Mind Science

Are Angels “Naturalistic”?

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One of my main criticisms of methodological naturalism is that the word “naturalism” seems to not have any real content. It merely means “whatever the author wants to include in science” and non-naturalism means “whatever the author doesn’t want to include in science”. This paper by Halvorson is a case in point.

One of the more frustrating parts of talking about methodological naturalism is coming up with a suitable definition of “naturalism”. I discuss this in-depth in this paper. Essentially, most definitions of naturalism are either extremely vague or extremely self-serving. For instance, “testability” is one definition that is often put forward. But, if supernaturalism is true, there is no reason that supernaturalism couldn’t at least in theory be testable. Observability is another, but that is just another way for saying testable.

Hans Halvorson is a philosopher of science who has (accidentally, I believe) shown just how problematic the word “naturalism” is. He wrote a chapter for the Blackwell Companion to Naturalism called “Why Methodological Naturalism?” (free version available here). In the introduction to his paper, he says,

One striking feature of these theories is that they are naturalistic: they don’t mention gods, demons, or any other supernatural beings.

So, his initial mentioning of naturalism is that it excludes all supernatural beings. However, as he goes further, and develops his definition of “naturalism”, he says that,

an entity x is natural just in case x was created by God

So, for Halvorson, “naturalism” applies to anything that isn’t God. This seems to be problematic for his first discussion of naturalism, and what most people consider naturalistic. Are souls naturalistic? Angels? Demons? Well, in case you think I’m reading too much into his words, Halvorson provides a footnote, which says,

Theists might worry that this definition would classify angels as natural entities. My response: so what? As far as I can tell, theism doesn’t need to classify angels as supernatural.

So, while the original point of his paper was to say that methodological naturalism excludes spiritual beings, his actual definition, by his own words, includes them. So what is even the point of having the word “naturalism” if its meaning is so broad? Wouldn’t it be easier to simply say, “science can’t include God”? In that case, ID would be classified under methodological naturalism (Halvorson attempts to counter this, but that will have to wait for another post). In any case, marking one specific entity as something that science can’t touch is also special pleading.

My own definition of “naturalistic” vs “non-naturalistic” is this: <if a process can be modeled with a Turing machine, it is naturalistic, otherwise it is non-naturalistic. In other words, “naturalism” is computable. My point for making the cut at this point is not that everyone agrees with it, but rather that it is at least a workable definition. It is operational – we can test to see if a phenomenon can be modeled by a Turing machine (it is a well-known model with well-known characteristics). It matches the intuition – one of the things we expect from spiritual beings is that they have creativity and freedom, while mechanical things do not. It is held by individuals on both sides of the ball (Stephen Wolfram and Iris van Rooij on the naturalistic side, and myself and Eric Holloway on the non-naturalistic side).

My challenge to naturalists who don’t like my definition is this – come up with one which is similarly operational, matching the intuition, held by individuals on both sides of the divide, and isn’t guilty of special pleading. It’s harder than you think.

So, coming back to Halvorson, we can see that if a philosopher of science, in a paper about naturalism, can’t figure out if angels and demons are naturalistic, then we have a problem with defining naturalism. If we can’t define it, maybe it isn’t actually doing anything for us?

14 Replies to “Are Angels “Naturalistic”?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Actually the main and primary split between naturalism and supernaturalism is, and always has been, Agent Causality.

    Do You Like SETI? Fine, Then Let’s Dump Methodological Naturalism – Paul Nelson – September 24, 2014
    Excerpt: Epistemology — how we know — and ontology — what exists — are both affected by methodological naturalism. If we say, “We cannot know that a mind caused x,” laying down an epistemological boundary defined by MN, then our ontology comprising real causes for x won’t include minds.

    MN entails an ontology in which minds are the consequence of physics, and thus, can only be placeholders for a more detailed causal account in which physics is the only (ultimate) actor. You didn’t write your email to me. Physics did, and informed you of that event after the fact.

    “That’s crazy,” you reply, “I certainly did write my email.” Okay, then — to what does the pronoun “I” in that sentence refer?

    Your personal agency; your mind. Are you supernatural? Who knows? Don’t get hung up on the “natural versus supernatural” distinction, which brings a world of mischief.

    You are certainly an intelligent cause, however, and your intelligence does not collapse into physics. (If it does collapse — i.e., can be reduced without explanatory loss — we haven’t the faintest idea how, which amounts to the same thing.) To explain the effects you bring about in the world — such as your email, a real pattern — we must refer to you as a unique agent.

    If ID satisfied MN as that philosophical doctrine is usually stated, the decades-long dispute over both wouldn’t have happened. The whole point of invoking MN (by the National Center for Science Education, for instance, or other anti-ID organizations) is to try to exclude ID, before a debate about the evidence can occur, by indicting ID for inferring non-physical causes.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2014/09/do_you_like_set/

    i.e. Naturalists, for the most part, hold that if deterministic naturalism is true then free will must be an illusion.

    “In human freedom in the philosophical sense I am definitely a disbeliever.,,,”
    “I am compelled to act as if free will existed, because if I wish to live in a civilized society I must act responsibly. . . I know that philosophically a murderer is not responsible for his crime, but I prefer not to take tea with him.”
    – Albert Einstein – early 1930s

    Physicist George Ellis on the importance of philosophy and free will – July 27, 2014
    Excerpt: And free will?:
    Horgan: Einstein, in the following quote, seemed to doubt free will: “If the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the Earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was traveling its way of its own accord…. So would a Being, endowed with higher insight and more perfect intelligence, watching man and his doings, smile about man’s illusion that he was acting according to his own free will.” Do you believe in free will?
    Ellis: Yes. Einstein is perpetuating the belief that all causation is bottom up. This simply is not the case, as I can demonstrate with many examples from sociology, neuroscience, physiology, epigenetics, engineering, and physics. Furthermore if Einstein did not have free will in some meaningful sense, then he could not have been responsible for the theory of relativity – it would have been a product of lower level processes but not of an intelligent mind choosing between possible options.
    I find it very hard to believe this to be the case – indeed it does not seem to make any sense. Physicists should pay attention to Aristotle’s four forms of causation – if they have the free will to decide what they are doing. If they don’t, then why waste time talking to them? They are then not responsible for what they say.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....free-will/

    i.e. Atheistic naturalist, for the most part, deny the reality of Agent and/or Intelligent Causality since they deny the reality of free will.

    Yet free will and thus Agent Causality are shown to be real, not illusory by both neurology and quantum mechanics. Thus, naturalism, as is commonly held, is shown to be false and ‘supernaturalism’, as defined as Agent Causality, is shown to be true.

    Michael Egnor: Is free will a dangerous myth? – October 6, 2018
    Excerpt:,,, an objective review of the neuroscientific evidence unequivocally supports the existence of free will. The first neuroscientist to map the brains of conscious subjects, Wilder Penfield, noted that there is an immaterial power of volition in the human mind that he could not stimulate with electrodes. The pioneer in the neuroscience of free will was Benjamin Libet, who demonstrated clearly that, while there is an unconscious material predisposition to acts as shown by electrical brain activity, we retain an immaterial “free won’t,” which is the ability to veto an unconscious urge to act. Many experiments have followed on Libet’s work, most of which use fMRI imaging of brain activity. They all confirm Libet’s observations by showing what is at most a loose correlation between brain activity and volition (for example, nearly half the time the brain activity that precedes the act is on the wrong side of the brain for the activity to determine the will)—the looseness of correlation being best explained as evidence for libertarian free will. Modern neuroscience clearly demonstrates an immaterial component to volition.
    Harari is wrong about free will. It is not a myth. Free will is a real and fundamental aspect of being human, and the denial of free will is junk science and self-refuting logical nonsense.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/michael-egnor-is-free-will-a-dangerous-myth/

    As to the reality of free will in Quantum Mechanics, in what is termed the ‘instrumentalist approach’ to quantum mechanics, the free will of the human mind, i.e. the intentionality of the human mind, is brought into the laws of nature at their most foundational level.

    As Steven Weinberg states, (in quantum mechanics) humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level.,,, the instrumentalist approach (in quantum mechanics) turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else.,,, In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure,,, Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,

    The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics – Steven Weinberg – January 19, 2017
    Excerpt: The instrumentalist approach,, (the) wave function,, is merely an instrument that provides predictions of the probabilities of various outcomes when measurements are made.,,
    In the instrumentalist approach,,, humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level. According to Eugene Wigner, a pioneer of quantum mechanics, “it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness.”11
    Thus the instrumentalist approach turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else. It is not that we object to thinking about humans. Rather, we want to understand the relation of humans to nature, not just assuming the character of this relation by incorporating it in what we suppose are nature’s fundamental laws, but rather by deduction from laws that make no explicit reference to humans. We may in the end have to give up this goal,,,
    Some physicists who adopt an instrumentalist approach argue that the probabilities we infer from the wave function are objective probabilities, independent of whether humans are making a measurement. I don’t find this tenable. In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure, such as the spin in one or another direction. Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,
    http://www.nybooks.com/article.....mechanics/

    And the instrumentalist approach in quantum mechanics, (as opposed to the ‘realist approach’ in quantum mechanics), has now been empirically confirmed.

    The final ‘free will’ loophole in quantum mechanics has now been closed. Specifically, the “creepy” and “far-fetched” possibility that the “physicist running the experiment does not have complete free will in choosing each detector’s setting” and that “a particle detector’s settings may “conspire” with events in the shared causal past of the detectors themselves to determine which properties of the particle to measure”,,,

    Closing the ‘free will’ loophole: Using distant quasars to test Bell’s theorem – February 20, 2014
    Excerpt: Though two major loopholes have since been closed, a third remains; physicists refer to it as “setting independence,” or more provocatively, “free will.” This loophole proposes that a particle detector’s settings may “conspire” with events in the shared causal past of the detectors themselves to determine which properties of the particle to measure — a scenario that, however far-fetched, implies that a physicist running the experiment does not have complete free will in choosing each detector’s setting. Such a scenario would result in biased measurements, suggesting that two particles are correlated more than they actually are, and giving more weight to quantum mechanics than classical physics.
    “It sounds creepy, but people realized that’s a logical possibility that hasn’t been closed yet,” says MIT’s David Kaiser, the Germeshausen Professor of the History of Science and senior lecturer in the Department of Physics. “Before we make the leap to say the equations of quantum theory tell us the world is inescapably crazy and bizarre, have we closed every conceivable logical loophole, even if they may not seem plausible in the world we know today?”
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140220112515.htm

    ,,, that “creepy” and “far-fetched” possibility, which is exactly the “creepy” and “far-fetched” position that atheists themselves hold, has now been closed.

    Anton Zeilinger and company have now pushed the “free-will loophole” back to 7.8 billion years ago using quasars to determine measurement settings.

    Cosmic Bell Test Using Random Measurement Settings from High-Redshift Quasars – Anton Zeilinger – 14 June 2018
    Abstract: In this Letter, we present a cosmic Bell experiment with polarization-entangled photons, in which measurement settings were determined based on real-time measurements of the wavelength of photons from high-redshift quasars, whose light was emitted billions of years ago; the experiment simultaneously ensures locality. Assuming fair sampling for all detected photons and that the wavelength of the quasar photons had not been selectively altered or previewed between emission and detection, we observe statistically significant violation of Bell’s inequality by 9.3 standard deviations, corresponding to an estimated p value of ? 7.4 × 10^21. This experiment pushes back to at least ? 7.8 Gyr ago the most recent time by which any local-realist influences could have exploited the “freedom-of-choice” loophole to engineer the observed Bell violation, excluding any such mechanism from 96% of the space-time volume of the past light cone of our experiment, extending from the big bang to today.
    https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.121.080403

    Moreover, here is another recent interesting experiment by Anton Zeilinger, (and about 70 other researchers), that insured the complete independence of measurement settings in a Bell test from the free will choices of 100,000 human participants instead of having a physical randomizer determine measurement settings.

    Challenging local realism with human choices – A. Zeilinger – 20 May 2018
    Abstract: A Bell test, which challenges the philosophical worldview of local realism against experimental observations, is a randomized trial requiring spatially-distributed entanglement, fast and high-efficiency detection, and unpredictable measurement settings. While technology can perfect the first two of these, and while technological randomness sources enable device-independent protocols based on Bell inequality violation, challenging local realism using physical randomizers inevitably makes assumptions about the same physics one aims to test. Bell himself noted this weakness of physical setting choices and argued that human free will could rigorously be used to assure unpredictability in Bell tests. Here we report a suite of local realism tests using human choices, avoiding assumptions about predictability in physics. We recruited ~100,000 human participants to play an online video game that incentivizes fast, sustained input of unpredictable bits while also illustrating Bell test methodology. The participants generated 97,347,490 binary choices, which were directed via a scalable web platform to twelve laboratories on five continents, in which 13 experiments tested local realism using photons, single atoms, atomic ensembles, and superconducting devices. Over a 12-hour period on the 30 Nov. 2016, participants worldwide provided a sustained flow of over 1000 bits/s to the experiments, which used different human-generated bits to choose each measurement setting. The observed correlations strongly contradict local realism and other realist positions in bi-partite and tri-partite scenarios. Project outcomes include closing of the freedom-of-choice loophole, gamification of statistical and quantum non-locality concepts, new methods for quantum-secured communications, a very large dataset of human-generated randomness, and networking techniques for global participation in experimental science.
    https://arxiv.org/abs/1805.04431

    As well, Contexuality and/or the Kochen-Speckter Theorem, now confirm the reality of free will within quantum mechanics.

    With contextuality we find, “In the quantum world, the property that you discover through measurement is not the property that the system actually had prior to the measurement process. What you observe necessarily depends on how you carried out the observation” and “Measurement outcomes depend on all the other measurements that are performed – the full context of the experiment. Contextuality means that quantum measurements can not be thought of as simply revealing some pre-existing properties of the system under study. ”

    Contextuality is ‘magic ingredient’ for quantum computing – June 11, 2012
    Excerpt: Contextuality was first recognized as a feature of quantum theory almost 50 years ago. The theory showed that it was impossible to explain measurements on quantum systems in the same way as classical systems.
    In the classical world, measurements simply reveal properties that the system had, such as colour, prior to the measurement. In the quantum world, the property that you discover through measurement is not the property that the system actually had prior to the measurement process. What you observe necessarily depends on how you carried out the observation.
    Imagine turning over a playing card. It will be either a red suit or a black suit – a two-outcome measurement. Now imagine nine playing cards laid out in a grid with three rows and three columns. Quantum mechanics predicts something that seems contradictory – there must be an even number of red cards in every row and an odd number of red cards in every column. Try to draw a grid that obeys these rules and you will find it impossible. It’s because quantum measurements cannot be interpreted as merely revealing a pre-existing property in the same way that flipping a card reveals a red or black suit.
    Measurement outcomes depend on all the other measurements that are performed – the full context of the experiment.
    Contextuality means that quantum measurements can not be thought of as simply revealing some pre-existing properties of the system under study. That’s part of the weirdness of quantum mechanics.
    http://phys.org/news/2014-06-w.....antum.html

    And with the Kochen-Speckter Theorem we find, as leading experimental physicist Anton Zeilinger states in the following video, what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”

    “The Kochen-Speckter Theorem talks about properties of one system only. So we know that we cannot assume – to put it precisely, we know that it is wrong to assume that the features of a system, which we observe in a measurement exist prior to measurement. Not always. I mean in a certain cases. So in a sense, what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”
    Anton Zeilinger –
    Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism – video (7:17 minute mark)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=4C5pq7W5yRM#t=437

    And since free will is a entirely Theistic presupposition,,,

    Free will: a source totally detached from matter (detached from nature) which is the origin (cause) of options, thoughts, feelings,… That is, the absence of (natural) laws, the existence of an “autonomous mind”, i.e. a principium individuationis.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    ,,, And since free will is a entirely Theistic presupposition, then, of course, verifying the reality of free will at such a fundamental level of reality empirically verifies the Christians’ contention that the Mind of God created, and sustains, this universe.

    Moreover, allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics, as the Christian founders of modern science originally envisioned, and as quantum mechanics itself now empirically demands, provides a very plausible resolution for the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ in that Christ’s resurrection from the dead provides an empirically backed reconciliation, via the Shroud of Turin, between quantum mechanics and general relativity into that quote unquote ‘Theory of Everything”

    Copernican Principle, Agent Causality, and Jesus Christ as the “Theory of Everything”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NziDraiPiOw

    Shroud of Turin: From discovery of Photographic Negative, to 3D Information, to Hologram
    https://youtu.be/F-TL4QOCiis

    The absorbed energy in the Shroud body image formation appears as contributed by discrete (quantum) values – Giovanni Fazio, Giuseppe Mandaglio – 2008
    Excerpt: This result means that the optical density distribution,, can not be attributed at the absorbed energy described in the framework of the classical physics model. It is, in fact, necessary to hypothesize a absorption by discrete values of the energy where the ‘quantum’ is equal to the one necessary to yellow one fibril.
    http://cab.unime.it/journals/i.....802004/271

    Astonishing discovery at Christ’s tomb supports Turin Shroud – NOV 26TH 2016
    Excerpt: The first attempts made to reproduce the face on the Shroud by radiation, used a CO2 laser which produced an image on a linen fabric that is similar at a macroscopic level. However, microscopic analysis showed a coloring that is too deep and many charred linen threads, features that are incompatible with the Shroud image. Instead, the results of ENEA “show that a short and intense burst of VUV directional radiation can color a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin, including shades of color, the surface color of the fibrils of the outer linen fabric, and the absence of fluorescence”.
    ‘However, Enea scientists warn, “it should be noted that the total power of VUV radiations required to instantly color the surface of linen that corresponds to a human of average height, body surface area equal to = 2000 MW/cm2 17000 cm2 = 34 thousand billion watts makes it impractical today to reproduce the entire Shroud image using a single laser excimer, since this power cannot be produced by any VUV light source built to date (the most powerful available on the market come to several billion watts )”.
    Comment
    The ENEA study of the Holy Shroud of Turin concluded that it would take 34 Thousand Billion Watts of VUV radiations to make the image on the shroud. This output of electromagnetic energy remains beyond human technology.
    https://www.ewtn.co.uk/news/latest/astonishing-discovery-at-christ-s-tomb-supports-turin-shroud

    Particle Radiation from the Body – July 2012 – M. Antonacci, A. C. Lind
    Excerpt: The Shroud’s frontal and dorsal body images are encoded with the same amount of intensity, independent of any pressure or weight from the body. The bottom part of the cloth (containing the dorsal image) would have born all the weight of the man’s supine body, yet the dorsal image is not encoded with a greater amount of intensity than the frontal image. Radiation coming from the body would not only explain this feature, but also the left/right and light/dark reversals found on the cloth’s frontal and dorsal body images.
    http://www.academicjournals.or.....onacci.pdf

    Besides the empirical verification of ‘free will’ and/or Agent causality within quantum theory bringing that rather startling solution to the much sought after ‘theory of everything’, there is also a fairly drastic implication for individual people being “brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level” as well.

    Although free will is often thought of as allowing someone to choose between a veritable infinity of options, in a theistic view of reality that veritable infinity of options all boils down to just two options. Eternal life, (infinity if you will), with God, or Eternal life, (infinity again if you will), without God. C.S. Lewis states the situation as such:

    “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.”
    – C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

    And exactly as would be a priori expected on the Christian view of reality, we find two very different eternities in reality. An ‘infinitely destructive’ eternity associated with General Relativity and a extremely orderly eternity associated with Special Relativity:

    Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Christianity – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4QDy1Soolo

    Again, the implications for individual humans are fairly drastic, i.e. you are literally choosing between eternal life with God or eternal death separated from God:

    Verse:

    Deuteronomy 30:19-20
    This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    Because of such dire consequences for our eternal souls, I can only plead for atheists to seriously reconsider their choice to reject God, and to now choose life, even eternal life with God, instead of eternal death.

    Turin Shroud Hologram Reveals The Words “The Lamb” – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tmka1l8GAQ

    John 5:24
    Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

  3. 3
    EricMH says:

    @BA, how do you empirically detect agent causality?

  4. 4
    Ed George says:

    EricMH

    @BA, how do you empirically detect agent causality?

    With a “Divining” rod, of course. 🙂

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    EricMH, well, as was already referenced, in neuroscience, via Libet and others, free will was detected by “the ability to veto an unconscious urge to act.”

    Michael Egnor: Is free will a dangerous myth? – October 6, 2018
    Excerpt:,,, an objective review of the neuroscientific evidence unequivocally supports the existence of free will. The first neuroscientist to map the brains of conscious subjects, Wilder Penfield, noted that there is an immaterial power of volition in the human mind that he could not stimulate with electrodes. The pioneer in the neuroscience of free will was Benjamin Libet, who demonstrated clearly that, while there is an unconscious material predisposition to acts as shown by electrical brain activity, we retain an immaterial “free won’t,” which is the ability to veto an unconscious urge to act. Many experiments have followed on Libet’s work, most of which use fMRI imaging of brain activity. They all confirm Libet’s observations by showing what is at most a loose correlation between brain activity and volition (for example, nearly half the time the brain activity that precedes the act is on the wrong side of the brain for the activity to determine the will)—the looseness of correlation being best explained as evidence for libertarian free will. Modern neuroscience clearly demonstrates an immaterial component to volition.
    Harari is wrong about free will. It is not a myth. Free will is a real and fundamental aspect of being human, and the denial of free will is junk science and self-refuting logical nonsense.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/michael-egnor-is-free-will-a-dangerous-myth/

    Moreover, despite the widespread false belief on the internet that Libet himself supported a ‘deterministic brain’, the fact of the matter is that “Libet himself was a strong defender of free will, and he interpreted his own experiments as validating free will.” In fact, “Libet even observed that his experimental confirmation of free will accorded with the traditional religious understanding of free will”

    Do Benjamin Libet’s Experiments Show that Free Will Is an Illusion? – Michael Egnor – January 15, 2014
    Excerpt: Materialists often invoke the experiments of Benjamin Libet when they deny free will.,,,
    (Yet) Libet himself was a strong defender of free will, and he interpreted his own experiments as validating free will. He noted that his subjects often vetoed the unconscious “decision” after the readiness potential appeared.
    ,,,”The role of conscious free will would be, then, not to initiate a voluntary act, but rather to control whether the act takes place. We may view the unconscious initiatives for voluntary actions as ‘bubbling up’ in the brain. The conscious-will then selects which of these initiatives may go forward to an action or which ones to veto and abort, with no act appearing.” – Libet
    Libet even observed that his experimental confirmation of free will accorded with the traditional religious understanding of free will:,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....81171.html

    Moreover, the experimental work of Libet, that materialists have often erroneously invoked to supposedly support their atheistic belief in a ‘deterministic brain’, has now been reexamined in finer experimental detail and found to be contrary to the deterministic claims that atheists had placed on Libet’s experimental work:

    As the following researcher stated “A person’s decisions are not at the mercy of unconscious and early brain waves. They are able to actively intervene in the decision-making process and interrupt a movement,” says Prof. Haynes. “Previously people have used the preparatory brain signals to argue against free will. Our study now shows that the freedom is much less limited than previously thought.

    Do we have free will? Researchers test mechanisms involved in decision-making – January 4, 2016
    Excerpt: Back (in the 1980s), the American researcher Benjamin Libet studied the nature of cerebral processes of study participants during conscious decision-making. He demonstrated that conscious decisions were initiated by unconscious brain processes, and that a wave of brain activity referred to as a ‘readiness potential’ could be recorded even before the subject had made a conscious decision.
    ,,, Until now, the existence of such preparatory brain processes has been regarded as evidence of ‘determinism’, according to which free will is nothing but an illusion, meaning our decisions are initiated by unconscious brain processes, and not by our ‘conscious self’. ,,,
    Using state-of-the-art measurement techniques, the researchers tested whether people are able to stop planned movements once the readiness potential for a movement has been triggered.
    “The aim of our research was to find out whether the presence of early brain waves means that further decision-making is automatic and not under conscious control, or whether the person can still cancel the decision, i.e. use a ‘veto’,” explains Prof. Haynes. ,,,
    “A person’s decisions are not at the mercy of unconscious and early brain waves. They are able to actively intervene in the decision-making process and interrupt a movement,” says Prof. Haynes. “Previously people have used the preparatory brain signals to argue against free will. Our study now shows that the freedom is much less limited than previously thought.
    http://m.medicalxpress.com/new.....aking.html

    And in quantum mechanics, as was also already referenced, besides the closing of the ‘free will-loophole’, free will is ‘detected’ by Contextuality and the Kochen-Speckter Theorem,,,

    For instance, with the Kochen-Speckter Theorem we find, as leading experimental physicist Anton Zeilinger states in the following video, what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”

    “The Kochen-Speckter Theorem talks about properties of one system only. So we know that we cannot assume – to put it precisely, we know that it is wrong to assume that the features of a system, which we observe in a measurement exist prior to measurement. Not always. I mean in a certain cases. So in a sense, what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”
    Anton Zeilinger –
    Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism – video (7:17 minute mark)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=4C5pq7W5yRM#t=437

    Also note that Antoine Suarez holds that free will and consciousness should be considered axioms within quantum mechanics and also “cites the Free Will Theorem of John Conway and Simon Kochen as making free will an axiom (within quantum mechanics), without which science itself could not proceed.”

    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…
    – per Big Questions Online

    The free will theorem of John H. Conway and Simon B. Kochen…

    Since the free will theorem applies to any arbitrary physical theory consistent with the axioms, it would not even be possible to place the information into the universe’s past in an ad hoc way. The argument proceeds from the Kochen-Specker theorem, which shows that the result of any individual measurement of spin was not fixed (pre-determined) independently of the choice of measurements.
    https://uncommondescent.com/philosophy/suarez-quantum-nonlocal-correlations-come-from-outside-space-time/

    Further clarification of free will:
    Free will: a source totally detached from matter (detached from nature) which is the origin (cause) of options, thoughts, feelings,… That is, the absence of (natural) laws, the existence of an “autonomous mind”, i.e. a principium individuationis.

    Moreover, besides this empirical confirmation of the reality of free will, to deny free will, as atheists do, is to commit intellectual suicide.

    That is to say, the denial of free will undermines any claim from atheists that they are making a logically coherent argument in the first place,

    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

    Yet, despite the fact that the denial of free will is blatantly self-refuting (in fact, it should be the very definition of a self refuting argument!), atheists continue to deny the existence of free will since to allow otherwise is to ‘allow a divine foot in the door’.

    Luckily science itself could care less how atheists would prefer the world to behave.

    In short, the referenced experiments validating the reality of free will in neuroscience and quantum mechanics, restores sanity back to science by undermining the atheist’s supposed ground rule for science, i.-e. ‘methodological naturalism’ which had denied the reality of free will.

  6. 6
    EricMH says:

    @BA77, I guess another way to ask my question, is it in theory possible to make a machine whose actions to an external observer are indistinguishable from agent causality?

  7. 7
    OldAndrew says:

    One of my main criticisms of methodological naturalism is that the word “naturalism” seems to not have any real content. It merely means “whatever the author wants to include in science” and non-naturalism means “whatever the author doesn’t want to include in science”.

    This is also my observation. If we say that a thing has the characteristics of being designed, it’s often asserted that it’s an appeal to something non-natural, as if unknown = unnatural. But when the movement of galaxies appears to influenced by otherwise undetectable “dark matter”, that’s not unnatural. Why? It’s arbitrary.

    To me that renders the term useless. There’s what we observe and what we don’t observe. Calling something “non-natural” just asserts that we don’t observe it and can’t ever observe it. But we can’t logically say that if something we don’t observe existed, it would be forever unobservable. How could we ever know that?

    Sometimes we infer the existence of what we can’t observe based on effects. We study those effects and try to find what it is that we don’t see. (As an example, we look for planets we don’t see based on observed gravitational effects.) That’s also what ID is (or at least what it’s supposed to be, if one can separate it from the politics and religion it wears like a ball and chain.)

    Calling something “non-natural” is an attempt to short-circuit the process by arbitrarily saying that we can look for some causes but not others. It’s okay to look for dark matter but looking for the designer of a thing arbitrarily isn’t science.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    EricMH as to:

    “is it in theory possible to make a machine whose actions to an external observer are indistinguishable from agent causality?”

    Not according to the law of conservation of information.

    According to the Law of Conservation of information, a machine will never create “surprising’ information above and beyond what was originally programmed into it or what is fed into it by an intelligent agent.

    This is exactly why Dr. Robert Marks proposed the Loveless test instead of the Turing test for supposed machine intelligence:

    The Turing Test Is Dead. Long Live the Lovelace Test.
    Robert J. Marks II – July 3, 2014
    Excerpt: Here are a few others statements expressing doubt about the computer’s ability to create Strong AI.

    “…no operation performed by a computer can create new information.”
    – Douglas G. Robertson

    “The [computing] machine does not create any new information, but it performs a very valuable transformation of known information.”
    – Leon Brillouin

    “Either mathematics is too big for the human mind or the human mind is more than a machine.”
    – Kurt Godel

    and, of course, my favorite:7

    “Computers are no more able to create information than iPods are capable of creating music.”
    – Robert J. Marks II

    The limitations invoked by the law of conservation of information in computer programming have been a fundamental topic of investigation by Winston Ewert, William Dembski and me at the Evolutionary Informatics Lab. We have successfully and repeatedly debunked claims that computer programs simulating evolution are capable of generating information any greater than that intended by the programmer.8,9,10,11,12,13
    https://evolutionnews.org/2014/07/the_turing_test_1/

    It should also be noted that there is a strong correlation between the reality of free will and the ability to create new information:

    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.
    http://cires.colorado.edu/~dou...../info8.pdf

    Of supplemental note:

    Robert Marks: Some Things Computers Will Never Do: Nonalgorithmic Creativity and Unknowability – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cm0s7ag3SEc

    The mathematical world – James Franklin – 7 April 2014
    Excerpt: the intellect (is) immaterial and immortal. If today’s naturalists do not wish to agree with that, there is a challenge for them. ‘Don’t tell me, show me’: build an artificial intelligence system that imitates genuine mathematical insight. There seem to be no promising plans on the drawing board.,,,
    – James Franklin is professor of mathematics at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
    http://aeon.co/magazine/world-.....-be-about/

    The danger of artificial stupidity – Saturday, 28 February 2015
    “Computers lack mathematical insight: in his book The Emperor’s New Mind, the Oxford mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose deployed Gödel’s first incompleteness theorem to argue that, in general, the way mathematicians provide their “unassailable demonstrations” of the truth of certain mathematical assertions is fundamentally non-algorithmic and non-computational”
    http://machineslikeus.com/news.....-stupidity

    None of this should be surprising since information, in its basic essence is, like mathematics, abstract, immaterial, even timeless. It is simply absurd to think that that which is material, and which is temporal, even deterministic, in its basic essence, can create new information which is immaterial and timeless in its basic essence.

  9. 9
    ET says:

    EricMH:

    how do you empirically detect agent causality?

    Start with knowledge of cause and effect relationships. Archaeologists detect agent causality by looking for signs of work. Counterflow refers to that which nature, operating freely, could not or would not have done- Del Ratzsch discusses counterflow in his book Nature, Design, and Science: The Status of Design in Natural Science.

    That book should be required reading for anyone interested in the debate about ID vs blind watchmaker evolution.

    And as Dr Behe said:

    Our ability to be confident of the design of the cilium or intracellular transport rests on the same principles to be confident of the design of anything: the ordering of separate components to achieve an identifiable function that depends sharply on the components.

    Get rid of “methodological naturalism” and use Isaac Newton’s Four Rules of Scientific Reasoning and all will be OK.

  10. 10
    ET says:

    EricMH:

    is it in theory possible to make a machine whose actions to an external observer are indistinguishable from agent causality?

    Yes. We do that now. However all machine actions trace back to their designers.

    bornagain77:

    According to the Law of Conservation of information, a machine will never create “surprising’ information above and beyond what was originally programmed into it or what is fed into it by an intelligent agent.

    OK, but what does that have to do with the question?

    We can write a program for a design of a power amp, for example- a genetic algorithm to produce one. We can then have an electronics engineer design one. Both will be printed out and handed in. I would doubt if anyone who didn’t already know could tell which was which. That would mean that the actions of the computer were indistinguishable from those of the engineer.

  11. 11
    EricMH says:

    @BA77, I believe you are correct on the general point, but I do not know what such a test would look like. How can we measure “creation of new information”? And how can we avoid attributing the creative act to the robot instead of the human, as in ET’s example?

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    EricMH, in the article I referenced, Robert Marks stated this as the test,,,

    The Turing Test Is Dead. Long Live the Lovelace Test.
    Robert J. Marks II – July 3, 2014
    Excerpt: This brings us to the Lovelace test concerning creation of information by a machine (my paraphrase):

    “Strong AI will be demonstrated when a machine’s creativity is beyond the explanation of its creator.”

    Creativity should not be confused with surprise or the lack of an explanation facility. Some of our recent work in evolutionary development of swarming16,17 displays surprising behavior but, in retrospect, the results can be explained by examination of the computer program we wrote. Layered perceptron neural networks18 lack explanation facilities, but behave in the manner the programmer intended. The Lovelace test demands innovation and creativity beyond this level.19 In a Godelian sense, Strong AI must create beyond the developmental level allowed by its foundational axioms.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2014/07/the_turing_test_1/

    And to “create (information) beyond the developmental level allowed by its foundational axioms” brings us back to this:

    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.
    http://cires.colorado.edu/~dou...../info8.pdf

    In other words, the deliberate exercise of free will by an intelligent cause is strongly implicated in the creation of new axiomatic information.

    “the intellect (is) immaterial and immortal. If today’s naturalists do not wish to agree with that, there is a challenge for them. ‘Don’t tell me, show me’: build an artificial intelligence system that imitates genuine mathematical insight. There seem to be no promising plans on the drawing board.,,,”
    – James Franklin is professor of mathematics at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

    If you saw your hypothetical robot creating new axioms and demonstrating genuine mathematical insight, it will have, according to Robert Marks, passed the Lovelace test and you should be very worried that you have now realized Stephen Hawking’s worst nightmares about AI machines becoming our overlords. 🙂

    Supplemental notes:

    podcast – Don’t Raise the White Flag to Our AI Overlords Just Yet – January 22, 2018
    https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/intelligentdesign/episodes/2018-01-22T08_58_45-08_00
    On this episode of ID The Future, computer engineer Robert Marks,,, Yes, computing power doubles every couple of years or so, but Dr. Marks insists that a qualitative gulf separates humans from computers, a difference that no amount of computing power can ever overcome.

    Robert Marks on the Lovelace Test – January 23, 2018,
    Marks explains the Lovelace test which, unlike the better-known Turing test, focuses precisely on this hard limit to what computer algorithms can do. AI cannot, in this sense, truly create.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2018/01/robert-marks-on-the-lovelace-test/

    Eric, since I know this is an area that you are especially interested in, I suggest that you write Dr. Marks personally so as to get a much richer technical explanation of the ‘hard axiomatic limit’ that must be surpassed for AI to pass the Lovelace test.

  13. 13
    Bob O'H says:

    So, his initial mentioning of naturalism is that it excludes all supernatural beings. However, as he goes further, and develops his definition of “naturalism”, he says that,

    an entity x is natural just in case x was created by God

    You might want to quote the full sentence:

    In fact, it seems that theism has a
    rough and ready answer: an entity x is natural just in case x was created by God.

    So (a) he’s saying that this is an answerfrom theism, not himself, and (b) it’s not a good definition: by saying it’s “rough and ready” he’s acknowledging that it could be improved.

    So, while the original point of his paper was to say that methodological naturalism excludes spiritual beings, his actual definition, by his own words, includes them.

    No, the original point of his paper was to discuss methodological naturalism. It’s titled “Why methodological naturalism?”, and the first sentence of the abstract is “I discuss motivations for methodological naturalism in science.”.

  14. 14
    OldAndrew says:

    If science’s aim were to discover all truths, then a theist would certainly think that science ought to say something about God. But science doesn’t aim to discover all truths; it aims to organize facts under general schemata (AIM). And a theist might reasonably think that facts about God aren’t of this sort, and so properly fall outside the domain of scientific systematization.

    I like that.

    Theists might worry that this definition would classify angels as natural entities. My response: so what? As far as I can tell, theism doesn’t need to classify angels as supernatural.

    That’s clever. He seems to be acknowledging the point made in the OP, which is that the way we classify natural and non-natural is arbitrary. He’s just doing it in a way that keeps him out of trouble. Instead of saying that they might be natural, he questions why theists say they aren’t.

    This paper seems diplomatic. He’s explaining why we should be okay with accepting that our religious beliefs aren’t scientific.

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