’t difficult to “escape” at all.

    r) “So, while materialists — just like the rest of us — in practice routinely rely on the credibility of reasoning and despite all the confidence they may project, they at best struggle to warrant such a tacitly accepted credibility of mind relative to the core claims of their worldview. (And, sadly: too often, they tend to pointedly ignore or rhetorically brush aside the issue.)”

    This is a generalization, but it may be more true of materialists than most, they do “routinely rely upon the credibility of reasoning”. However, most probably don’t struggle with these issues at all. I’ve have seldom seen them address the implications of the laws of physics for the credibility of their reasoning. But, despite your arguement they don’t seem very problematic. Brains and thinking work pretty well for us and many animals, people don’t tend to question things that work much, they focus more on things that aren’t working. Perhaps that has survival value.

    I think you have been extremely unfair in claiming that I have been avoiding or failing to address your issues. In going through this I recalled at the time and now, how I had actually addressed nearly all the issues, except perhaps the Marxism and the real conclusions p, q, and r. But the Marxism wasn’t a particular relevant or strong part of your argument, and from how I responded to your other points, my response to p, q and r could hardly be a surprise. Your “thus”es were not thuses for me.

  42. 42
    William J Murray says:

    Since when is physics an error prone mechanism? For physical “truth”, a logic consistent with the physical world would seen appropriate.

    Unless you are going to argue that most people (who are accumulations of physics) and their logic (produced by physics) make true arguments and reach true conclusions (which according to materialism, they do not, since they don’t believe in materialism), then physics is necessarily an error prone mechanism, producing the logic and conclusions of hitler, gandhi, hitler, stalin, billy graham, muslims, christians, madmen, and scientists alike.

    Your evaluation mechanism is known to be error-prone, yet you insist that it is all you have to evaluate your claims. You provide no basis for any confidence that anything a materialist system (person) produces (says, believes) is true, because it cannot be arbited by anything but the system itself.

  43. 43
    William J Murray says:

    Because under the material brain system, there’s no way to determine if the model works or not, because the same system that produces the programming is supposedly checking the system.

    You say:

    A computer program can be made to recognize errors and deviations from its goals,

    But fail to recognize that such programs are “Made to recognize errors” by exterior agents who apply goal-oriented instructions without which there isn’t any such thing as an “error” in programming. Physical material has no goals; it just produces what it produces. Presumably, in biology, it produces “whatever survives and procreates best”, not “whatever produces truthful statements about the world and its own existence”, which would be why the world is full of people who don’t believe in materialism.

    If materialism produces mostly truthful statements about the world and our own existence, then materialism would be false, because most people believe it to be false. If they are in error, then material brains & physics produce error-prone humans with no means to access any objective criteria or method or outside agency to evaluate their beliefs and views and claims by; all they have are the same materials and physics that produced a world full of erroneous human thought in the first place.

    That erroneous human thought would include all areas of pursuit – religion, science, relationships, logical argument, etc.

    Materialism as a premise is a self-defeating worldview.

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    AG:

    Pardon, but you will note that you have repeatedly tried one-shot kill talking point rebuttals [on the evident presumption that you were dealing with geometry proof-like deductive chains], and have only now tried to come to grips with the pattern of argument in some coherent fashion.

    First, allow me some overall remarks, then let us look point by point at your response above, at least on key clips.

    Even now, you are looking at “persuasion” rather than warranted inference to best explanation as the underlying wider context of thought. In this context, persuasion is a highly loaded word, but the real question is warrant on inference to overall best explanation, in light of factual adequacy, logical coherence and explanatory power. FYI, abductive inference to best explanation across the major serious alternatives, is the fundamental method of serious inquiry on matters where facts have to be explained in a coherent manner, such as in science, the court room, history, detective work, and at the most complex level of all, comparative difficulties analysis of worldviews (where, ALL worldviews bristle with difficulties, so the issue is to compare across factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power, then choose a reasonable view as one’s own).

    Within that broad context, we can again look at the argument that has been put on the table, in the context of the real problem of evolutionary materialism in this regard: there is a typical failure to realise the wider implications of the evo mat claims on the origins of mind especially, that leads to the sort of creeping omniscience where those who have not seriously thought through the wider issues and are not expert on them, have traipsed beyond their competence. In particular, the Lewontin- Sagan style imposition of evo mat as a censoring a priori on scientific thought, lands it in serious self-referentiality hot water, starting with things like promoting the mistaken PHILOSOPHICAL notion that “SCIENCE [is] the only begetter of truth.” This is as spectacular an own goal as one can make.

    To then compound such a blunder with the notion that it is now “self-evident” that “science” so censored on a priori materialistic grounds, then “provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality” simply reveals a classic case of going in a self-referentially incoherent question-begging circle, and doing so through closed-mindedness inculcated by domination of institutions of science and science education, as well as of popular science media promotion.

    Which is what I have highlighted above and in onward links, starting with the original post.

    Now, there is no need to even bring evolution into the matter as a question of natural history. Strictly speaking, one could take the sort of approach the co-founder of the theory, Wallace did. He saw the world of life as “a manifestation of Creative Power, Directive Mind and Ultimate Purpose.”

    One may debate that approach on its merits, but it is simply not subject to the sort of self-referentiality problems that evolutionary materialism runs into once it tries to account for mind as a credible phenomenon, on chance variations and natural selections, thence accidents of socio-cultural circumstances. And the long list of cases of spectacular own-goals for those who have tried to construct accounts of thinking and worldviews on such premises, should serve as a severe warning.

    The root of the problem is that we must use the very same minds that you discredit when it comes to the other side of issues, to explain the roots of mind, rationality and credible knowledge on warrant. Long ago, Lord Russell (IIRC) warned that whenever one’s chain of reasoning becomes self-referential, one must proceed with particular care, lest one scores an own-goal.

    And failure to work through that issue is precisely what is the characteristic problem of evolutionary materialistic thought. Multiply that by deterministic causal patterns on forces of chance and necessity, and you will see that they want to write what is patently the most sophisticated software in the world, that for a self-assembling neural network processor capable of controlling our bodies and of the sort of linguistic and logical competence and learning that we so often take for granted — that’s a big part of the logical trap they fall into — through accumulated accidents leading to progress on chance discovery of complex function that allows for improvement by further trial and error rewarded through differential success leading to hill-climbing up the back-slope of Mt Improbable.

    The big gap there is that the first problem is that with a highly complicated system with high contingency, functional arrangements of parts will all but certainly be deeply isolated in the beyond-astronomical space of possibilities. So, the search algorithm they imply is by overwhelming evidence credibly incapable on its face of the results they want to ascribe to it. So, if they want to substantiate such an incredible claim, they have to provide adequate warrant, by actual empirical demonstration.

    It is notorious that this is conspicuously missing in action, for all aspects of complex body plans, not just for minds and brains. Even the simple proof of concept test of setting up the electronic equivalent of monkeys typing at keyboards at random, shows that once spaces hit about 10^50 possibilities, and then go on beyond that, you begin to run out of steam. The complex specified information threshold used to infer design as best explanation starts at about 10^150 possibilities.

    What is done instead?

    The question is begged, as Lewontin demonstrates and as Johnson quite properly rebukes. materialism is imposed as a censoring a priori by the trick of dressing it up in a lab coat and pinning on the medals of the success of science on the coat.

    Sorry, that sort of a priorism leading to question-begging redefinition of science in such a way that the process of inference to best explanation is censored ideologically, is precisely a case of creeping omniscience that leads to traipsing beyond one’s competence.

    It is utterly unsurprising that it ends in an own-goal of self-referential incoherence.

    Okay, next I will take up your more specific claims.

    GEM of TKI

  45. 45
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Looks like I will need to snip key points from 17 above, and respond in sequence. (And since I will be away for some time, let me now add a note that the actual engagement in a discussion does escape from the sock-puppet talking points issue, which is worthy of note.) Okay, here goes:

    1: Our deterministic universe is governed by physical laws is nonlinear dynamic and chaotic, and not necessarily “random”. It possesses lots of examples of spontaneous order and mathmatically describable regularities.

    And, how does this escape the framing that I have given, that on evolutionary materialism, everything from hydrogen to humans “all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.”?

    I am very aware of spontaneous emergence of ORDER, e.g. crystallisation. This is driven by forces of mechanical necessity that act once the random thermal agitation is sufficiently reduced for the locking forces to assemble a crystal.

    More broadly, nonlinear dynamical forces of order, subject to the chance impact of initial conditions where there is sensitive dependence to such initial conditions leading to the butterfly effect etc is precisely an aspect of what I described in summary and played a key part in shaping my phrasing.

    Such has expressed the impact of chance and necessity, it has not escaped them. The necessity shapes the manifested trajectory in the phase space, once initial conditions are set. those initial circumstances are set based on happenstance of initial conditions, including irreducible variability that leads to an inability to exactly reproduce from one case to the next, and to drastic divergence of phase space path in the long run. BTW, such a phase space is such that no two trajectories from distinct initial conditions may intersect. [If they were to, the paths would be the same beyond that point, on the determinism.]

    2: consider this generalization: “mechanical necessity acting on material objects” Lets not forget that life is not just passive in this universe, even though life is acted upon by physical forces, it also utilizes chemical energy to act within and upon its environment.

    You managed to snip apart the actual summary of root causal factors allowed by physicalism:

    all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.

    Thus, you have dodged the challenge posed by the actual point b, of accounting for the EMERGENCE of life and of the relevant phenomenon, mind, on such forces of chance and necessity. Thus, a question is well on the way to being begged, bigtime.

    In addition, an accurate summary was presented by you as a “generalization,” which in this context is rhetorically heavily loaded. I have not made a hasty or faulty generalisation, I have made an accurate summary of physicalism.

    The self-referential incoherence follows pretty directly form that summary.

    3: Crick is wrong. Thoughts can be understood in other ways. We knew a lot about biology before we were very good at reducing it to chemistry. Hunter gatherer groups knew a lot about their environments even though they had anthropomorphized natural phenomena and animals. . . . thoughts are so complex they will probably never be “understood” in the sense of being comprehended at the chemical level, but they are considered and assumed to be subject to the same physical laws as the rest of the universe.

    Crick is wrong, but not for the reasons you hold.

    He has (per the premise of explanation by analysis) reduced the forces at work to their manifestation in the phase space of possibilities for electrochemistry in neuronal networks in the CNS. And since the CNS is the controller for the body, on materialistic premises his inference follows:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing. [The Astonishing Hypothesis, 1994]

    Crick is not trying to comprehend thought in detail at electro-chemical level, but to explain it in principle on such. Anatomically, our bodies are controlled by the CNS including the brain, and the key anatomical feature is the neuronal network, which interacts electrochemically. So, the particular physical state drives the whole process, on whatever genetic and socio-cultural forces have shaped those neuronal networks. But that then leads to the dynamical process issue: the trajectory is set, and plays out based on electrochemistry, cause and effect, not on any conceptual apparatus of ground and consequent, free choice to think etc.

    Hence Johnson’s apt rebuke that Crick should be willing to preface his writings: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”

    And he is equally correct to continue: “[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.”

    Crick scores an own goal.

    4: But there is no evidence of intent at the at the level of the physical laws, so Crick is correct in that regard. Intent is a property we recognize in ourselves and infer to exist in other life forms.

    In short, intent, and associated choice, are either explained away by Crickian reductionism, leading to the own goal of delusion, or else we have an implicit doctrine of mysterious emergence, where ta-da, magic, we have mind from meat.

    A materialist miracle.

    Or, more correctly, a telling explanatory gap.

    (For a serious alternative, cf. the discussion of the Smith Model of cybernetic control through a two-tier control loop and associated issues on mind vs brain, here.)

    5: The assembly of nerve cells has a complex organization, and as I mentioned before, Crick could also cite his training, education and the mental disciplines involving evidence and reasoning to support his conclusions. Since Crick is utilizing chemical energy he can act on his environment. There is no inherent contradiction in a being subject to physical laws being able to comment upon the underlying physics of his thoughts. You need to do more than imply there is.

    There is no inherent contradiction in being subject to the INFLUENCE of physical laws, and being able to think about them etc, but there is indeed a spectacular contradiction between being DETERMINED by factors and forces of blind chance and necessity — all the difference between influencing necessity and determining sufficiency in the logic of cause — and being able to somehow on such find the organisation that voila poof escapes the implication of such determinism on chance plus necessity that:

    a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity.

    b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances . . . .

    c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains.

    d: These forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [[“nature”] and psycho-social conditioning [[“nurture”], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism].

    e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

    6: the life form is acting itself, so influences its own development and a nonlinear dynamic relationship with its environment.

    In short, the life form is operantly conditioned, exactly the problem faced by the behaviorist: is he any better than a sophisticated rat trapped in the cosmic maze and subject tot he conditioning and whatever in the end trial and error successes he may have had that in this case led to prizes and other glorified food-pellets?

    7: There were lots of contradictions in marxism, of course they had somehow escaped their conditioning so they must not have considered it absolute, in fact their statements about others being subject to their conditioning was an attempt to persuade them to look at their pre-concieved notions critically and to change them.

    And how is this materially different from claiming the sort of self-serving exception to the programming of genetic and socio-cultural circumstances that Johnson rebuked for Crick?

    Let us adapt Johnson on Crick:

    “[[t]he plausibility of [dialectic and historical] materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.”

    materialist magic again, poof, WE have it right by magic, WE are the exception to the delusion. (If you have had to deal with serious Marxist activists in their heyday you will instantly recognise the pattern. And edon’t you darte try bring out the contradictions in the labour theory of value, starting with what happens when you have a set of simultaneous equations with over-determination of the variables! [Ever noticed how the number of equations and the number of variables in those school room exercises always matched? Guess why.])

    8: Freudian’s used dismissive rhetoric too but like the marxists they accepted that the past conditioning could be understood and escaped.

    Do you see the problem of “we are the exceptions” again?

    9: Behaviorist fundamentalism has been rejected in current science. Jane Goodall was part of the revolution that made it acceptable to infer intent and internal mental states in animals again.

    You score an own-goal here, cf the case where you infer to operant conditioning.

    Yes, we now have intent recognised as an empirical fact. What is not there is anything beyond voila-poof, to explain it on evolutionary materialist premises.

    10: Religion is just one of many examples of the unreliability of our reasoning faculties and alternatively their lack of dominance in our beliefs, feeling and thinking. But because these failings are all too real, they are not just a problem for “the assumption of evolutionary materialism.” You are intending to imply that examples of human irrationality and unreliability of their reasoning call into question not the “assumption” but the conclusion of evolutionary materialism . . .

    No, I am pointing out that “the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.”

    Specifically:

    we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely error, but delusion. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be an illustration of the unreliability of our reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

    So, now, on what grounds tracing to genetic and socio-cultural conditioning shaped by chance and necessity, without voila-poofing logical and epistemic warrant capacity, can you account for how “scientific” evolutionary materialism escapes the problem of delusions that work?

    [I have to get about the day for now, so more later . . . ]

    GEM of TKI

  46. 46
    William J Murray says:

    AG Markf:

    If physics commands that the body bark like a dog, drool like a loon, slap its own face repeatedly, and concurrently commmands the brain to think it has run rigorous scientific experiment and have reached a sound logical conclusion, then that is what “you” will do, and that is what “you” will think, and you have no arbiting agent available by which you could locate your error and correct it, except the very same thing that created the error in the first place.

    You cannot check the length of your ruler with the same ruler. This is an issue of logic, not an issue of evidence. Logic interprets evidence. If logic is just another fallible product of physics, how can anyone have faith they are properly interpreting evidence?

    If physics produces person A that says 1+2=3, and person B that says 1+2=4, unless person A and person B refer to an arbiter for their disagreement other than physics (which produced both conclusions), there is no way to resolve the contradiction.

  47. 47
    William J Murray says:

    I meant to address the above to Africangenesis, not Markf.

    [Done per request, KF]

  48. 48
    kairosfocus says:

    Continuing:

    11: Many logical fallacies have persuasive power. But all this indicates, as I previously noted, is that “thinking is hard”, and but there is no contradiction in the idea that mental disciplines and scientific methodology improve our models of the universe and our ability to predict and control it.

    Irrelevant to the issue of accounting for the origin of a credible reasoning and knowing capacity on evo mat premises without scoring an own goal.

    The point is that if you reduce the pattern of thinking of others to delusion, and do not have a definite force that makes your exception credible, you have scored an own-goal, as we saw several times above. Voila poof is not good enough.

    If instead you start from the observed fact of knowledge and rationality and reason on what we do know, then we end up in a very different situation. But evo mat thinking, due to its inherent reductionism and determinism on chance and necessity, locks off that line of thought, when thinking about origins.

    Hence the repeated own goals.

    12: Turnabout is fair play, but is it rigorously defensible here. Religion is around because it is adaptive despite being irrational, therefore, materialism may just be adaptive and irrational too? Has materialism hasn’t been an important part of human thinking for much of written history, much less evolutionary history. What about it is adaptive? As a model that allows better prediction and control of the environment it may well be adaptive. There is no reason to assume that it is irrational just because religion is.

    Do you now see the many self-servingly and self-congratulatingly begged questions here in light of the cases highlighted above?

    Let’s look at the actual point you have strawmannised:

    f: For further instance, we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely error, but delusion. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be an illustration of the unreliability of our reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

    g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

    h: That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil’s Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence.

    IN SHORT THE UNDERLYING DYNAMIC LEADS TO AN OWN-GOAL.

    (And to then voila-poof, we are the lucky exception, being so rational, ducks the point that the dynamic multiplied by such prevalence entails that the mind is overwhelmingly delusional. Do you also spot the arrogance and creeping omniscience involved? If you don’t reread the remarks on Lewontin above. Factor in the built-in affirming the consequent challenge faced by scientific reasoning.)

    And on the subject of the role played by materialism in the history of thought, you may find the remarks of Plato on that subject, clipped here, suitably humbling.

    13: it [materalism] also espouses a mental discipline, it may actually result in more practice of rational thinking, with practice may come improvement. We’ve already discussed whether any of models are ever the “truth”, the main thing is that they can work, they can aid in predicting and controlling our environment as perceived through our senses.

    The practice of logical thinking is not a preserve of evolutionary materialism, and in fact the Lewontin-Sagan problem as just described underscores by key example that it too often becomes a deslusional, censoring a priori that handicaps rather than enhances rationality.

    Going beyond, scientific thought, unlike Lewontin et al imagine, is precisely not a magic key to actually accurate accounts of reality, i.e truth. As you acknowledged just after the clip, empirical reliability “so far” is not to be equated to truth.

    unfortunately, many are being taught just the opposite, and those who are correcting this blunder are often the despised “religious.”

    14: under materialism our brains and thoughts don’t violate the laws of physics. In that sense our beliefs, including our beliefs in materialism and religion are “caused”.

    Influenced does not equate to caused in the deterministic sense.

    (Examine the distinction between necessary and sufficient causal factors here, and where that leads, please.)

    15: but God was harsh and judgemental, at least as exemplified by the humans representing him . . .

    Pardon, but if anything that shows that the error there is with the humans and not God.

    16: I also had parents who valued education and encouraged my love of science and nature.

    There is nothing wrong with loving or studying science or nature, but there is a big problem with imposing Lewontinian a prioi materialism on such.

    17: Yes, because his brain is sound chemically doesn’t mean his thoughts are sound logically. However, Haldane’s musing is not evidence unless you are arguing from authority. If you are going to cite him for having “no reason” to believe his brain is composed of atoms and “no reason” to believe his beliefs are true, you should supplement it with evidence because his authority is not conclusive. He may well be correct, HE had “no reason”, but that doesn’t mean that WE have no reason, we might have looked a little harder and we have the advange of a few decades more scientific advancement. Why are you citing this person?

    H’mm what aspect of his argument is specific to Haldane? Has he not summarised what Crick et al would later summarise on electrochemistry of neural networks, pointing to the same problem they implied but have yet to acknowledge?

    And since when is acknowledging the specific name — here, that of a key foundational evolutionary biologist — who has made a statement an improper appeal to authority?

    Let’s look again at what he actually said as opposed to your strawman:

    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 [then] I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically [–> i.e. flow from relevant chemical dynamics], but that does not make them sound logically [–> mechanical cause-effect bonds are not to be confused with logical ground-consequent bonds, and if the one is the driving force, the other would have to be connected to that, which is utterly not the case, chemistry does not ground concepts, their warrant as true, and their linkages on ground-consequent relationships]. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms [–> that is, the framework of logic for scientific reasoning collapses].” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.

    At no point is Haldane’s reasoning peculiar to his personal identity, but he only gives himself as a case without loss of generality. Going beyond, he highlights the precise gap between the IS of cause-effect bonds and the desideratum of IF-THEN reasoning.

    For me to highlight this summary to show that this has been on the ground for a long time, from the era that laid the foundation of modern evolutionary thought, is not a fallacious appeal to authority, but rather a proper posing of a challenge that has been there, unanswered from the foundation of the field of modern evolutionary theorising.

    And BTW, the “there is no evidence” dismissal argument is one of those key selectively hyperskeptical talking points we keep pointing out. Nope, there is evidence and there is reasoning on it, which you happen to disagree with. But that mere fact of disagreement does not instantly demote the evidence to non-evidentiary status.

    18: A brain forged by having to work over millions of years of evolution doesn’t work by “astonishingly lucky coincidence”. I’ve discussed this extensively.

    Sorry, you have failed — as many others before you — to non-question-beggingly bridge the gap between the force of cause-effect on chance plus necessity and the framework of function required to give confidence to logical reasoning on evolutionary materialist premises. As has been gone through again, point by point above.

    To that, let me add this: chance variation and natural selection reward functional success. to get there, we have to first achieve such success, based on exceedingly complex and specific functional organisation. It is precisely a key design theory insight that such FSCI is beyond the reach of chance and mechanical necessity without intelligence, on the gamut of the observed cosmos.

    Before you can freely assert the above, you need to show EMPIRICALLY how on the scope of resources available in our solar system, the requisite FSCI can be generated by chance and necessity. In effect you have the need to write major operating system modules by chance and necessity, monkeys typing at random and then fitting into an existing operating framework and enhancing it.

    We know that operating system modules are written routinely by intelligent agents, and that is the only observational basis for the arrival of the function that we have. Associated analysis per the infinite monkeys theorem, and its links to statistical thermodynamics, tells us that such will be maximally unlikely on chance plus necessity absent intelligence. So unlikely that we can find them utterly implausible, in absence of a specific, credible empirical demonstration.

    The sort of rhetorical gymnastics we see surrounding rejections of the design inference on FSCI serve only to underscore just how much this challenge remains unmet.

    19: how has this been discredited?

    Translated: having rhetorically brushed aside, I dismiss.

    20: rather than illusion, reason remains a well developed, productive and successful mental discipline that works! There is no “thus” here, in the deductive or inferential sense

    The issue is not that REASON is discredited, but that on the points already seen and as substantiated again in the face of your objections, evolutionary materialism is incapable of accounting for it.

    21: they [materialists] do “routinely rely upon the credibility of reasoning”. However, most probably don’t struggle with these issues at all.

    Uh huh.

    Prezactly.

    The issue lurks, unanswered and largely ignored by materialists.

    _______________

    I do appreciate that you have at least tried to address the matter on specific points, though you can see from the above, why I draw the conclusion that you have — as several before you — failed to bridge the gap between chance and necessity as presumed driving forces of the cosmos and reason.

    To see why I raised the issue of playing at talking point games instead of addressing on points, seriously, contrast this above to the previous efforts at one point single shot dismissals.

    I do appreciate the fact of the attempt, but I think the astute onlooker will have grounds to see for him or herself why the attempt fails.

    G’day for now . . .

    GEM of TKI

  49. 49
    Bruce David says:

    It is certainly true computer program can be designed to use a trial and error methodology to solve some problem or even to learn from its mistakes. However, if there are errors in its design or in the implementation of that design, the program has absolutely no way of ascertaining that fact and correcting such flaws. As William Murray points out, a computer blindly executes its code, whether the code is correct or not.

    So if your position is that our minds are simply the workings of the machines in our heads called brains, and those machines have been programmed by nature, then those machines have absolutely no way of knowing whether the processes within them that draw conclusions regarding the nature of the world do so correctly or not. Since materialism is itself one of those conclusions, a materialist ipso facto has no way of knowing whether the conclusion that materialism is true is a valid conclusion.

    I cannot put is any more plainly than that. If you can’t see it, there is no point in continuing the conversation.

  50. 50
    africangenesis says:

    @W. J. Murray,

    I think you have stumbled onto something which can help clarify the issue:

    “If physics produces person A that says 1+2=3, and person B that says 1+2=4, unless person A and person B refer to an arbiter for their disagreement other than physics (which produced both conclusions), there is no way to resolve the contradiction.”

    Is there no way to resolve the contradiction/ Physics has a way of resolving contradictions, perhaps in any universe with consistent characteristics there is a logic of some kind. You picked an abstract example where perhaps the working of physics will be more subtle. But I think a reductio ad absurdem is possible.

    Let’s say physics produces predator A that follows the prey, when the prey turns and physics produces predator B that goes straight when the predator turns.

    Let’s say physics produces chimpanzee A that reaches for the fruit where it is and chimpanzee B that reaches 2 feet to the right of the fruit.

    Let’s say physics produces female wolf A that thinks she has 3 pups when she has 3, and female wolf B that keeps looking for a 4th pup when she only has 3.

    Let’s say physics produces a man A that thinks he has a wife when he has one, and man B that thinks he has a wife when he has none.

    Now this part of your statement: “unless person A and person B refer to an arbiter for their disagreement other than physics (which produced both conclusions), there is no way to resolve the contradiction.”

    Person B, that thinks 1 + 2 = 4 has a more subtle problem, perhaps he will have difficultly in trade, or problems assessing the odds in an upcoming battle, but keep in mind that these brains underwent considerable refinement before they ever got to us.

    I submit that this is relevant to Gem of TKI’s point:

    “j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt and (v) the “conclusions” we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or logical validity.”

    Are they really “irrelevant”?

  51. 51
    kairosfocus says:

    AG:

    Kindly note, the questions being raised clearly operate at the integrative, abstract conceptual level of worldviews [or if you will, ideologies or schools of thinking], not immediate sense perceptions, which themselves can often work good enough even if distorted or embedded in patently false schemes of thought — pragmatic success is not to be equated to truth-making or truth-warranting.

    That is, the issues at the focus of discussion are regarding not trivialities such as moving an arm to pick or catch a fruit by successive approximation — which does not require the abstraction in even as much as doing an addition — but in those world-model-building abstractions that affect cognitive beliefs and how they are formed into a whole. With particular focus on areas of responsible choice.

    (Kindly note, again, the specific set of examples given, they are an integral part of the frame of argument, and like the successive approximation of reaching out to pluck a fruit, they prevent twisting the argument into strawmanish pretzels.)

    Your attempted counter-examples therefore fail.

    They also inadvertently illustrate precisely the problem at stake.

    What does it mean to have a wife and be married, for instance?

    Are there two people who can actually decide — and not merely two hormone and impulse driven jumped up apes programmed genetically and meme-etically to unconsciously follow genetic and socio-culturally programmed impulses without any true, responsible choice or commitment? Is such marriage a lifelong covenant, or a convenient agreement for the time being — as in the women are on probation and can be dumped for a newer flashier model at any time? And, how do we reasonably, responsibly decide which view to accept and act on? [Cf here on warrant and knowledge.]

    The women involved are putting their lives on the line on childbearing [for most of history, this as been a relatively high-risk action], and their attractiveness; these days, in direct competition with web porn. But if men are in a position where they perceive that they have no real power of choice and commitment, then the thereby reduced moral resistance to tempting perceptions and impulses lead to chaos and ultimate sociocultural disintegration. In effect, the issue is not reaching out for fruit, but reaching out for forbidden — notice the shift in cognitive focus — fruit; in light of how that act is understood when mere perceptions are integrated into worldviews.

    Sounds familiar?

    When it comes to merely reaching out an arm for a fruit, the issue is that there is a direct reinforcing loop through multiple senses.

    But when it comes to forming symbolically communicated, conceptual, cognitive beliefs and principles of action — what is inescapably involved in “forbidden fruit,” the sort of direct counter-checks through sensory paths are going to be absent. Now, at that level, you are going to have to rely on abstractions, conventions for symbols and ground-consequent bonds, not cause-effect ones. And if you reduce the former to the latter, you are stuck in the trap of being jumped up pond scum by way to East African apes scrambling for reproductive advantage in a Malthusian survival- of- the- ruthless- or- wily world.

    The subtle trap involved here is the one highlighted by Kant in discussing the categorical imperative.

    False premises and principles of action can often succeed [too often, very well indeed], providing they can parasite off the fact that the community as a whole does not operate like that, e.g. lying, cheating and the like. But once the pattern propagates across the community and becomes sufficiently dominant or common, doubtless pushed by ideologies that are utterly amoral, the society as a whole collapses.

    To the massive loss of all.

    Now, let us integrate that into the patterns above.

    Notice, the evolutionary materialistic dynamic as proposed is going to promote survival at the level of passing on one’s genes based on the success or otherwise of one’s behaviour, not the accuracy of one’s beliefs. So, for instance a Genghis Khan can succeed genetically beyond wildest expectations by being in effect the rapist in chief. (It seems from the genetic evidence that if he wasn’t killing off the men, he must have been busy raping the widows he just created and their daughters.)

    So, let us review, as it is plainly so counter to the ingrained beliefs that it is hard to see what is actually being said:

    a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity.

    b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.

    (This is physicalism. This view covers both the forms where (a) the mind and the brain are seen as one and the same thing, and those where (b) somehow mind emerges from and/or “supervenes” on brain, perhaps as a result of sophisticated and complex software looping. The key point, though is as already noted: physical causal closure — the phenomena that play out across time, without residue, are in principle deducible or at least explainable up to various random statistical distributions and/or mechanical laws, from prior physical states. [[There is also some evidence from simulation exercises, that accuracy of even sensory perceptions may lose out to utilitarian but inaccurate ones in an evolutionary competition. “It works” does not warrant the inference to “it is true.”] )

    c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this picture. So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains.

    d: These forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [[“nature”] and psycho-social conditioning [[“nurture”], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism].

    As a direct consequence, we see what happens in cases of such thinking, not so much at the level of picking fruit, but picking forbidden fruit — note, again, the big difference the key abstract concept makes. Watch:

    [ . . . ]

  52. 52
    kairosfocus says:

    e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

    f: For further instance, we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely error, but delusion. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be an illustration of the unreliability of our reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

    g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

    h: That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil’s Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence . . . .

    j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt and (v) the “conclusions” we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to purpose, truth, or logical validity.

    (NB: The conclusions of such “arguments” may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or “warranted” them. It seems that rationality itself has thus been undermined fatally on evolutionary materialistic premises. Including that of Crick et al. Through, self-reference leading to incoherence and utter inability to provide a cogent explanation of our commonplace, first-person experience of reasoning and rational warrant for beliefs, conclusions and chosen paths of action. Reduction to absurdity and explanatory failure in short.)

    k: And, if materialists then object: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must immediately note that — as the fate of Newtonian Dynamics between 1880 and 1930 shows — empirical support is not equivalent to establishing the truth of a scientific theory. For, at any time, one newly discovered countering fact can in principle overturn the hitherto most reliable of theories. (And as well, we must not lose sight of this: one is relying on the legitimacy of the reasoning process to make the case that scientific evidence provides reasonable albeit provisional warrant for one’s beliefs etc. Scientific reasoning is not independent of reasoning.)

    l: Worse, in the case of origins science theories, we simply were not there to directly observe the facts of the remote past, so origins sciences are even more strongly controlled by assumptions and inferences than are operational scientific theories. So, we contrast the way that direct observations of falling apples and orbiting planets allow us to test our theories of gravity.

    Do you see how the strands of the rope mutually reinforce in the face of different types of strain put on the rope, to hold it together and take the new load?

    Notice what is happening to the Marxists, Freudians, Behaviorists, Crickian reductionists and even Lewontinian a priori materialists: they are projecting unto others an irrationality that their own system would also lock them into, reducing them to self-referential absurdity. As was shown by key suggestive example for case after case. This is not the level of picking fruit, but what it takes to recognise that a given fruit is properly forbidden, per good warrant. As the ghosts of 100 million victims of marxist regimes over the past 100 years moan out to remind us.

    Next,we bring the new atheists to the dock.

    They are busily trumpeting to the highest heavens how (especially theistic) “Religion” is a delusion, even child abuse. So, that means they think it is a capital case of the memes and genes being passed on and turning out some degree of survival advantage, while being — in their estimation — false to the point of borderline lunacy. But, if such a large fraction of the world is so delusional, you have fatally undermined the credibility of the human cognitive — as opposed to mere perceptual — system.

    Once those dogs of rhetorical war have been let loose, though, they cannot be called back to one’s convenience.

    Materialism, for all its scientific pretensions, is a similar abstract conceptual system that is being rewarded with survival. So, the same forces are going to be at work, i.e we have self-reference. And, we have a situation where we already see that on the Marxist’s terms, delusions can become mass delusions and still promote success. So, we have no defense here, apart form the injection of the Lewontinian type a prioris that patently beg questions, censor issues, confuse categories of knowledge to the point of blatant self-referential incoherence, are motivated by self-congratulatory arrogance, and worse.

    In short, the evidence is that the very same delusional pattern projected unto others is busily at work among the a priori materialists, never mind the fancy lab coat and the glittering medals on it. (Just ask the ghosts of the soldiers of WW I what chests full of medals mean in terms of competence. Ask yourself why it was the amateur strategist-politician-journalist, Churchill, who as in effect political head of the Royal Navy — not the army, sponsored the key breakthrough weapon, the tank. Originally, land-ship, armed with a typical naval secondary weapon, the six pounder.)

    And, this is particularly relevant to the origins science context, as, surprise — not, we cannot directly observe the deep past of origins so we must make and use conceptual models of it based on theoretical reconstructions. This is not like watching an apple fall while the crescent moon swings by in the skies of Lincolnshire.

    This leads on to:

    n: Such [Lewontinian] a priori assumptions of materialism are patently question-begging, mind-closing and fallacious.

    o: More important, to demonstrate that empirical tests provide empirical support to the materialists’ theories would require the use of the very process of reasoning and inference which they have discredited.

    p: Thus, evolutionary materialism arguably reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, as we have seen: immediately, that must include “Materialism.”

    q: In the end, it is thus quite hard to escape the conclusion that materialism is based on self-defeating, question-begging logic.

    r: So, while materialists — just like the rest of us — in practice routinely rely on the credibility of reasoning and despite all the confidence they may project, they at best struggle to warrant such a tacitly accepted credibility of mind relative to the core claims of their worldview. (And, sadly: too often, they tend to pointedly ignore or rhetorically brush aside the issue.)

    See the cumulative effect of the argument?

    GEM of TKI

  53. 53
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: In an effort to improve clarity in light of the perceptions revealed in the exchanges above, I have made some adjustments here, which is the main place where the relevant argument is made.

  54. 54
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: let’s pick up a clip from the mods, where I bring in something previously held back from IOSE in app 8 of the always linked through my handle, as I thought it was a little technical. But to make sure the point is underscored, I need to bring this in, from Reppert:

    ______________

    >> h: That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil’s Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence. Reppert brings the underlying point sharply home, in commenting on the “internalised mouth-noise signals riding on the physical cause-effect chain in a cybernetic loop” view:

    . . . 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. [[Emphases added. Also cf. Reppert’s summary of Barefoot’s argument here.]

    i: The famous evolutionary biologist J. B. S. Haldane made much the same point in a famous 1932 remark:

    “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.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]

    j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the conceptualised beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt based on such and (v) the “conclusions” and “choices” (a.k.a. “decisions”) we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to “mere” ill-defined abstractions such as: purpose or truth, or even logical validity.

    (NB: The conclusions of such “arguments” may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or “warranted” them. It seems that rationality itself has thus been undermined fatally on evolutionary materialistic premises. Including that of Crick et al. Through, self-reference leading to incoherence and utter inability to provide a cogent explanation of our commonplace, first-person experience of reasoning and rational warrant for beliefs, conclusions and chosen paths of action. Reduction to absurdity and explanatory failure in short.)

    k: And, if materialists then object: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must immediately note that — as the fate of Newtonian Dynamics between 1880 and 1930 shows — empirical support is not equivalent to establishing the truth of a scientific theory. For, at any time, one newly discovered countering fact can in principle overturn the hitherto most reliable of theories. (And as well, we must not lose sight of this: in science, one is relying on the legitimacy of the reasoning process to make the case that scientific evidence provides reasonable albeit provisional warrant for one’s beliefs etc. Scientific reasoning is not independent of reasoning.)

    l: Worse, in the case of origins science theories, we simply were not there to directly observe the facts of the remote past, so origins sciences are even more strongly controlled by assumptions and inferences than are operational scientific theories. So, we contrast the way that direct observations of falling apples and orbiting planets allow us to test our theories of gravity. >>
    _____________

    The balance between detail, length and “simplicity” is always hard to strike. I had thought Haldane was enough . . .

  55. 55
    kairosfocus says:

    PPPS: Also, I have felt it necessary to explicitly cite Liebnitz’s key point in his famous analogy of the mill:

    _______________

    >> 7 –> If the materialistic view is true, it will be possible to build the supervisory level [for a Smith Model Cybernetic loop, the context for the whole discussion . . . ] out of the neural networks that are available; but if it is false, then it may overlook other possible elementary constituents of reality and their inner properties.

    8 –> But as Liebnitz pointed out in his famous analogy of the Mill, the parts of a machine interact through mechanical interactions (including chance disturbances etc), and so have no inherent rationality, imagination, intent or obligation. That is, there is an inherent gap between the physical “is” and the logical inference, the mental“vision,” the decision or the force of “ought,” much less self-awareness. Citing from his The Monadology, 17:

    It must be confessed, however, that perception, and that which depends upon it, are inexplicable by mechanical causes, that is to say, by figures and motions. Supposing that there were a machine whose structure produced thought, sensation, and perception, we could conceive of it as increased in size with the same proportions until one was able to enter into its interior, as he would into a mill. Now, on going into it he would find only pieces working upon one another, but never would he find anything to explain perception [[i.e. abstract conception]. It is accordingly in the simple substance, and not in the compound nor in a machine that the perception is to be sought . . .

    9 –> By contrast, mind-body dualists such as Liebnitz, are often dismissively said to be proposing an unobservable “ghost in the machine,” for which there is said to be no reason to see how it can interact with the brain-body closed loop system.

    10 –> However, if the proposed immaterial mind acts the part of a supervisory controller, it may supervene informationally (and so also conceptually) on the “bio-robot” of the brain-body cybernetic system. Thus, the logical or imaginative, creative process can intervene in the brain-body cybernetic system informationally, conceptually and logically, not by mere mechanical cause-effect chains.

    11 –> In other words: Liebnitz’s wheels simply grind the one against the other in a causal chain; by themselves, they do not originate their organisation nor do they logically infer consequences of premises, etc. >>
    ______________

  56. 56
    kairosfocus says:

    PPPPS: Plantinga’s clip from Churchland may also help bring the point home:

    ___________

    >> 6 –> . . . the input/ output [[i/o] controller can easily be seen as a function of neural networks. But, the supervisory level [in the Smith Cybernetic loop] is a level of imagination, decision, intention and skill. But, also, as Plantinga cites from Patricia Churchland, for evolutionary materialist naturalists, such a neural network cybernetic controller view (despite the confidently stated pious hopes of other naturalistic thinkers) may come at a surprisingly stiff price:

    Boiled down to essentials, a nervous system enables the organism to succeed in . . . . feeding, fleeing, fighting, and reproducing. The principal chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive . . . . Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism’s way of life and enhances the organism’s chances of survival [[Churchland’s emphasis]. Truth, whatever that is [[ –> let’s try, from Aristotle in Metaphysics, 1011b: “that which says of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not” . . . ], definitely takes the hindmost. (Plantinga also adds this from Darwin: “the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”)

    >>
    __________

    See the key issue?

  57. 57
    bornagain77 says:

    kf, speaking of Plantinga; This guy has really done his homework on Plantinga’s Ontological argument to refine it to a irrefutable proof:

    The Ontological Argument for the Triune God – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGVYXog8NUg

  58. 58
    William J Murray says:

    Africangenesis:

    Apparently, your point is that at least some thought, instinct, or belief that is in contradiction to physical reality will weed out errors (when compared to reality).

    Since to this point evolution has wrought a human race where the majority does not believe in materialism, and the majority believes in a god of some sort, then by the evolutionary success standard, theistic non-materialism is true.

    Do you agree? If not, why not?

    Before you answer, let me posit your answer for you: you do not agree. But on what basis do you not agree? If apparent evolutionary success to this point is our only effective barometer of what is most likely true (since we cannot trust our “reasoning”, as it factually produces at least as much false thought as true in the here and now), then shouldn’t you accept majority thoughts and dismiss your own?

    But, even more problematic, what if your particular reasoning, which you are employing in this debate, is just erroneous, like most other lines of reasoning that have ever existed on the planet when it comes to world-view concepts of truth? We have nothing but the physics that produced it to appeal to for correction, which is self-referential, and we won’t know (by the evolutionary standard) which or our views is “right”; unless, of course, we go by our individual procreative rate. I have 6 children and 12 grandchildren. Do I win, by the evolutionary standard?

    Since we know reasoning and thoughts and beliefs are incredibly faulty, why should I pay your particular argument here any mind? Why should you think me capable of understanding it? Why should you even try? Physics wrought both my position and yours; why not just leave it up to evolution to decide, since we are incapable of evaluating our arguments for error with anything but what produces errors in the first place?

    Also, couldn’t it be argued that some thoughts and beliefs that are in contradiction to reality would actually be better for humans? After all, to move from simply reacting to the lion and running from it, to preparing for the event if a lion attacks by constructing a trap, one must be able envision a state of reality not currently in existence.

    In order for some prey to survive, they must appear to be something other than what they are. One can see that modes of thought or physicality that are not governed by what actually occurs, but upon what might occur, or to prevent things from occurring, are quite useful. Deception and lying and imagination would all be evolutionary mechanisms that detach the thinking process from “reality”.

    If I can get a bunch of people to believe a big lie that motivates them to build and cultivate and get along, then the big lie aids in survival. If I say god wants them to reproduce as much as possible, then that can be greatly effective in getting that meme inserted into the greater population.

    Now, who do you think procreates more; atheist/materialists, or theistic non-materialists? Who has a better chance of getting their genes to continue on?

    The problem with any physicalist system is that if we are to go by what actually exists here and now, then your argument leads away from your position; if what exists has been validated by evolution as true, then your position is false when compared to the majority of what exists; you have nothing else to appeal to to validate your argument, because everything else could simply be errors produced by physics.

    IOW, by your own argument you should lay down your own beliefs and accept what the majority of humans believe to be true, just as the moral physicalist/relativist should lay down their morals and accept consensus morality.

    But, I doubt you will, because you argue as if you and I have libertarian free will, and can discern true statements independent of physical, causative chains, and as if “the truth” is something other than what utterances and actions physics actually produces.

  59. 59
    bornagain77 says:

    Footnotes to Ontological argument:

    These references may make it much easier for some to understand the Ontological ‘proof’ for God that was illustrated by the preceding video;

    Ontological Argument For God From The Many Worlds Hypothesis – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4784641

    God Is Not Dead Yet – William Lane Craig – Page 4The ontological argument. Anselm’s famous argument has been reformulated and defended by Alvin Plantinga, Robert Maydole, Brian Leftow, and others. God, Anselm observes, is by definition the greatest being conceivable. If you could conceive of anything greater than God, then that would be God. Thus, God is the greatest conceivable being, a maximally great being. So what would such a being be like? He would be all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good, and he would exist in every logically possible world. But then we can argue:

    1. It is possible that a maximally great being (God) exists.

    2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.

    3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.

    4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.

    5. Therefore, a maximally great being exists in the actual world.

    6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.

    7. Therefore, God exists.

    Now it might be a surprise to learn that steps 2–7 of this argument are relatively uncontroversial. Most philosophers would agree that if God’s existence is even possible, then he must exist. So the whole question is: Is God’s existence possible? The atheist has to maintain that it’s impossible that God exists. He has to say that the concept of God is incoherent, like the concept of a married bachelor or a round square. But the problem is that the concept of God just doesn’t appear to be incoherent in that way. The idea of a being which is all-powerful, all knowing, and all-good in every possible world seems perfectly coherent. And so long as God’s existence is even possible, it follows that God must exist.
    http://www.christianitytoday.c.....ml?start=4

    I like the following concluding comment about the ontological argument from the following Dr. Plantinga video:

    “God then is the Being that couldn’t possibly not exit.”

    Ontological Argument – Dr. Plantinga (3:50 minute mark)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCXvVcWFrGQ

  60. 60
    kairosfocus says:

    Interesting, even though a bit breathlessly rushed.

  61. 61
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I think the theistic arguments are best seen as a cumulative case, and the challenge is to see what denying them collectively entails. For instance move from contingent cosmos to necessary being as root cause, then try to deny. But that is more of a metaphysical project.

  62. 62
    africangenesis says:

    If the distinction is at an abstract level without physical implications, then we probably won’t be able to distinguish the theories.

  63. 63
    africangenesis says:

    Actually, I agree, at least in so far as religion has physical implications, they can have survival value. Physics can only arbitrate the physical implications. I see their value in group competition. Increased within group sharing and mutual assistance, my kids grew up on hand-me-downs and have always had assistance and advice when needed. Evangelism creates a buffer zone of less hostile people around. Of course, those religions with fanaticism and fervor can quickly intimidate within group non-conformity and ward off neighbors.

    If you’d been reading my comments on other pages you could have anticipated by appreciation of religion.

  64. 64
    africangenesis says:

    A gradation on the argument from perfection? That argument never had persuasive power for me, since I associated existence with imperfection. It proved non-existance.

  65. 65
    kairosfocus says:

    AG

    I note the subject shift.

    It reflects the same pattern of problems of a one-shot kill attempt on failure to address the strands of a rope issue.

    (If you want to look at arguments to God in the modern era, you are looking at a worldview level inference to best explanation as underlying framework, and you are looking at a choice of worldview level commitments, where every such pattern has implied difficulties. And the cumulative commitment to reject the cluster of arguments, e.g. here on and here [cf. here], on that IBE basis, when seen as a whole, becomes quite difficult and implausible. Also cf here on the thinking toolkit needed.)

    Back on the main emergent focus for discussion in this thread, you will see that I have decided to re-balance the presentation here on [notice the point where the discussion actually begins and the implications of the Smith cybernetic model], towards a bit more details than I had hitherto used. You have manged to tip the didactic balance a bit towards more technical details. (I hope this does not sacrifice too much of grasp-ability for the ordinary reader.)

    GEM of TKI

  66. 66
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: The cumulative worldviews case issue is brought out just a tad, on links mostly, here above.

  67. 67
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: AG, above is grossly misreading the import of modal logic on the subject, i.e. it is a case of creeping omniscience. In brief, you need to reflect a bit on possible worlds, possible beings, impossible beings and necessary beings. In a side light — i.e. via another strand that mutually reinforces — from another discussion, you may profit by doing he half burned match experiment and discussion here.

    Remember, too, the root challenge is that the cumulative worldview level commitment to reject the cluster of arguments is quite surprisingly burdensome.

  68. 68
    kairosfocus says:

    AG,

    First, there is a problem in both science and wider discussions where distinct theories are empirically indistinguishable, either so far or on a general basis. That is why the comparative difficulties challenge has to asses on not only factual adequacy but coherence and explanatory power.

    Going beyond, the issue is NOT at the level of direct simple sensation but of the context of meaning behind say moving an arm to pick a fruit, as the distinction between permissible and impermissible fruit makes plain. And that is not an irrelevant or particularly abstruse distinction. We commonly meet it in the world, day by day: keep off the grass.

    Attempting to dismiss it and its implications as though it were irrelevant and abstruse, is an evasion of a highly material issue.

    GEM of TKI

  69. 69
    kairosfocus says:

    AG:

    An evasion again, pardon.

    The real challenge as you know or should know, is that once the roaring dragon of accusation of mass delusion based on genes and memes has been let loose in the materialist system, everyone is in the same leaky boat with the dragon.

    So, how now do you escape the bite of gene and meme cause-effect bonds driving delusions, simply because your delusion is spread by guys who have the genes and memes to wear lab coats? [I.e. we are back to the Lewontinian case as discussed in OP and subsequently.]

    And that case is a plain example of question-begging and self-referential absurdity.

    Which manifests exactly the issue that has been identified as the root problem of evolutionary materialism.

    GEM of TKI

  70. 70
    kairosfocus says:

    I have found several remarks by AG above and have responded to them. (We really need the chronological timeline order format!)

  71. 71
    africangenesis says:

    How do we escape? We apply proven disciplines of thinking. There is no valid proof or evidence of the existence of God, so it comes down to a matter of faith based upon subjective religious experience.

    “Everyone is in the same leaky boat” is a generalization. Even within the religions there are those that aren’t in the leaky boat, the not true believers, those in it for social or business contacts, or as insurance “just in case”, existentialists who want religious experiences but don’t believe them, etc.

    Dawkins didn’t claim memes were causes, but rather noted that analogously to genes, ideas had to successfully reproduce to spread.

    Keep in mind that “question begging self-referential absurdity” has not yet achieved the status of a logical fallacy.

    Even the believers who practice the disciplines of thinking come to the same conclusions as non-believers. The results are reproducible, e.g., religious experience is not a valid proof of the existence of God, for those who didn’t have the experience, there is no valid “proof” of the existance of God belief is a matter of faith, etc. Materialist philosophy and theology reach the same conclusions about the physical world and the evidence.

  72. 72
    africangenesis says:

    I agree, it isn’t easy to find new responses this way.

  73. 73
    William J Murray says:

    How do we escape? We apply proven disciplines of thinking. There is no valid proof or evidence of the existence of God, so it comes down to a matter of faith based upon subjective religious experience.

    This is where you are either unwilling or unable to understand the stolen concept fallacy you are employing. There is no escape from being a physics computation in your system, which can produce blatant, absurd error and concurrent confidence that one has said something entirely rational. You have no foundation for confidence that what you have said above is rational, or that your confidences are anything other than the same happenstance arrangements of matter that produce the confidence in any other thought or belief in the world and in history.

    “Everyone is in the same leaky boat” is a generalization.

    You seem unwilling or incapable of understanding that under materialism/physicalism, this is not a generalization, it is an absolute and necessary fact of existence.

    Keep in mind that “question begging self-referential absurdity” has not yet achieved the status of a logical fallacy.

    “Begging the question” is a logical fallacy.

    Your foundation (under materialism, all thoughts and beliefs are equally caused by physics) provides no means to discern between true and false belief and sensations, because nothing is present to “discern” other than the thoughts and beliefs that were generated in the first place, and are continuing to be generated.

    There is no second, objective or supervening ruler to bring in, under materialism. “Proven methods of thought” is just another utterance of physics, along with “proven results of religious faith”, or “I did not have sex with that woman” or “I am not a crook”; your confidence that there is no evidence for god is just another utterance of physics, along with the confidence of billions of others that there is overwhelming evidence for god; your belief that you can use the ruler to validate your views is not different than Hitler or Dahmer using the same ruler to validate their views.

    It’s not a generalization under materialism; your reasoning and confidences are produced from and measured by exactly the same source system as anyone else’s throughout history, with absolutely nothing “outside of the system” to refer or appeal to to separate you beliefs and confidences from anyone else’s.

    It’s interesting that you appeal to evolutionary product as the mechanism that discerns between true and false views, but when that fails to substantiate your personal views, you change references to “proven methods of thought” as if there is something other than evolution that indemnifies what “proven” means in the materialist context.

    Your argument chases its own tail.

  74. 74
    kairosfocus says:

    AG:

    First, let us note appreciation for the engagement of the actual issue in the main. This is helpful for all, especially onlookers, who can see for themselves how the issues play out when they are raised in a live discussion.

    However, a note FYI: [a] question begging and [b] self referentially incoherent and absurd arguments [aka reductio ad absurdum, aka self-refutation via self-contradiction, etc.] — despite your doubts — are BOTH well-known fallacies; above, I have simply joined them into one phrase. As, they tend to go together.

    (In fact, in Mathematics, proof of the contrary by reduction of a claim to self contradictory absurdity is a classic technique. But, one of the noticeable challenges I have observed that materialists often face is clinging to the self referentially absurd, through insisting on thinking in a materialistic circle, even after resulting contradictions show the circle to be plainly vicious. [Cf below for details.])

    WJM’s corrective is plainly on target.

    . . . pause for prolonged power cut [almost eight hours] . . .

    Next, your “escape” by applying “proven concepts of thought” etc, is failing to see what the real issue is, ending up as a strawman. As point r in my analysis shows, the issue is not whether materialists, like the rest of us, use logical techniques; the question is how they GROUND them in their worldview.

    Let’s clip again, and emphasise key points for this exchange:

    c: . . . human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this meat-machine [evolutionary materialistic] picture. So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains that (as the Smith Model illustrates) serve as cybernetic controllers for our bodies.

    d: These underlying driving forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [[“nature”] and psycho-social conditioning [[“nurture”], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism]. And, remember, the focal issue to such minds — notice, this is a conceptual analysis made and believed by the materialists! — is the physical causal chains in a control loop, not the internalised “mouth-noises” that may somehow sit on them and come along for the ride . . . .

    j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the conceptualised beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt based on such and (v) the “conclusions” and “choices” (a.k.a. “decisions”) we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that [–> by making us out to be jumped up pond scum by way of being apes driven by genes, memes and neural networks shaped by survival and reproduction rather than truthfulness of world picture . . . . as Churchland and Darwin underscore in the clip below] are irrelevant to “mere” ill-defined abstractions such as: purpose or truth, or even logical validity.

    (NB: The conclusions of such “arguments” may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or “warranted” them. It seems that rationality itself has thus been undermined fatally on evolutionary materialistic premises. Including that of Crick et al. Through, self-reference leading to incoherence and utter inability to provide a cogent explanation of our commonplace, first-person experience of reasoning and rational warrant for beliefs, conclusions and chosen paths of action. Reduction to absurdity and explanatory failure in short.) . . . .

    r: So, while materialists — just like the rest of us — in practice routinely rely on the credibility of reasoning and despite all the confidence they may project, they at best struggle to warrant such a tacitly accepted credibility of mind and of concepts and reasoned out conclusions relative to the core claims of their worldview. (And, sadly: too often, they tend to pointedly ignore or rhetorically brush aside the issue.)

    You have managed to exemplify precisely this problem of evasion on a crucial matter.

    And, when it comes to the leaky boat metaphor — BTW, an accurate summary not a hasty or otherwise faulty generalisation, on materialist premises, everyone is in the same situation where the brain is shaped and controlled by forces that are simply irrelevant to purpose, truth, logic etc, and are jumped up apes with genes and memes shaped by chance and necessity, with neurons simply passing charged ions around, in networks where it is physical cause and effect not logical inference on ground and consequent that controls the outputs.

    No wonder, Plantinga summarises how Churchland and Darwin have put the resulting materialist’s conundrum:

    [Churchland:] Boiled down to essentials, a nervous system enables the organism to succeed in . . . feeding, fleeing, fighting, and reproducing. The principal chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive . . . . Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism’s way of life and enhances the organism’s chances of survival [[Churchland’s emphasis]. Truth, whatever that is [[ –> let’s try, from Aristotle in Metaphysics, 1011b: “that which says of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not” . . . ], definitely takes the hindmost. (Plantinga also adds this from Darwin: “the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”

    As Reppert summarises the consequence:

    . . . 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.

    Poof, on evo mat premises, rationality has gone up in smoke.

    So, it is a matter of which delusions you prefer: religious ones, or materialist ones, and that preference is itself shaped by nature and nurture through genes and memes. We only have cause-effect bonds to work with, not ground and consequent inferences. And once you move from picking a fruit to picking a forbidden fruit, the whole issue comes into focus.

    That is the challenge you face, one that is patently self-referential, and trying to make a self-serving, self-congratulatory “exception” (we are the “brights”) would simply be humorous, if it were not so patently sad.

    All I will say just now is that the answer is obvious: drop the materialist a priori, and start form the first things we know, and through which we know everything else. Namely, that we are conscious, reasoning, knowing, enconscienced contingent beings living in a world that exercises our potentials. That leads to the first principles of right reason, and onwards to a sounder basis for building a factually adequate, coherent, explanatorily powerful worldview. In which process, being contingent beings in a contingent cosmos that evidently shows fine tuning will play significant roles in determining what worldview makes best sense of reality.

    Thereafter, we can then look again at science and technology as intellectual enterprises and come to a more reasonable conclusion as to what is the best explanation for the world as we experience it, including as we make observations via being conscious, rational, knowing creatures.

    GEM of TKI

  75. 75
    kairosfocus says:

    F/n: further response to AG, here above.

  76. 76
    africangenesis says:

    I stand corrected, begging the question is a logical fallacy. I can see how assuming god is perfect, and perfection entails existence, includes the conclusion in the premises, but I don’t see how the being a consequent of the laws of physics precludes the evolution of an intelligence that that understands the laws of physics. The premises are so few, e.g., the laws of physics. So the conclusion is not in the premises. The laws of physics seem rather liberal in what they allow, however, severe they are in their application.

    Consider the case of the two predators chasing prey, predator A that follows the prey turning when it turns, etc. and predator B that goes straight ahead instead. Both predator A and predator Bs and the prey animal’s decisions are “caused”. However, predator A’s actions have become contingent upon the preys actions even though their had been no prior coupling between the two, while similtaneously being continent upon its own goals all while determining how long the chase is worthwhile in this instance, and prey’s actions have also become contingent upon the predators. The prey that isn’t good at detecting when predators are really running after it, my run too much or not enough.

    As someone who practices evidence based reasoning, lets assume for a moment that it is begging the question, what is the alternative? What is the evidence for it? Would even “miracles” and “design” be evidence for the existence of God? Or would our minds just have been caused to think such things require a cause, since that is the logic of this universe?

  77. 77
    William J Murray says:

    You’re stealing a dualist concept and question-begging again.

    Under materialism/physicalism, to “understand” something means “programmed by physics to think and believe a certain set of things about the thing in question”; how does that help your case any? Everyone “understands” physics by that measure, even those who directly contradict each other.

  78. 78
    africangenesis says:

    If we have computer programs than can conclude things we did not know before, there should not be a contradiction in the laws of physics producing the same. In computers, we have had some success with automated theorem proving, and automated theorem checking, proofs by exhaustive searches, etc. The burden should be upon those claiming a contradiction to prove it.

    Are you really saying anything more than looking for causal evidence contains the assumption that causal evidence is important?

  79. 79
    William J Murray says:

    Fortunately, I don’t believe all humans have free will, or I would be surprised that you respond to having your question-begging and concept-stealing pointed out by utilizing a reiteration (albeit in new clothes) of your question-begging, concept stealing prior post.

    To wit, my prior response re your new post:

    Under materialism/physicalism, to “understand” “conclude” something means “programmed by physics to think and believe a certain set of things about the thing in question”; how does that help your case any? Everyone All computers “understands” “conclude” physics output by that measure, even those who which directly contradict each other.

    You keep semantically trying to appeal to something outside of the system to arbit the findings of the system; you apparently want to invoke a second ruler to gauge the accuracy of the first, but there is no second ruler in your system, no matter how many ways you try to sneak it in.

  80. 80
    africangenesis says:

    If that is the way the universe works, it doesn’t result in a contradiction, just a predicament.

  81. 81
    kairosfocus says:

    AG:

    Plainly, we can safely remove your “If” to see your actual key commitment:

    that [materialism] is the way the universe works, it doesn’t result in a contradiction, just a predicament

    I think some questions are in order:

    1] Do you not see the closed, locked- in ideological loop of your thinking- in- a- materialist- circle? (I strongly recommend a dose of comparative difficulties analysis as a way out of such a Plato’s Cave trap. The vid is especially helpful.)

    2] Do you not see that your just now amounts to, “yes evolutionary materialism is indeed absurd but I don’t see an alternative [that I am willing to even consider]”?

    3] Do you not see that you have reached reduction to absurdity, but cling to the system that is thereby shown to be fatally self-destructive logically?

    4] Is that reasonable? (if you think so, why?)

    5] Do you not see that there are serious and reasonable alternatives out there, albeit maybe less popular among the materialist elites?

    G

  82. 82
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Projecting to the other one’s own problems, is also a fallacy, the turnabout accusation — though here not in the more typical, overtly hostile form; a kissing cousin of the “you’re another” fallacy, but subtler as it does not acknowledge guilt — the sawdust/plank in the eyes problem. (What part of “inference to best explanation by comparative difficulties analysis escapes circularity through balanced examination of alternatives,” do you not understand?)

  83. 83

    This exchange between you, AG and KF is one of the best I’ve seen on here. The wealth of information on the application of fallacies in an argument is unprecedented coupled with KF’s clear analysis on comparative difficulties. I’m keeping this whole exchange for reference purposes.

    One thing is clear. When you break down materialism to basics in reference to first principles of reason you end up with something my cat does for play. Of course my cat doesn’t know any better. He thinks his tail is outside of himself.

  84. 84
    William J Murray says:

    Africangenesis,

    The physics-that-is-me says X; the physics-that-is-you says not-X; physics is contradicting itself, with no means of resolving the issue except self-reference.

    That is a self-contradiction, not a mere predicament. Under your paradigm, “you” and “I” and “we” and “Gandhi” and “Dahmer” and “Fundamentalist Muslims” and “Richard Dawkins” are all necessarily merely semantic representations of the same thing – physics. Your use of personal pronouns and verbs ascribing actions to those individual pronouns as if they are independent, self-contained entities performing independent, sufficiently-caused-by-self will, allow you to hide from yourself (and others) the distilled essence of your statements – that they are all the same thing believing and espousing self-contradictory ideas.

    Only if the agents in question are free and independent and sufficient causes unto themselves do they have a chance of escaping self-referential, question-begging absurdity.

    I’m really going to have to have a talk with Giordi about clearing up this aspect of the holodeck interactive programming.

  85. 85
    William J Murray says:

    Cannuckian:

    He thinks his tail is outside of himself.

    Indeed! And referring to its tail via a personal pronoun wouldn’t change the fact that it is chasing its tail.

  86. 86
    kairosfocus says:

    AG:

    Remember, as reminded previously, the programs are doing ADD ACC A, XXXX, BRANCH IF Z-FLAG = 1, ADDDRSS.

    It is the programmers who are doing he decisions and the discoveries.

    If you had fed in rubbish the computer could not tell the difference, save if it outright crashed. (Indeed, there is a debate out there on how certain popular spreadsheets have certain subtle errors under certain circumstances. There was also the time when errors were discovered in the machine language instructions for some MPUS.)

    So, please do not commit the fallacy of anthropomorphising the machines.

    GEM of TKI

  87. 87
    africangenesis says:

    But in the case of the human brain, most of the rubbish has been weeded out of the sensory, route planning, outlier/motion detect and pattern matching processing before it even got to us. We are biased towards a higher false positive rate when it comes to danger, because the cost of being wrong is so high.

    When it comes to higher level language communication and symbolic thinking, the success was so great that we have arrived only half formed, i.e., aborting at success. We wanted answers from day 1, when the complexity of our universe required centuries of disciplined acquisition of knowledge. We didn’t reach a level of development where this discipline is easy. Our mostly socially derived intelligence still anthropomorphises more than it should.

    We probably should trust our hard won, hard to execute disciplined thought processes more than our hunches. Absent a proven contradiction, there is no reason to assume they can’t ultimately be liberating, providing a caused “free” will almost as satisfying as the illusion, because it is caused by who we are.

  88. 88
    William J Murray says:

    re 27.1.1.2.1:

    Because the physics that we call AG say so. 🙂

  89. 89
    kairosfocus says:

    AG:

    As the blind product of progrqamming, how do you know this?

    Do you have evidence that complex — beyond 500 bits –algorithms, codes, languages and the like can be coded by undirected chance plus necessity through trial and error (no shuttling in the back door or begging the question of getting to a shoreline of function, please)?

    And, have you got any good evidence that such can confer logical reasoning and sound conceptualisation capacity?

    In short do you see the circles and the self reference that is self-stultifying?

    GEM of TKI

  90. 90
    africangenesis says:

    Gem of TKI,

    “As the blind product of progrqamming, how do you know this? … And, have you got any good evidence that such can confer logical reasoning and sound conceptualisation capacity?

    In short do you see the circles and the self reference that is self-stultifying?”

    Would the same self reference apply if the conclusion was just, we have no evidence of the origin of life, and our own origins? There doesn’t seem to be any self reference at this point.

    Would the self reference come in if we note that we have no evidence of anything other than natural forces? I don’t see the self reference at this point.

    Would the self reference come in if we note that the genetic code is the same and the genes the same or similar across nearly all organisms? I don’t see the self reference at this point.

    Would the self reference come in if we note that the evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that OTHER organisms shared a common ancestor in the past? I don’t see the self reference here.

    Unless you can demonstrate self reference in these earlier steps, self reference only becomes relevant if we note that we are related to those other organisms and the evidence is consistent with us sharing a common ancestor. If would appear that “self reference” component of your argument, is not a problem for the theory of evolution, but just for the inclusion of humans with that theory. So there isn’t a self-reference, begging the question issue for evolution itself.

  91. 91
    William J Murray says:

    AG:

    You can’t see the forest (meta-argument) for the trees (specific argument).

    The meta-argument is that you have no grounds for confidence that anything you say about any subject has any substantive meaning or value whatsoever, regardless of whether you are making a specific argument about the capacity of physics, the relative warrant of world-views, or ordering a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

    Being the dreamt manifestation of non-sentient physical material, you think and feel and do whatever physics commands, whether it has any meaning or not, whether it correlates or not, whether it is patently absurd or not, and have no resource by which you can hope to discern “true” from “false” because everything physics dreams is as “true” as anything else, indemnified by the only thing that indemnifies truth – it was produced by physics.

    Everything you say and claim is necessarily self-referential, because all that exists to make the claim and to prove it by is same thing. That you are dreamt by physics to claim and argue and feel confident in X is no different than the next guy who is dreamt to claim and feel confident in not-X. That you are dreamt to think that various methods and lines of investigation “really” “truly” make your view “more likely to be true” is no different than when I dream that it is entirely normal and unremarkable that I find myself in whatever circumstances I find myself in a dream, and the dream instills me with the feeling that it is true and real.

    The dreamer (non-sentient physics, in your world-view case) can make any situation, no matter how absurd, feel normal and logical; it can insert memories and ideas that the dreamt manifestation doesn’t even question as real or valid. The dreamt have no capacity to to find true “error” in their world unless they can reference something outside of the dream (as many lucid dreamers can do); but in materialism, there is nothing outside of the dream to reference.

    IOW, nothing you can post here can escape your ideologically self-imposed “system” of self-referential incoherence (material physics).

  92. 92
    africangenesis says:

    It seems to me the one “dreamt by physics” to claim X only if disciplined reasoning from the evidence supports X, is in quite a different position from one that just claims -X. Physics seems quite able to support conditionals.

  93. 93
    William J Murray says:

    It seems to me the one “dreamt by physics” to claim X only if disciplined reasoning from the evidence supports X, is in quite a different position from one that just claims -X. Physics seems quite able to support conditionals.

    Under materialism, there is literally no difference between the former and the latter. A dreamt bald assertion is fundamentally no different than a dream of an assertion accompanied by a sensation of disciplined reasoning from evidence.

  94. 94
    William J Murray says:

    “It seems to me” = “I have been dreamt by physics to feel ..”; while I (on the other hand) have been dreamt by physics to feel the opposite; you have been dreamt by physics to feel you are reasoning, and reasoning correctly, for a finding of “X”, while I have been dreamt by physics to feel I am reasoning, and reasoning correctly, for a finding of “not-X”; physics has contradicted itself, and you are again engaging in self-referential, self-contradictory incoherence.

    There is nothing you can say from the grounding of materialism that is not rooted in the quagmire above.

  95. 95
    kairosfocus says:

    Onlookers

    WJM is right.

    We are right back full circle where Haldane was at the turn of the 1930’s:

    “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.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    AG gives an unfortunate, inadvertent demonstration of the force of the point.

    GEM of TKI

  96. 96
    africangenesis says:

    To paraphrase Haldane, given today’s knowledge:

    “It seems to me immensely plausible that my mind is matter. My mental processes have been honed by natural selection to work well in monitoring, exploring and predicting the environment. Because I am the descendent of a long line of organisms that successfully reproduced in the face of happenstance, competition and even malicious intent all governed by the laws of physics, I have no reason to suppose that the brain’s processes are not robust to the seemingly chaotic fluctuations in the chemical soup inside our cells. That doesn’t make the brain sound logically or statistically, but centuries of advances in logic and mathematics have shown that with disciplined application and cross-checking we can reach logically and statistically sound conclusions. The principles that underlie the development of magnetic resonance imaging, give me good reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”

  97. 97
    kairosfocus says:

    H’mm: wishful thinking, doubtless programmed by genes and memes through accidents of natural and cultural history, driving the “pack of neurons” known as AG. See the self referentiality problem yet?

  98. 98
    africangenesis says:

    No, because open ended programming is plausible even with digital computers, and because are genes don’t exercise that kind of control, they impose a pattern upon chaos and they obviously only have weak control of that part of the pattern we call a brain. They took their chances with intelligence, and it has given them a pretty good ride. Too many people have voluntarily chosen to not reproduce or to reproduce at less than replacement rates to conclude that intelligence isn’t “free” to reach its own conclusions. We have free will in every sense that matters, because intelligence would be impotent without the causes that operate upon it, that give it values and make physical demands upon it.

    There is no contradiction in matter being able to comprehend the laws or logic of the universe.

  99. 99
    kairosfocus says:

    Ah, round and round we go, in denial. Pity, really.

  100. 100
    africangenesis says:

    We are disagreeing about what is empirically possible. Short of a rigorous showing of a contradiction, what looks like “begging the question” to you, doesn’t to me.

    Are you positing a capability our minds do have, that isn’t possible under the laws of physics? Can you be specific, or at least narrow things down a bit?

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