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Darwin’s Doubt author Steve Meyer on methodological naturalism (materialism)

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Darwin's Doubt

… with an aside from physicist Rob Sheldon.

Further to materialism guarantees impasse, Meyer writes,

As science advanced in the late nineteenth century, it increasingly excluded appeals to divine action or divine ideas as a way of explaining phenomena in the natural world. This practice came to be codified in a principle known as methodological naturalism. According to this principle, scientsits should accept as a working assumption that all features of the natural world can be explained by material causes without recourse to purposive intelligence, mind, or conscious agency.

Proponents of methodological naturalism argue that science has been so successful precisely because it has assiduously avoided invoking creative intelligence and, instead, searched out strictly material causes for previously mysterious features of the natural world. In the 1840s, the French philosopher August Comte argued that science progresses through three [20] distinct phases. In its theological phase, it invokes the mysterious action of the gods to explain natural phenomena, whether thunderbolts or the spread of disease. In a second, more advanced, metaphysical stage, scientific explanations refer to abstract concepts like Plato’s forms or Aristotle’s final causes. Comte taught that science only reaches maturity when it casts aside such abstractions and explains natural phenomena by reference to natural laws or strictly material causes or processes. Only in this third and final stage, he argued, can science achieve “positive” knowledge. – Darwin’s Doubt, pp. 20–21.

It’s not clear to a modern observer that Comte’s first phase is science at all. If the only thing to be said about disease is that the gods send it, that doesn’t leave much of a field for research. And indeed, people who believe that do not do any research; they, wisely from their perspective, put their energies into placating the gods.

Rob Sheldon made the point here recently that

Methodological naturalism works great on superstition and animism. It evolved as a response to the inborn nature of humans to “wear the lucky blue sock”.

Yes, the instinct to try to manipulate reality instead of studying it.

Now, it’s not clear that Plato or Aristotle were doing science either. They were trying to determine the framework of reality in which science could be done—a prior project, it seems to me. Thus, Aristotle may be regarded as a founder of science, but not, strictly speaking, a scientist (whether we are fans of MN or not).

When we come to the third phase, material causes, Sheldon adds, re MN,

… it prevents the doing of good science, as you point out, because it cannot question its own presuppositions. Therefore it is a “vestige” of formerly useful organs, a “living fossil” of what is no longer viable.

The presupposition that mind, whatever it is, can be reduced to matter is a good example. Crackpot theory reigns.

Fair enough, the truly cracked pots are regularly discarded in favour of pots with only a few deepening fissures, and if that is what we mean by progress, well, researchers can go on making that sort of progress indefinitely. No reasonable person envies their position: The simple fact that information (the substance of the mind) is not material, and cannot be dealt with as if it were. That fact cannot by definition be allowed to penetrate the fog. Here’s a thought from evolutionary biologist G. C. Williams that sums up a part of the problem:

“Information doesn’t have mass or charge or length in millimeters. Likewise, matter doesn’t have bytes. You can’t measure so much gold in so many bytes. It doesn’t have redundancy, or fidelity, or any of the other descriptors we apply to information. This dearth of shared descriptors makes matter and information two separate domains of existence, which have to be discussed separately, in their own terms.” – G. C. Williams, quoted in By Design or by Chance?, p. 234.

Bound to be ignored.

A compensating factor is that it is easier to write about the resulting nonsense, which hardly repays study, than it would be to write about serious gains in understanding, which stretch the mind. Still, around here, we’d all prefer the latter anyway. – O’Leary for News

89 Replies to “Darwin’s Doubt author Steve Meyer on methodological naturalism (materialism)

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Does Epistemological Naturalism Imply Metaphysical Naturalism? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yNddAh0Txg

    Is Metaphysical Naturalism Viable? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzS_CQnmoLQ

    There are two definitions of Science in our Culture – Phillip E. Johnson – audio (26:36 minute mark)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?f.....Xo#t=1596s

  2. 2
  3. 3
    Robert Byers says:

    Amen. Its been a untested presumption to say mans thinking is coming from the brain. There is the option, the right one, mans thinking comes from his essence as a soul.
    In fact methodological naturalism is actually aggressively presuming their is no soul as opposed to determining this on the evidence. So they are cheating.
    The brain as the source for the mind is just a presumption and not a proved conclusion. Got’im!
    This is why there is so much failure in healing mental problems.
    There is no such thing as a mental problem. Our thinking is perfect. its just a material aspect of our mind that is the problem. That is exclusively the memory or rather the triggering mechanism for the memory.

  4. 4
    nightlight says:

    Once you introduce ‘conscious mind’ as the explanation in ID, you have left natural science (since the present natural science does not have a model of ‘consciousness’), and have entered the realm of philosophy i.e. you are proposing new philosophy of nature.

    While philosophy of nature is fine, too, but you can’t then complain “they” won’t let you teach this kind of philosophical ID in the science class.

    If you want to have an ID theory that can be taught as a branch of natural science, then you need to reformulate the “intelligence” of ID as a computational process, not as the act of some ‘conscious agency’ (which is a meaningless statement in the present natural science). Such reformulation can be done (e.g. like James Shapiro or like the research in the Santa Fe Institute for Complexity Science). Natural science knows how to work with computational processes, but can’t do anything with ‘consciousness’.

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    NL: Pardon, but what did you use to produce the above? Blind chance selected for function as English text that by luck hit the happy result, from the implied config space? Or, did you act as a self-aware knowing intelligence pondering a problem and addressing it through creative purposeful action? If science is about seeking the truth about our world in light of observed experience and linked analysis, it should not be found in opposition to truth. KF

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    NL erroneously asserts:

    you need to reformulate the “intelligence” of ID as a computational process, not as the act of some ‘conscious agency’

    And yet, contrary to what NL falsely believes, Dembki, Marks, and company’s, work has shown precisely that ‘deterministic’ computational processes, once ‘active information’ is taken account of, are just as inadequate to explain the origination of functional information as Darwinian processes are:

    LIFE’S CONSERVATION LAW – William Dembski – Robert Marks – Pg. 13
    Excerpt: Simulations such as Dawkins’s WEASEL, Adami’s AVIDA, Ray’s Tierra, and Schneider’s ev appear to support Darwinian evolution, but only for lack of clear accounting practices that track the information smuggled into them.,,, Information does not magically materialize. It can be created by intelligence or it can be shunted around by natural forces. But natural forces, and Darwinian processes in particular, do not create information. Active information enables us to see why this is the case.
    http://evoinfo.org/publication.....ation-law/

    Before They’ve Even Seen Stephen Meyer’s New Book, Darwinists Waste No Time in Criticizing Darwin’s Doubt – William A. Dembski – April 4, 2013
    Excerpt: In the newer approach to conservation of information, the focus is not on drawing design inferences but on understanding search in general and how information facilitates successful search. The focus is therefore not so much on individual probabilities as on probability distributions and how they change as searches incorporate information. My universal probability bound of 1 in 10^150 (a perennial sticking point for Shallit and Felsenstein) therefore becomes irrelevant in the new form of conservation of information whereas in the earlier it was essential because there a certain probability threshold had to be attained before conservation of information could be said to apply. The new form is more powerful and conceptually elegant. Rather than lead to a design inference, it shows that accounting for the information required for successful search leads to a regress that only intensifies as one backtracks. It therefore suggests an ultimate source of information, which it can reasonably be argued is a designer. I explain all this in a nontechnical way in an article I posted at ENV a few months back titled “Conservation of Information Made Simple” (go here). ,,,

    ,,, Here are the two seminal papers on conservation of information that I’ve written with Robert Marks:
    “The Search for a Search: Measuring the Information Cost of Higher-Level Search,” Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics 14(5) (2010): 475-486
    “Conservation of Information in Search: Measuring the Cost of Success,” IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics A, Systems & Humans, 5(5) (September 2009): 1051-1061
    For other papers that Marks, his students, and I have done to extend the results in these papers, visit the publications page at EvoInfo
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....70821.html

    Moreover,

    The Limits Of Reason – Gregory Chaitin – 2006
    Excerpt: an infinite number of true mathematical theorems exist that cannot be proved from any finite system of axioms.,,,
    http://www.umcs.maine.edu/~chaitin/sciamer3.pdf

    i.e. Godel’s incompleteness theorem!

    It is simply impossible, per Godel’s incompleteness, for any computer program to be devised which can ‘find’ the distinctive algorithms that necessary for new body plans of new species. Here is what Gregory Chaitin himself, a world-famous mathematician, said about the limits of the computer program he was trying to develop to prove that Darwinian evolution was mathematically feasible:

    At last, a Darwinist mathematician tells the truth about evolution – VJT – November 2011
    Excerpt: In Chaitin’s own words, “You’re allowed to ask God or someone to give you the answer to some question where you can’t compute the answer, and the oracle will immediately give you the answer, and you go on ahead.”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....evolution/

    Here is the video where, at the 30:00 minute mark, you can hear the preceding quote from Chaitin’s own mouth in full context:

    Life as Evolving Software, Greg Chaitin at PPGC UFRGS
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlYS_GiAnK8

    Moreover, at the 40:00 minute mark of the video Chaitin readily admits that Intelligent Design is the best possible way to get evolution to take place, and at the 43:30 minute mark Chaitin even tells of a friend pointing out that the idea Evolutionary computer model that Chaitin has devised does not have enough time to work. And Chaitin even agreed that his friend had a point, although Chaitin still ends up just ‘wanting’, and not ever proving, his ideal Darwinian mathematical model to be feasible!

    Related notes:

    Alan Turing & Kurt Godel – Incompleteness Theorem and Human Intuition – video (notes in video description)
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/8516356/

    “It always bothers me that in spite of all this local business, what goes on in a tiny, no matter how tiny, region of space, and no matter how tiny a region of time, according to laws as we understand them today, it takes a computing machine an infinite number of logical operations to figure out. Now how can all that be going on in that tiny space? Why should it take an infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do?”
    – Richard Feynman – one of the founding fathers of QED (Quantum Electrodynamics)
    Quote taken from the 6:45 minute mark of the following video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obCjODeoLVw

    I don’t know about Feynman, but as for myself, being a Christian Theist, I find it rather comforting to know that it takes an ‘infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do’:

    John1:1
    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

    of note: ‘the Word’ in John1:1 is translated from ‘Logos’ in Greek. Logos is the root word from which we derive our modern word logic
    http://etymonline.com/?term=logic

    Music:

    Your Love Is Amazing ~ Phillips, Craig & Dean
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrymzdmMrVE

  7. 7
    nightlight says:

    @KF #5

    If science is about seeking the truth about our world in light of observed experience and linked analysis, it should not be found in opposition to truth.

    Unfortunately, present natural science can’t do anything useful or constructive with term ‘consciousness’ — there is no scientific equation or algorithm where some quantity C affects or is affected by anything else in matter-energy realm. As far as present natural science is concerned, when you say ‘conscious agency did it’ you could as well say ‘spirits of air and earth did it’ – they are equally empty statements to natural science.

    While this is a limitation and defect of present natural science, it is the way the science is now and you can’t operate as if it were something else, as if there is no this gigantic hole, then complain when you find you have fallen into that hole. One has to work with the things as they are, not as one wishes or imagines they ought to be.

    While term ‘consciousness’ or (sound) ‘mind’ are used in some applied disciplines (e.g. anesthesiology, psychiatry, law), in those context it is merely a verbal shorthand for certain kinds of human behaviors and responses to stimuli, not a quantity of its own interacting with matter-energy. That kind of non-causal, non-interacting human behavior specific verbal shorthand is irrelevant as a causal agency behind the fine tuning of the universe or origin and evolution of life.

    Hence, until natural science develops a theory of causally effective ‘consciousness’ quantity (which is conceivable), introducing ‘consciousness’ as a causal agency in the ID hypothesis, automatically disqualifies the ID as a scientific hypothesis, turning it into philosophical position.

    That’s what irks me about Discovery Institute (DI), which on one hand deliberately frames ID in the above manner as a philosophical position, and then whines about ID not being accepted as scientific hypothesis. Unless and until DI reformulates/rephrases its ‘conscious intelligent agency‘ as a ‘computational process‘ (which is perfectly doable), since that is something natural science can look for and then use constructively and causally, they will remain by their own choice outcasts from the natural science.

  8. 8
    nightlight says:

    @BA77 #6

    And yet, contrary to what NL falsely believes, Dembki, Marks, and company’s, work has shown precisely that `deterministic’ computational processes, once `active information’ is taken account of, are just as inadequate to explain the origination of functional information as Darwinian processes are

    We danced around this very circle before, let me just summarize the main point: the ‘No Free Lunch’ results of Dembski and others aim at random guessing algorithm + natural selection, i.e. random trial and error search, which is the most primitive and most inefficient kind of search algorithm conceivable. It’s a kind of algorithm that beginner programmer does right after learning how to write “Hello world” program. So, OK then, that kind of dumb algorithms can’t do much. Well, is that supposed to be a surprise?

    Those ‘no free lunch’ theorems have absolutely no relevance in the general algorithmic space, which is what an ‘intelligence’ behind fine tuning of universe and origin/evolution of life has available. Algorithms, such as those used by neural networks which can simultaneously shape the fitness (or search) landscape and harmonize the search with such reshaping, can achieve exponential efficiency gains vs random trial and error.

    The difference between these and ‘random trial and error’ algorithms is the same as that between searching in a sorted array (that is an example of conveniently reshaped search landscape) vs searching in randomly scrambled array (that is a andscape for random trial and error search). ‘No free lunch’ theorems merely prove that the search in randomly scrambled array will take time linear in size of array N. But the search in the sorted array is exponentially faster, requiring only ~ log(N) steps to find any record (such as ‘optimal’ one).

    In short, Dembski’s result aim at and successfully exclude only the neo-Darwinian algorithm (random mutation + natural selection), but not the general algorithms, such as those which can search and shape the search space.

  9. 9
    bornagain77 says:

    NL erroneously claims:

    Unfortunately, present natural science can’t do anything useful or constructive with term ‘consciousness’

    That is simply ‘not even wrong’. Differentiating between what conscious activity is capable of, and what natural processes, including NL’s beloved ‘computational’ processes, are capable of is essential for understanding when information was infused into life during the history of earth. Indeed, in conjunction with what Dr. Meyer has outlined in Darwin’s Doubt for the Cambrian explosion, the resolution of fossil/genetic data allows us, however roughly, to now infer when conscious Intelligence was active in the history of life on earth subsequent to the Cambrian explosion:

    Scientific study turns understanding about evolution on its head – July 30, 2013
    Excerpt: evolutionary biologists,,, looked at nearly one hundred fossil groups to test the notion that it takes groups of animals many millions of years to reach their maximum diversity of form.
    Contrary to popular belief, not all animal groups continued to evolve fundamentally new morphologies through time. The majority actually achieved their greatest diversity of form (disparity) relatively early in their histories.
    ,,,Dr Matthew Wills said: “This pattern, known as ‘early high disparity’, turns the traditional V-shaped cone model of evolution on its head. What is equally surprising in our findings is that groups of animals are likely to show early-high disparity regardless of when they originated over the last half a billion years. This isn’t a phenomenon particularly associated with the first radiation of animals (in the Cambrian Explosion), or periods in the immediate wake of mass extinctions.”,,,
    Author Martin Hughes, continued: “Our work implies that there must be constraints on the range of forms within animal groups, and that these limits are often hit relatively early on.
    Co-author Dr Sylvain Gerber, added: “A key question now is what prevents groups from generating fundamentally new forms later on in their evolution.,,,
    http://phys.org/news/2013-07-s.....ution.html

    A. L. Hughes’s New Non-Darwinian Mechanism of Adaption Was Discovered and Published in Detail by an ID Geneticist 25 Years Ago – Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig – December 2011
    Excerpt: The original species had a greater genetic potential to adapt to all possible environments. In the course of time this broad capacity for adaptation has been steadily reduced in the respective habitats by the accumulation of slightly deleterious alleles (as well as total losses of genetic functions redundant for a habitat), with the exception, of course, of that part which was necessary for coping with a species’ particular environment….By mutative reduction of the genetic potential, modifications became “heritable”. — As strange as it may at first sound, however, this has nothing to do with the inheritance of acquired characteristics. For the characteristics were not acquired evolutionarily, but existed from the very beginning due to the greater adaptability. In many species only the genetic functions necessary for coping with the corresponding environment have been preserved from this adaptability potential. The “remainder” has been lost by mutations (accumulation of slightly disadvantageous alleles) — in the formation of secondary species.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....53881.html

    Of footnote: Now if NL wants to prove that ‘computational processes’ can fully mimic what we know to be true for conscious Intelligence, then all he has to do is prove Godel’s incompleteness theorem wrong, as well as prove Dembski and Marks’s conservation of information wrong. Until then he is postulating something for which there is no empirical or mathematical warrant.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    NL per 8, you are cordially requested to, instead of constantly making unsupported assertions, present any hard evidence that computational processes can generate algorithmic information above that which was originally encoded into the computer as you claim!

    Algorithmic Information Theory, Free Will and the Turing Test – Douglas S. Robertson
    Excerpt: Chaitin’s Algorithmic Information Theory shows that information is conserved under formal mathematical operations and, equivalently, under computer operations. This conservation law puts a new perspective on many familiar problems related to artificial intelligence. For example, the famous “Turing test” for artificial intelligence could be defeated by simply asking for a new axiom in mathematics. Human mathematicians are able to create axioms, but a computer program cannot do this without violating information conservation. Creating new axioms and free will are shown to be different aspects of the same phenomena: the creation of new information.,,,
    The basic problem concerning the relation between AIT (Algorithmic Information Theory) and free will can be stated succinctly: Since the theorems of mathematics cannot contain more information than is contained in the axioms used to derive those theorems, it follows that no formal operation in mathematics (and equivalently, no operation performed by a computer) can create new information.
    http://cires.colorado.edu/~dou...../info8.pdf

  11. 11
    nightlight says:

    @BA77 #10

    NL per 8, you are cordially requested to, instead of constantly making unsupported assertions, present any hard evidence that computational processes can generate algorithmic information above that which was originally encoded into the computer as you claim!

    As an illustration, consider current generation of chess programs — on regular PC-s they play stronger than not only their authors (many of whom are weak chess players anyway), but much stronger than the best chess players in the world. They create thousands of beautiful combinations (in human aesthetic judgment), opening novelties, end game novelties etc, none of which was put into the program and none of which anyone had clue to exist before the programs computed tem using their clever algorithms.

    Yes, of coarse there was some front loading of intelligence into those clever algorithms, but then the program itself created practically unlimited stream of complex specified information.

    Or take even simpler case, a little program which produces huge books of logarithms and trig tables. This is a job that took decades of focused mental work by extremely skilled individuals before computers. Yet a simple three line program that a kid can write, does the whole job. So, what to uninitiated appears as a vast amount of sophisticated, complex, specified information that only conscious genius could generate, contains under the surface trivial amount of algorithmic information (i.e. generating program is encoded by a very short string).

    As to what can front load a program, it could be another program, which in turn is front loaded by its program precursor, etc. If the computing system is a distributed self-programming network with additive intelligence such as neural network with unsupervised learning, the initial front loading (some such is always necessary) requires minimal explicit intelligence or cleverness i.e. it need not be any more complex than the equations for regular natural laws (it is likely much simpler than even that as ‘digital physics’ researchers believe).

    Note that “algorithmic information” that Chaitin and other write about, sheds no light on the problems of origin and evolution of life or fine tuning of the universe, since no one knows what the algorithm behind universe is. It may be as simple as few lines of C code, i.e. it could be very low in algorithmic information content. The universe would then only appear to contain huge amount of information to those who have no clue about its simple generating algorithm. What such algorithm may be, or whether it exists at all is a pure speculation at present, a long series of personal opinions, not a natural science proper.

    The problem in your posts is the utter lack of even the slightest degree of discrimination between the wild speculations by scientists and science done by the same men (sorry Ms. feminists). You seem to just blindly latch onto words, phrases and names without any understanding of the underlying math or science, then inundate threads, such as this one, with truckloads of irrelevant copy-paste materials. It would save you and everyone else great deal of time if you would just stick to writing the thoughts produced by your own mind, then express them in your own words (as I and most other posters here do).

    #9

    Differentiating between what conscious activity is capable of, and what natural processes, including NL’s beloved `computational’ processes, are capable of is essential for understanding when information was infused into life during the history of earth.

    Nobody knows how much (algorithmic) information is “infused into life” since no one knows what the algorithm operating the universe may be. Present science knows only isolated bits and pieces. We may be in the same position as uncivilized human looking at the massive logarithmic tables and marvelling at what kind of genius must have taken to calculate all that.

    The present natural science also has no clue what ‘consciousness’ is, hence any consciousness-talk is philosophical-theological speculation, not statements or part of natural science (even though natural scientists may be the people speculating about it; you could do yourself and everyone else here great service if you would learn to discriminate between these two hats scientists like to wear).

  12. 12
    gpuccio says:

    nightlight:

    Just a few points from your posts here where I do think that your really wrong.

    1) Once you introduce ‘conscious mind’ as the explanation in ID, you have left natural science (since the present natural science does not have a model of ‘consciousness’), and have entered the realm of philosophy i.e. you are proposing new philosophy of nature.

    Wrong. Consciousness is an empirical reality, and its interactions with matter can be empirically verified. So, there is nothing “non natural” (whatever that strange word may mean) in studying consciousness and including it in scientific models.

    It is not necessary to have a “model” of an empirical component of reality to acknowledge its existence and include it in our larger models of reality. This statement of yours is strange indeed.

    2) If you want to have an ID theory that can be taught as a branch of natural science, then you need to reformulate the “intelligence” of ID as a computational process, not as the act of some ‘conscious agency’ (which is a meaningless statement in the present natural science).

    Nonsense. ID is about design and its detection, and design is the result of conscious processes, where a conscious representation outputs a specific form to material reality. That is a very simple empirical fact, and can perfectly be part of science, be it present or future, natural or not natural.

    3) As an illustration, consider current generation of chess programs — on regular PC-s they play stronger than not only their authors (many of whom are weak chess players anyway), but much stronger than the best chess players in the world. They create thousands of beautiful combinations (in human aesthetic judgment), opening novelties, end game novelties etc, none of which was put into the program and none of which anyone had clue to exist before the programs computed them using their clever algorithms.

    Wrong. No computer program can generate new, original dFSCI. On the other hand, any good computer program can increase the complexity of a computation result, whose functional specification has been already defined and inputted in the program, together with the computation procedures to do that. In no way that means generating new, original dFSCI.

    I will make an example. to clarify better this point. Let’s say that I define pi, and give its first 100 decimal digits in a string written on a sheet of paper. In a sense, that could be considered an example of object exhibiting dFSCI. The complexity of the string is 10^100, great enough for any taste, I suppose. And there is a definite functional specification of pi as a mathemathical concept.

    But there is a problem that must be addressed. The decimal digits of pi can be computed by some algorithm. Therefore, the true Kolmogorov complexity of any output about pi is the minimal complexity of the algorithm that can compute that result.

    Now, let’s say that we have such an algorithm, and that its complexity is, say, 10^50. So, if that algorithm outputs 100 digits of pi, it is not really increasing the complexity. The same is true if it outputs 200 digits, or 300, and so on. IOWs, simple computation does not increase the specified complexity of the output. It can certainly increase the total complexity (a string of 200 digits is certainly more complex than a string of 100).

    But there is more: new, original dFSCI means new complex information linked to a new, original specification. That is completely out of the possibilities of computation. Computation has no idea of what a functional specification is. Only conscious agents can recognize function, because they have the experience of meaning and purpose. Computation has no idea of what meaning and purpose are.

    That’s why an algorithm can manage meaning and purpose only in the measure that they have already been inputted and codified in it. For an algorithm, only what has already defined, by a cosncious agent, as meaningful or desirable can be treated as meaningful or desirable.

    That’s why computation can never generate new dFSCI. It can sometimes generate some simple information that can be recognized by a conscious agent as a new function, but that result can only be random (because the system has by definition no concept of the new function), and therefore its complexity will be minimal.

    And this is just to begin.

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    GP, I simply endorse your answer as aptly capturing the substantial matter. KF

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    Gpuccio thanks for clarifying NL’s error. You are an artist at getting a basic idea across to people and a stickler for making sure that it is correct in its detail! 🙂 … But, as you alluded to, NL’s error in thinking goes deeper than even what you have so clearly, and beautifully, laid out.,,, NL clearly has no clue what he is talking about. He gripes about being corrected by me with links and then goes on to continues to make his same errors over and over that he was corrected on in the first place. So once again I will ask him this simple question. NL, you are cordially requested to, instead of constantly making unsupported assertions, to present any hard evidence that computational processes can generate algorithmic information above that which was originally encoded into the computer to begin with as you claim!
    You listed computer Chess programs as an example of that happening, but as our own Gil Dodgen on UD, who designed World Championship Checkers,,,

    World Championship Checkers
    http://worldchampionshipcheckers.com/

    ,which is the best computer program for checkers in the world,,,, Gil Dodgen would say, after he stopped laughing at you,,

    Epicycling Through The Materialist Meta-Paradigm Of Consciousness – May 2010
    GilDodgen: One of my AI (artificial intelligence) specialties is games of perfect knowledge.
    See here:
    worldchampionshipcheckers.com

    In both checkers and chess humans are no longer competitive against computer programs, because tree-searching techniques have been developed to the point where a human cannot overlook even a single tactical mistake when playing against a state-of-the-art computer program in these games. On the other hand, in the game of Go, played on a 19×19 board with a nominal search space of 19×19 factorial (1.4e+768), the best computer programs are utterly incompetent when playing against even an amateur Go player.,,,
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-353454

    Along that line:

    Applied Darwinism: A New Paper from Bob Marks and His Team, in BIO-Complexity – Doug Axe – 2012
    Excerpt: Furthermore, if you dig a bit beyond these papers and look at what kinds of problems this technique (Steiner Tree) is being used for in the engineering world, you quickly find that it is of extremely limited applicability. It works for tasks that are easily accomplished in a huge number of specific ways, but where someone would have to do a lot of mindless fiddling to decide which of these ways is best.,, That’s helpful in the sense that we commonly find computers helpful — they do what we tell them to do very efficiently, without complaining. But in biology we see something altogether different. We see elegant solutions to millions of engineering problems that human ingenuity cannot even begin to solve.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....58591.html

    and as was pointed out to you earlier:

    Algorithmic Information Theory, Free Will and the Turing Test – Douglas S. Robertson
    Excerpt: Chaitin’s Algorithmic Information Theory shows that information is conserved under formal mathematical operations and, equivalently, under computer operations. This conservation law puts a new perspective on many familiar problems related to artificial intelligence. For example, the famous “Turing test” for artificial intelligence could be defeated by simply asking for a new axiom in mathematics. Human mathematicians are able to create axioms, but a computer program cannot do this without violating information conservation. Creating new axioms and free will are shown to be different aspects of the same phenomena: the creation of new information.,,,
    The basic problem concerning the relation between AIT (Algorithmic Information Theory) and free will can be stated succinctly: Since the theorems of mathematics cannot contain more information than is contained in the axioms used to derive those theorems, it follows that no formal operation in mathematics (and equivalently, no operation performed by a computer) can create new information.
    http://cires.colorado.edu/~dou...../info8.pdf

    You are simply imagining something that is not there in these computer programs NL. Seeing faces in the clouds as it were. Some would say ‘making a false idol’….,,,

    And to reiterate some links that you apparently ignored earlier:

    Alan Turing & Kurt Godel – Incompleteness Theorem and Human Intuition – video (notes in video description)
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/8516356/

    The Limits Of Reason – Gregory Chaitin – 2006
    Excerpt: an infinite number of true mathematical theorems exist that cannot be proved from any finite system of axioms.,,,
    http://www.umcs.maine.edu/~chaitin/sciamer3.pdf

    Dennett on Competence without Comprehension – William A. Dembski – June 2012
    Excerpt: As it turns out, there are problems in mathematics that can be proved to be beyond resolution by any algorithm (e.g., the halting problem).
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....61451.html

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    To further deflate your false overestimation in the power of ‘neural networks” NL;

    Dennett on Competence without Comprehension – William A. Dembski – June 2012
    Excerpt: In 1936 Turing proposed a universal mechanism for performing any and all computations, since dubbed a Turing machine. In the last seventy-plus years, many other formal systems have been proposed for performing any and all computations (cellular automata, neural nets, unlimited register machines, etc.), and they’ve all been shown to perform the same — no less and no more — computations as Turing’s originally proposed machine.,,,
    Something is a Turing machine if it has a “tape” that extends infinitely in both directions, with the tape subdivided into identical adjacent squares, each of which can have written on it one of a finite alphabet of symbols (usually just zero and one). In addition, a Turing machine has a “tape head,” that can move to the left or right on the tape and erase and rewrite the symbol that’s on a current square. Finally, what guides the tape head is a finite set of “states” that, given one state, looks at the current symbol, keeps or changes it, moves the tape head right or left, and then, on the basis of the symbol that was there, makes active another state. In modern terms, the states constitute the program and the symbols on the tape constitute data.
    From this it’s obvious that a Turing machine can do nothing unless it is properly programmed to do so.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....PWiRP.dpuf

  16. 16
    nightlight says:

    @gpuccio #12

    Wrong. Consciousness is an empirical reality, and its interactions with matter can be empirically verified.

    You need to acquaint yourself with the “hard problem of consciousness” to understand why consciousness is not a causal or empirically accessible element of the present natural science. What you are expressing is also known as folk psychology, which is distinct from natural science.

    All that is accessible to the methods of present natural science are interactions of matter with matter, whether it is collisions between particles, or sound waves of a voice saying ‘I am conscious now’ interacting with ear drums of the listener and triggering neuronal electric spikes. The ‘consciousness’ quantity or field or whatever it may be, doesn’t show up anywhere in the scientific description, it doesn’t do anything as far as science knows. Everything that happens is all done by the matter-matter interactions>, according to the present natural science. That’s just the way it presently is, but if you know some experiment or theory that demonstrates otherwise, you are welcome to bring it in.

    Natural science cannot scientifically even express the mere question “what is it like to be” such and such chunk of matter-energy while those things go on in your neurons. It has no clue that there is “something that it is like to be” let alone model or explain the mysterious “what it is like”-ness. Natural science is not equivalent or synonymous with a personal experience as you seem to believe.

    Of course, that is major gap in the present natural science. But science is never complete and there are always phenomena which it cannot account for, which are outside of its domain. The failure to account for consciousness is its current state and behaving as if that were not so, as Discovery Institute and its fellow routinely do, does not help ID gain a status of a scientific hypothesis. Whenever you inject ‘consciousness’ into a conjecture, you are automatically disqualifying the conjecture as a scientific hypothesis and shifting it into the realms of philosophy, theology, poetry, personal experience,… none of which, however “true” and “real” it may feel, is a natural science.

    Explaining ID hypothesis in terms of ‘consciousness’ merely entangles the problem of interest (the conjectured design process) with another even harder problem, that of the nature of consciousness. Hence, before you can go further with ID expressed via consciousness, you first need to produce supplementary scientific theory and conjectures about this entity ‘consciousness’ so you can then introduce the ID based on it.

    This is completely gratuitous muddying of the waters and destruction of the valuable piece of insight that ID has captured. Unfortunately, with philosophers, theologians and lawyers elbowing themselves into the ID frontline, that’s all one could expect to get.

    ID is about design and its detection, and design is the result of conscious processes, where a conscious representation outputs a specific form to material reality. That is a very simple empirical fact, and can perfectly be part of science, be it present or future, natural or not natural.

    That may well be empirical fact of your personal experience, but it is not an empirical fact of any natural science. The only elements of present natural science that have any causal effects (that do something empirically detectable) are mater-energy elements. Yep, it’s gap in natural science, but that’s the way it presently is. You can’t wish it away by pretending it is not.

    No computer program can generate new, original dFSCI. On the other hand, any good computer program can increase the complexity of a computation result, whose functional specification has been already defined and inputted in the program, together with the computation procedures to do that. In no way that means generating new, original dFSCI.

    The chess programmer never inputted into the program all the beautiful attacking combinations and opening or endgame insights and novelties that program plays. Most of the time chess programmer doesn’t even understand them, until some grandmaster explains what the program has achieved.

    One can now say, yes, but the entire ‘algorithmic information’ contained in those combinations is already implicitly encoded in the original program, so there is no “new” complex specified information being generated here.

    Of course, that is tautologically and trivially true (by definition of ‘algorithmic information’). But then how do you know what is the quantity of the specified complex information in phenomena of life? No one knows the amount of ‘algorithmic information’ behind phenomena of life, since no one knows the algorithms that may be behind it.

    While Dembski and others throw around astronomical numbers for odds of this or that protein and amounts of CSI required, that’s a pure speculation, no different than a computer naive person watching the game played by a chess program and marveling at the torrents of creative novelties pouring out of it, imagining some mind of a godlike genius inside.

    For all anyone knows, we are in no better position with respect to the fundamental algorithms of the universe than a person who has never heard of computer and has no concept of programming watching a chess program play a game.

    But there is a problem that must be addressed. The decimal digits of pi can be computed by some algorithm. Therefore, the true Kolmogorov complexity of any output about pi is the minimal complexity of the algorithm that can compute that result.

    But we don’t know whether universe itself is running like program, containing equivalent of three lines of C code as its ‘algorithmic information’. Some scientists, such as Stephen Wolfram are playing with such models and discovering quite surprising richness of interesting phenomena.

    Hence, anything someone claims about alleged vastness of CSI involved in the origin of life and its evolution, or fine tuning of universe, is a pure speculation which carries no scientific weight.

    But there is more: new, original dFSCI means new complex information linked to a new, original specification. That is completely out of the possibilities of computation. Computation has no idea of what a functional specification is.

    Whether it is “out of possibilities of computation” depends on what the underlying algorithm of the universe may be and nobody knows that. All pieces of action which to us seem independent and complex, may well be choreographed by the internal algorithm of the universe to perform some complex dance and fit together just so, like pre-established harmony of Leibniz monads.

    That’s why computation can never generate new dFSCI.

    But no one can demonstrate that there is a lot of “dFSCI” anywhere in the universe in the first place. To us it may appear that there is, but no one knows whether it is so. We might be like some chess playing native living away from civilization, who has never seen modern technology, playing against computer chess program and marveling at the incredible mind hiding inside, producing all that complex specified information.

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    NL states: “but if you know some experiment or theory that demonstrates otherwise, you are welcome to bring it in.”

    Besides the fact the NL himself, using his own conscious mind, just posted far more functional information than can be generated by material (or computer) processes, there is this experiment;

    Scientific Evidence That Mind Effects Matter – Random Number Generators – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4198007

    Correlations of Random Binary Sequences with Pre-Stated Operator Intention: A Review of a 12-Year Program – 1997
    http://www.princeton.edu/~pear.....review.pdf

  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    Moreover NL, despite you absurd notion that consciousness has no place in science (despite consciousness being ‘axiomatic’ to quantum theory) for you to deny ‘conscious mind’ any place in science is to result in the epistemological failure of science itself. see Boltzmann’s brain and Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism i.e. Moreover,

    Why No One (Can) Believe Atheism/Naturalism to be True – video
    Excerpt: “Since we are creatures of natural selection, we cannot totally trust our senses. Evolution only passes on traits that help a species survive, and not concerned with preserving traits that tell a species what is actually true about life.”
    Richard Dawkins – quoted from “The God Delusion”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4QFsKevTXs

    Alvin Plantinga – Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r34AIo-xBh8

    Content and Natural Selection – Alvin Plantinga – 2011
    http://www.andrewmbailey.com/a.....ection.pdf

    Philosopher Sticks Up for God
    Excerpt: Theism, with its vision of an orderly universe superintended by a God who created rational-minded creatures in his own image, “is vastly more hospitable to science than naturalism,” with its random process of natural selection, he (Plantinga) writes. “Indeed, it is theism, not naturalism, that deserves to be called ‘the scientific worldview.’”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12.....wanted=all

    As well,

    Epistemology – Why Should The Human Mind Even Be Able To Comprehend Reality? – Stephen Meyer – video – (Notes in description)
    http://vimeo.com/32145998

    You are simply incoherent in your worldview NL!

  19. 19
    nightlight says:

    @ba77 #14

    NL, you are cordially requested to, instead of constantly making unsupported assertions, to present any hard evidence that computational processes can generate algorithmic information above that which was originally encoded into the computer to begin with as you claim!

    That’s the most ridiculous request I have seen yet here and it has nothing to do with what I wrote.

    ‘Algorithmic information’ is a technical term, and by its definition any output/pattern generated by a program contains precisely the amount of ‘algorithmic information’ which is equal to the minimum number of bits needed for the generating program itself (including all of its internal data & code). No matter how long the output pattern goes or how complex it may appear, the amount of algorithmic information stays the same.

    So the ‘algorithmic information’ is like a dollar cost of a bottle of perfume — no matter how far and wide the perfume smells end up spreading, how many nostrils they get into, what effect it had on those nostrils and heads to which they are attached,… the cost stays the same, whatever is printed on the sticker.

    ‘Algorithmic information’ based argument for ID is irrelevant since no one knows what the algorithmic information of life or universe is, since no one knows the algorithms that run the universe. For all we know it may amount to an equivalent of tree lines of C code.

    Throwing those astronomical numbers allegedly representing odds for this that protein, as some ID supporters are so fond of doing, is a pure speculation resting entirely on the conjectured/imagined impossibility of a much simpler algorithm.

    The amount of ‘algorithmic information’ has no relation to the apparent informational richness of some pattern as computed by those who don’t know what the underlying minimum generating algorithm is.

    Since no one actually knows, whatever they may claim, what the minimum underlying algorithms of the universe may be (or even whether there is any such), no one knows what the ‘algorithmic information’ of the universe or any of its phenomena may be.

    Building ID on such concept is waste of an otherwise interesting and worthy idea. What ID clearly shows is that the neo-Darwinian search algorithm (random trial and error) is incapable of generating the observed phenomena of life. But some ID folks got too greedy and leapt via their consciousness-talk into the philosophical and theological realms, inseparably intertwining them with the valid scientific hypothesis, squandering it in the process as a scientific hypothesis.

  20. 20
    bornagain77 says:

    NL, since you refuse to provide a rigid falsification for this claim as I requested (claiming ignorance, which I will second you on that claim),

    Algorithmic Information Theory, Free Will and the Turing Test – Douglas S. Robertson
    Excerpt: Chaitin’s Algorithmic Information Theory shows that information is conserved under formal mathematical operations and, equivalently, under computer operations. This conservation law puts a new perspective on many familiar problems related to artificial intelligence. For example, the famous “Turing test” for artificial intelligence could be defeated by simply asking for a new axiom in mathematics. Human mathematicians are able to create axioms, but a computer program cannot do this without violating information conservation. Creating new axioms and free will are shown to be different aspects of the same phenomena: the creation of new information.,,,
    The basic problem concerning the relation between AIT (Algorithmic Information Theory) and free will can be stated succinctly: Since the theorems of mathematics cannot contain more information than is contained in the axioms used to derive those theorems, it follows that no formal operation in mathematics (and equivalently, no operation performed by a computer) can create new information.
    http://cires.colorado.edu/~dou...../info8.pdf

    Since you refuse to provide falsification for that claim, perhaps you can provide just one example, of what you absurdly believe to be the computer program running this universe, generating a single functional protein or molecular machine (D. Axe, M. Behe)? I can provide an example of conscious intelligence designing a protein as such, but I can’t seem to find any evidence to back up your claim! And without such an empirical demonstration for your claim you are definitely not doing science!

    Moreover, I remind you of this little argument against your ‘naturalistic’ computer program:

    Digital Physics Argument for God’s Existence – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2Xsp4FRgas

    Digital Physics Argument
    Premise 1: Simulations can only exist is a computer or a mind.
    Premise 2: The universe is a simulation.
    Premise 3: A simulation on a computer still must be simulated in a mind.
    Premise 4: Therefore, the universe is a simulation in a mind (2,3).
    Premise 5: This mind is what we call God.
    Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.

    Is God No Better Than A Special Computer? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xinwkb_b4k4

    Quantum Computing Promises New Insights, Not Just Supermachines – Scott Aaronson – December 2011
    Excerpt: And yet, even though useful quantum computers might still be decades away, many of their payoffs are already arriving. For example, the mere possibility of quantum computers has all but overthrown a conception of the universe that scientists like Stephen Wolfram have championed. That conception holds that, as in the “Matrix” movies, the universe itself is basically a giant computer, twiddling an array of 1’s and 0’s in essentially the same way any desktop PC does.
    Quantum computing has challenged that vision by showing that if “the universe is a computer,” then even at a hard-nosed theoretical level, it’s a vastly more powerful kind of computer than any yet constructed by humankind. Indeed, the only ways to evade that conclusion seem even crazier than quantum computing itself: One would have to overturn quantum mechanics, or else find a fast way to simulate quantum mechanics using today’s computers.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12.....ef=science

  21. 21
    nightlight says:

    @ba77 #18

    NL, despite you absurd notion that consciousness has no place in science (despite consciousness being `axiomatic’ to quantum theory)

    That’s another illustration of your low res view of science (which I keep trying to educate you out of), unable to distinguish between official or formal statements of science and informal philosophical chatter and speculations by scientists (which they love to do).

    Consciousness is not in any axiom of quantum physics or any other branch of physics, it doesn’t occur in any formula and it never needs to be measured or accounted for in any physics computation or experiment. As far as Quantum Physics is concerned, it doesn’t exist and it makes no difference in anything quantum physics or physicists do.

    As to how consciousness got entangled into some side chatter about quantum mechanics, there are two ways wave function evolves, one via the continuous unitary evolution and the other via discontinuous projection operator, the so called “collapse” of the wave function. Nothing in quantum theory states or explains what causes one or the other way, since those are fundamental postulates, which means they taken as given without explanation. Some physicists in their free time speculate as to why are there two different ways of evolution of wave function instead of just one. And some among those believe it may have to do with consciousness of observer. But that belief is not itself a part of Quantum Theory or natural science, but a free style hop outside science, into philosophy.

    Physicists have no more clue about mind-stuff than anyone else, if anything, by being overly absorbed into physics problems, they are denser on the subject of emotions and sympathy than most other folks.

    All that consciousness-talk by (some) physicists is an informal personal speculation. Some physicists have also a habit of naming mathematical formulas with picturesque and suggestive technical names, such as “free will hypothesis” or some such, even though all it is, is a mere formal constraint on the joint probabilities with no actual relation to “free” or any other “will” as commonly perceived and understood.

    If one were to apply your way of understanding science, a quantum physicist tweating favorably about Obamacare is a scientific proof that Obamacare is scientifically sound and a part of quantum physics.

  22. 22
    bornagain77 says:

    NL wants to ‘educate me’, bless his little deluded naturalistic heart which his ‘naturalistic’ computer program programmed him to say:

    Here’s a recent variation of Wheeler’s Delayed Choice experiment, which highlights the ability of the conscious observer to effect ‘spooky action into the past’, thus further solidifying consciousness’s centrality in reality. Furthermore in the following experiment, the claim that past material states determine future conscious choices (determinism) is falsified by the fact that present conscious choices effect past material states:

    Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past – April 23, 2012
    Excerpt: The authors experimentally realized a “Gedankenexperiment” called “delayed-choice entanglement swapping”, formulated by Asher Peres in the year 2000. Two pairs of entangled photons are produced, and one photon from each pair is sent to a party called Victor. Of the two remaining photons, one photon is sent to the party Alice and one is sent to the party Bob. Victor can now choose between two kinds of measurements. If he decides to measure his two photons in a way such that they are forced to be in an entangled state, then also Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair becomes entangled. If Victor chooses to measure his particles individually, Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair ends up in a separable state. Modern quantum optics technology allowed the team to delay Victor’s choice and measurement with respect to the measurements which Alice and Bob perform on their photons. “We found that whether Alice’s and Bob’s photons are entangled and show quantum correlations or are separable and show classical correlations can be decided after they have been measured”, explains Xiao-song Ma, lead author of the study.
    According to the famous words of Albert Einstein, the effects of quantum entanglement appear as “spooky action at a distance”. The recent experiment has gone one remarkable step further. “Within a naïve classical world view, quantum mechanics can even mimic an influence of future actions on past events”, says Anton Zeilinger.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-04-q.....ction.html

    What Does Quantum Physics Have to Do with Free Will? – By Antoine Suarez – July 22, 2013
    Excerpt: What is more, recent experiments are bringing to light that the experimenter’s free will and consciousness should be considered axioms (founding principles) of standard quantum physics theory. So for instance, in experiments involving “entanglement” (the phenomenon Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”), to conclude that quantum correlations of two particles are nonlocal (i.e. cannot be explained by signals traveling at velocity less than or equal to the speed of light), it is crucial to assume that the experimenter can make free choices, and is not constrained in what orientation he/she sets the measuring devices.
    To understand these implications it is crucial to be aware that quantum physics is not only a description of the material and visible world around us, but also speaks about non-material influences coming from outside the space-time.,,,
    https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/content/what-does-quantum-physics-have-do-free-will

    In other words, if my conscious choices really are just merely the result of whatever state the material particles in my brain happen to be in in the past (deterministic) how in blue blazes are my choices instantaneously effecting the state of material particles into the past?,,, I consider the preceding experimental evidence to be an improvement over the traditional ‘uncertainty’ argument for free will, from quantum mechanics, that had been used to undermine the deterministic belief of materialists:

    Why Quantum Physics (Uncertainty) Ends the Free Will Debate – Michio Kaku – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFLR5vNKiSw

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    NL, since you hold you don’t really have a conscious mind, nor any free will, (for it has no place in science in your view), doesn’t that mean that none of us are free to consent to the truthfulness of any particular argument?

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

  24. 24
    nightlight says:

    @ba77 #18

    Since you refuse to provide falsification for that claim

    There is nothing there to falsify. It’s just some adjunct professor of geology philosophizing about mathematical tautologies. As explained, by definition of ‘algorithmic information’ of a bit pattern generated by program, is a fixed number defined as the number of bits needed to encode the minimum generating program. Whether the generated pattern is digits of Pi or chess moves or design of molecule, or whatever else, the size of the particular minimum generating program remains constant.

    The aspect you don’t get somehow is that no one knows what the ‘algorithmic information’ of a molecule is since no one knows what the minimum generating algorithm might be.

    When some ID evangelist calculates some such number X for some protein, all it means is that he could think up of a protein generating algorithm A which can be encoded in X bits.

    But that doesn’t amount to showing what the length of the minimum generating algorithm may be i.e. what the real algorithmic information of the protein is. Hence, number X means only that ‘algorithmic information’ of that protein is not bigger than X, but it could be a lot smaller as far as anyone knows.

    I can provide an example of conscious intelligence designing a protein as such, but I can’t seem to find any evidence to back up your claim!

    Any finite sequence of steps can be trivially computed by a finite program (which need not be the minimum program for the job). For example, this whole thread on your screen has been put up by a (non-minimal) program and its database on the server.

    Regarding molecules, pharmaceutical and biotech industry use powerful supercomputers to search shape design space of proteins (solving among others, protein folding problems) that fit certain cellular receptors of interest so they can design a drug that binds to those receptors. As a matter of principle, that’s no different than a chess program searching for clever moves in a given chess position.

    The fact that all such programs have some length L which is greater or equal than the minimum program that could perform the same search task, is irrelevant regarding the algorithms behind the origin and evolution of life or fine tuning of the universe. Since the set of facts we know, or can know in finite amount of time, about universe is finite, a program of suitable length (no one knows what the minimum length might be) can generate it.

    Those are all trivial, dull aspects of the problem and frankly, a waste of time. One can’t help but feel pity for the poor deities condemned to cling on that kind of shaky arguments.

    The <a href="http://www.wolframscience.com/.....nteresting and non-trivial stuff is discovering specific, short, elegant algorithms that might be able to generate, first the physical laws as we know them, then the rest of the phenomena in the universe.

  25. 25
    nightlight says:

    @ba77 #23

    NL, since you hold you don’t really have a conscious mind, nor any free will,

    I never said anything of the sort.

    (for it has no place in science in your view)

    Never said that either. It is not part of the present natural science, but it ought to be in some future more advanced natural science.

    In fact, several times in this thread I labeled this absence a “major gap” in the present science, which is exactly opposite from your misquote that “it has no place in science.” Of course it has, just not in what goes as natural science today, which is incomplete and going the wrong way in some areas.

    My objection is to Discovery Institute’s (DI) insistence on needlessly entangling the scientific hypothesis of ID (which shows the inadequacy of neo-Darwinian algorithm) with matters which don’t exist in the present natural science, such as ‘conscious agency’.

    This DI “strategy” automatically disqualifies their formulation of ID from being considered a scientific hypothesis, until the scientific problem of nature and function of consciousness is scientifically resolved, since DI’s ID gratuitously sets itself on top of some imagined ‘conscious agency’ which present natural science doesn’t have and can’t do anything with. Since nothing follows (as a scientific statement) from ‘conscious agency’, then such causally sterile, scientifically meaningless verbiage can’t be the cause of design of life or its evolution. If it can’t do anything at all as far as present science knows, then it can’t do any particular thing either.

    DI could surely use folks from hard sciences, such as various branches of physics, to help them decouple their theology from an otherwise worthy scientific hypothesis. Unfortunately their present frontline crew dominated by philosophers, theologians and lawyers is simply clueless as to what is the problem with their story, when it is so convincing to themselves and to their choir (well represented in this thread).

  26. 26
    bornagain77 says:

    Nightlight, your position is ludicrous to the point of verging on insanity. Nor is your ‘living in a computer simulation’ position science, no matter how much you try to delude yourself to the contrary. If anyone is trying to be a lawyer, or philosopher, to sell their position in this thread it is you. I have tried to get you to cite hard evidence and you merely play senseless word games as if that could ever make you simulation worldview coherent! And good luck living in your computer simulation by the way. I hope the programmer doesn’t decide to have Pac Man eat you! 🙂 Moreover Mr. Pixel, just where is this computer that runs your simulation of the universe to be located since,,,

    Looking Beyond Space and Time to Cope With Quantum Theory – (Oct. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt“Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,” says Nicolas Gisin, Professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142217.htm

    Last time I checked that whole timeless, spaceless area was almighty God’s exclusive domain. And if you insist on inserting a purely imaginary timeless, spaceless, computer into God’s place, instead of giving glory to God that is due Him, does that not make you, in reality, an idol worshiper? Myself, I just as soon give credit where credit is due!

    Verse and Music:

    Exodus 20
    “You shall have no other gods before me.
    “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God,

    Carrie Underwood with Vince Gill How Great thou Art – Music
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLLMzr3PFgk

  27. 27
    gpuccio says:

    nightlight:

    All that is accessible to the methods of present natural science are interactions of matter with matter, whether it is collisions between particles, or sound waves of a voice saying ‘I am conscious now’ interacting with ear drums of the listener and triggering neuronal electric spikes. The ‘consciousness’ quantity or field or whatever it may be, doesn’t show up anywhere in the scientific description, it doesn’t do anything as far as science knows. Everything that happens is all done by the matter-matter interactions>, according to the present natural science. That’s just the way it presently is, but if you know some experiment or theory that demonstrates otherwise, you are welcome to bring it in.

    You need to acquaint yourself with reality. Anything that is empirically observable must be taken into account by science. Science is about reality. Your definition of science, natural or not, is your definition, or somebody else’s, and cannot in any way decide what science is or is not.

    A simple experiment? You just visualize a form, and then design it on a sheet of paper. Can you deny that your visualization is at the origin of the sequence of “interactions of matter with matter” which gives, as a final result, your drawing? Why shoudln’t science be interested in that simple empirical fact?

    The failure to account for consciousness is its current state and behaving as if that were not so, as Discovery Institute and its fellow routinely do, does not help ID gain a status of a scientific hypothesis.

    I don’t think that I, or most ID supporters, or even most reasonable people, can really desire to “gain a status” in “natural science” as you define it. I happily leave that status to you or to anyone who likes it. Personally, I prefer to remain interested in science that tries to understand reality.

    Whenever you inject ‘consciousness’ into a conjecture, you are automatically disqualifying the conjecture as a scientific hypothesis and shifting it into the realms of philosophy, theology, poetry, personal experience,… none of which, however “true” and “real” it may feel, is a natural science.

    For me, it’s enough that it’s good science. And it is.

    Explaining ID hypothesis in terms of ‘consciousness’ merely entangles the problem of interest (the conjectured design process) with another even harder problem, that of the nature of consciousness.

    Absolutely not! You completely misunderstand the issue. Consciousness is directly observable, and therefore is a fact. There is no need to know “the nature” of a fact to take it into consideration. There was never any need to understand “the nature” of matter, or energy, or charge, or spin, or space, or time, to understand that those things must be included in our scientific map of reality.

    Hence, before you can go further with ID expressed via consciousness, you first need to produce supplementary scientific theory and conjectures about this entity ‘consciousness’ so you can then introduce the ID based on it.

    As said, this is simply not true.

    That may well be empirical fact of your personal experience, but it is not an empirical fact of any natural science. The only elements of present natural science that have any causal effects (that do something empirically detectable) are mater-energy elements. Yep, it’s gap in natural science, but that’s the way it presently is. You can’t wish it away by pretending it is not.

    It is an empirical fact for all human beings. And you want to ignore it only because you have decided that “that’s the way it presently is”. What is your opinion of science? Do you think it is a political agreement among those who have some special power? Science is about reality. But it seems that you are not interested in reality, but only in social consensus.

    The chess programmer never inputted into the program all the beautiful attacking combinations and opening or endgame insights and novelties that program plays.

    No, but he inputted all the rules of the game, what is the functional result to be obtained, and how to make computations to obtain that result. IOWs, everything necessary.

    In the same way, a programmer does not input into a pi computing software all the desired outcome (the digits of pi), but he inputs the algorithms to compute them. It’s the same.

    One can now say, yes, but the entire ‘algorithmic information’ contained in those combinations is already implicitly encoded in the original program, so there is no “new” complex specified information being generated here.

    Yes.

    Of course, that is tautologically and trivially true (by definition of ‘algorithmic information’). But then how do you know what is the quantity of the specified complex information in phenomena of life? No one knows the amount of ‘algorithmic information’ behind phenomena of life, since no one knows the algorithms that may be behind it.

    It is true, but it is neither tautological nor trivial. It’s you who do not understand the point.

    Let’s take a protein which has a biological function (an enzyme that accelerates a biochemical reaction). Let’s say that such a protein appears for the first time at some point in natural history, which is certainly true for a lot of basic protein domains, and that it has no homologies with any other basic protein domain that existed before. And the biochemical function of the protein is completely new.

    Now, that is a clear case of appearance of new dFSCI. And that is certainly true for hundreds, probably thousands of basic protein domains.

    And we do know how that result could be obtained algorithmically. we are desperately trying to obtain such a result in protein engineering, and failing, because our understanding of the laws of biochemistry, and especially our computing resources, are not enough to obtain such a result.

    IOWs, any algorithmic attempt at engineering a wholly new functional enzyme is certainly much more complex than the enzyme itself. Even if intelligently designed.

    Therefore, the Kolmogorov complexity of the enzyme itself, however big, is certainly lower than the complexity of a computing algorithm designed to find the right sequence starting from all our knowledge of biochemistry.

    We so have ways to compute dFSCI in proteins. Durston has done exactly that, as I have discussed many times here.

    Moreover, as the new desired function does not exist before, even a computing algorithm should contain as input the function itself because, as I have already said, algorithms have no idea of what function is, unless it is codified in their initial input.

    While Dembski and others throw around astronomical numbers for odds of this or that protein and amounts of CSI required, that’s a pure speculation, no different than a computer naive person watching the game played by a chess program and marveling at the torrents of creative novelties pouring out of it, imagining some mind of a godlike genius inside.

    No. Durston, as already said, has computed the functional complexity for more than 30 protein families.

    But we don’t know whether universe itself is running like program, containing equivalent of three lines of C code as its ‘algorithmic information’. Some scientists, such as Stephen Wolfram are playing with such models and discovering quite surprising richness of interesting phenomena.

    With all respect, they still need to explain how a new basic protein domain appears on this small planet at a certain time.

    Hence, anything someone claims about alleged vastness of CSI involved in the origin of life and its evolution, or fine tuning of universe, is a pure speculation which carries no scientific weight.

    As I have shown, this is completely wrong, and simply demonstrates that you have not understood the points of ID.

    Whether it is “out of possibilities of computation” depends on what the underlying algorithm of the universe may be and nobody knows that. All pieces of action which to us seem independent and complex, may well be choreographed by the internal algorithm of the universe to perform some complex dance and fit together just so, like pre-established harmony of Leibniz monads.

    Who is doing philosophy now? This is, at best, wishful thinking, at worst, mythological bias.

    But no one can demonstrate that there is a lot of “dFSCI” anywhere in the universe in the first place.

    Any functional protein enzyme of, say, 150 aminoacids. Or do you deny that they are part of the universe? This post is another good example.

    To us it may appear that there is, but no one knows whether it is so. We might be like some chess playing native living away from civilization, who has never seen modern technology, playing against computer chess program and marveling at the incredible mind hiding inside, producing all that complex specified information.

    Well, you keep your philosophical and non pertinent metaphors. I am interested in science. And my science, natural or not, is very interested in how a new complex basic protein domain appears on a planet where nothing can compute it. IOWs, we are interested in facts.

  28. 28
    Mung says:

    gpuccio,

    I think it’s real enough and it’s ‘natural’ science if it’s in a computer (iow, in an artificial environment).

    As soon as you bring “programmer” into it, it’s no longer natural science and “minds” that perform computation, well, we’ll hear no more of that nonsense. That may be organic computation but it’s not artificial computation, so it’s not ‘natural’ science.

  29. 29
    nightlight says:

    @gpuccio #27

    Anything that is empirically observable must be taken into account by science. Science is about reality.

    In due time, yes. Magnetism was known as a phenomenon for thousands of years, and only in 18-19th its laws became a part of natural science.

    Similarly, consciousness has been recognized for thousands of years, but so far no one knows how to make something out of it in natural science. As far as present science is concerned, it has no causal effects on anything. While you may feel it does cause you to draw a picture, a robot can be programmed to draw identical picture, and with robot all that it does can be explained via matter-matter interactions. There is nothing in the present science that suggests that anything beyond such matter-matter interaction is needed for you to draw your version of the picture either.

    You are welcome to show any science demonstrating that “consciousness” does or cause anything at all. Your or mine inner experience is not a natural science, even though it may feel it is real. You can write poetry or philosophize about it, but that doesn’t make it a scientific result or fact. After all, different people feel inside all kinds of things.

    If present science doesn’t have any causal role for consciousness, then it is absurd to hinge a scientific hypothesis such as ID onto consciousness. If according to present natural science the ‘consciousness’ has no causal power to do anything at all, then it surely cannot design and build a molecule either, as DI’s version ID asserts. Hence, DI’s version of ID is not a scientific hypothesis but a philosophical position.

    If you do believe that ‘consciousness’ has causal power in the present natural science, bring the science in — which natural science and how does ‘consciousness’ do it? Does it override physical laws? What exactly can it do to a molecule? How does it interact with it? Does it change what molecule would have done without the intervention by this conjectured C quantity?… Bring in a scientific paper that demonstrates how it does any of that.

    All am saying is that there is no such scientific finding. You seem to believe there is such finding. Well, then where is it? Don’t keep it secret.

    A simple experiment? You just visualize a form, and then design it on a sheet of paper. Can you deny that your visualization is at the origin of the sequence of “interactions of matter with matter” which gives, as a final result, your drawing? Why shouldn’t science be interested in that simple empirical fact?

    Since a robot can be programmed to draw similar drawings, and that activity can be explained purely as matter-matter interaction, without invocation of “inner experience” as causal factor, how can science establish that this is not how your drawing came about too, but that something extra, beyond matter-matter interaction was needed to cause particular motions of your muscles. Just because you say how you felt before drawing means scientifically nothing since a robot can be programmed to say the same thing.

    You can’t seem to grasp that just because you feel something, that doesn’t make it into an element of natural science. The natural sciences have three basic functional components:

    1) Model space M — formal, algorithmic elements which generate scientific statements (formulas, rules, logic,…) in a reproducible manner (a scientist skilled in that discipline should be able to follow algorithmic steps and reproduce the conclusions or predictions).

    2) Empirical space E — set of empirical facts with algorithms (procedures and instruments) providing for reproducible extraction of the empirical facts from the interactions with the objects of that discipline.

    3) Operational procedures OP — rules providing mapping between elements of M (such as predictions) and elements of E (facts). These rules allow comparison between scientific statements (e.g. predictions, retro-dictions, etc) produced by the statement generating algorithms of M with empirical facts obtained via procedures of E.

    As noted, all this has to be reproducible i.e. any skilled practitioner of the discipline should be able to follow all steps you claim and verify the match or mismatch between elements of M and E claimed.

    Informally, one can describe the above partition as natural science being system for creating algorithmic models in M of reality in E, then using mapping OP to compare the behavior of the ‘toy’ model as it runs in the model space M with real world E.

    With consciousness, there is no science that has some C element (consciousness) in its model space M that figures in any algorithm or formula within M. Yes, some disciplines use the C-word (e.g. anesthesiology, psychiatry, psychology), but only as convenient shorthand for certain kinds of behaviors or responses to stimuli. It is not an entity or quantity that algorithmically does anything in M, other than serve as a short label for more detailed descriptions in terms of matter-matter interactions. If one were to replace C-word with any other word via some new labeling convention, no prediction or scientific statement of that science would change beyond the labeling convention.

    Similarly, there is no empirical procedure in E that can measure this hypothetical C quantity (consciousness), no instrument that yields a pointer value as C=25 or some such. Again, in some disciplines C-word is used in E as a shorthand for certain kind of brain waves or their absence, but again it’s only a shorthand label standing in for more detailed descriptions in terms of matter-matter interactions (e.g. measurements of electric activity of brain, or fMRI images).

    Without an algorithmically effective C element in M and without empirically reproducible or measurable C element in E, there is nothing for OP component to map between.

    All that can be stated concisely as: there is no ‘consciousness’ as element of present natural science. The C-word is used in some disciplines merely as a shorthand or label for more detailed descriptions in terms of matter-energy elements of M and E.

    My argument here is not that consciousness doesn’t exist or that is meaningless, but merely that the present, imperfect as it may be, natural science doesn’t know what it does or how it does it, or even whether it does anything at all,or why is it there if it is at all.

    Consequently, it is ridiculous to introduce a scientific hypothesis of “intelligent design’ in which entity causing design is something that present science has no counterpart for that does or can causes anything at all.

    With that kind of needlessly overburdened ID hypothesis, one is going against multiple problems all at once:

    1) provide suitable algorithmically effective C element of M (a variable or quantity or formula that algorithmically does something i.e. affects some other variables in M),

    2) provide suitable procedures and instruments for E so that quantity C can be empirically quantified,

    3) provide mapping in OP so that statements or figures generated by M from its C element can be compared to C-related figures measured in E.

    4) Only after you establish that there exists a scientifically based C element (via solution to problems 1-3) that can causally affect other elements of M & E at all, then you can proceed to formulate special case of such action of C, the design and construction of proteins, which again needs to have all of it own 3 phases covered.

    The point I am trying to make is that reformulating ID hypothesis so that actions of C element are expressed in terms of ‘computational process’ (which is always possible since any finite number of steps can be computed), then you don’t have a needless burden of solving problems 1-3. Namely, the natural science already has algorithmically effective, empirically verifiable elements for ‘computational processes’ in M and E spaces, which can design and build something (such as molecules).

    Hence one doesn’t need to fight those battles (1)-(3) before formulating the ID hypothesis (4) as — the origin and evolution of life are results of a ‘computational process’ which is far more sophisticated than the primitive neo-Darwinian random trial and error algorithm. With that kind of ID hypothesis, science can move right on to finding and then reverse engineering that more sophisticated computational process.

    I don’t think that I, or most ID supporters, or even most reasonable people, can really desire to “gain a status” in “natural science” as you define it.

    Well, if you want to teach ID in science classes, than it’s got fit into natural science the way it is now (lacking the causally effective consciousness element).

    If you don’t mind waiting another hundred or thousand years until the problem of consciousness is finally solved and it becomes part of natural science, then you can stick with DI’s formulation of ID hypothesis.

    In the meantime James Shapiro and researchers at Santa Fe Institute for Complexity Science will have ‘computational process’ variant of ID well established, and neo-Darwinians will start morphing their phrasing gradually, finally embrace it claiming that’s what they really meant all along (e.g. as they did with ‘punctured equilibria’ or directed mutations), and Darwin rules again.

    You completely misunderstand the issue. Consciousness is directly observable, and therefore is a fact. There is no need to know “the nature” of a fact to take it into consideration. There was never any need to understand “the nature” of matter, or energy, or charge, or spin, or space, or time, to understand that those things must be included in our scientific map of reality.

    Scientists of course understand the need to scientifically explain consciousness (which presumably others besides me can experience as well). They just don’t know how to do that yet. But there are vast quantities of speculations on that subject.

    The same need for explanation existed with respect to other natural phenomena you mention. But before they became part of natural sciences (with algorithmically effective element in all 3 functional components) one couldn’t just make up claims about them causing this or that as DI’s ID makes claims about consciousness designing and building molecules.

    Present natural science has no clue whether consciousness can cause anything in the realm of matter-energy, let alone that it can do something as specific as come up with and make proteins. You may feel personally that it can do and it did exactly that, but all kinds of people feel all kinds of things, and so what. Someone’s feel doesn’t amount to a scientific theory that you can teach in the class.

    It is an empirical fact for all human beings.

    That’s an expression of your personal faith not a scientific fact. There is presently no way for you or anyone to demonstrate such claim. The most you can demonstrate are sounds of words spoken or images of words written in response to some question about it. But computers or robots can be programmed to produce the same sounds and the same images, too. Mere registration of such sounds and images doesn’t tell you anything about “what it is like” to produce them i.e. about the existence of the presumed inner experience accompanying those responses.

    So how exactly do you do demonstrate it as a scientific fact, not as statement of your personal faith?

    Science is about reality. But it seems that you are not interested in reality, but only in social consensus.

    Science is about reality that can be demonstrated, not what you or some random person on the street feels to be reality. As explained above, there is presently no way to empirically demonstrate ‘consciousness’ (the inner experience). Until someone figures out how to do that, it remains at the level of personal feels or faith, not as a part of natural science.

    Let’s take a protein which has a biological function (an enzyme that accelerates a biochemical reaction). Let’s say that such a protein appears for the first time at some point in natural history, which is certainly true for a lot of basic protein domains, and that it has no homologies with any other basic protein domain that existed before. And the biochemical function of the protein is completely new… Now, that is a clear case of appearance of new dFSCI. And that is certainly true for hundreds, probably thousands of basic protein domains.

    How exactly do you know that computational capacity of the underlying matter-energy hardware (of which present science knows perhaps only a few low hanging fruits) is insufficient for generating all that universe does, fine tuning, life, evolution….? How do you know that the underlying algorithms of the universe need help and occasional intervention of some conjectured “consciousness” to generate what universe is actually doing?

    No one knows answers to any of that. You are making groundless claims about imagined need for some ‘conscious agency’ to explain origin of life and design of functional proteins, since allegedly the algorithms running the universe (of which we perhaps have only few vague clues in our present natural science) are insufficient for the job. But there is nothing anyone has shown or knows that can back such claims of insufficiency. Someone else may as well imagine that ‘consciousness’ isn’t enough either, but that you also need tower of gigantic turtles to really cover all bases.

    IOWs, any algorithmic attempt at engineering a wholly new functional enzyme is certainly much more complex than the enzyme itself. Even if intelligently designed.

    You are confusing humanly constructed algorithms with those that run universe. The latter can be unimaginably more powerful, since available hardware has cogs at least down to Planck scale to work with. As explained in earlier post, working with Planck scale cogs (organized as neural network as some pregeometric models of assume it to be), the computational capacity of the available hardware is 10^80 times greater than any computer we could ever build in the same volume of space with our elementary particles (electrons, quarks) as its working cogs (and our current computing elements are billions of times larger and slower than even that scale of elementary-particle technology).

    Even the algorithms computed by the cellular biochemical networks (which are distributed self-programming computers, like networks of neurons making up a brain) are computationally far more powerful in the domain of molecular scale bio-engineering than all of our science and technology put together. For example, cellular networks can design and build new live cells from scratch (from simple molecules). Our present science can’t even design and build one live organelle, let alone whole live cell, from simple molecules and without any help from the cellular biochemical networks, the real masters of that domain.

    Durston, as already said, has computed the functional complexity for more than 30 protein families.

    He could have only computed some arbitrary upper bound on the algorithmic complexity of those proteins, as measured by the generating algorithms he was able to think up. That doesn’t mean those algorithms are the simplest (shortest) ones possible i.e. he didn’t find what is the real algorithmic complexity of those molecules. He also didn’t demonstrate that underlying hardware running the universe (such as that computing the unfolding of physical laws) falls short of the complexity of the shortest/simplest generating algorithm (which no one knows either).

    So the whole exercise amounts at best to showing that neo-Darwinian random trial and error algorithm is inadequate. But it has no implication for the vastly more powerful algorithms and computing hardware that run the universe (those that compute and execute all that is happening at our physical level, at all times and all places). No one knows what those are and no one knows what the real simplest algorithms for the origin of life and design of new functional proteins may be. Hence, no one knows how the two, the available underlying computing capacity of the universe and the difficulty of those tasks, compare to each other.

    Therefore, it is groundless to claim on the basis of such calculations the impossibility of such computation by the underlying hardware of the universe. It is even more far fetched speculation to then invoke some deus ex machina (conscious or any other kind), to help the universe along at the imagined impossibly difficult stretches along the path.

    To make any impossibility claims, you need to know both ends here:

    a) the true algorithmic complexity of the life or proteins that make it go (which means the shortest possible algorithm that can generate them, not just some algorithm that someone has thought up), and

    b) the real computing and algorithmic capacity of the hardware running the universe.

    Once you can quantify both, (a) and (b), you need to compare the two numbers obtained to see whether (a) exceeds (b). If it does, you have the impossibility case, and need to look beyond. But since no one knows even remotely how to quantify either (a) or (b), any impossibility claims are statements of personal faith, not facts of natural science.

    And my science, natural or not, is very interested in how a new complex basic protein domain appears on a planet where nothing can compute it.

    How do you know that “nothing can compute it”? If the Planck scale physics is organized as adaptable network, as some pregeometry models in physics hypothesize, then there is unimaginably powerful computational process computing among others what we presently call laws of physics, at all places and in every moment.

    From that perspective, what we call our elementary particles, may be like those gliders in Conway’s Game of Life, i.e. some aspects of the computational patterns running in the underlying computing substratum. Other aspects of those computed patterns may be what we now call phenomena of life.

    In that kind of models, the laws of biology are not reducible to laws of physics (they are merely consistent with laws of physics), since the two are merely different kinds of approximate properties of the more subtle computed patterns.

    In other words, “nothing can compute it” is also a statement of personal faith (or of what you could and could not conceive), not a scientific fact.

  30. 30
    bornagain77 says:

    NL you state,

    “nothing can compute it” is also a statement of personal faith (or of what you could and could not conceive), not a scientific fact.

    And yet your ad hoc imaginary computer in the sky, which you have substituted for God, can compute it? And in your deluded imagination this is science? My oh My the irony is rich!

    Is God No Better Than A Special Computer? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xinwkb_b4k4

    Digital Physics Argument for God’s Existence – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2Xsp4FRgas

    Digital Physics Argument
    Premise 1: Simulations can only exist is a computer or a mind.
    Premise 2: The universe is a simulation.
    Premise 3: A simulation on a computer still must be simulated in a mind.
    Premise 4: Therefore, the universe is a simulation in a mind (2,3).
    Premise 5: This mind is what we call God.
    Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.

    i.e. Just because you prefer imaginary computers in the sky to God NL does not make it more ‘natural’ than God nor does it come closer to being science? In fact it a prime example of unrestrained imagination driving science instead of being constrained by it!

  31. 31
    nightlight says:

    @ba77 #30

    And yet your ad hoc imaginary computer in the sky, which you have substituted for God, can compute it? And in your deluded imagination this is science?

    You are making things up as you go it seems. I never located any computer in the sky (I think you confused it with your deities which supposedly live in heavens). Computational interpretation of physical laws is also not my idea. And FYI it is a legitimate science which is done mostly by physicists, but also by computer scientists, mathematicians, biochemists and others (often under labels “Complexity Science” and “Digital Physics”).

    The specific variant I described, the Planck scale networks, are not my idea either. The basic idea and some of its variants have been explored by physicists for pregeometry at least since 1971 (“spin networks” by Roger Penrose). I am merely extending the notion from the networks which compute only physical space-time and laws of matter-energy, to networks which run more complex algorithms extending to the fine tuning of physical laws, origin and evolution of life. My variant is mostly inspired by Wolfram’s NKS approach to natural science.

    The Planck scale networks, which are the distrinbuted self-programming computer in question, are not outside, let alone above, but rather they work from within matter-energy, computing behavior of matter-energy at each point of space-time.

    Hence, they are more like a driver controlling the car from inside, not like a crane lifting and moving the car from outside. The latter method (of control via external boundary conditions) would be how your deities operate, being Roman knockoffs of Hebrew knockoffs of Persian and Egyptian knockoffs of the stone age sky gods.

    To help you avoid further misquotes and misinterpretations, the hyperlinked TOC for the main posts on Planckian networks is in the second half of this post. This post introduced the basic idea, followed by couple dozen posts explaining various aspects of the concept to posters here, including several responses to your requests for clarification. Hence, your gross misstatement above about it is a bit puzzling (hopefully it’s due to a memory lapse or general ignorance rather than malice).

  32. 32
    Mung says:

    nightlight:

    As far as present science is concerned, it has no causal effects on anything. While you may feel it does cause you to draw a picture, a robot can be programmed to draw identical picture, and with robot all that it does can be explained via matter-matter interactions. There is nothing in the present science that suggests that anything beyond such matter-matter interaction is needed for you to draw your version of the picture either.

    Given your argument about robots and pictures, if someone draws a picture and I draw one just like it, wouldn’t the inference be that I was programmed to do so just like e robot was programmed? We can know who programmed the robot, but who programmed me? How does this rid us of consciousness as required for a causal explanation?

    I wonder if you would allow yourself to be defended in court by a robot lawyer before a robot judge and jury.

  33. 33
    gpuccio says:

    nightlight:

    First of all, I thank you for clarifying in detail your thoughts. After reading your #29, I think I have no more uncertainties about what you believe. That is fine.

    What is not fine at all is that I can now state with certainty that I find your ideas truly uninteresting, inconsistent and somewhat irritating. Frankly, as you certainly are an intelligent person, I expected something better from you.

    I have no intention to go into an endless discussion, given the deep difference between our views. However, I think I owe you at least a few brief explanation of why I still disagree with almost all you say.

    1) You seem to believe that you have a right to decide what is science and what is not, on the basis of I don’t know which unwarranted authority, and that everybody should follow your personal views.
    The nature of science is not a scientific issue. It is a problem which can only be address in the context of the philosophy of science. IOWs, it is a philosophical problem, not a scientific one. And philosophical problems are by their same nature controversial. You, like many others who misunderstand epistemology, seem to thing that absolute categories about science do exists, and that they are exactly those you believe in. Well, I have bad news for you: many (including me) will disagree.

    2) Your view of reality is essentially dogmatic. You feel at liberty to decode things without substantiating your opinions with shareable arguments. The following points will be good examples of that.

    3) You state, without substantiating it, that consciousness has no role in science, and no casual power that can be investigated by science. That is utterly false. In your words:

    Similarly, consciousness has been recognized for thousands of years, but so far no one knows how to make something out of it in natural science. As far as present science is concerned, it has no causal effects on anything.

    And:

    Present natural science has no clue whether consciousness can cause anything in the realm of matter-energy, let alone that it can do something as specific as come up with and make proteins. You may feel personally that it can do and it did exactly that, but all kinds of people feel all kinds of things, and so what.

    This is wrong and arrogant. There is absolutely no doubt that consciousness can cause things, and in no way that is a question of “personal feel”.

    First of all, nothing of what we know and do in science would be possible without consciousness. Therefore it is beyond confutation that consciousness is the cause of science.

    If that is not enough for you, I am a medical doctor, and I can ensure you that conscious representation are extremely important in medical science (or do you believe that medicine is not a science?). Let’s take the example of physical pain. Physical pain is a conscious experience. As a conscious experience, it can both be caused by material causes and have material effects. We try to avoid pain in patients, because we believe that is one of the purposes of medical science, and also because the material effects of pain can be devastating. We try to quantitatively assess pain, and we have both questionaries and objective signs and symptoms scales to measure semi-quantitatively the subjective experience of pain and relate it to material causes and effects. Well, pain is a conscious experience. We should maybe ignore it, and follow your rules, just to be in line with your concept of “natural science”.

    Moreover, there is no doubt that conscious representations are the cause of designed things. Your attempts at denying that are ridiculous at best.

    Let’s take my example again. I ask you to visualize a blue rectangle (a conscious experience, shared by our common language about conscious experiences). Nobody in his own mind would have any doubt about what is happening. I am asking you to do one thing, and you comply.

    Then I ask you to draw what you have visualized. And you do that. How can you deny that the form in the drawing is, in this context, an instantiation of the form you visualized? This is not a question of personal feel. This is perfectly correct, empirical, scientific procedure.

    4) You don’t understand the concept of dFSCI and its role in the scientific reasoning of ID. Maybe you have never followed my posts here, but in my application of the concept of dFSCI I have always explicitly stated that to assess the presence of absence of dFSCI in an object, we need, among other things, to be sure that no explicitly known and detailed algorithm present in the system can be responsible for the observed output. The invocation of mythological possible algorithms that could some day be discovered has no consequence on the evaluation of dFSCI, because myth and wishful thinking are not science.

    Therefore, with my definition od dFSCI, Durston has certainly demonstrated that most protein families do exhibit dFSCI. Period.

    The association between the presence of dFSCI in an object and its origin from conscious design is, again, empirical. It is an inference by analogy, supported by the easy observation that all objects that exhibit dFSCI, and whose origin can be independently assessed, originate from design, without any exception. IOWs, the presence of dFSCI in an object is a marker of design origin with 100% specificity.

    This is science, and not vague philosophy.

    5) You are essentially a dogmatic person, and I don’t like dogma. The only reason why you deny ID, design detection, and its obvious consequences in understanding the biological world is your personal dogma that the inclusion of the concept of consciousness in a scientific reasoning prevents it from being scientific. That dogma, like all dogmas, is irrational, unsubstantiated, and supported only by your debatable personal authority, or by some other authority that you consider as valid. In science, philosophy and cognition I accept no authority and no dogma. Therefore, it is really unlikely that we may agree on anything.

    All that is made even more serious by the fact that you recognize the insufficiency of a science that does not take into account consciousness. That makes you even more guilty of a dogmatic attitude. Neo darwinists, at least, do believe in their RV + NS explanation, however absurd it may be, and try to detail it and defend it, at the best of their (rather confused) understanding. You, instead, while admitting the inconsistency of present so called scientific explanations, still refuse, for a dogmatic principle established by you alone, to take into consideration the only reasonable explanation available, that is ID. Even more irritatingly, you rely on vague perspectives of new postulates, whose only purpose seems to be to revive the limitations of materialism on some more extravagant and trendy level. Or on fairy tales such as imaginary algorithms running automatically at Planck scale. Forgetting, however, that Dembski’s UPB takes into account even the Planck scale for a random search of CSI. But you probably thing that your Plank scale algorithms are very intelligent, and can find things very efficiently. What are you, then? A new sophisticated form of theistic evolutionist?

    The simple truth is that design can be scientifically detected with 100% specificity using dFSCI or any equivalent concept. And that a scientifically safe and reliable design inference can be made for most biological objects, certainly for most protein families. This is science at its best, whatever you may say.

  34. 34
    bornagain77 says:

    nightlight, What specifically does your theory predict as a result for the following experiment?

    Showdown between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics:
    Physicists Eye Quantum-Gravity Interface -Oct. 31, 2013
    Excerpt: Gravity curves space and time around massive objects. What happens when such objects are put in quantum superpositions, causing space-time to curve in two different ways?,,,
    Markus Aspelmeyer, a professor of physics at the University of Vienna, is equally optimistic. His group is developing three separate experiments at the quantum-gravity interface — two for the lab and one for an orbiting satellite.,,
    Many physicists expect quantum theory to prevail. They believe the ball on a spring should, in principle, be able to exist in two places at once, just as a photon can. The ball’s gravitational field should be able to interfere with itself in a quantum superposition, just as the photon’s electromagnetic field does. “I don’t see why these concepts of quantum theory that have proven to be right for the case of light should fail for the case of gravity,” Aspelmeyer said.
    But the incompatibility of general relativity and quantum mechanics itself suggests that gravity might behave differently.
    https://www.simonsfoundation.org/quanta/20131031-physicists-eye-quantum-gravity-interface/

  35. 35
    nightlight says:

    @gpuccio #33

    Present natural science has no clue whether consciousness can cause anything in the realm of matter-energy, let alone that it can do something as specific as come up with and make proteins. You may feel personally that it can do and it did exactly that, but all kinds of people feel all kinds of things, and so what.

    This is wrong and arrogant. There is absolutely no doubt that consciousness can cause things, and in no way that is a question of “personal feel”.

    You are obviously grossly misreading what I wrote as the full quote of both sides above illustrates.

    I am obviously talking about the absence of findings in “natural science” (not in personal experience) that demonstrate any causal role, or even just mere existence, of the accompanying inner experience (consciousness).

    You keep repeating that this is false. Well, show then the scientific paper that establishes:

    a) existence of the inner experience (consciousness), then

    b) that this demonstrated entity, consciousness, has causal effects on matter-energy phenomena.

    Note regarding (a): establishing a statement as an acoustic or optical signal, declaring “I am conscious” is not a synonym for establishing existence of ‘consciousness’ since the identical acoustic-optical signals can be produced by countless devices.

    I have never seen such paper and I don’t believe it exists. You seem to claim that such scientific finding does exist.

    So where is it? Show it here, don’t just claim that “there is no doubt” as if you are a surgeon general talking about second hand smoke or global warming expert at UN or EPA. Show me the research, the methods and findings, independently replicated of course (since “there is no doubt” about it, reproducibility should be trivial).

    What is the journal and paper reference for the alleged finding? If you fail to produce it, it means you can’t find it either and you are quietly conceding that such scientific finding does not exist, as I stated all along.

    Note that I also don’t claim that present natural science is correct about it. The repeated use of attribute “present” (natural science) is meant to suggest that some future natural science will be able to include consciousness in the scientific models of reality. But presently, whether you like it or not, it simply doesn’t have it.

    As to why I insist on “natural science” rather than being satisfied with personal experience level of demonstration, as all of you here seem to be — the relevant question in UD forum is whether Discovery Institute’s version of ID hypothesis, which attributes causal role to ‘conscious agency’ in the origin and evolution of life is a hypothesis of natural science.

    Since, despite numerous requests from me, we still haven’t seen here a citation of any finding of natural science that establishes:

    (a) existence and
    (b) causal effect of consciousness on anything in the matter-energy realm,

    then DI’s ID hypothesis is not a scientific hypothesis since it invokes entity and attributes a causal role to it that natural science has no clue about.

    Hence, as far as the present natural science is concerned, DI’s ID could have equally invoked pink fluffy turtle in the sky as the causal agency that designed and built the proteins.

  36. 36
    nightlight says:

    @Mung #32

    Given your argument about robots and pictures, if someone draws a picture and I draw one just like it, wouldn’t the inference be that I was programmed to do so just like e robot was programmed?… How does this rid us of consciousness as required for a causal explanation?

    The idea of robot comparison was to illustrate that human-like actions, such as painting, design, construction, conversations,… do not intrinsically require any additional intelligence or powers. All such actions (any finite sequence of them) can be entirely accomplished by pure matter-matter interactions, as far as all aspects of those actions than can be objectively perceived.

    That is simply a direct counterexample to the assertion being made that performing such human-like actions necessarily implies or requires the accompanying inner experience (consciousness) to drive/control them. The counterexample demonstrates plainly that there is no such requirement or implication.

    We can know who programmed the robot, but who programmed me?

    Unlike robots, or conventional digital computers, the neural networks (networks with links that adapt to some punishments & rewards), such as human brain, cellular biochemical networks, Planck scale networks, are distributed self-programming computers as sketched in earlier post1 with followups in post2 and post3.

    As explained there, they are programmed by the interaction with their environment. In principle, one can view even digital computers as being programmed by the interaction with their environment (by the programmer sitting at the console of the computer and interacting with their keyboard and screen).

  37. 37
    gpuccio says:

    nightlight:

    Your “arguments” are becoming even worse. Asking for a scientific paper that demonstrates the existence of consciousness and its ability to interact with matter is like asking for scientific papers that demonstrate that apples exist and that they fall on the ground occasionally.

    Science does not need papers to demonstrate that observable facts exist. Science is about explaining facts and their connections.

    Science is about establishing the connection between the fact of conscious representations (absolutely observable by all human beings) and the process of design and its outputs, the designed objects.

    You are obviously not interested in scientific reasoning. Your choice.

  38. 38
    bornagain77 says:

    NL you keep claiming that consciousness has no causal role in reality and yet you were already shown this (and you ignored it):

    Correlations of Random Binary Sequences with Pre-Stated Operator Intention: A Review of a 12-Year Program – 1997
    http://www.princeton.edu/~pear.....review.pdf

    Scientific Evidence That Mind Effects Matter – Random Number Generators – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4198007

    related notes:

    Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research – Scientific Study of Consciousness-Related Physical Phenomena – publications
    http://www.princeton.edu/~pear/publications.html

    The Global Consciousness Project – Meaningful Correlations in Random Data
    http://teilhard.global-mind.org/

    As well you were already shown that consciousness and free will are to be considered axioms (founding principles) to quantum mechanics:

    What Does Quantum Physics Have to Do with Free Will? – By Antoine Suarez – July 22, 2013
    Excerpt: What is more, recent experiments are bringing to light that the experimenter’s free will and consciousness should be considered axioms (founding principles) of standard quantum physics theory. So for instance, in experiments involving “entanglement” (the phenomenon Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”), to conclude that quantum correlations of two particles are nonlocal (i.e. cannot be explained by signals traveling at velocity less than or equal to the speed of light), it is crucial to assume that the experimenter can make free choices, and is not constrained in what orientation he/she sets the measuring devices.
    To understand these implications it is crucial to be aware that quantum physics is not only a description of the material and visible world around us, but also speaks about non-material influences coming from outside the space-time.,,,
    https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/content/what-does-quantum-physics-have-do-free-will

    Free will and nonlocality at detection: Basic principles of quantum physics – Antoine Suarez – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhMrrmlTXl4

    In fact, the foundation of quantum mechanics within science is now so solid that researchers were able to bring forth this following proof from quantum entanglement experiments;

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (*conscious observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free choice, free will, assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory. The findings imply that quantum theory is close to optimal in terms of its predictive power, even when the predictions are completely random.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    *What does the term “measurement” mean in quantum mechanics?
    “Measurement” or “observation” in a quantum mechanics context are really just other ways of saying that the observer is interacting with the quantum system and measuring the result in toto.
    http://boards.straightdope.com.....p?t=597846

    Now this is completely unheard of in science as far as I know. i.e. That a mathematical description of reality would advance to the point that one can actually perform a experiment showing that your current theory will not be exceeded in predictive power by another future theory is simply unprecedented in science and certainly deserves more recogniton than it has recieved thus far! And please note that free will and consciousness are axiomatic (the only assumption) to Quantum Theory in the experiment. Perhaps NL, you would like to overturn that particular experiment instead of calling everything you don’t like in QM ‘quantum poofery’? But the evidence against your position, the position that consciousness has no causal role in reality, goes much further than that (as impressive as that experiment is). General Relativity is found to be ‘incomplete’ as to providing a coherent explanation for the centrality we see for ourselves within the CMBR of the universe (i.e. Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation) yet quantum mechanics provides an adequate explanation for the centrality we witness for ourselves within the ‘sphere’ of the CMBR:

    The Galileo Affair and Life/Consciousness true “Center of the Universe”
    Excerpt: But as compelling as it is to use the privileged planet principle, in conjunction with the centrality of the Earth in the 4-Dimensional (4D) space-time of General Relativity, to establish the centrality of the Earth in the universe, this method of establishing centrality for the earth falls short of explaining ‘true centrality’ in the universe and still does not fully explain exactly why the CMBR forms an ‘almost’ perfect sphere around the Earth. The primary reason why the higher dimensional 4D space-time, governing the expansion of this 3-Dimensional universe, is insufficient within itself to maintain 3D symmetry becomes clear if one tries to imagine radically different points of observation in the universe. Since the universe is shown to have only (approximately) 10^79 atoms to work with, once a person tries to imagine keeping perfect 3D symmetry, from radically different points of observation within the CMBR sphere, a person quickly finds that it is geometrically impossible to maintain such 3D symmetry of centrality within the CMBR sphere with finite 3D material particles to work with for radically different 3D points of ‘imagined observation’ in the universe. As well, fairly exhaustive examination of the General Relativity equations themselves, seem to, at least from as far as I can follow the math, mathematically prove the insufficiency of General Relativity to account for the ‘completeness’ of 4D space-time within the sphere of the CMBR from differing points of observation in the universe. [13] But if the 4D space-time of General Relativity is insufficient to explain ‘true 3D centrality’ in the universe, what else is since we certainly observe centrality for ourselves within the sphere of the CMBR? Quantum Mechanics gives us the reason why. ‘True centrality’ in the universe is achieved by ‘universal quantum wave collapse of photons’, to each point of ‘conscious observation’ in the universe, and is the only answer that has adequate sufficiency to explain ‘true 3D centrality’ that we witness for ourselves within the CMBR of the universe. As well, whereas higher math refuses to give General Relativity clearance as a complete description of reality, higher math has recently (June 2013) confirmed the confidence we can have in Quantum Mechanics as an accurate description of reality. [13a & 13b] Moreover because of advances in Quantum Mechanics, the argument for God from consciousness can now be framed like this:

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality. [14]
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BHAcvrc913SgnPcDohwkPnN4kMJ9EDX-JJSkjc4AXmA/edit

  39. 39
    bornagain77 says:

    NL, I still want to know you specific prediction for this experiment:

    Showdown between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics:
    Physicists Eye Quantum-Gravity Interface -Oct. 31, 2013
    Excerpt: Gravity curves space and time around massive objects. What happens when such objects are put in quantum superpositions, causing space-time to curve in two different ways?,,,
    Markus Aspelmeyer, a professor of physics at the University of Vienna, is equally optimistic. His group is developing three separate experiments at the quantum-gravity interface — two for the lab and one for an orbiting satellite.,,
    Many physicists expect quantum theory to prevail. They believe the ball on a spring should, in principle, be able to exist in two places at once, just as a photon can. The ball’s gravitational field should be able to interfere with itself in a quantum superposition, just as the photon’s electromagnetic field does. “I don’t see why these concepts of quantum theory that have proven to be right for the case of light should fail for the case of gravity,” Aspelmeyer said.
    But the incompatibility of general relativity and quantum mechanics itself suggests that gravity might behave differently.
    https://www.simonsfoundation.org/quanta/20131031-physicists-eye-quantum-gravity-interface/

    My prediction is, since I hold consciousness to be foundation to reality, is that it will be found that the gravitational field will interfere with itself in a quantum superposition.

  40. 40
    nightlight says:

    @ba77 #34

    What specifically does your theory predict as a result for the following experiment?

    Since Planckian networks operate through local interactions, the prediction is that local behaviors will be observed only i.e. no quantum magic/non-locality will happen (as it never does).

    The proposed experiment is merely a warmed over ancient beam-splitter experiment, with conventional photodetectors replaced by mechanical nano-devices (oscillators).

    The only way such beam splitter experiments yield ‘quantum magic’ claims is by cheating, mostly by deceiving passively-aggressively through omissions (by withholding of complete data to give room for imaginative interpretations), or less often via gross cheating as done in this fairly recent experiment.

    In the latter experiment they provided enough data about the instruments and their settings, so that the sleight of hand could be spotted upon careful reading. In that Physics Forum thread I explained the cheating technique which consisted of miscofiguring the critical coincidence circuit so that the detection window was well outside of the manufacturer’s requirements for the circuit.

    As result, the grossly misconfigured coincidence circuit missed most of the simultaneous detections, producing illusion of near perfect (actually overly perfect, which is what tipped me off to look closer) particle-like exclusivity of the detector triggers (i.e. when one detector triggers, the other one at the opposite side of the beam splitter fails to trigger).

  41. 41
    bornagain77 says:

    Well OKIE DOKIE, we have a clear difference of predictions (just how science should be done! 🙂 ). I would wager heavy, but alas I don’t gamble, and you will most likely deny the results as ‘quantum poofery’ anyway since they go against your deeply held, even ‘religious’, beliefs. I did not see a date for when they are scheduled to take the experiment up to the space station. Do you happen to know?

  42. 42
    nightlight says:

    @gpuccio #37

    Your “arguments” are becoming even worse. Asking for a scientific paper that demonstrates the existence of consciousness and its ability to interact with matter is like asking for scientific papers that demonstrate that apples exist and that they fall on the ground occasionally.

    Science does not need papers to demonstrate that observable facts exist. Science is about explaining facts and their connections.

    Thanks, this confirms that you are finally conceding that no scientific paper or finding exists that establishes a) existence of consciousness and b) its causal effects on matter-energy.

    Of course, if you cared to check any of the thousands of papers on the “hard problem of consciousness” as suggested earlier you could have known that fact all along.

    Also confirmed is my suspicion that you are utterly incapable of discerning between personal opinions/experiences and statements/facts of natural science. While that’s not an overly uncommon affliction, it is somewhat puzzling that someone suffering from such a severe case would insist on debating the status of consciousness in natural science.

    Well, thanks for the effort, anyway. The challenges of trying to explain the issue to someone with the above affliciton, for whom such issue cannot exist, did help me clarify and express better some of my own thoughts on the matter.

  43. 43
    nightlight says:

    @ba77 #38

    NL you keep claiming that consciousness has no causal role in reality and yet you were already shown this (and you ignored it):

    Correlations of Random Binary Sequences with Pre-Stated Operator Intention: A Review of a 12-Year Program – 1997
    http://www.princeton.edu/~pear…..review.pdf

    Scientific Evidence That Mind Effects Matter – Random Number Generators – video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4198007

    I have ran into those Princeton experiments several times before. They are merely conjecturing that ‘consciousness’ played causal role in the action of “noise” based “random number generators” but experiments are not designed to demonstrate (verify or falsify) such conjecture.

    Namely, those are unshielded devices which could be affected by electro-magnetic and cosmic radiation. Since human brain operation can both be affected by the same kinds of fields as well as generate EM fields, the mere correlation between devices and states of (some) human brains isn’t overly surprising to require some non-physical explanation.

    To eliminate correlations due known physical field and particles, the random generators would have to be in a deep underground location (e.g. like neutrino detectors in old mines or underground caves) and operate on a local, isolated power source. Let me know when the experient with fully shielded generators shows excess correlations.

  44. 44
    bornagain77 says:

    NL, funny, they found consistent ‘anomalous’ evidence directly contradicting what you claimed, and you do not accept it. How did I know that you would do that?

    Study suggests precognition may be possible – November 2010
    Excerpt: A Cornell University scientist has demonstrated that psi anomalies, more commonly known as precognition, premonitions or extra-sensory perception (ESP), really do exist at a statistically significant level.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....ition.html

    🙂 Well anyways, instead of trying to ‘explain away’ the evidence, please present the EXACT experimental evidence that explains exactly why they got the results they got. i.e. In science, experiment results carry (far) more weight than conjecture/rationalizations. That’s the beauty of science!

  45. 45
    nightlight says:

    @ba77 #44 — there is nothing in any of those experiments that detects or measures “consciousness” quantity. They are merely observing correlations between physical events in places A and B. That’s about as surprising as texting from place A to friend in place B, which causes correlated events in places A and B. While each person may describe what they were thinking or feeling during the exchange, that doesn’t imply it was their thoughts or feelings that caused correlation between physical events at locations A and B.

    You would need to eliminate all possible known physical interaction, to barely reach the stage at which you have demonstrated that either a) unknown physical interaction is causing correlations OR b) thoughts are causing correlations.

    So even after that refinement of experiment (none of which was done in those experiments), you still end up with 2 conjectures, only one of which contains consciousness as causal agency. How would one go beyond that and exclude (a) is unclear and it may be impossible.

  46. 46
    bornagain77 says:

    No No NO NL, cite exact experiment please! If I wanted excuses I would talk to a six year old with his hand in a cookie jar! 🙂

  47. 47
    nightlight says:

    What experiment? I am explaining to you why the experiments you brought up don’t demonstrate what you got duped into believing they showed. They merely show correlations between physical events in 2 places A and B. So what? Countless physical events in different places correlate all the time.

    Where and how did they show that “consciousness” did anything there or that it was even present on the scene at all?

    What exactly was their “consciousness” detector and how does it work? Brand and model? Do you have a data sheet where it claims to measure ‘consciousness’? What are the units for ‘consciousness’ that the alleged apparatus shows its results in? What is its error margin in percents? Or were you hypnotized while reading and can’t remember any of it?

    You are welcome, if you saw the proof in those papers that I missed, to explain where it was hiding.

  48. 48
    bornagain77 says:

    NL, your original claim was:

    “consciousness, has (no) causal effects on matter-energy”

    I showed you an experiment, from Princeton University no less, showing that ‘intentionality’, which is an exclusive property of consciousness,,,

    The Mind and Materialist Superstition – Six “conditions of mind” that are irreconcilable with materialism:
    Excerpt: Intentionality,,, Qualia,,, Persistence of Self-Identity,,, Restricted Access,,, Incorrigibility,,, Free Will,,,
    – Michael Egnor, professor of neurosurgery at SUNY, Stony Brook
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....super.html

    ,,,(that intentionality) had a consistent ‘anomalous’ effect on matter-energy, specifically it had an effect on random number generators. Here is/are the results of the experiment(s) conducted over 12 years,,,

    Correlations of Random Binary Sequences with Pre-Stated Operator Intention: A Review of a 12-Year Program
    Abstract: Strong correlations between output distribution means of a variety of random binary processes and pre-stated intentions of some 100 individual human operators have been established over a 12-year experimental program. More than 1000 experimental series, employing four different categories of random devices and several distinctive protocols, show comparable magnitudes of anomalous mean shifts from chance expectation, with similar distribution structures. Although the absolute effect sizes are quite small, of the order of 10–4 bits deviation per bit processed, over the huge databases accumulated the composite effect exceeds 7 ?( p approx.= 3.5 × 10 –13). These data display significant disparities between female and male operator performances, and consistent serial position effects in individual and collective results. Data generated by operators far removed from the machines and exerting their efforts at times other than those of machine operation show similar effect sizes and structural details to those of the local, on-time experiments. Most other secondary parameters tested are found to have little effect on the scale and character of the results, with one important exception: studies performed using fully deterministic pseudorandom sources, either hard-wired or algorithmic, yield null overall mean shifts, and display no other anomalous feature.
    http://www.princeton.edu/~pear.....review.pdf

    That is an impressive result in my book and directly contradicts your claim that there is NO causal relation between consciousness, matter and energy. For you to try to play this off to some other unknown causes (which they took into consideration in the experiment(s)) is for you to be very disingenuous to the evidence at hand. The effect was shown to be consistent over several years against the null hypothesis of no conscious causation (which is your position). I find your refusal to deal honestly with the evidence at hand telling and join Gpuccio in saying:

    You are obviously not interested in scientific reasoning.

    Verse and Music:

    Luke 16:31
    “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”

    Coldplay – Yellow
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98o1bi7MIoQ

  49. 49
    nightlight says:

    It is a correlation between output of generators, which is physical event A, and statement of intention, which is physical event B (the sound waves of the statement).

    “Consciousness” was never detected or measured let alone shown to cause anything. No one knows how to do that (if you know how, let me know). They only detected sound of a statement, which all kinds of devices can produce.

    You simply got duped by the imaginative interpretations by the overly enthusiastic researchers. To help you avoid getting suckered into such nonsense again and again as you seem to be prone to, I would suggest you check this paper explaining the “hard problem of consciousness.” If you give it few minutes of careful reading, you will understand why what those PSI guys claimed is a big load of bunk.

  50. 50
    Upright BiPed says:

    I admit upfront that I have not read this thread, but I commend GP for his consistency.

    Nightlight, there are things in nature that are measurable, and there are things in nature that are not measurable, but must be demonstrated instead. Both exists in reality. To propose that the latter are ‘outside of science’, or even worse, ‘not real’, does not comport with the documented history of science. Not only has natural science (in the course of investigation) relied upon the unmeasurable-yet-demonstrable, but has actively sought out those phenomena in order to advance our understanding. To suggest that those things (that can only be demonstrated to exist) must suddenly become measurable in order to carry any force in our understanding, is simply silly. Not only does that cross with the actual history of the sciences, but it demands that all things in the operation of the natural world must comply to the methodological demands of a certain segment of humanity – even if being measurable violates reality. Sorry, but your britches ain’t that big.

  51. 51
    Upright BiPed says:

    Imagine suggesting that demontrating something to be a regularity is insufficient for knowledge. pfft. Are you trying to stay in the dark ages?

    🙂

    cheers…

  52. 52
    nightlight says:

    @Upright BiPed #50

    Nightlight, there are things in nature that are measurable, and there are things in nature that are not measurable, but must be demonstrated instead. Both exists in reality. To propose that the latter are `outside of science’, or even worse, `not real’, does not comport with the documented history of science.

    No one is suggesting anything about un/reality of consciousness. In fact, far from denying its existence in humans as I am being repeatedly accused of, as a panpsychist I believe that consciousness is a fundamental attribute of all matter-energy in the universe, not just of the matter-energy chunks making up human brains. But that’s another topic altogether.

    Q1. The issue debated is whether consciousness can produce any causal effects on matter-energy according to present natural science.

    The answer to Q1 is no. That is a plain fact. If anyone believes it does, bring in the scientific finding that demonstrates:

    a) Existence of ‘consciousness’ (as direct experience)
    b) This ‘consciousness’ can causally affect matter-energy

    This is not a question about our intuition regarding (a) and (b) but whether natural science can or has established (a) and (b) as scientific facts.

    I am stating that it hasn’t and despite several explicit requests, there was nothing posted in this thread so far from the other side to show anything different.

    As to why even ask Q1 — it has to do with question:

    Q2: Does formulating ID hypothesis with ‘conscious agency’ as the causal source of the design, as Discovery Institute (DI) and many here routinely do, disqualify such ID as a hypothesis of present natural science?

    If answer to Q1 is no, then answer to Q2 is yes.

    Namely, since according to present natural science consciousness cannot cause any effects on anything in matter-energy realm, then it certainly cannot cause some such effects on any specific subset of matter-energy realm, such cells or proteins. If within present natural science consciousness can’t affect anything at all, then it certainly can’t affect anything in particular either.

    Of course, the problem above can be fixed by reformulation of the DI’s ID hypothesis via expansion into a chain of 3 dependent scientific hypotheses:

    a) consciousness exist

    b) consciousness exerts causal effects on matter-energy

    c) as special case of (b), consciousness has causally affected origin of life and its evolution (e.g. designed & built required complex molecules)

    This indeed is a perfectly valid scientific hypothesis, albeit a lot larger and much harder to demonstrate.

    Namely, if natural science could have demonstrated (a) and (b), it would have done that already. At present, no one has any clue how demonstrate (a) and (b). They have been open problems for thousands of years and may well remain like that for another few thousands.

    Hence, DI’s ID formulation has sabotaged the ID hypothesis by gratuitously turning it into either:

    (i) philosophical-theological thesis that is outside of present natural science (i.e. if the (a) and (b) not included into it)

    or:

    (ii) much harder composite hypothesis (a) + (b) + (c), requiring among others a demonstration of presently insurmountable sub-conjectures (a) and (b).

    It is also clear that DI, which unfortunately seems to be dominated by philosophers, theologians and lawyers, is completely clueless as to why that their formulation (i) is not a hypothesis of natural science but a philosophical-theological thesis (DI never extended it into scientifically valid, but much harder, composite hypothesis (ii)).

    The most obvious suggestion for fixing (i) is to reformulate DI’s ID hypothesis by removing ‘conscious agency’ out of it and replacing it with ‘computational process’ as the causal agency behind the design.

    Namely, ‘computational process’ is something that natural science knows to exist and knows that it can exert causal effects on matter-energy. Hence the insurmountable problems (a) and (b) become unnecessary for the valid scientific hypothesis.

    Therefore, with reformulated ID, call it ID2, the only hypothesis which needs to be demonstrated is that:

    ID2: the origin and evolution of life are results of a computational process.

    This is a valid scientific hypothesis and it is specific enough that natural science can work with it right away. First, by seeking to uncover this computational process (James Shapiro and Santa Fe Institute on Complexity Science have largely done this job — the “computers” are “biochemical networks”), and second to reverse engineer and decompile the algorithms running on this distributed self-programming computer and find out how exactly it originated and evolved life.

    The above is the line of discussion that I was aiming at (and have in fact stated it few times already).

    Unfortunately, the folks debating the topic so far couldn’t get beyond question Q1. They kept insisting that answer to Q1 is yes (i.e. that consciousness is causally effective part of the present natural science), while persistently refusing to provide any scientific paper that demonstrates the underlying hypotheses for the “yes” answer, the (a) and (b). So, that’s where we’re at now.

  53. 53
    Upright BiPed says:

    Nightlight,

    GP’s argument (if I may) is based on the simple premise that you can’t un-know what you already know to be true – or more specifically, the only thing you can actually directly know for certain is that you exist, i.e. you are conscious of your existence; you can separate yourself from the world and interact with that world. Everything else is an inference. We look for regularities to make our best inferences, and those inferences that are precisely the same for everyone are considered laws, reality and truth. His premise is instantaneously applicable to any scientific investigation, and it’s preposterous to suggest that it isn’t applicable to the only thing we can actually know for certain. Consciousness agents exists and interact with the world.

    ID proponents relish the day that the counter-argument is reduced to not knowing whether conscious agents exist and interact with the world. 🙂

    I don’t have to defend a position on consciousness in order to make an argument for ID; my argument is much more narrow. If I were to make a statement about an arrangement of matter than can evoke a functional effect within a system, but because this arrangement must remain physicochemically arbitrary to the effect it evokes, it requires a second arrangement of matter to establish a local relationship – then I can only be talking about something within the living kingdom (i.e. translated information). It’s something that requires pre-existing organization in order to exist, and it was required prior to the onset of cellular life. Period.

    However, if I make the statement that this material arrangement (that evokes the effect) is actually made up of a sequence of individual arrangements taken from a finite set of arrangements, and those individual arrangements each exist independent of thermodynamic law – then I can only be talking about language, mathematics and protein synthesis. It’s something that requires the same establishment of physicochemically arbitrary relationships as in the previous paragraph, but it also requires the establishment of the dimensional operation of the system, again, prior to the onset of cellular life.

    GP gets to the claim that conscious agents interact with the world from the simple premise that one cannot legitimately deny the only thing they can know to be true, and I get the claim that massive pre-existing organization (as well as the material capacity for language and mathematics) preceded cellular life from the simple premise that it’s not possible to translate recorded information into a material effect without using an arrangement of matter or energy as an information-bearing medium.

    Those are the intractable facts, and both claims are defended by universal observation.

  54. 54
    nightlight says:

    @Upright BiPed #53

    From your response, I think there is one question that has to be clarified, before the questions Q1 and Q2 I brought up in post #52 make sense.

    Namely, I was starting with an unstated assumption motivated by the statements and behaviors of the Discovery Institute and their supporters here. So this is the question zero which I would like to see answered here:

    Q0. Do Discovery Institute (DI) and its supporters want ID to be a hypothesis of the present natural science?

    If the answer is NO, then there is nothing to argue with them or their supporters here since we completely agree — the DI’s ID is a philosophical-theological thesis not a scientific hypothesis within present natural science, as explained in Q1 and Q earlier, and that is what they wished ID to be.

    But why then do they and their supporters here complain of being unfairly rejected or “expelled” from the natural science for being un-scientific? Or that they can’t teach ID in science classes or at universities or publish ID in scientific journals?

    Hence, the only answer to Q0 consistent with the above behaviors of DI and their supporters is YES — they meant the ID hypothesis to be taken as a hypothesis of the present natural science.

    If so, i.e. if they do wish the ID to become a part of the present natural science, they will have to drop the “conscious agency” as the causal source of the design since present natural science does not have causally efficacious consciousness that can cause anything at all, hence it can’t originate life or design complex molecules either.

    The present natural science doesn’t even have a method to establish the mere existence of consciousness anywhere, in humans, animals or in anything else, let alone demonstrate that consciousness can cause any effects on matter-energy at all.

    Hence, within present natural science the statement that ‘conscious agency’ has designed and built life and its complex molecules is meaningless statement.

    As explained in the post #52 after question Q2, the only way to fix DI’s ID hypothesis so it can become a hypothesis of the present natural science, while retaining the ‘conscious agency’ as the causal source of the design, is to enlarge the DI’s ID hypothesis into a 3 part hypothesis:

    a) consciousness exist

    b) consciousness scientifically established in [a] exerts causal effects on matter-energy

    c) as special case of [b], consciousness has causally affected origin of life and its evolution (e.g. designed & built required complex molecules)

    Here, the original DI’s ID is pushed down into the third place since [a] and [b] need to be scientifically established before the [c] can be expressed as scientifically meaningful hypothesis (since [c] is a special case of [b] and [b] requires [a] as its key building block; [a] is the subject of the sentence [b]).

    But now with the enlarged DI hypothesis, considering the long history of failures regarding [a] and [b], we are looking at possibly another hundred or thousand years before [a] and [b] could be established as scientific facts, and only then, when causally efficacious consciousness has become part of some far future natural science, the original DI’s ID [c] can be accepted with its apparently precious ‘conscious agency’ as the causal source of the design.

    So the only question that we need to clarify is Q0 — do DI and its supporters want ID to be a part of present natural science?

    If the answer is NO, then we are in complete agreement, there is nothing to debate. If the answer is YES, then the conclusions deduced earlier follow automatically — DI’s ID must be altered either as:

    A1) 3 part hypothesis [a] + [b] + [c] and wait a long time for some future natural science, before part [c] gets its turn

    or as:

    A2) it must drop the ‘conscious agency’ as the causal source of the design and replace it with something that can design and that is causally efficacious within the present natural science, such as ‘computational process’.

    Having gone through this circle before at UD, the typical response here is to attack the “present natural science” as inadequate since it cannot account for something that is the most obvious experience anyone could have — consciousness and its causal efficacy in matter-energy realm.

    Well, OK, we all agree that the “present natural science” is inadequate, and some future natural science, in hundred or in thousand years may solve the problems [a] and [b].

    In other words, by attacking inadequacy of the present natural science, you are now changing answer YES to Q0 and choosing answer NO, and have decided to follow path (A1) — you wish to keep the ‘conscious agency’ as causal source and wait for some future more complete natural science which has solved problems [a] and [b], so that [c] can be meaningfully stated as a scientific hypothesis within that more complete future natural science.

    In the meantime, the [c] cannot not become a hypothesis of any natural science which lacks [a] and [b], and will thus remain what it is now, a philosophical-theological thesis. Which means, you can’t teach ID in science class as a scientific hypothesis and an alternative to neo-Darwinian hypothesis. You also have no grounds to whine of being unfairly “expelled” from science journals or university science courses since you choose to wait for some future natural science in which ‘conscious agency’ is scientifically meaningful so you can state your hypothesis [c] as meaningful scientific hypothesis.

    But you can’t have your cake and eat it too — you can’t keep the ‘conscious agency’ as causal source of the design and still have [c] as the scientific hypothesis of the present natural science since [c] is meaningless in the present natural science (without [a] and [b] checked off as scientifically meaningful first).

    So, I would like to hear the answer to question Q0 above, then to Q1 and Q2 from the post #52 if they differ from mine (NO on Q1 and YES on Q2). If Q0 is YES, then it logically follows that (A2) is the only path which can get you there.

  55. 55
    nightlight says:

    @Upright BiPed #53

    I don’t have to defend a position on consciousness in order to make an argument for ID; my argument is much more narrow. If I were to make a statement about an arrangement of matter than can evoke a functional effect within a system, but because this arrangement must remain physicochemically arbitrary to the effect it evokes, it requires a second arrangement of matter to establish a local relationship – then I can only be talking about something within the living kingdom (i.e. translated information). It’s something that requires pre-existing organization in order to exist, and it was required prior to the onset of cellular life. Period.

    Well, of course if you drop ‘conscious agency’ as the causal source of the design, you are fine as far not having to argue about status of ‘consciousness’ in the present natural science.

    But you still need to fill in a scientific hypothesis. You have reached the point above of “requires pre-existent organization.”

    So, what exactly is the scientific hypothesis you propose that science should test?

    Is it: “the origin of life and its evolution were designed by the ‘pre-existing organization’.” ?

    That has a bit of tautological ring to it, since any state of the physical system is caused by the previous (pre-existent) state of the physical system. It doesn’t seem there is anything that needs testing about such hypothesis, since that is already well known property of the physical systems which is encoded in the dynamical equations of physics.

    How do you express in the language of natural science the intelligence attribute of that ‘pre-existent organization’ ?

    The next paragraph you wrote doesn’t help very much in locating the scientific hypothesis you are proposing:

    However, if I make the statement that this material arrangement (that evokes the effect) is actually made up of a sequence of individual arrangements taken from a finite set of arrangements, and those individual arrangements each exist independent of thermodynamic law – then I can only be talking about language, mathematics and protein synthesis. It’s something that requires the same establishment of physicochemically arbitrary relationships as in the previous paragraph, but it also requires the establishment of the dimensional operation of the system, again, prior to the onset of cellular life.

    That’s a bit vague for a scientific hypothesis. What is “dimensional operation” ? I get a sense that you are saying that DNA and cellular machinery are language-like, which is observation many have made and being an impression as what DNA reminds you of, there is nothing there that needs testing or falsifying.

    Can you explicitly state a complete, self-contained scientific hypothesis that can be tested or falsified by natural science?

    You basically need to make a leap at this point and say something new beyond the often heard observations such as what it all looks like to you or reminds you of. You need to state a hypothesis on what can produce such system, what is the causal source, what are its characteristics and where or how would natural science look for the proposed causal source of such arrangements and verify or falsify it.

    If you leap into ‘conscious agency’ as the causal source, we’re leaving the present naural science and entering the realm of philosophy and theology, and it’s back to my previous post and the critique of the DI’s ID. If you leap into ‘computational process’ as the causal source, then we agree.

  56. 56
    Upright BiPed says:

    Nightlight @ 54,

    re: Your continued insistence on the general position (i.e. that all things must be measurable by science in order to be considered by science):

    We know there are phenomena which cannot be measured, because if they were measurable they could not function as they do. This is what I was pointing out to you earlier; some things are measurable, while others are not because they can’t be, so they must be demonstrated locally in order to know they exist. This demonstration of regularity has been historically effective for science to advance knowledge, in fact, the advancement of knowledge has depended on it. So (really) you can stop demanding that all things be measurable – your demand is not only invalidated by the history of science, it violates the nature of reality itself.

    Besides that, demarcation arguments against ID are typically pursued only to avoid data. They are useless (i.e. boring), and the most useless and boring of them are those already invalidated in the pursuit of science. As for your specific argument, I can see (from your verbosity) how much you have invested in it and that you intend on re-wording and re-detailing it over and over again. It simply won’t matter to you that it’s invalidated by recorded history. There is little that can be done about that.

  57. 57
    Upright BiPed says:

    Nightlight @ 55,

    The ID hypothesis is already on the table – that some features of the natural world are best explained by the act of an intelligent agent, as opposed to unguided processes. An inherent prediction of ID has been that the information in the genome is semiotic in nature. The material conditions required for semiosis can be demonstrated to be evident during protein synthesis, and thus, that prediction has been satisfied.

  58. 58
    Mung says:

    nightlight:

    …present natural science does not have causally efficacious consciousness that can cause anything at all..

    Including, of course, causing robots that can draw pictures.

    …hence it can’t originate life or design complex molecules either.

    Hence, robots that draw pictures are not possible, either.

  59. 59
    Mung says:

    …present natural science does not have causally efficacious consciousness that can cause anything at all..

    Such as creating hypotheses, or theories, or setting up experimental apparatus and perform tests, or generating models and creating simulations of those models in computers.

  60. 60
    Mung says:

    nightlight:

    as a panpsychist I believe that consciousness is a fundamental attribute of all matter-energy in the universe

    I would think that a conscientious panphsychist would be about the business of designing a machine that can detect consciousness.

  61. 61
    gpuccio says:

    nightlight:

    I would like to add a final general comment to sum up our interactions which, I believe, can now be considered complete, with some, probably reciprocal, satisfaction.

    You are something that I did not think could exist: an example of the worst kind of dogmatic scientism in an intelligent person who, for his own admission, does not believe in neo-darwinism or in present Strong AI theories.

    That is something, indeed.

    It makes me think that scientism is probably a fundamental bias of human cognition. In that sense, we could argue that it was scientism that generated neo-darwinism and modern strong AI theories, and not the other way round.

    Have a good time.

  62. 62
    nightlight says:

    @Mung #60

    .present natural science does not have causally efficacious consciousness that can cause anything at all..

    Such as creating hypotheses, or theories, or setting up experimental apparatus and perform tests, or generating models and creating simulations of those models in computers.

    I was talking about the models of present natural science, not the modelers / researchers. Present science can’t tell you even how to detect or establish presence/existence of consciousness (which is not the same as detecting verbal report about it), let alone what makes consciousness happen (if anything does) or whether consciousness can cause anything to happen.

    Hence, as far present natural science knows, consciousness cannot cause anything (and it may not even exist at all), hence it cannot cause anything in particular either, such as design and originate life and its complex molecules.

    Therefore, any hypothesis which contains ‘consciousness’ as the cause of some matter-energy phenomenon is automatically not a scientific hypothesis within present natural science.

    The present natural science is what it is and among others, it cannot account for consciousness at all. You can’t operate as if the present science is something else, than complain when you bump into a wall i.e. whine that DI’s ID is being unfairly excluded from the present natural science.

    It is self-excluded by the DI’s own consciousness-talk. Not that the present Discovery Institute fellows, dominated by philosophers, theologians and lawyers, can ever grasp the fundamental cause of their exclusion from the present natural science. The interactions with DI’s choir in this thread alone make that gigantic blind spot obvious.

  63. 63
    nightlight says:

    @gpuccio #61

    You are something that I did not think could exist: an example of the worst kind of dogmatic scientism

    I am only explaining what the present natural science is and what it knows, not that I believe it to be complete, let alone perfect, or that I agree with it at all.

    The key fact is that the present natural science does not contain causally efficacious consciousness element. Therefore, no hypothesis that presumes ‘consciousness’ as the cause of some effects on matter-energy (such as origin of life or its complex molecules) can be a scientific hypothesis within the present natural science.

    It can’t because it leads to immediate contradiction — natural science cannot simultaneously hold that ‘consciousness does not cause any effects on matter-energy’ (which is, like it or not, the current position of natural science) AND that the ‘consciousness’ has caused life and its complex molecules.

    The motivation for bringing this up is that the Discovery Institute’s version of ID hypothesis is being excluded from the present natural science as a scientific hypothesis, and the Discovery Institute fellows, along with their choir here at UD, are completely clueless about the fundamental reason for the exclusion. This fundamental reason is that a logically coherent scientific system cannot allow presence of mutually contradictory statements within itself.

  64. 64
    StephenB says:

    nightlight

    … all things must be measurable by science in order to be considered by science):

    Well, that should settle the matter. Your stated proposition cannot be measured by science, therefore, by your own standard, it cannot be considered by science. You have refuted yourself.

  65. 65
    StephenB says:

    nightlight:

    Does formulating ID hypothesis with ‘conscious agency’ as the causal source of the design, as Discovery Institute (DI) and many here routinely do, disqualify such ID as a hypothesis of present natural science?

    [a] ID can, and does, make its case without an appeal to consciousness. We don’t extrapolate from consciousness to consciousness, we extrapolate from intelligence to intelligence.

    [b] Nevertheless, we observe conscious agents producing measurable effects every day. We don’t need an empirical study to confirm the fact that these agents are conscious.

    [c] Methodologically, ID is historical science as much or more than natural science. If you are not familiar with those methods, as you appear not to be, then your comments are irrelevant.

  66. 66
    Mung says:

    nightlight:

    I was talking about the models of present natural science, not the modelers/researchers.

    Of course you were, but that’s nonsensical.

    Science is something that conscious agents engage in and you can’t just exclude them from it by fiat. What scientist wants to believe it’s a robot?

    The key fact is that the present natural science does not contain causally efficacious consciousness element.

    Sure it does. They are called scientists.

    They document their activities in the section called “Methods.”

    “This section provides all the methodological details necessary for another scientist to duplicate your work.”

  67. 67
    nightlight says:

    @StephenB #64

    …all things must be measurable by science in order to be considered by science):

    Well, that should settle the matter. Your stated proposition cannot be measured by science, therefore, by your own standard, it cannot be considered by science. You have refuted yourself.

    I didn’t say the quote attributed above to me. That was written by “Upright BiPed” in post #54.

    My statement is different. In order for X to be an element of natural science, natural science needs to be able to empirically and objectively establish existence of X in the first place.

    Then it needs to determine whether X has any casual effects on any other elements Y that natural science already knows about.

    With X=consciousness, the present natural science doesn’t even have a method to objectively establish whether X exists at all, let alone whether it can exert any causal effect on any other elements known to natural science (matter-energy elements, such as molecules).

    Note also that something like sound of human voice saying ‘Yes, I am experiencing X’ is not synonymous with ‘X exists’ (since accepting experiential statements as a proof of existence of what is claimed to be experienced would open a major can of worms).

    Like it or not, according to the present natural science, consciousness cannot exert any causal effects on matter-energy. As a special case, this implies that ‘consciousness’ cannot originate life or its complex molecules.

    The DI’s ID hypothesis that ‘conscious agency’ has originated life and its complex molecules would result in outright contradictory statements in the natural science. Therefore, the DI’s ID is automatically inadmissible as a hypothesis of the present natural science.

    While science can tolerate some level of disagreements between empirical findings and theory (by defending via assumption that there may be some unaccounted factor in the experiments), it cannot allow any logically contradictory statements to co-exist within the science.

    [a] ID can, and does, make its case without an appeal to consciousness. We don’t extrapolate from consciousness to consciousness, we extrapolate from intelligence to intelligence.

    The frontline and most visible troops of the Discovery Institute (DI), such as Stephen Meyer, are certainly not as cautious, and are routinely invoking ‘conscious agency’ as the causal source of the design.

    The problem with your more cautious variant of ID hypothesis is that “intelligence” cannot do anything just as “beauty” or “sadness” or “elegance” cannot do anything, such as shuffle atoms and molecules around to originate life, since these are merely attributes (expressed in noun form) of something, of some entity X which is the subject in the sentence. The attributes of some entity X have no causal efficacy detached from X, on their own. Hence they cannot shuffle atoms and molecules as required by ID hypothesis.

    The only X that can have “intelligence” as attribute and that present natural science can recognize as existent and causally efficacious is X = ‘computational process’ (whether it is unfolding in digital computer or in human or animal brains, or in biochemical networks).

    If you know of any other X besides ‘computational process’:

    (i) that present natural science recognizes as existent and causally efficacious (i.e. science must first have a method to establish its existence and then establish that it can interact with atoms and molecules)

    (ii) that could have been present at the origin of life,

    (iii) that can have ‘intelligence’ attribute (e.g. being able execute anticipatory algorithms)

    you are welcome to bring it in.

    Of course, we all know why Discovery Institute wishes to detach “intelligence” attribute from its favorite X. DI is plainly being too clever by a half and natural science is just not going to fall for it since DI’s favorite X fails already on the basic existence requirement (i), rendering thus (ii) and (iii) inoperational.

    [b] Nevertheless, we observe conscious agents producing measurable effects every day. We don’t need an empirical study to confirm the fact that these agents are conscious.

    No one is arguing whether ‘conscious agents’ are plausible at the intuitive, personal, philosophical, theological, poetic,… levels.

    The question I am trying to get at is whether ‘conscious agency’ as the causal source of the origin of life and its complex molecules can be a hypothesis of the present natural science (not of personal intuitions, philosophy, theology, poetry…).

    As explained, the answer is clear NO, since it would result in mutually contradictory statements in the present natural science (according to which consciousness is not causally efficacious).

    That is certainly relevant question if you wish to teach such ID hypothesis in the science class as a scientific hypothesis, or publish it in the scientific journals under that label. You can’t teach or publish your personal intuitions, poems, philosophies or theologies labeled as natural science.

    [c] Methodologically, ID is historical science as much or more than natural science. If you are not familiar with those methods, as you appear not to be, then your comments are irrelevant.

    Narrowing the perspective to “historical science” doesn’t help you at all.

    The requirement of logical non-contradiction is valid for any logically coherent system of knowledge. If you wish to teach ID hypothesis in biology class or publish it in biology journals, as a scientific hypothesis, it cannot use ‘conscious agency’ as the causal source of design.

    It also cannot use disembodied or detached attributes such as “intelligence”, “beauty”, “elegance”… as the causal agents either, since attributes don’t have causal efficacy on their own as explained above.

    The causal agency of ID hypothesis for the origin of life has to satisfy conditions (i)-(iii) to be admissible as a scientific hypothesis (hence to be teachable and publishable under that label in the scientific venues).

    If you only wish to publish it or teach it as a philosophy, theology, poetry,… you are already perfectly fine and don’t need to change anything.

  68. 68
    Upright BiPed says:

    Nightlight, you have a heck of a time not contradicting reality don’t you?

    In order for X to be an element of natural science, natural science needs to be able to empirically and objectively establish existence of X in the first place.

    How many papers and books mention the RNA World, or the Multiverse?

    Why lie to yourself about it; ID is not set out from science because it mentions “consciousness” or “intelligence”, its set out from science because it supports theism.

    Get real

  69. 69
    StephenB says:

    nightlight

    The problem with your more cautious variant of ID hypothesis is that “intelligence” cannot do anything just as “beauty” or “sadness” or “elegance” cannot do anything, such as shuffle atoms and molecules around to originate life, since these are merely attributes (expressed in noun form) of something, of some entity X which is the subject in the sentence. The attributes of some entity X have no causal efficacy detached from X, on their own. Hence they cannot shuffle atoms and molecules as required by ID hypothesis.

    No, actually that is incorrect. Intelligence can do and cause many effects. Among other things, it conceives the patterns that intelligent action executes. ID is not about playing the music; it is about writing the score.

    SB: Nevertheless, we observe conscious agents producing measurable effects every day. We don’t need an empirical study to confirm the fact that these agents are conscious.

    NL:

    No one is arguing whether ‘conscious agents’ are plausible at the intuitive, personal, philosophical, theological, poetic,… levels.

    You didn’t address the point.

    The question I am trying to get at is whether ‘conscious agency’ as the causal source of the origin of life and its complex molecules can be a hypothesis of the present natural science (not of personal intuitions, philosophy, theology, poetry…).

    Clearly, conscious agency can be a causal source since it has been observed to play exactly that role.

    As explained, the answer is clear NO, since it would result in mutually contradictory statements in the present natural science (according to which consciousness is not causally efficacious).

    Irrelevant to the fact of empirical observation.

    Narrowing the perspective to “historical science” doesn’t help you at all.

    But my argument doesn’t need any help.

    The requirement of logical non-contradiction is valid for any logically coherent system of knowledge.

    Of course.

    If you wish to teach ID hypothesis in biology class or publish it in biology journals, as a scientific hypothesis, it cannot use ‘conscious agency’ as the causal source of design.

    You have not made that case, nor have you uncovered any contradictions.

    It also cannot use disembodied or detached attributes such as “intelligence”, “beauty”, “elegance”… as the causal agents either, since attributes don’t have causal efficacy on their own as explained above.

    ID does not argue on behalf of disembodied or detached attributes, so that strawman argument hardly has any validity. On the other hand, intelligence is certainly a cause of the concepts that agency puts into action.

    The causal agency of ID hypothesis for the origin of life has to satisfy conditions (i)-(iii) to be admissible as a scientific hypothesis (hence to be teachable and publishable under that label in the scientific venues).

    ID must satisfy the conditions of historical science, which, again, you appear to know nothing about.

  70. 70
    nightlight says:

    @Upright BiPed #68

    Nightlight, you have a heck of a time not contradicting reality don’t you?

    In order for X to be an element of natural science, natural science needs to be able to empirically and objectively establish existence of X in the first place.

    How many papers and books mention the RNA World, or the Multiverse?

    Had you read beyond the first paragraph, it would have become clear why RNA World and Multiverse are admissible scientific hypotheses. Namely, shortley after the quoted paragraph, I explained the criteria for a scientific ID hypothesis as the following 3 requirements:

    (i) that present natural science recognizes as existent and causally efficacious (i.e. science must first have a method to establish its existence and then establish that it can interact with atoms and molecules)

    (ii) that could have been present at the origin of life,

    (iii) that can have ‘intelligence’ attribute (e.g. being able execute anticipatory algorithms)

    Hence, the RNA World qualifies, since its causal agency are RNA molecules, which satisfy (i) and the hypothesis is that they existed at the right time (ii). They also satisfy (iii), although the frontloading needed for the pre-existent RNA is excessive and needs to bridged eventually with additional hypotheses.

    Multiverse, while more speculative hypothesis than RNA world, and in different field, still uses only the scientifically known, causally efficacious elements, such as the present universe and merely adds more instances of it. As to how would one establish the other instances is an open question.

    With consciousness you are trying to introduce an element which the present science cannot show to exist at all, even in one instance, much less that it can causally affect anything in matter-energy realm, let alone shuffle and arrange molecules and atoms, as ID hypothesis requires it to be able to do.

    Hence, as far as present science is concerned, consciousness even granting it the existence, cannot do anything to atoms and molecules as ID requires. So you can’t introduce a conjecture that says ‘consciousness’ has affected atoms and molecules in order to originate life, while also holding that ‘consciousness cannot affect atoms and molecules’. It is a logical contradiction and no science allows logically contradictory statements to co-exist within itself.

    Of course, you can fix that, while retaining ‘conscious agency’ as the source of design, by refuting first the existent position of natural science that consciousness is not causally efficacious. That would avoid contradiction.

    But refuting the position of the ‘causal non-efficacy of consciousness’ is easier said than done. That has been an open problem for thousands of years, and may well remain open for few more thousands.

    So instead of battling a relatively easy problem of demonstrating right kind of computational process involved in the origin and evolution of life, Discovery Institute’s ID would be taking on and battling the long standing seemingly insurmountable open problem that it doesn’t need at all.

    That would be analogous to Spartans, instead of picking for the battlefield the narrow Thermopile passage, decided for the largest open planes in Greece to fight the Persians at. That is what irks me about the equally grossly self-defeating ID strategy by the Discovery Institute, and what my debate in this thread is about.

    Why lie to yourself about it; ID is not set out from science because it mentions “consciousness” or “intelligence”, its set out from science because it supports theism.

    Well, some ardent atheists certainly have such motivations/fear.

    But ID hypothesis formulated as a scientific hypothesis i.e. via ‘computational process’ (instead of with ‘conscious agency’) as the causal agency behind design is completely neutral with respect to theism. James Shapiro and researchers at Santa Fe Institute (SFI) for Complexity Science, have already have taken up such anti-Darwinian position, and most of them are atheists or agnostics.

    Discovery Institute, by anchoring their position onto ‘conscious agency’, while that did bring it closer to theism, has also disqualified it automatically as a scientific hypothesis (due to requirement for logical non-contradiction in any science).

    The net result of the DI’s “strategy” (which is basically overly greedy and impatient) will be that James Shapiro & his followers, along with SFI researchers, will take over entirely the scientifically admissible ID position as their own.

    The neo-Darwinians will, as usually per their modus operandi, morph gradually their phrasing toward it and in not very long join in, crowing that’s exactly what they meant all along.

    In the meantime DI will continue putting out their philosophical and theological tomes, while whining that they were cheated of the intelligent design idea (they can thank for picking their dead end to none other than themselves).

  71. 71
    nightlight says:

    @StephenB #69

    No, actually that is incorrect. Intelligence can do and cause many effects. Among other things, it conceives the patterns that intelligent action executes.

    You are confusing poetry with science. Intelligence didn’t do any of that, the humans or dogs or computers which have that attribute (intelligence) did it.

    There is nothing in chemistry or physics or any other science, that has equation or algorithm with some I_variable (standing for intelligence) predicting any causation by it. The only elements in science that can move molecules and atoms, as required in ID hypothesis, are other particles and fields. Intelligence, beauty, elegance, humor,… cannot do a squat to molecules and atoms.

    If you claim any of those attributes can move and arrange molecules, show me an equation or algorithm or theorem… from any science that grants such powers to any of those attributes.

    Intelligence cannot push around and arrange atoms and molecules to produce life. But a system with ‘intelligence’ attribute a.k.a. ‘intelligent system’ (such as human researcher, robot, biochemical networks, etc) can do that.

    Nevertheless, we observe conscious agents producing measurable effects every day. We don’t need an empirical study to confirm the fact that these agents are conscious.

    No, you only observe blobs of matter-energy (agents), some of which may sometimes generate sound ‘I am conscious’ if asked, producing measurable effects. If one were to substitute some or all of them with some human-like androids, you could in principle (depending on how faithfully human-like they are) see and hear exactly the same events.

    No one knows, scientist or anyone else, how to empirically demonstrate existence of consciousness, much less that it affects anything in the matter-energy realm. If you know how, you are welcome to explain it. But before you start down some dead end, you should check any of the thousands of papers about the “hard problem of consciousness” so you can understand what is the question.

    Clearly, conscious agency can be a causal source since it has been observed to play exactly that role.

    As explained above, no one has observed any such. You have only observed blobs of matter-energy which may, if asked, say that they are conscious. It seems you are confusing a shorthand or figure of speech ‘conscious’ for ‘someone who says to be conscious’ with observation of ‘consciousness’. The only thing that you can observe about someone doing something are signals carried via matter-energy interactions.

    If you can observe more, especially if you can observe ‘consciousness’, I would be curious to know how you do that.

    More importantly, you seem unable to discern between statements of natural science (which is what I am discussing) and those of personal experiences, stories, poetry, philosophy… (which is what you are discussing).

    Namely, no science claims to have observed ‘conscious agency’ except as an informal shorthand used in some disciplines (anesthesiology, psychiatry, psychology), where ‘conscious’ is a label for some more detailed descriptions about some kinds of responses to stimuli, or brain waves, fMRI,… i.e. it is a shorthand for some clusters of matter-energy events, not a statement of observation of something outside of matter-energy, such as observation of ‘consciousness’, as you seem to be taking it as.

    You have not made that case, nor have you uncovered any contradictions.

    DI’s ID hypothesis that ‘consciousness’ has designed life and its molecules, contradicts the position of present natural science that consciousness cannot cause any effect in the realm of matter-energy (such as have any effect on molecules, among others).

    The contradiction would arise within science if it were to accept such ID hypothesis, since a logically coherent system of knowledge cannot simultaneously hold that ‘consciousness has designed molecules’ and that ‘consciousness has no effect on molecules’.

    ID does not argue on behalf of disembodied or detached attributes,

    So what is the “intelligence” attribute of, in the official ID hypothesis? Intelligent system? Intelligent agency? Intelligent spirit?… What is its embodiment?

    ID must satisfy the conditions of historical science, which, again, you appear to know nothing about.

    Which science, historical or natural, can tell you how to demonstrate:

    (a) existence of consciousness
    (b) ability of the ‘consciousness’ demonstrated in (a) to move or affect molecules (ability that ID requires)

    I know of none. You are welcome to bring in the relevant papers, if you know of some.

    If you can’t, then the mentioned contradiction exists between ID that assumes consciousness as the causal agency originating and designing life, and the position of present natural science that consciousness does not affect matter-energy entities, such as molecules.

  72. 72
    Mung says:

    So let’s go back to nightlight @4:

    Once you introduce ‘conscious mind’ as the explanation in ID, you have left natural science (since the present natural science does not have a model of ‘consciousness’), and have entered the realm of philosophy i.e. you are proposing new philosophy of nature.

    PREMISE 1: ID relies on ‘conscious mind’ as an explanation.

    PREMISE 2: The present natural science does not have a model of consciousness.

    CONCLUSION: Therefore ID fails as a ‘natural science only’ theory.

    This is what any reasonable person would call a non-sequitur. The conclusion does not follow from the premises.

  73. 73
  74. 74
    Upright BiPed says:

    Demarcation arguments against ID are typically pursued only to avoid data. They are useless (i.e. boring), and the most useless and boring of them are those already invalidated in the pursuit of science. As for your specific argument, I can see (from your verbosity) how much you have invested in it and that you intend on re-wording and re-detailing it over and over again. It simply won’t matter to you that it’s invalidated by recorded history.

    yawn

  75. 75
    Mung says:

    nightlight, like so many other which came before, offers a self-refuting argument against ID:

    (a) existence of consciousness
    (b) ability of the ‘consciousness’ demonstrated in (a) to move or affect molecules (ability that ID requires)

    nightlight’s own posts here at UD demonstrate both the existence of consciousness and the ability of conscious beings to move or affect molecules.

  76. 76
    nightlight says:

    @Mung #72

    PREMISE 1: ID relies on `conscious mind’ as an explanation.

    PREMISE 2: The present natural science does not have a model of consciousness.

    CONCLUSION: Therefore ID fails as a `natural science only’ theory.

    Not exactly. You parsed a shorthand explanation in parentheses instead of the fuller statement of the problem:

    Premise 1. DI’s ID uses consciousness as the causal agency that designed life and its molecules.

    Premise 2. Natural science holds that consciousness does not affect matter-energy (including molecules which are special case of matter-energy)

    Conclusion: Premise 1 contradicts Premise 2 since consciousness cannot simultaneously design molecules and have no effect on molecules.

    Therefore, DI’s ID is inadmissible as a hypothesis of natural science since it contradicts existent position of natural science.

  77. 77
    nightlight says:

    @Mung #73

    Models of Consciousness

    That article mixes together various “easy” problems of consciousness (proposals for conventions on how to assign label ‘consciousness’ to various patterns of matter-energy events) with few conjectures about “hard problem” of consciousness.

    The fundamental position of the present natural science is unaffected by anything in that article: the consciousness cannot affect (e.g. move or arrange) molecules.

    And that position directly contradicts the DI’s ID hypothesis that consciousness has designed complex molecules of life.

    If you can find any scientific paper that contradicts the fundamental position of natural science about causal inefficacy of consciousness in matter-energy realm, you are welcome to share it.

  78. 78
    StephenB says:

    SB: Intelligence can do and cause many effects. Among other things, it conceives the patterns that intelligent action executes.

    Nightlight

    You are confusing poetry with science. Intelligence didn’t do any of that, the humans or dogs or computers which have that attribute (intelligence) did it.

    No confusion here. Intelligence is the cause of the concept; the agent is the cause of the execution. Thus, the intelligent agent is the cause of both. Creativity is a function of, and is caused by, the intellect. We have already covered that ground.

    SB: Nevertheless, we observe conscious agents producing measurable effects every day. We don’t need an empirical study to confirm the fact that these agents are conscious.

    No, you only observe blobs of matter-energy (agents), some of which may sometimes generate sound ‘I am conscious’ if asked, producing measurable effects. If one were to substitute some or all of them with some human-like androids, you could in principle (depending on how faithfully human-like they are) see and hear exactly the same events.

    I didn’t observe your blob of energy when you wrote that paragraph, but I did observe the effects of your creative intelligence, which generated a special combination of words and letters that are unique and will never be written again. Physical laws cannot do that. They have no creative potential.

    No one knows, scientist or anyone else, how to empirically demonstrate existence of consciousness, much less that it affects anything in the matter-energy realm. If you know how, you are welcome to explain it. But before you start down some dead end, you should check any of the thousands of papers about the “hard problem of consciousness” so you can understand what is the question.

    Consciousness is a “hard problem” primarily for atheists who labor under the misconception that mind can arise from matter. Consciousness is not such a hard problem for those of us who understand that there are two realms of existence. You should expand your reading list so that you can appreciate perspectives other than your own.

    More importantly, you seem unable to discern between statements of natural science (which is what I am discussing) and those of personal experiences, stories, poetry, philosophy… (which is what you are discussing).

    Actually, the problem is that you seem unable to discern between sense impressions and the knowledge that can be derived from them. Somehow you labor under the misconception that all knowledge is limited to sense experience. It may start there, but it doesn’t end there.

    Namely, no science claims to have observed ‘conscious agency’ except as an informal shorthand…………”…”

    You are starting to sound like a broken record. Try something else. ID does not argue from consciousness; it argues from intelligence.

    SB: ID does not argue on behalf of disembodied or detached attributes,

    Nightlight

    So what is the “intelligence” attribute of, in the official ID hypothesis? Intelligent system? Intelligent agency? Intelligent spirit?… What is its embodiment?

    First, you make a demonstrably false claim to the effect that ID argues for disembodied attributes, then, when I refute your claim, you follow up by asking me what you meant by the words that you used.

    SB: ID must satisfy the conditions of historical science, which, again, you appear to know nothing about.

    Which science, historical or natural, can tell you how to demonstrate:

    (a) existence of consciousness
    (b) (b) ability of the ‘consciousness’ demonstrated in (a) to move or affect molecules (ability that ID req
    I know of none. You are welcome to bring in the relevant papers, if you know of some.

    You changed the subject. You began by saying that ID must conform to your arbitrary description of “natural science.” When I pointed out that ID conforms to the methodology established by historical science, you ignored the refutation and reverted back to your talking points about consciousness.

  79. 79
    Mapou says:

    Does ID belong to the Discovery Institute? Some of the commenters act like it does.

  80. 80
    nightlight says:

    @StephenB #78

    No confusion here. Intelligence is the cause of the concept; the agent is the cause of the execution. Thus, the intelligent agent is the cause of both. Creativity is a function of, and is caused by, the intellect. We have already covered that ground.

    Show me a natural law (equation, theorem, lemma, postulate, etc) asserting that any of attributes such as “intelligence”, “elegance”, “sadness”,… can move or affect molecules, such as arrange them into complex molecules of life, as DI’s ID hypothesis presumes.

    You can’t because there is no such law (the fiction literature from Discovery Institute notwithstanding).

    According to the present natural science, which is were the laws about movements of molecules belong, the only entities that can manipulate molecules are other matter-energy elements. Neither consciousness nor intelligence, embodied or disembodied, have any such power within the present natural science.

    Your defense of the imagined power of “intelligence” or “consciousness” (embodied or disembodied) to manipulate molecules is also an excellent illustration of your complete lack of discernment between the casual statements in poetic or informal everyday language and scientific statements. Until you learn to reliably discriminate between the two kinds of statements, there is no hope you can even grasp the substance of the debate, much less contribute anything useful to it or help advance anyone’s understanding of the issues debated.

    SB: ID must satisfy the conditions of historical science, which, again, you appear to know nothing about.

    Which science, historical or natural, can tell you how to demonstrate:

    (a) existence of consciousness
    (b) ability of the `consciousness’ demonstrated in (a) to move or affect molecules (ability that ID requires)

    I know of none. You are welcome to bring in the relevant papers, if you know of some.

    You changed the subject. You began by saying that ID must conform to your arbitrary description of “natural science.” When I pointed out that ID conforms to the methodology established by historical science, you ignored the refutation and reverted back to your talking points about consciousness.

    I didn’t change the subject. It’s you who is trying to dodge the contradiction problem by wishfully drawing lines between “historical” and “experimental” sciences, and then trying to relax the requirements of logic on the former.

    With the origin of life and its evolution, the objects of research are, among others, complex molecules and what can or has arranged them into the observed complex patterns.

    Whether you attach label “historical” or “experimental” to the science researching the origin and evolution of life, the question of behaviors of molecules is still a matter of natural science.

    The point being made is that any proposed scientific hypothesis about origin and evolution of life, such as ID, cannot introduce premises that give rise to logical or mathematical contradiction in the relevant natural science (such as physics, chemistry that deal with molecules).

    For example you cannot have a valid scientific hypothesis (in “historical” or “experimental” science) or theorem containing premise: “From the fact 2+2=5 it follows…” since that contradicts the existent mathematical fact 2+2=4.

    Similarly, by the same prohibition of logical contradictions, you cannot introduce premise that “consciousness” can move molecules, since laws of present natural science allow only other matter-energy elements to move molecules.

    Note that you cannot evade the problem by inserting some other matter-energy elements X (such as molecules of an intelligent system) in between the molecules of life and “consciousness” and then claim that:

    there is no problem with natural science since it is the matter-energy elements X that move molecules of life, not the “consciousness”,

    The problem with that kind of evasion is that it merely shifts around the original contradiction without eliminating or resolving it.

    Namely, such “embodied consciousness” scheme still requires that consciousness moves matter-energy elements of X. But that is the same contradiction with the present laws of natural science you started with since according to the laws of natural science only matter-energy elements can affect (move, arrange) other matter-energy elements.

    Inserting more intermediate matter-energy elements, such as X2 that moves X1, X3 that moves X2,…, Xn that moves X(n-1) doesn’t help either since it merely pushes back the same contradiction without eliminating it — at the end of the chain of matter-energy elements Xi, consciousness is still presumed to move the last matter-energy element Xn, which contradicts the present laws of natural science.

    Conclusion: Discovery Institute’s ID hypothesis that “conscious agency” has designed molecules of life is inadmissible as a scientific hypothesis since its premises would introduce logical contradictions into the present natural science.

    The simplest fix for the above flaw in DI’s ID hypothesis is to replace the ‘conscious agency’ with the ‘computational process’ as the causal source of the design.

  81. 81
    nightlight says:

    #80

    Conclusion: Discovery Institute’s ID hypothesis that “conscious agency” has designed molecules of life is inadmissible as a scientific hypothesis since its premises would introduce logical contradictions into the present natural science.

    The simplest fix for the above flaw in DI’s ID hypothesis is to replace the `conscious agency’ with the `computational process’ as the causal source of the design.

    To last paragraph didn’t explain the logical steps used to arrive at the proposed “simplest fix.” To preempt the non sequitur objections here is how the “simplest fix” was deduced:

    One must first replace the DI’s ‘conscious agency’ with the ‘intelligent system’, which is in fact the origin of the name of ID hypothesis (and one of alternative formulations).

    The term “system” is used instead of “agency” since “system” makes it clearer that causal source of design belongs to the realm of matter-energy, as required to avoid contradiction (explained in #80) with the present laws of natural science.

    There are only two kinds of “intelligent systems” known or recognized to present natural science:

    a) Live organisms (e.g. humans, animals)
    b) Computational processes (e.g. digital computers, neural networks and their various implementations)

    Since the ID hypothesis seeks to explain the origin of life, option (a) cannot be used as causal source, since that is what is to be explained in the first place.

    Therefore, the only option left for the causal source of the design of molecules of life is (b), computational processes.

  82. 82
    Phinehas says:

    NL:

    The chess programmer never inputted into the program all the beautiful attacking combinations and opening or endgame insights and novelties that program plays.

    Since the algorithm is incapable of recognizing beauty or of having insights, it is wrong-headed to suggest that such originate with them.

    An infinite number of monkeys
    Endlessly typing away
    Might stumble upon Shakespeare
    One very lucky day
    But which of those studious simians
    Would then stand up and say,
    “Whoa! Have you guys read this? It’s really quite brilliant!”

    There is no Shakespeare without the ability to recognize Shakespeare. There is no beauty without the ability to recognize beauty. Computers have no insight into either Shakespeare or beauty…or video game strategies.

    Working on a student video game project many years ago, I was greatly impressed by the AI that a fellow student had programmed.

    The game we were making was an arena-based, third-person free-for-all with cartoon characters that could throw bombs or fire a portable cannon at each other among other capabilities.

    I had a strategy where, when I had bombs and was taking on a cannon equipped AI, I would hide behind a slight hill where I was out-of-sight and then lob bombs over the hill at the AI. This worked really well. As we progressed in the project, however, the AI suddenly started jumping up in the air to shoot over the hill at me in my hiding place on the other side.

    I was amazed that the AI programmer had managed to imbue the AI opponents with such a beautiful and intelligent response to my strategy, especially since we were just students learning our craft. When I approached him with effusive praise for what I was seeing, he seemed a bit confused at first, but then suddenly hit on what was happening. He had put in code for AI to jump to minimize damage from an incoming bomb, and that code was then interacting with other code to fire at an opponent when they came into sight.

    There were other combinations of AI rules that reacted to each other in very unexpected ways that make the AI appear quite brain-dead as well, but we simply changed these unfortunate interactions while keeping the fortunate ones. In the end, we knew we were creating the illusion of human interaction, and any trick that could be perceived in that light was something to keep and expand upon.

    The point is straightforward: sometimes very simple rules can lead to behavior that looks very elegant, or insightful, or beautiful or intelligent, but these are really only things that we impute to the interactions, not something created by the computer.

  83. 83
    StephenB says:

    SB: Intelligence is the cause of the concept; the agent is the cause of the execution. Thus, the intelligent agent is the cause of both. Creativity is a function of, and is caused by, the intellect. We have already covered that ground.

    nightlight

    Show me a natural law (equation, theorem, lemma, postulate, etc) asserting that any of attributes such as “intelligence”, “elegance”, “sadness”,… can move or affect molecules, such as arrange them into complex molecules of life, as DI’s ID hypothesis presumes.

    You really do need to step away from your talking points and engage the subject matter. Nothing you write here changes the fact that intelligence is the cause of ideas and concepts, which in turn, guide the intelligent action, which requires bodily action. Why would you assume that thoughts move molecules? Thoughts are not assumed to be made of matter and, insofar as ID paradigms go, are not assumed to move matter. (You go on to invest several paragraphs to engage your own strawman interpretation)

    Your defense of the imagined power of “intelligence” or “consciousness” (embodied or disembodied) to manipulate molecules is also an excellent illustration of your complete lack of discernment between the casual statements in poetic or informal everyday language and scientific statements. Until you learn to reliably discriminate between the two kinds of statements, there is no hope you can even grasp the substance of the debate, much less contribute anything useful to it or help advance anyone’s understanding of the issues debated.

    There you go again with the same strawman argument. Why do you do that? Are you unwilling to engage substantive arguments?
    SB: You changed the subject. You began by saying that ID must conform to your arbitrary description of “natural science.” When I pointed out that ID conforms to the methodology established by historical science, you ignored the refutation and reverted back to your talking points about consciousness.

    I didn’t change the subject.

    Yes, you did, and in exactly the way I described it.

    It’s you who is trying to dodge the contradiction problem by wishfully drawing lines between “historical” and “experimental” sciences, and then trying to relax the requirements of logic on the former.

    There is no contradiction and you have not provided one.

    With the origin of life and its evolution, the objects of research are, among others, complex molecules and what can or has arranged them into the observed complex patterns.

    I have already explained that Intelligence causes the conception of the rearrangement and the agent (through bodily action) does the rearranging. To cause a conception is to be a cause. ID is not about playing the music; ID is about writing the score.

    Whether you attach label “historical” or “experimental” to the science researching the origin and evolution of life, the question of behaviors of molecules is still a matter of natural science.

    It has nothing to do with labels and everything to do with methodology. You cannot use “natural science” methodology, which deals with physical laws, to assign causes to past events, a highly technical task that requires the use uniformitarian reasoning, references to causal adequacy, and a number of other techniques that you know nothing about. Under the circumstances, you are not prepared to enter into a dialogue on the matter.

    The point being made is that any proposed scientific hypothesis about origin and evolution of life, such as ID, cannot introduce premises that give rise to logical or mathematical contradiction in the relevant natural science (such as physics, chemistry that deal with molecules).

    Any supposed contradiction with respect to ID resides in your imagination and is based solely on your strawman interpretations of the arguments being made and your lack of familiarity with the methods of historical science.

    The simplest fix for the above flaw in DI’s ID hypothesis is to replace the ‘conscious agency’ with the ‘computational process’ as the causal source of the design.

    A “computational process” cannot generate a creative act. Creativity is solely the function of intelligence. That’s the whole point and one which you have yet to make peace with.

  84. 84
    nightlight says:

    @Phinehas #82

    The point is straightforward: sometimes very simple rules can lead to behavior that looks very elegant, or insightful, or beautiful or intelligent, but these are really only things that we impute to the interactions, not something created by the computer.

    That is in fact the key idea of the Wolfram’s NKS (New Kind of Science; see this post for intro) approach to the problem — maybe the universe is indeed running on some very simple rules, sufficient to build a network of elemental cogs at the Planck Scale. The network at that scale would operate as neural network using unsupervised learning (i.e. without all-knowing oracle to guide it) and build its own higher level computing technologies.

    Such networks, with operational rules which are much simpler than our present laws of physics, are self-programming distributed computers, capable of computing anything that is computable by any computer (they are universal computers) and have additive intelligence (the network becomes smarter as it grows and as it learns/runs). The additive intelligence avoids the infinite chain of ever more intelligent designers, each designing the previous simpler designer.

    While there is still some front loading required to create the initial simple network, this front loading is much weaker than even our present laws of physics. Of course, any scientific system requires some front loading to set up basic postulates which are taken as given, from which everything else is deduced.

    If the fundamental network is at the Planck scale (10^-35 meters, clock 10^44 Hz), its computing power would be 10^80 times greater than any computing technology that humans could ever build using our elementary particles (electrons and quarks) as its elemental cogs. Note that our present computing technology uses billions times coarser grained elemental cogs than the above limit (electrons and quarks), and its true limit is still many Moore cycles ahead of us.

    These Planck scale networks, as they learn and optimize their efficiency, build more advanced computing technologies, such as physical particles and fields (these are our quantum fields) which would be analogous to galactic scale computers that we may build some day. Then using these computers (our physical level), they build even more advanced technologies such as live cells, which in turn build even more advanced technologies such as multicellular organisms, including humans, which then build technological societies and yet another level of computing technologies (our conventional computers connected into internet, a Global Brain at our level).

    How the Planckian networks and their hierarchy of ever more advanced computing technologies work, along with various implications of the idea was described and discussed in an earlier thread. The hyperlinked TOC of the thread by topic is in the second half of this post.

  85. 85
    nightlight says:

    @StephenB #78

    Nothing you write here changes the fact that intelligence is the cause of ideas and concepts, which in turn, guide the intelligent action, which requires bodily action. Why would you assume that thoughts move molecules?

    That is what you are assuming, apparently without being aware of the assumption. Namely, you say right after the above:

    Thoughts are not assumed to be made of matter and, insofar as ID paradigms go, are not assumed to move matter.

    To recognize your assumptions, you simply need the follow up the causal chain from your actions, say those of writing that post, back through your fingers typing on the keyboard, back to nerves which control your fingers, then hands, all thew way back to the master controls in the neurons of your brain which initiated all the subsequent movements (of electrons, fields, molecules).

    Your claim now is that your ‘non-material thoughts’ have somehow initiated and shaped the electrical actions of those initial neurons in your brain that kicked off the rest of the actions. That implies that your “thoughts” somehow move those electrons in the neurons of your brain.

    But then you also claim that your thoughts don’t move those electrons. How then do your thoughts affect the operation of those neurons and guide them so they coordinate your typing?

    Namely, if your thoughts can’t affect what electrons in your neurons are doing, they can’t make them drive the causal chain resulting in you typing the content of your thoughts. Without thoughts moving those initial electrons in very particular, delicate ways, what neurons are doing would be unrelated to your thoughts and you would be typing gibberish (perish the thought).

    Therefore, from your own words it follows that you do assume that your thoughts can move matter, the electrons in at least some neurons of your brain.

    But that assumption contradicts the basic laws of the present natural science, that the only causes which can move elements of matter-energy are other elements of matter-energy. There is no equation of physics, or any other science, where thought T figures in the equation and affects some other variables, such as states of fields or particles. In natural science, only particles and fields can affect other particles and field.

    You are welcome to provide an alternative chain of events starting with your thoughts, down to your fingers typing those thoughts at the keyboard, and explain how your stated fundamental assumptions avoid the above contradiction with the laws of natural science. If you can’t explain it without contradiction, then your position (which you attribute to ID) is logically incoherent. Which is what I have been saying all along.

    A “computational process” cannot generate a creative act. Creativity is solely the function of intelligence. That’s the whole point and one which you have yet to make peace with.

    That’s a statement (and extremely vague at that) of your personal faith, not of any established scientific fact. Hence it carries no weight, beyond yourself and your family and friends.

  86. 86
    StephenB says:

    nightlight

    That is what you are assuming, apparently without being aware of the assumption. Namely, you say right after the above:

    Thoughts are not assumed to be made of matter and, insofar as ID paradigms go, are not assumed to move matter.

    So now, after I tell you that the ID paradigm does not assume that thoughts move molecules, you still feel the need to continue with that same false charge. Interesting.

    To recognize your assumptions, you simply need the follow up the causal chain from your actions, say those of writing that post, back through your fingers typing on the keyboard, back to nerves which control your fingers, then hands, all thew way back to the master controls in the neurons of your brain which initiated all the subsequent movements (of electrons, fields, molecules).

    Since you are unwilling to address the very simple argument that intelligence produces thoughts and bodies produce action, I will assume that you have no answer.

    But then you also claim that your thoughts don’t move those electrons. How then do your thoughts affect the operation of those neurons and guide them so they coordinate your typing?

    No, I said that, from the ID perspective, there are no assumptions about the capacity of thoughts to move electrons. It always helps to read out of what is written in a passage rather than to read into it what you hope it might contain.

    Therefore, from your own words it follows that you do assume that your thoughts can move matter, the electrons in at least some neurons of your brain.

    As I said, ID does not address the relationship between thoughts and matter.

    But that assumption contradicts the basic laws of the present natural science, that the only causes which can move elements of matter-energy are other elements of matter-energy.

    ID makes no such assumptions, so there is no contradiction. Even if ID did make that assumption, there would still be no contradiction since science has not declared that only physical causes can move matter.

    There is no equation of physics, or any other science, where thought T figures in the equation and affects some other variables, such as states of fields or particles. In natural science, only particles and fields can affect other particles and field.

    You cannot make that claim. Medical science has proven that thoughts affects the material elements in the body.

    SB: A “computational process” cannot generate a creative act. Creativity is solely the function of intelligence. That’s the whole point and one which you have yet to make peace with.

    That’s a statement (and extremely vague at that) of your personal faith, not of any established scientific fact.

    It is a fact, and there is nothing vague about it. A computational process, which is tied to physical regularities (which we call laws), cannot create anything. Laws (regularities in nature) can only do what they do and cannot change direction or decide to be creative. Only intelligence can do that.

    Hence it carries no weight, beyond yourself and your family and friends.

    My argument carries weight by virtue of its power. If you think differently, try to argue the other way. Try to show that natural regularities, to which we assign the word “laws,” can decide do something other than what they do and perform a novel and creative act. Good luck with that one.

  87. 87
    nightlight says:

    @86 — It seems the communication channel here is not long enough to bridge the gap. Since only time and further reflection can cure that problem, the optimal course is to leave it at what was written so far, which is more than enough for readers to form their own conclusions.

  88. 88
    Phinehas says:

    NL:

    I’m familiar with NKS and appreciate its creative approach to science. I’m especially sympathetic to the idea that information, and not matter, lies at the root of reality. However, I think that what you’ve written above @84 is extremely speculative in nature, and a position that, because of the lack of evidence to support it, should not be held too dogmatically.

  89. 89
    nightlight says:

    @88 — There are several threads that come together into the approach, such as Complexity Science, Cellular Automata, scale-free networks, Neural Networks, biochemical networks (which are one implementation of neural networks; another is brain), Digital Physics, pregeometry models, some which have been around for at least 4 decades or longer, hence there is lots of existent research available. Wolfram himself (who was a kid genius, very smart guy) has worked on the NKS vision in stealth mode for 2 decades, summarizing his results in the NKS book.

    While there are still many open question, including the algorithm that runs on the Planck scale networks (which could a few lines of code equivalent or much more complex), the foundation is perfectly sound and all theoretical results indicate that the approach will work (replicating laws of physics including properties of our space-time, fine tuning of physical laws for life, intelligence behind origin of life and its evolution), once the ground level algorithm is found (the theory, so far, can only assure of its existence but can’t yet tell what it is).

    Hence, while these developments are still in speculative/conjectural (and quite lively) phase of development, it is not as speculative as it may appear from the quick, coarse grained sketches I posted in UD (very little of which, if anything, are my own ideas). I think the issue here at UD is unfamiliarity with these fields, which being a dramatic departure from conventional wisdom, are sure to appear strange at first sight. As result, folks here were trying to fit it into the few old pigeonholes they are familiar with, where they don’t fit at all.

    While the approach is fundamentally an variant of ID, it requires much less front loading than the conventional ID and it doesn’t suffer problem of invoking infinite regress of ever smarter designers or some all knowing master designer. In this approach, the root designer needs to know very little as to what the result will be, even less than what’s contained in our present laws of physics, since the rest of the complexity is figured out/computed by the hierarchy of ever more powerful computing technologies, each one developing the next level of technology more powerful than itself (just as we humans are doing at our level).

    The principal lever is to use systems that have additive intelligence, such as networks with adaptable links, where growth and running of the networks increase the intelligence of the overall system (as it is the case with each human organism, which is made as a web of permeating and overlapping biochemical and neuronal networks, becoming smarter as it matures).

    Note that in this scheme laws of life and biology are not reducible to laws of physics. They are merely consistent with each other but each is one is only an aspect of the much more subtle and complex patterns of activity computed by the underlying Planck scale networks.

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