Theism.net Options: home  |  articles  |  books  |  search  |  webmaster

e-mail: jordantheistDELETETHIS@bellsouth.net

 

e-mail-Mail-Bag

More Dan

Science and Human Resurrection

 

 ---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: "Daniel" <pnpmacknam@email.msn.com
Subject: Holtz
Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 02:11:05 -0800

Excellent work. I just finished reading both your exchange and your debate with Brian Holtz. I'm not particularly into the details of the probability issue in so far as the kinds of hypotheses noted, but I understood what I was reading and I don't know of anything that could be added to reduce the weakness of Holtz's case.  IMO, your case is sound, and Holtz's case is dubious.

But, there is more that can be added to your case, and my specialty here is in the philosophy of physics. Holtz will make any argument so long as he does not have to admit that a human body can be raised from the truly dead. My specialty here concerns the physics/metaphysics of power and of the laws of physics.

In view of the belief that there is no supernatural, we logically have either 1) a set of physical laws that are not reducible to any more fundamental physical laws, or 2) infinite regress of physical laws. If the latter 'logical possibility' is the physical case, then Holtz's argument simply falls apart like a very-well-baked turkey. Nothing can be determined to be physically impossible, nor even improbable. If the human body is the product of a natural, probabilistically functioning evolutionary process beginning at the 'Big Bang', then, if we have an infinite regress of physical laws, it is nothing short of absurd to reject the idea that a human body can *readily* be raised from the truly dead. All that is required is either that an intelligent agent has the technology to do so, or that within the probabilistic physical laws underlying physical life there occurred a variation. (Perhaps the next stage in human evolution is that the human species evolves the capability to raise from the dead. This would certainly be congruent with the human desire to live forever, so that by the simple action of biological evolution, an increasing number of humans begin to exhibit this capability; a person's body becomes truly dead and then, by the evolutionary power vested in that body, the body comes back to life and begins to regenerate itself again.)

As for the former of the two 'logical possibilities' within the atheistic paradigm: that of a fixed set of inviolable physical laws. This, of the two logical possibilities, is the position held by virtually every atheist who can well be said to know anything worth knowing. If there is a truly fixed set of physical laws, such that these laws were never not in effect, then we have a direct question of power in the following way.

These laws simply operate. Let me repeat that. These laws simply operate. This means two things if there is no supernatural:  a) nothing is making them operate, b) there is no mechanism by which these laws cause other things and functions to be which are caused by them. That is, these laws constitute an immediate and irreducible power upon the things of which they are directly responsible (and, there surely must be something that is an immediate cause of something else; to deny this would make the logical problem of infinite regress a picnic by comparison).

These laws are in back of the supposed evolution of life, and we have three main options here:

1) physical life began to exist, 2) physical life has always existed on some level and evolves, or 3) physical life exists on a
spectrum such that there is no such thing as non-life in any case. If we suppose the third option (as I might over-simplistically say that some top atheists in the field of Artificial Intelligence would have it), then it is essentially meaningless to say that "a human body was raised from the truly dead": There is no such thing as death. Life is an irreducible fundamental of all existence. But, if we suppose the middle option, then life is again fundamental, but in the sense that it cannot not exist, even though an individual life can become truly non-living. If life is a fundamental in this way, then there is no a priori reason to reject a claimed-historical document that says that an individual life was raised from the non-living. If we suppose the first option, which is the standard option in the secular(ized) world, then there is still no a prior reason for rejecting a claimed-historical document that says that an individual life was raised from the dead: Life is a purely physico-mechanical product of an essentially physico-mechanical reality.

So, where is the reason for why atheists and other secular(ized) people reject the claim that a human was raised from the dead? There is indeed a reason, but it is not found anywhere in physics. We cannot stand to live in continual uncertainty about the objective truths - and thus the objective falsehoods - of the realm of concern that we take to be the ultimate objectifiable realm.

Secular 'science' insists that science is not about truth, but rather about making the 'best conclusions from the current evidence'.  But, the spokesmen for secular science argue as if they have a fixed base from which to object to a stance which happens to be in opposition to this 'best conclusion'. These spokesmen are thus engaged, not in defending science, but in defending what they wish to believe secular 'science' has found to be objectively true and, by implication, what is objectively false.  Their idea of 'science' is the product of the fact that they view themselves as engaged in a sort of criminal trial, in which 'science' is the primary witness.  "The reason" they view themselves in this way is because the traditional theistic side, represented by Judeo-Christianity, views the conflict the same way, except with so-called 'science' as the criminal.

The spokesmen of secular 'science' defend secular 'science' this way because of the nature of secular science itself: secularism.  As I said, we cannot stand to live in continual uncertainty about the objective truths - and thus the objective falsehoods - of the realm of concern that we take to be the ultimate objectifiable realm.  For secular man, this tends to be the
physical realm.  There is no accident in this tendency, for the physical realm is the one realm over which man has dominion.  Spokesmen of secular 'science' have no choice but to wish to be recognized as authoritative in their pronouncements.  In their minds, the 'religious' side is obviously wrong, and everyone must be made to know it.

Many secular 'scientists' think that philosophy, as a realm of concern, is in conflict with doing good 'science'. They think that philosophy prevents a person from being a good scientist---especially if the philosophy is directed at the nature of doing physical science. They think that philosophy is, at best, an impractical, antiquated academic specialty. They think that a person cannot be very scientific unless he is taken out of the deliberate conscious enterprise of philosophy. Unfortunately, many Christians think that philosophy is not only an academic specialty, but that it is a wrong way of thinking. All these ideas are wrong.

While it is indeed possible to take a person out of philosophy, it is impossible to take philosophy out of the person. Philosophy is thinking itself, and thinking about our thinking. Obviously, the better you do this, the better off you are in a world where falsehoods exist. To reject this natural field of study in favor of so-called 'science'---or, for the Christian, in favor of so-called 'spiritual' thinking---is foolishness. It is an act of cutting your intellectual throat, often to bleed to death only over a period of generations. The nature of philosophy can be expressed in the language of chemistry or metallurgy: Philosophy is the effort by a finite mind increasingly better to distinguish, extract, refine, and control the recombination of, the elements of reality; to see the truth for what it is. Some Christians think that secular man had taken an effective monopoly on philosophy. But, this just shows how much they don't know what philosophy is. Secular man may indeed have taken an effective monopoly on the official teaching of the problems of thought, but philosophy is not a special 'academic' way of thinking, no matter by what name secular man calls it or what is the history of the word 'philosophy'.

It was thought that, since the physical world was supposed to be all there is, some physical laws must be inviolable and that, since Christ was felt to be a "religious" myth, death was surely one of these inviolable laws. Once you are dead, you stay dead, period. It thus became thought of as a logical impossibility that a man could be raised from the dead. (There is really no more of a miracle in the fact that a man is raised from the dead than that he is alive to begin with. Both are equally miraculous, or equally non-miraculous) But, ironically, precisely because the physical world knowable to the Adamic mind was supposed to be all there is, it finally had to be asserted that life was a machine and could, in principle, be engineered.

Fallen man has denied God in one or another ways. Of all the ways that man might do this, none is more seductive to him than the 'scientific worldview'. This was the view implicitly held by Adam at his fall, and it underlies all of his (ironic) errors. This view is described as the presumption on the part of man that his one great deliberative power, the ability to dominate the physical world by way of its physical laws, is sufficient to prove all things. If some hypothetical entity cannot be probed or manipulated, then, says man, that entity either does not exist, or could as well not exist.

Prior to the 'Age of Science', man normally rejected God and his laws by way of other gods and their laws. But, now, in what may be the final stage in the relatively uninterrupted human history, the widespread knowledge of the laws of the physical world has allowed man to make explicit the view that he had taken at the very beginning:  that God can be replaced with man. What
began as a view implicitly taken by Adam, resulting in his fall, has come full-circle and been made explicit. Man's God-given dominion nature, mentioned in Genesis 1:28, has now been made the arbiter of all truth-claims. In his own darkened mind, man is now his own master, if only he can find all the mechanisms responsible for everything.

The Adamic mind, once it had fallen to worshipping itself, could no longer see to learn the greatest truths, and is ever searching in the opposite direction. Today, with the 'scientific worldview' in full force, Adam has thoroughly messed up his thinking, and he doesn't even know it. He refuses to consider the nature of his past failures of judgment, so that, ironically, he is ever learning, but never coming to a knowledge of the truth. He is like a blind and deaf old bloodhound who, with nose to the ground, slowly follows the scent one step at a time, while the critter who made the scent trail has come up behind him and is nipping his hind legs trying to make him turn around and see his quarry.

What people fail to understand is that real power is not a thing, but a Person. The reason they fail to even begin to understand what power really is is because they are failing to realize that they are thinking in terms of what they naturally have dominion over. All of atheistic philosophy, and much of philosophy in general, is based on this way of thinking. It is natural for us, but it is not compulsory. A lot of the conflict within the 'philosophical community' stems from the failure to make the distinction whenever the higher way of thinking happens to be used. Worse, some noted secular philosophers so failed to make the distinction within their own thinking that they went insane, assuming that every object of their thinking was an object that they were looking down on from above. Common sense says that what applies in one way to one thing does not necessarily apply in the same way to everything. Every kind and instance of hypocrisy and arbitrariness, whether explicit, implicit, moral, technical, etc., starts and ends here.

In logos,
The real-world Data

 

Daniel

pnpmacknam@email.msn.com

 

From: "Brian Holtz" brian@holtz.org

To: Daniel pnpmacknam@email.msn.com
Cc: "Ed Babinski" ed.babinski@furman.edu
"Steve Locks" slocks@globalnet.co.uk
G._Zeineldé_Jordan
Subject: philosophy of physics
Date: Tue, 28 Jan 2003 01:17:13 –0800

 

Attachment: Pechi.html
        Hi Daniel,

On Jordan's website he says you write:

I'm not particularly into the details of the probability issue in so far as the kinds of hypotheses noted, but I understood what I was reading [..] my specialty here is in the philosophy of physics. Holtz will make any argument so long as he does not have to admit that a human body can be raised from the truly dead.

No, in my essay on gospel probabilities I assign almost a 0.01 probability to the chance that supernaturality explains the gospels. Raising the "truly dead" is a standard trick in supernaturality.  Perhaps you did not read my first sentence, in which I said that few polemicists on either side of this issue "ever admit less than total confidence in their position".  I of course would not write that and then assert total confidence that a human body cannot be "raised from the truly dead".

My specialty here concerns the physics/metaphysics of power and of the laws of physics. In view of the belief that there is no supernatural, we logically have either 1) a set of physical laws that are not reducible to any more fundamental physical laws, or 2) infinite regress of physical laws. If the latter 'logical possibility' is the physical case, then Holtz's argument simply falls apart like a very-well-baked turkey. Nothing can be determined to be physically impossible, nor even improbable.

Metaphysics is nice, but don't forget epistemology. What we're concerned with here is knowledge -- i.e. justified true belief. If you stipulate (in case 2) that reality conspires for us never to have ultimate or even approximate truth, it simply is not the case that we can therefore never have epistemically justified (though wrong) beliefs about relative probabilities. It of course would be (and indeed is) always possible that all of our synthetic knowledge is wildly untrue, but that doesn't make all probability judgments equally justified.

If the human body is the product of a natural, probabilistically functioning evolutionary process beginning at the 'Big Bang', then, if we have an infinite regress of physical laws, it is nothing short of absurd to reject the idea that a human body can *readily* be raised from the truly dead. All that is required is either that an intelligent agent has the technology to do so, or that within the probabilistic physical laws underlying physical life there occurred a variation.

Indeed, and my essay mentions both of these two cases, assigning each a non-zero numerical probability.

As for the former of the two 'logical possibilities' within the atheistic paradigm: that of a fixed set of inviolable physical laws. This, of the two logical possibilities, is the position held by virtually every atheist who can well be said to know anything worth knowing. If there is a truly fixed set of physical laws, such that these laws were never not in effect, then we have a direct question of power in the following way.

These laws simply operate. Let me repeat that. These laws simply operate. This means two things if there is no supernatural:  a) nothing is making them operate, b) there is no mechanism by which these laws cause other things and functions to be which are caused by them. That is, these laws constitute an immediate and irreducible power upon the things of which they are directly responsible

You here make a common mistake. Physical laws are descriptions of -- not causes of -- the regularities in the universe. The fundamental regularities themselves are (so far as we know) brute facts, just as is any fundamental explanation -- such as god(s). The only possible exception is if there were a self-explaining fact or cycle of facts, and that possibility is actually orthogonal to the issue of naturalism vs. supernaturalism -- except inasmuch as supernaturalists usually say they know a self-explaining fact, and naturalists usually say nobody knows any such.

(and, there surely must be something that is an immediate cause of something else; to deny this would make the logical problem of infinite regress a picnic by comparison).

Sorry, but the principle of sufficient cause -- that every event must have a cause -- is not obviously true, as is recognized by metaphysics reference works such as Blackwell's Companion to Metaphysics, "causation", p.82. But here again, epistemology trumps metaphysics (as it has since Descartes) -- a more fundamental analysis is at the level of explanation rather than cause. In his Philosophical Investigations, Nozick gives such an analysis, which I discuss here and here.

So, where is the reason for why atheists and other secular(ized) people reject the claim that a human was raised from the dead? There is indeed a reason, but it is not found anywhere in physics.

Reject the likelihood of a raising, or reject the possibility of a raising? I agree with your argument as to why the possibility is not to be rejected. If you want to know why the likelihood is rejected, the answer is indeed physics, in combination with physiology, history, a little ethics, a little metaphysics, and a lot of epistemology.

We cannot stand to live in continual uncertainty about the objective truths - and thus the objective falsehoods - of the realm of concern that we take to be the ultimate objectifiable realm.

I think the fear of uncertainty explains more about religion than it does about naturalism. But I agree that far too many people lack the training or discipline or courage to deal with what modern philosophy tells us about knowledge and certainty and the problems thereof.

Many secular 'scientists' think that philosophy, as a realm of concern, is in conflict with doing good 'science'. They think that philosophy prevents a person from being a good scientist---especially if the philosophy is directed at the nature of doing physical science. They think that philosophy is, at best, an impractical, antiquated academic specialty. They think that a person cannot be very scientific unless he is taken out of the deliberate conscious enterprise of philosophy. Unfortunately, many Christians think that philosophy is not only an academic specialty, but that it is a wrong way of thinking. All these ideas are wrong.

As I told Jordan: Anyone who thinks of science as an alternative to religion is making a basic mistake. Science is not a worldview, and any "conflict" between science and religion is actually an epistemological conflict between skepticism and faith.

While it is indeed possible to take a person out of philosophy, it is impossible to take philosophy out of the person. Philosophy is thinking itself, and thinking about our thinking.

Well said. The very first paragraph of my book reads:

Philosophy asks the questions:

·         What is existing?

·         What is knowing?

·         What is good?

The first two questions face anyone who cares to distinguish the real from the unreal and the true from the false. The third question faces anyone who makes any decisions at all, and even not deciding is itself a decision. Thus all persons practice philosophy whether they know it or not.

You continue:

Obviously, the better you do this, the better off you are in a world where falsehoods exist. To reject this natural field of study in favor of so-called 'science'---or, for the Christian, in favor of so-called 'spiritual' thinking---is foolishness.

I agree that, as inadvisable as faith is, mysticism is even more insidious, because it is much further from a mindset of objective rationality.

(There is really no more of a miracle in the fact that a man is raised from the dead than that he is alive to begin with. Both are equally miraculous, or equally non-miraculous)

This statement is simply not defensible, except by taking a specious sense of 'miraculous' to mean 'impossible'. They are obviously not equally probable or equally improbable.

But, ironically, precisely because the physical world knowable to the Adamic mind was supposed to be all there is, it finally had to be asserted that life was a machine and could, in principle, be engineered.

I suspect this is ironic only to someone who is trying to reconcile the conclusions of rationality with the cherished belief that rationality is a gift of god(s). To me, there is no "supposed" here (i.e. no evident Design), and non-vitalism/materialism was not really the obvious null hypothesis, but rather a conclusion only recently made justifiable by Darwin.

Fallen man has denied God in one or another ways. Of all the ways that man might do this, none is more seductive to him than the 'scientific worldview'. This was the view implicitly held by Adam at his fall, and it underlies all of his (ironic) errors. This view is described as the presumption on the part of man that his one great deliberative power, the ability to dominate the physical world by way of its physical laws, is sufficient to prove all things.

(See above about science as a worldview.) Anyone who thinks that the human mind "is sufficient to prove all things" is simply ignorant of what we know about minds and their limits.

If some hypothetical entity cannot be probed or manipulated, then, says man, that entity either does not exist, or could as well not exist.

Relax your phrase "be probed or manipulated" to say just "ever have a causal relationship with us", and you have precisely the definition of existence that is dictated by the principle of parsimony. Without such parsimony, you have no way of deciding which of the infinitely many logically possible causally-isolated things exist or don't exist.

The Adamic mind, once it had fallen to worshipping itself, could no longer see to learn the greatest truths, and is ever searching in the opposite direction. Today, with the 'scientific worldview' in full force, Adam has thoroughly messed up his thinking, and he doesn't even know it. He refuses to consider the nature of his past failures of judgment, so that, ironically, he is ever learning, but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.

On the contrary, we've learned enough to know that no mind can know e.g. apodictically certain synthetic truths, or completely objective ethical truths. To believe otherwise is to be an example of someone who "cannot stand to live in continual uncertainty about [..] objective truths".

 

From: "Daniel Pech" pnpmacknam@msn.com
Subject: Re: philosophy of physics2
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 2003 14:25:03 –0800

 

Hi Brian,

 

You wrote:

What we're concerned with here is knowledge -- i.e. justified true belief. [Even i]f you stipulate...that reality conspires for us never to have ultimate or even approximate truth, it simply is not the case that we can therefore never have epistemically justified (though wrong) beliefs about relative probabilities. It of course would be (and indeed is) always possible that all of our synthetic knowledge is wildly untrue, but that doesn't make all probability judgments equally justified.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to me to be be arguing, then, not about any particular thing, but only about the heuristic device called 'probability'. For an example of what I mean, we can have an intersection of two roads that is busy with traffic, and the question be whether an alligator wearing a bright pink bow-tie has walked through this intersection on a particular day. If someone claims, in all severity, that such has occurred, then we are generally bound to admit that it must be true, especially if the person is found, upon much examination, to be trustworthy. For another example, we can have a person named Daniel who is writing these exact words on the West Coast of the USA, in January of 2003 A.D., and the question be whether he is on the phone at the same time.

 

I myself have never seen an alligator walking through any intersection wearing a bright pink bow-tie, nor have I heard of such happening. But, I know it can happen, because I know that each of its elements are physically and logically possible, both separately and together. That is, I have warrant to argue with myself that it can happen, because I grant the logical organization of the things that underlie such a hypothetical occurrence. But, someone who, for some conditioned reason, does not grant all of those same things will be unable to be convinced that such an occurrence is even possible. This is only one very slight example of the problem, and it continues on into the question of 'faith', which I address further below.

 

Physical laws are descriptions of -- not causes of -- the regularities in the universe.

How do you know this? And, how are they not the same thing if there is nothing more basic in existence than whatever-it-is that is the physical foundation of all other phenomenon? I was not referring to known descriptions/laws, I was referring to the very idea (held by metaphysical naturalists) that there is a physical foundation for all phenomenon and from which the stuff of the cosmos became what it is.

 

 supernaturalists usually say they know a self-explaining fact, and naturalists usually say nobody knows any such.

I'm not sure I follow you, but here are some questions:  Suppose that someone, such as a particular naturalist, recognizes that he is incapable, at least for the time being, of looking onto a self-explaining fact from a vantage point either epistemically above it, or equal to it. Does this mean that such a self-explaining fact cannot be known as such to him? Also, if he recognizes that he lacks this epistemic vantage point, then has he no self-explaining fact in the very object of that cognition? Further, if he recognizes that he lacks this vantage point for things outside himself, is he then logically admitting that there is nothing that has aseity; no 'fact' if you will, that is fixed? Finally, if he recognizes that he lacks this vantage point for things outside himself, is he then logically admitting that, assuming there is a fixed fact, he cannot ever identify a fixed fact as such? With no two things alike in the world, we should be unable to reason from our past experience to our future ones. This applies to the present as well. 

 

I, Daniel wrote:

(and, there surely must be something that is an immediate cause of something else; to deny this would make the logical problem of infinite regress a picnic by comparison).

You, Brain, replied:

Sorry, but the principle of sufficient cause -- that every event must have a cause -- is not obviously true,...

I did not say (nor mean) 'everything', nor did I mean to say 'events' when I used the term 'something'. I said "something must be the direct cause of something else". My emphasis is on 'direct'.  I thought that was plain, since I began all this by saying that I'm dealing with the metaphysics of power. And, for what I hope are very obvious (even if left implicit) reasons, I am necessarily dealing, here, with epistemology, too.

 

...epistemology trumps metaphysics (as it has since Descartes) -- a more fundamental analysis is at the level of explanation rather than cause.

Then no explanation has (a) cause(s)?  I'm not sure what you mean here, but tell me if the following is a correct rephrase of your meaning.  'Explanation is more fundamental for understanding things than is any conception of causation.' 

 

I wrote:

 We cannot stand to live in continual uncertainty about the objective truths - and thus the objective falsehoods - of the realm of concern that we take to be the ultimate objectifiable realm.

You replied;

I think the fear of uncertainty explains more about religion than it does about naturalism.

I would be very interested to know, in some detail, how you qualify that statement. Just as there is more than one sense in which the term 'probability' may be used, there is more than one sense of 'uncertainty'.

 

...far too many people lack the training or discipline or courage to deal with what modern philosophy tells us about knowledge and certainty and the problems thereof.

Do you include, perhaps, Wittgenstein's epistemological views? I reply to some of that (complete with the text replied to) <A HREF="http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NewFrontiersinEpistemology/message/51">here.</A> 

 

Anyone who thinks of science as an alternative to religion is making a basic mistake. Science is not a worldview, and any "conflict" between science and religion is actually an epistemological conflict between skepticism and faith.

Science, per se (of the physical world), is something that everyone does, so if that's what you mean, then I agree, science and religion are not alternatives. There is not a person alive who is fundamentally different, in that all have both science and religion (rely-gion), although the term 'religion' is today often used for belief in a supernatural and in a particular set of attendant beliefs. Some people just do a lot more science than others, and some do a lot more thinking about thinking (philosophy) than others. But, physical science has an inseparable philosophical component, and that is what we are debating here. They are two sides of one coin.  

 

...as inadvisable as faith is, mysticism is even more insidious, because it is much further from a mindset of objective rationality.

You had written:

 

>>Faith is belief based on revelation and exempt from doubt.<<

 

Jordan wrote:

 

>>...Holtz presumes non-resurrection.<<

 

If  1)the evidence known to a given person (call him P) that he believes bears on a given case   2)seems to him to compel conclusion x   3)while he would otherwise conclude y,   4)then this person shall conclude x   5)unless he holds paradigm PM where PM  is contrary to x.

 

Unless you wish to maintain an essentially arbitrary definition of 'faith', PM is a case of faith on the part of P.  If I have to give you some real-world examples of how this works, and the various results depending on what PM is, then so be it, but that will then be for another reply.

 

There is not a single person alive who is fundamentally different in regards to their epistemological makeup. Nobody is devoid of faith, for faith is a belief in something or someone as the foundation for all matters of dispute and doubt (even if the person recognizes that he does not fully understand that thing or that someone). But, there is no foundation that is incapable of being doubted by the one who, for whatever reason, is determined to stand on it. The manner and extent to which a person's foundation is exempt from doubt on his part is entirely relative to how well he understands himself in relation to it. I myself readily doubt every major position, and every problem from every position, simply because I cannot help but see cognitive loopholes in all of them. Yet, I know that I see these loopholes as such only because I do not have a thorough and exhaustive grasp of every detail of every problem. I have learned that this is the cause of seeing these loopholes as such because I can see, at every turn, what I had once thought (and failed to recognize) and what I now understand. I use my understanding of how I am not the foundation to understand what is the foundation. I do not, and cannot, have an epistemological vantage point higher than what I had implicitly to begin with, but I can deal with problems as I do because I reject words as my master. I make them serve me. Finding important truths is like trying to follow complex dance instructions given over the phone, and the mind has an indefinite number of arms.

 

On the one hand you seem to choose, for your foundation, that thing which is not even solid, namely knowledge of the third-person phenomenological world, otherwise known as the physical world. On the other hand you seem to deny that foundation in favor of epistemology, which is distinctly about reason and not purely about your own observations of the physical world.

 

The essential value of the first of these two 'foundations' is the positivistic:  "I see, therefore I know and, the more I see, the more I know." If something, E, is not first suspected by P to exist, or be possible, by prior physical and, or, logical observation, then any assertion that E exists, or has occurred, is first charged as ludicrous by P because P is predisposed against E.  (E doesn't even have to be anything to do with the supernatural and, in most cases of this philosophical grossness, is not.) Only later may P admit that E is plausible because, in so many cases, to deny the plausibility of E would conflict with the conviction that what is seen still makes any inherent and knowable sense.

 

But, the issue is not whether what is seen makes inherent sense, but what sense it really makes. Like upstart fox hunters with only ropes and sticks, in hoping to run down what they feel sure is a philosophical fox, people tend to chase what is actually the cub of a very big and very mad mother bear. She does not forgive. Thankfully, implicit philosophical hypocrisy is not directly fatal, although this makes its case-lesson so easy to fail to learn, and to fail to teach the next generation to avoid.

 

I wrote:

(There is really no more of a miracle in the fact that a man is raised from the dead than that he is alive to begin with. Both are equally miraculous, or equally non-miraculous)

You replied:

This statement is simply not defensible, except by taking a specious sense of 'miraculous' to mean 'impossible'. They are obviously not equally probable or equally improbable.

By 'miraculous', I do not have in mind the idea of impossibility, nor even your more-or-less positivistic notion of probability, but only the idea of power, and the existence of that power. Whatever can be made to move up from an objective point of function (unlike relativistic and empty motion) can be made to move back down, and back up again. The power involved in the process of deterioration of a human body, all the way to final death, is of equal power to that which was originally required to develop that body, from the occurrence of conception to the functional prime of life. To deny that this is the case would pose a problem for how such a denial can be physically argued, which would be a problem unique in all of theoretical physics. Will you even assert (much more argue) that these two power requirements are vastly unequal? If you do think they are unequal, then how unequal do you think they are? Some people in Artificial Intelligence who think that a life can be multiple-ly realized are making the tacit claim that the power here is equal. If the power is equal, then how is raising a body from the truly dead of any greater power? You can simply assert that this is not obviously true, but without an argument to back up that assertion, you have lost this debate. If it can be argued, and readily so, yet I have not seen it. If you can give such an argument, or at least a link to one, I would greatly appreciate it.

 

I wrote:

But, ironically, precisely because the physical world knowable to the Adamic mind was supposed to be all there is, it finally had to be asserted that life was a machine and could, in principle, be engineered.

You replied:

I suspect this is ironic only to someone who is trying to reconcile the conclusions of rationality with the cherished belief that rationality is a gift of god(s).

I'm not sure what you mean.

 

To me, there is no "supposed" here (i.e. no evident Design), and non-vitalism/materialism was not really the obvious null hypothesis, but rather a conclusion only recently made justifiable by Darwin.

 

While this debate is not about design and evolutionism, I strongly recommend you read an article entitled:

Evolution's Logic of Credulity:
An Unfettered Response to Allen Orr

which can be viewed at  http://www.designinference.com/documents/2002.12.Unfettered_Resp_to_Orr.htm

 

I wrote:

Fallen man has denied God in one or another ways. Of all the ways that man might do this, none is more seductive to him than the 'scientific worldview'. This was the view implicitly held by Adam at his fall, and it underlies all of his (ironic) errors. This view is described as the presumption on the part of man that his one great deliberative power, the ability to dominate the physical world by way of its physical laws, is sufficient to prove all things.

You replied:

Anyone who thinks that the human mind "is sufficient to prove all things" is simply ignorant of what we know about minds and their limits.

 

One, when I refer to 'scientific worldview', I do not mean simply positivism, I mean the particular implicit notion of objective rationality that is paired with. Two, when I charge this 'scientific worldview' with the presumption on the part of its more-or-less adherents (no one can actually adhere to it purely in practice) that it "is sufficient to prove all things", I do not mean "sufficient to resolve all disputes", but rather "sufficient to prove worth disputing what is really worth disputing" in the sense of non-culpability before an objective God for rejecting Him in favor of the "best proofs of science". The foundation of supernatural-based religions is simply the view that belief in a particular supernatural entity is the wisest belief. There is no one who is not ultimately concerned with the problem of what is the wisest and best belief or set of beliefs, (including ways of life), either given a particular set of recognized evidences, or for all time.

 

I wrote:

If some hypothetical entity cannot be probed or manipulated, then, says man, that entity either does not exist, or could as well not exist.

You replied:

Relax your phrase "be probed or manipulated" to say just "ever have a causal relationship with us", and you have precisely the definition of existence that is dictated by the principle of parsimony. Without such parsimony, you have no way of deciding which of the infinitely many logically possible causally-isolated things exist or don't exist.

How does this parsimony relate to the problem of an objective entity of any kind? Failure to identify such an entity as such does not mean that such an entity has no causal relationship to us. And, if you grant that there is a great problem in epistemology, then how are you not as an algorithm to its axiom? Can an algorithm prove its own axiom as such? You logically admit either that there must be an axiom of all existence (and that your argument can be wrong), or that you are arguing in vain in any case.

...no mind can know e.g. apodictically certain synthetic truths, or completely objective ethical truths. To believe otherwise is to be an example of someone who "cannot stand to live in continual uncertainty about [..] objective truths".

One, I do not live in uncertainty about what are at least some of the objective ethical and logical truths, even though these and others I do not cognize so dogmatically that I ever fail to see how I may not understand them fully in as far as their relationships to the current world (refer to my reply, mentioned above, which I gave to some of Wittgenstein's epistemological problems in ethics. Judging by your replies, I get the impression that you tend to mistake all Christians as holding to the 'revealed' "straight and narrow path" of "the simple truth" with a simple, narrow mind.  I, for one, have plenty of hard words to say to many Christians on that account (see, for example http://www.home-ed.vic.edu.au/Resources/curriculum_of_necessity.htm )All the world is alike in its motive to destroy (directly, or by way of suppression) much actual good in an effort to gain what it perceives as a much higher potential good. Contrary to atheist spokesman Richard Dawkins, this exact motive for the 9/11 attack in NYC is not unique to 'religion'. It occurs whenever and wherever there is conflict. The greater is the thing at issue, the more sure is this motive to be present, whether in economic, social, military, or political form.

 

According to a reading of the Bible, in which the reading is based on the principles of common sense, there was, at one time, no Bible. The "Divine Command Theory" of the foundation of ethics is wrong, but so, in my view, is the diametrically opposed theory, namely Neo-Darwinism. If I can get one last word in here on the nature of high problems like this, where there are two opposites and few on the correct side can cleanly see to the center because they are so concerned to defend their side, then I would explain something (but not everything, for not burdening you with too much to read) the "paradox of omnipotence" (assuming you do not know much about it already). I do this in the hope of showing you how a given matter has an irreducibly complex set of fundamentals that must be realized before any general conclusion upon the matter can be beyond "rational" criticism (sometimes-rational criticism made by the correct side against the conclusion of other view, and seemingly fully rational criticism made by the incorrect side). I hope you find it humorous:

 

 

In the attempt to prove that a true God does not exist, a person asks the classic (or very worn) "rock" question:

"Can God, who is supposed to be omnipotent and therefore worthy of our highest consideration, make a rock too heavy for Him to lift?"

 

The fact is, if this logically anti-qualified 'omnipotence' exists, then it cannot be disproved.......unless it wants to be. Any sense of 'limit' which one unwittingly poses for it, it can simply violate. In fact, it can even make itself more powerful than this. But, also, to assert that this "omnipotence" can do something (even lift a marble) is itself a limit upon this "omnipotence" (you may have to think awhile in order to see how this is). But, if such an "omnipotence" existed at one time, then it has obviously long since made things other than itself inherently meaningful. Such as itself.

The wife-beating question is a good comparison:

In Loony Toons County, someone has falsely accused Mr. Smith of beating his wife, whereupon he is wizzed bodily into Loony Toons County Court and thrown immediately into the witness stand. No sooner has he landed on the seat in a
shocked daze than the Court Clerk-cum-Prosecuting Attorney grabs his left hand, slaps it onto a Bible, and mutters a swear-in on behalf of Smith. That done, the Prosecuting Attorney now glowers down at Smith and asks, in a booming voice:

"Mr. Smith, have you, or have you not, stopped beating your wife?!"

Smith replies: "No! I mean yes! I mean...."

Poor stupid Mr. Smith is now thoroughly confused and, after a moment of pure metal anguish at this awful dilemma, blurts out in desperation:

"I throw myself on the mercy of the court! I plead insanity!"

At the start, the person who wished to disprove omnipotence had assumed all along that logic is epistemically distinct from power. But, then, he actually believed that logic requires that the concept of omnipotence be this imagined notion of "omnipotence"  (the ultimate imaginable power). In believing this, he had then put the shoe on the other foot---and backwards. So, when he then concluded that logic proves that this "omnipotence" is logically impossible, all he had actually accomplished was to prove that his own conception was in error. But, he remains a fool to the fact, so he insists that he has conducted an objective test upon the property of omnipotence. He is educated beyond his intelligence in the nature of this thing that he calls "logic'. Logic is no thing at all.

The classic rock question presents a "power" that has the "power" to do something which this first "power" then lacks the power to undo. But, if this is, by definition, a property of omnipotence, then all finite beings are, by definition, half-omnipotent (the other half being the "power" to change truth). The reason this person makes this mistake is because he assumes that logic as a thing in itself. It is not. If a similar problem were posed against logic in the court of power, power would seem to win (think how this could be done: one small example: the fact of gravity is causing you to fall to your death, and yet this (logical) fact cannot overcome the power of gravity, no matter how much you grant this fact). So, which is it? Is power the King? Or, is logic the King? The simple fact is that even if we could find---or even invent---a neutral standard to judge between these two in this foolish contest, we could never determine which one would win.


Another reason why this person would think to have correctly conceived of omnipotence is because he imagines that otherwise God is ruled over by logic and is thus not all-powerful. He has posed a false dichotomy of an ultimate kind, partly because he thinks that logic is his own native tool, even though he fails it and then later realizes this, and then goes on merrily as if there are no more gorillas in the jungle waiting to twist him in half. He thinks either that God has the power to make/violate truth, or that truth is in some way prior to and, or, more powerful than, God. This is nonsense. The classic rock question is not a question at all, it is two conflicting identities put together to form what seems to be a question and, as such, does not, as a "whole question",  identify anything. Logical reality cannot require a conception which logical reality denies can exist. It's not a conception, for there is nothing being conceived.

But, the stupidity of the "omnipotence paradox" is hardly limited to questions aimed at God.  For one of at least several hundred examples, how about a person who is an "omniprocrastinator"? Does such a person ever stop accomplishing things, or what does he do or not do? LOL :-) 

 

Although it is not automatically observed, it is recognized as common sense that what applies in one way to one thing does not necessarily apply in the same way to all things. This is where all hypocrisy starts and ends. Then again, sometimes we take what is really a mixture between truth and fallacy as a whole truth and, at other times, reject it as a whole fallacy. Some of the best learning you can ever do is the result of hunting for your hidden assumptions. That is, you are your own best and most important subject of study, because you are your only tool for studying anything else; the better you know your tool, the better you know your subject. If a false answer to an objective problem seems at least partially satisfactory to a person, then he is in danger of thinking that it is the correct answer. This will be especially the case if he dislikes what he assumes are all the alternatives.  A greater danger arises when there are a sufficient number of these errors in his mind in regard to a given more broad problem: he will be ready to accept a major ideological fallacy. How major the fallacy will be depends on the problem in question.

 

Outside of the purpose of leading you to learn of all the common sense principles of a thing, critical thought has no value. In determining that they flawlessly know the basic truth of something that is false, people tend to bungle their own understanding in their very concern to oppose someone else's errors---even if that particular someone isn't making it. If you are predisposed to reject a thing, and are ignorant of many of the fundamental common sense principles of it, then Occam's Razor will cut you into two or more pieces, leaving valuable pieces to remain unknown to you until you smash into them, like that mother bear.

 

From: "Daniel Pech" pnpmacknam@msn.com

Subject: Re: philosophy of physics3
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 2003 14:25:20 –0800

 

P: you seem to me to be be arguing, then, not about any particular thing, but only about the heuristic device called 'probability'. For an example of what I mean,

 H: I'm sorry, but I don't know what you mean, and I don't understand your example.

It has to do with the particular concept of 'probability' that you are arguing. The particular concept of 'probability' that I meant to show in the examples I gave is that of a simple heuristic device, where all options are meaningless occurances, the probability of each option being defined in advance. But there are two problems here:

 

First, if you assign no options of a set with 0 probability, then you admit that they all are purely possible. But, if, at the same time, you know of no way that a particular option is possible, then you have no way of knowing what probability to assign to that option.

 

Second, if you believe that you know of only a small fraction of what can be known of the way(s) that that option is possible, then there is a regressive probability problem: there is a proportionality in the probability that any probability-value that you assign to that option will be correct.

 

Only if you believe that a given option has zero probability are you free from having to address either of these problems.

 H: Physical laws are descriptions of -- not causes of -- the regularities in the universe.

P: How do you know this?

H: (It's analytic knowledge, not synthetic.) Parsimony. Without it, you could make up an infinite regress of causes for your causes, none of which add any power or scope to your explanation.

I'm not sure what you mean. Are you saying that there are no causes for anything?

 

P: And, how are they not the same thing?

H: That's a valid way to use the terms, but then causation even more obviously vanishes -- just as unmarried maleness does not "cause" bachelorhood.

If I light a match in a tank of gasoline fumes and the fumes ignite, is the fact that the fumes have ignited a random fact, or has the flame caused the fumes to ignite? If every cause is properly reduced, in our minds, to a description of events, and nothing properly understood as causing anything, then it seems to me we are left with a meaningless set of infinite options, in which case no true knowledge is possible, no heuristic warrant is possible, and the very principle of valid deduction is an illusion.

 H: supernaturalists usually say they know a self-explaining fact, and naturalists usually say nobody knows any such.

P: I'm not sure I follow you

H: Supernaturalists usually say God is self-causing and self-explaining.

What is 'God'?

 

P: Suppose that someone, such as a particular naturalist, recognizes that he is incapable, at least for the time being, of looking onto a self-explaining fact from a vantage point either epistemically above it, or equal to it. Does this mean that such a self-explaining fact cannot be known as such to him? Also, if he recognizes that he lacks this epistemic vantage point, then has he no self-explaining fact in the very object of that cognition? Further, if he recognizes that he lacks this vantage point for things outside himself, is he then logically admitting that there is nothing that has aseity?

H: I don't know what you mean by "epistemic vantage point".  It seems possible that aseity (or a self-explaining fact) could obtain/exist without a particular naturalist recognizing it as such. So?

To see the idea of an 'epistemic vantage point', you need to see the idea of 'foundation'.

 

There are two main options for a 'foundation', that is, for an entity/entities that has/have 'se existence':

 

A)actual physical infinity, by infinite regress of things that comprise, or are in some sense responsible for, one or more of all other things ('things' here in either case being time, matter, motion, qualia, cognition, quantity, etc.)  or  

 

B)actual physical finity

 

C)Apart from the problem of infinity/finity, there is a third main option:  nothing is the foundation for anything (this is with or without any actual physical infinity).

 

Now, for the 'epistemic vantage point'. In any one of these cases for a 'foundation', there are two options: 1)you are that 'foundation'  2)you are not that 'foundation'.  If you are not that foundation, then your epistemic vantage point of that 'foundation' is necessarily from 'below' it (sorry for the confusion of terms), looking up at it as you would at a moon that you inherently cannot reach (I have to use some illustration of 'epistemically below').

 

P: (and, there surely must be something that is an immediate cause of something else; to deny this would make the logical problem of infinite regress a picnic by comparison).

H: the principle of sufficient cause -- that every event must have a cause -- is not obviously true,...

P: I did not say (nor mean) 'everything', nor did I mean to say 'events' when I used the term 'something'. I said "something must be the direct cause of something else". My emphasis is on 'direct'.  I thought that was plain, since I began all this by saying that I'm dealing with the metaphysics of power. And, for what I hope are very obvious (even if left implicit) reasons, I am necessarily dealing, here, with epistemology, too.

H: I don't see how my point is answered by any of your invocations of directness, power, or epistemology. Why must any thing (event? fact? what?) have a "direct cause"?

See option C above.

 

H: a more fundamental analysis is at the level of explanation rather than cause.

D: Then no explanation has (a) cause(s)?  I'm not sure what you mean here, but tell me if the following is a correct rephrase of your meaning.  'Explanation is more fundamental for understanding things than is any conception of causation.'

H: No, what I'm saying is that, for our purposes (viz., of answering "why?" questions), the concept of an explanation generalizes the concept of a cause.

Not sufficient. See 'epistemic vantage point', above. If "why" is a valid question, then there must be a valid answer, and, if there is a valid answer, then there must be a true answer. For, if there is no true answer for any question, then 'valid' is as meaningless as 'jhefiuqdr1ew0'. (This applies as well to the value of heuristics as to any "static" answer.)

 P: We cannot stand to live in continual uncertainty about the objective truths - and thus the objective falsehoods - of the realm of concern that we take to be the ultimate objectifiable realm.

H: I think the fear of uncertainty explains more about religion than it does about naturalism.

P: I would be very interested to know, in some detail, how you qualify that statement. Just as there is more than one sense in which the term 'probability' may be used, there is more than one sense of 'uncertainty'.

H: By 'uncertainty' here I mean lack of  knowledge, especially lack of certain knowledge.

See 'foundation' above. You yourself must be operating according to some foundation in this debate, otherwise your position is untenable by definition.

 P: all have both science and religion (rely-gion), although the term 'religion' is today often used for belief in a supernatural and in a particular set of attendant beliefs.

 H: Did you not read my link about faith? Religion indeed means any system of belief based on faith or mysticism, or involving worship of or reverence for some deity. Faith and religion must indeed be embarrassing if their only defense is to claim that everyone is guilty of them.

I think your definition of faith (and thus religion) is arbitrary. What is your definition of worship?

 

H: Science depends on the epistemological principle of skepticism, and any "conflict" between science and religion is really a conflict between skepticism and faith (or mysticism).   Religion can be made superficially compatible with science by restricting itself to questions that are a) scientific but unanswered or b) philosophical.  However, religion can never be compatible with the skepticism on which science -- and all epistemologically valid philosophy -- is built.

I wish to know how, or whether, and if not, why, you would revise that in light of all of my new replies above.

 H: Faith is belief based on revelation and exempt from doubt.

P: If  1)the evidence known to a given person (call him P) that he believes bears on a given case   2)seems to him to compel conclusion x   3)while he would otherwise conclude y,   4)then this person shall conclude x   5)unless he holds paradigm PM where PM  is contrary to x. Unless you wish to maintain an essentially arbitrary definition of 'faith', PM is a case of faith on the part of P.

H: It's specious to define 'faith' as any occasion in which not all evidence about X is uni[qui]vocal[,] and paradigm considerations (i.e. evidence about evidence) play a role in ultimately deciding between X and not-X. This is yet another facile attempt to make 'faith' into a meaningless label that makes no practical distinctions whatsoever. However, I've no interest in forcing my definition on you, so let's just agree that whenever we use the term we will make it clear which definition we intend.

Fine. Then, let's go back over your "definition of 'faith'", but instead of the term 'faith', we use the algebraic x.  Thus, any belief based on revelation and exempt from doubt = x  The question now is, does x exist? To answer this, we must first know what we mean by 'revelation', 'exempt' and 'doubt'. Please define your usage of these terms so as to allow no epistemic, heuristic, etc., loopholes by which everyone would be defined as having x.

 P: On the one hand you seem to choose, for your foundation, that thing which is not even solid, namely knowledge of the third-person phenomenological world, otherwise known as the physical world. On the other hand you seem to deny that foundation in favor of epistemology, which is distinctly about reason and not purely about your own observations of the physical world.

H: I don't know what you mean by "solid" here, and I don't know what "denial" you have in mind.  

For what I mean by 'solid', see 'foundation', above.

 

For what I mean by 'denial', see my first new reply about probability, above, 'foundation', above, and cause/description/explanation, above.

 P: The essential value of the first of these two 'foundations' is the positivistic:  [...] Thankfully, implicit philosophical hypocrisy is not directly fatal, although this makes its case-lesson so easy to fail to learn, and to fail to teach the next generation to avoid.

H: I'm sorry, but I don't understand your point here.

Same as above.

 P: By 'miraculous', I do not have in mind the idea of impossibility, nor even your more-or-less positivistic notion of probability, but only the idea of power, and the existence of that power. Whatever can be made to move up from an objective point of function (unlike relativistic and empty motion) can be made to move back down, and back up again. The power involved in the process of deterioration of a human body, all the way to final death, is of equal power to that which was originally required to develop that body, from the occurrence of conception to the functional prime of life. To deny that this is the case would pose a problem for how such a denial can be physically argued, which would be a problem unique in all of theoretical physics. Will you even assert (much more argue) that these two power requirements are vastly unequal?

H: I don't know what you mean by "power" -- obviously not the time-rate of energy. :-)

Synonymous with 'foundation'

 

P: Some people in Artificial Intelligence who think that a life can be multiple-ly realized are making the tacit claim that the power here is equal. If the power is equal, then how is raising a body from the truly dead of any greater power?

H: I still don't know what you mean by "power", but you're obviously using some in-principle qualitative similarity to wish away an obvious quantitative difference in probability.

Do you wish to revise, or retract, that? If you say that you leave it as is, then I will answer it in my next email to you.

H: I suspect this is ironic only to someone who is trying to reconcile the conclusions of rationality with the cherished belief that rationality is a gift of god(s).

P: I'm not sure what you mean.

H: The supposed irony you identified does not obtain for atheists.

If, by 'irony', you mean a subjective sense of irony, then you are incorrect. Such 'irony' does obtain for some atheists. If you mean only logical irony, then please explain how it does not obtain for atheists?

P: While this debate is not about design and evolutionism, I strongly recommend you read an article entitled: Evolution's Logic of Credulity: An Unfettered Response to Allen Orr

H: Sorry, but debating Intelligent Design theory is not a priority for me, mainly because so many theists don't even defend it. However, I will note how hilarious it is that the God of the Gaps argument has retreated from its former example phenomena to the humble bacterial flagellum. :-)

If an A or B 'foundation' exists, then there is no true error of 'the God of the Gaps'. It's simply a matter of what one takes to be the 'foundation' and whether one is satisified that one has found an instance of it. For the monotheist, all phenomenon are caused by God, whether or not the monotheist consciously grants intermediate things that allow humans a practical field. The atheist simply has to follow the heirarchy of physics downward as each more basic level of it is uncovered. The error that does occur is actually symmetric between theists and atheists.

 P: the presumption on the part of man that his one great deliberative power, the ability to dominate the physical world by way of its physical laws, is sufficient to prove all things.

H: Anyone who thinks that the human mind "is sufficient to prove all things" is simply ignorant of what we know about minds and their limits.
 
P: I do not mean "sufficient to resolve all disputes", but rather "sufficient to prove worth disputing what is really worth disputing"

H: Then please be more careful when you write "prove all things" in a discussion about epistemology. Be especially more careful about using the word 'all'.

I'm sorry, but that's an invalid request. There is no objective boundary in communication. We are ever dancing over the phone to each other, each with an indefinite number of arms. All forms of semantic communication between mutually undefined agents can proceed only by way of reciprocal confirmation of meaning.

 

P: in the sense of non-culpability before an objective God for rejecting Him in favor of the "best proofs of science".

H: Whose words are those?  Not mine. Again: Anyone who thinks of science as an alternative to religion is making a basic mistake. Science is not a worldview, and any "conflict" between science and religion is actually an epistemological conflict between skepticism and faith.

It seems to me that either there is an inherent conflict between what you are calling 'religion', and 'science', or your usage of the word 'faith' has been in error. If what you are calling 'religion' and 'science' are not alternatives to each other, then how do atheists not have H-Faith? (I'm getting tired here, and beginning to lose comprehension of what I'm reading, so I'm not quite able to determine whether I've asking a stupid question or not.)

 

P: If some hypothetical entity cannot be probed or manipulated, then, says man, that entity either does not exist, or could as well not exist.

H: Relax your phrase "be probed or manipulated" to say just "ever have a causal relationship with us", and you have precisely the definition of existence that is dictated by the principle of parsimony. Without such parsimony, you have no way of deciding which of the infinitely many logically possible causally-isolated things exist or don't exist.

P: How does this parsimony relate to the problem of an objective entity of any kind? Failure to identify such an entity as such does not mean that such an entity has no causal relationship to us.

H: The fact that we might be wrong about our causal relationships is not a good reason to say that arbitrary hypothetical entities exist.

Please explain what you mean by 'arbitrary'.

 P: And, if you grant that there is a great problem in epistemology, then how are you not as an algorithm to its axiom? Can an algorithm prove its own axiom as such? You logically admit either that there must be an axiom of all existence (and that your argument can be wrong), or that you are arguing in vain in any case.

H: I don't understand what you're saying.

See 'foundation', above. 

 

P: Judging by your replies, I get the impression that you tend to mistake all Christians as holding to the 'revealed' "straight and narrow path" of "the simple truth" with a simple, narrow mind.

H: I take the word "all" very literally, and you have definitely misread me here.  Again: when construing my position, please type a quotation mark, paste something that I wrote, and then type another quotation mark. :-)

If you do not further define you use of the term 'religion' to include the notion that religion is simple-minded, then I concede that I am incorrect in my impression.

 H: I think imprecision is the cause of almost all apparent disagreement.)

By definition, all disagreement between multiple agents is some imprescision of a functional match. But, for an agent whose root programs are fundamentally greater than its working memory, imprescision exists within the agent and, thus, disagreement can occur internal to such an agent. This is the case, for instance, with the "omnipotence paradox".

 H: It sounds like you're reading way too much into the omnipotence paradox, which I classify as a simple self-reference paradox. You also seem to treat Logic as something more than just a formal way of studying valid inference.

I'm not reading anything into it, I'm merely drawing out it's assumptions, and the assumptions that are sometimes used with it. In debates with various people who think it is a real paradox, they have offered various defences of their view, the assumptions of which I then needed to expose in order to help them see the matter clearly ("there's more than one way to skin a cat", depending on which part of someone's cat you can get hold of).

 

Daniel

 

 

From: "Daniel Pech"

Subject: Re: philosophy of physics
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 14:28:17 -0800

P: most deep problems, like other minds, are not even meant to be resolved directly as purely separate problems.

H: I don't agree that problems are "meant" to be anything at all. True philosophical problems aren't the creation of some intentional agent; they just are.

I meant that, for us, true philosophical problems are not (meant to be) resolved by a direct attack upon the problem, because for it to be a true problem for us means that it is greater than what we at first see of it. The problem is irreducibly complex (IC). If the calculation lacks some of the fundamental facts, then the commitment to establishing a conclusion will result in an unsound conclusion.

P: the solutions to all problems are, without exception, irreducibly complex

H: "All"?  I strongly disagree.

I'm not sure you understood what I meant by IC in relation to a problem. In light of my first new reply, above, do you wish to retract your disagreement?

  

P: How can a person simply sit and think, staring at the blank wall, and come up with knowledge, unless he had that knowledge implicity from the start?

H: That a conclusion is reachable by a mind does not imply that the mind always had "implicit" knowledge of it.

I'm not sure you understand what I mean. As a very simple example of what I mean, if, regarding math, you have attained only to the conscious knowledge that 1+1=2 (I'm talking about the math, not the symbols), then you have implicit (subconscious) knowledge that 2-1=1.  

P: The problem with this "Chinese room" experiment is that the rules must have been originated by a person who could see.

H: The problem with your analysis is that you assume that a system (e.g. earth's ecosystem before hominids) can never produce knowledge or intelligence (e.g. H. sapiens') that was not already built into the system. This assumption is now known to be mistaken.

Known by whom? Not by me. But, what you have said is an analogue of implicit knowledge: if the pre-H.sapiens eco-system of the earth had a future-H.sapiens built in, this is to say that H.sapiens was implicit in that system. But, I do not know that this was the case, and I imagine that the argument to support the idea that it was implicit in the system is an argument that amounts to the observation that a fuel-injection system (FIS) is implicit in a car that is manufactured to have such a system, because there is observed to be a neat fit between the FIS and the rest of the engine system of the car that already has an FIS. The production of a FIS is not built into this car that has not yet had the FIS installed. 

P: In reality, the "Chinese room" experiment is nothing but a simulation--like all simulations--which is being made to work by way of the living intelligence that is behind it.

H: Does a simulation of music composition not produce real music?  Does a simulation of theorem-proving not produce real proofs?

I'm not referring to a spacetime function (i.e., mechanics). Qualia (by which I mean to include not simply things like 'red', but the sense of beauty, disgust, pleasure, pain, etc., and every kind of each of these) cannot be simulated. You either have it or you don't. The simple and random forms of the non-living world do not apparently have the ability to intelligently select patterns above a certain level of complexity (such as the first 100 primes, reciprocal selection in a chess game, etc.). Simulated gravity, whether on a computer or in the bottom of a bucket swung on a rope, is not real gravity. A computer simulation of an avalanche or an aerodynamic test is not the real thing. Deeper Blue is a simulation of chess-playing intelligence, and it is not apparent that such a machine could evolve from the non-living world, while it is self-evident, to say the least, that such a machine is the product of a qualia-based (i.e., living) intelligence. It has not been proved that functional intelligence can be produced without qualia. The Chinese room experiment is a simulation of functional intelligence, because it requires a living intelligence to both produce the rules and to make sense of the output (if the output were scrambled, then the person could not get much, if any, of the input-sense from it). 

P: missing third ingredient is that "subjective" quality which allows us to say "I think/feel/know/am.  This is what I call 'ontological agency'  (implying a lot), more often known by its logical subordinate, "qualia".

 H: For my refutation of qualia, Jackson's knowledge argument, the Chinese room, and zombies, see the section of my book that begins at http://humanknowledge.net/Thoughts.html#qualia. For a detailed demolition of qualia and zombies, see this paper by Dennett.

 H: Jackson's argument fails because it ignores the difference between memorizing an algorithm and executing it.  The experience of the redness of red consists in the operation of a complex set of functional components for processing information. 

First, I reject that a zombie can be made (see my replies above). Second, your assertion that "The experience of the redness of red consists in the operation of a complex set of functional components for processing information" is not self-demonstrative, and I can distinguish between correlation and consists-of-ness. All one can observe in the brain in regard to the origin/nature of qualia is that there is a correlation between a specific mechanical function and a specific qualae. The seeming ability of the function to produce the qualae does not mean that the qualae consists of the function, and only a commitment to physicalism will force the conclusion that the qualae consists of the function.  Function, per se, is already distinguishable from qualia, so the assertion that particular kinds of functions are qualia is without precedent. Physicalism can indeed be used to explain everything, but the question is whether this is not merely a misapplication of the human ability to make functional sense of things (an ability that is often misapplied anyway).  Steve Grand, of Cyberlife Research, said in reply to me:

 

> I think it may well be
> possible for something that can feel to arise out of the organisation of
> things that cannot feel. But currently I can't prove it; no more than you
> can prove the converse.

> But if simulated neurons give rise to something that behaves as
> if it feels, when that behaviour was not explicitly embedded in the
> simulation, then we currently have no means of knowing whether the system
is
> really feeling, any more than you know whether I really feel or simply
> behave as if I do.

My question would be, who's "we"? In other words, how does Steve Grand know that a particular other mind does not know whether a secondary (i.e., simulated) intelligence system is really feeling? If you go with Steve Grand's standard of judgement, then you have no way of knowing whether a simulated computer (as contrasted with a non-simulated, living one, such as a human mind), at every point of this computer's success (i.e., non-failure) during a Turing test does not feel (what a human feels during the same points). 

P: To insist that these devices do understand just as the technologically primitive man might think they do would be to implicitly [say] that there is no such thing as a mistake in thinking that something which you thought was a real man was just a manecquin.

H: Obviously false. It's not to say such mistakes can't happen; it's to say that the likelihood of this being such a mistake is low.

IThat is an inconsistent response on your part. See my last new reply, above.   

P: Today, that primitive man I mentioned at the start has become educated just well enough to think that he can *make* a box that has a little man inside of it. [..] You see, the fact is that we are all primitives.

H: Yes, and some of us are apparently unable to think our way past our primitive intuition that an entity can't think or feel unless it is wet or soft or warm.

Speak for yourself. Some of us are unable to see our way past the primitive physicalist idea that "subjective" intelligence (i.e., sentience) is, or is produced by, a mechanical function of a non-sentient substrate. Rhetorically, how short can an one-second duration of qualia be divided up before it is no longer there?  

H: However, that primitive intuition is no more likely to be true than primitive intuitions about

  • the topology of the earth,
  • the structure of the heavens,
  • the nature of light,
  • the nature of heat and temperature,
  • the workings of life,
  • infinity,
  • absolute time,
  • Euclidean space,
  • material atomicity,
  • wave/particle distinctness,
  • matter/energy distinctness,
  • momentum/position independence,
  • causal indeterminacy,
  • etc.

What's the limit of human non-intuitiveness regarding the facts of reality? How far can reality part with human mechanical intuitions?  The following story illustrates the problem of determining which of two competing paradigms is the primitive/false one.

 

The year is 1,9304 AD and, by some accident, all that is left of humanity is what is living in a huge, passively self-maintaining space station in high orbit around the earth. By misfortune and moral evils, the intellectual and technological culture of the ten-thousand-plus people in the station had long ago declined to that of the proverbial Stone Age tribe, only recently having regained a semblance of science and careful thought.

 

There are no shuttles in operation, and all the many titanium hatches are locked shut:  no one has been outside the station in over a thousand years, and no one can really confirm that there ever was a way to get outside. "There's [obviously] not much out there anyway, just the earth, moon, sun and stars" is the standard response to the question.

 

All anyone has left of the memory of their origins are:  1)a powerful cultural force to that effect, and  2)a small body of documents "worshipfully preserved and copied by the few nuts still around" who had long ago taken this task to themselves.

 

The skeptics of the earth-followers say the following. "These ancient texts are clearly mythical/primitive, because of the numerous kinds of ridiculous, and sometimes contradictory, things that they tell of. It is mostly just mind-numbing, magical, superstitious nonsense, invented by the text-preserving clans to try to hold onto their now-finally-almost-fully-defeated political power.  Such mythical nonsense as:  a)that humans came from earth,  b)that there was a magical force that moved the earth people toward earth,  c)that this force could move a person so fast toward the earth that the person would die from the impact,  d)that this same force was responsible for putting the station away from earth, e)that once in contact with the earth, the force would hold a person's feet to the bulk,  f)that a person could push off and would just magically be moved back to the bulk,  g)that the force is located in the center of the earth, so that if a person dug a deep hole into the bulk, he would be quickly moved to the end of the hole if he pushed off in front of the hole,  h)that there were certain shapes that could counteract this force,  i)that these shapes allowed people to coast while in contact with these shapes, without having to worry about being moved violently back to the bulk,  j)that the station is moving around the earth. Oh, yeah, and as no surprise, this mythical force is called by the clearly mythical-sounding name of 'Grav Ee'. Like 'grave, you know it? Just like 'grave'. What a bunch of BS. (And, just for a little etymology, 'BS' comes from the ancient term 'bulk shite', and we all know what shite is.)"

 

e-mail-Mail-Bag

 e-mail: jordantheistDELETETHIS@bellsouth.net

Theism.net Options: home  |  articles  |  books  |  search  |  webmaster