Politics, God and Religion vs. Science


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Social climber
Nov 19, 2012 - 07:17am PT

Credit: glanton

High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Nov 19, 2012 - 12:30pm PT
It's certainly challenging to crank through the variety of mixed types (nuts) here.

re: truth vs facts vs views vs...

It was their truth in that context. Scientific, logical context is not the same as political, poetic, or artistic context. Materialism, engineering and science are not the only truths. That's all the non scientists are trying to say.

Too bad Ed seems to be one of the few materialists here who understands that.

So thank goodness we've got Jannie here to set us straight and to remind us that truth is a function of context, that there are different sides to everything; that one is just as good as any other depending on how you look at it; and that next time we hear "nonsense" it's just our ego or inner voice of arrogance or immaturity or narrowmindedness keeping us from seeing the larger picture; and we should just disregard it, sit down and shut the f*#k up.

Looks like we're going to have to start setting truth off in quotes now - just as those who know better have had to do with "God" and "spirit" and "free will", etc...

"It was their truth..."

(a) that when the Sun and his brother the Moon were born, their mother died... So the sun gave to the earth her body, from which was to spring all life. And he drew forth from her breast the stars, and the stars he threw into the night sky to remind him of her soul.

(b) that while the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” 36 So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death...

(c) that climbing on Cave Rock would drain the sacred site of its spirit. (So now, today, all climbing is prohibited at Cave Rock.)

(d) that "you can be obese like me AND healthy." (That's Susanne Eman's "truth.") "My fiance is not an enabler. My fiance is not sabotaging me." (Her fiance assists her 20k Cal diet per day.)



Too bad a few paranormalists to supernaturalists here don't seem to relate.

Too bad a few here seem to have a poor respect for truth - or such a poor relationship to it - that they have to quibble - and quibble and quibble and quibble even though it's obvious to all that this is a forum of widely mixed company - and in so doing muddle the waters of at least potentially meaningful discussions every time the subject of it comes up in conversation.

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Nov 19, 2012 - 12:49pm PT
Theists: does your god have mass?

I'm not a theist, but I must say: No one doubts that our fundamental human reality is subjective experience, without which there is nothing. Does experience itself have mass?

Bear in mind that reverting back to what you might believe "created" experience is like asking about a person and being referred back to their parents - the reference is immaterial to the question being asked.


Nov 19, 2012 - 12:59pm PT
There is not two. The totality, the universe, the Absolute, Brahman, God or whatever you want to call it, is One. (How could there be two?) The Totality is perfect. It must be.

There are "particles" and multitudes of variety within the One, and each in the Whole is like a hologram. Each particle implies the rest of the Totality because each particle is interdependent with all other particles in the Totality. (Move a single blade of grass and the universe changes; change one thing and everything changes.)

All particles in the Totality function according to their capabilities. (How could it ever be any other way? How could a duck be an elephant or an electron function as a proton?)

Free will is often positioned against determinism as an unavoidable dilemma. However, if the universe were non-dual--that is, if there is not-two and all particles are completely interrelated within the Totality--then another understanding can emerge.

Free will and determinism assume a conscious and independent self, distinct from actions and existent outside causal chains (ha-ha: even though actions are part of causal chains?!). Nondualists of varied sorts maintain that there is no self (it's a constructed illusion). If there is no subject (a self) then there can be no objects. (If there is only the Totality, how could there be independent objects or selves?) There is only the Self-Caused One that forever unfolds.

According to Hobbes ("Leviathan"), liberty and freedom mean an absence of opposition. Nonduality says there can be nothing to be opposed because there is only One. Hence, there can be no "I" acting. Action is simply the Totality. No one or "I" or subject or doer can be doing anything. "Doing" simply happens: change is forever-unfolding, meaning all things are impermanent.

No subjects, no objects; no effects, no consequences; no guilt, no blame. Everything--the One--is just unfolding. What you (the particular mind-body that you call you) think you are is just another interdependent particle in the unfolding. You cannot help but be who and what you are; you cannot help but do what you do. The same can be said of every other particle (and mind-body). Everything is a done deal.

"Some of you are familiar with the last line of the mealtime sutra, 'We and this food and our eating are equally empty.' If you can acknowledge this fact, you will realize that when you put on your robe, there is no reason or 'why' in it... There is no reason for the 'why' in anything! When we stand up, there is no reason 'why.' We just stand up! When we eat, we just eat without any reason 'why.' When we put on the kesa [seven-panel robe], we just put it on. Our life is a continuous just... just... just.
(Zen Master, Koun Yamada, Gateless Gate)

Nonduality implies absolute freedom since there is nothing to be opposed and nothing in opposition to any particle being exactly who and exactly what it is available to it according to its capabilities, time-space location, DNA, histories, etc.

Might as well relax and enjoy the show. If you want to believe in free will or determinism, I don't think it will make any difference to anything. Things will simply continue to be exactly what they are. As the chefs and judges say on the Food Network, "It is what it is." (How can anything be any other way?)
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Nov 19, 2012 - 01:06pm PT
re: Fruity vs Lunko
re: mechanistic organisms, mechanistic solar system

Lunko, you slippery one, you can run... but you cannot hide.

Do you ack that all of chemistry is fully mechanistic through and through?

If yes, we can move on. If no, please explain.

This should be interesting...

Nov 19, 2012 - 01:08pm PT
I don't think it will make any difference to anything. Things will simply continue to be exactly what they are.

I wish!

Then we could eliminate at least history from the schools.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Nov 19, 2012 - 01:31pm PT
Lolli, well played.

Compare: Native Americans and Europeans.

Maybe someday Israel (perhaps after a revolution?) will incur a name change. Then eventually, as time heals, hatchets are buried, memories are lost, injustices are forgotten... once again markets will flourish... young people will make love in the parks under renewed bliss(es)...


You don't say? the human brain runs on conflict!




Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Nov 19, 2012 - 01:50pm PT

Before we can move onto the next serious of issues for which people here can help you get clear, you first need to be accountable - that's what adults do, incidentally - for the last volley of questions brought on by your accusations that I was confounding and evading and that Primrose (who, strangely, is NOT a theist) is an idiot (thinks differently than you).

You asked what algorithms have to do with your mechanistic belief in reality. Ed suggested “determined,” or deterministic, to help you understand the nature of your own beliefs in "causation." Has the issues of algorithms been made clear to you? If not, where are you loosing your way once again?

Next, Primrose said that algorithms could never “calculate consciousness” since, in his opinion, consciousness is not determined.

That is, consciousness is not, according to Primrose, a determined, mechanistic function "created" by antecedent material events, meaning that mind is greater than the parts.

Is this the core issue to which to take issue with the man?

Lastly, are you familiar with the theory of wholism? An hours reading would bring you up to speed on this. This is the idea that your wife is more than just a sequence of chemical/biological events.

Anyhow, once you get clear and state your position on these previously discussed issues, we can move forward to new worlds. But not before we resolve the lingering issues.

High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Nov 19, 2012 - 01:55pm PT
Baby steps.
Reason and honest discouse require that we begin with the basics.

Do you ack that all of chemistry is fully mechanistic through and through?


Ed suggested “determined,” or deterministic, to help you

Now THAT is a laughable bait and switch, bwahahaha!

Lunko's a slippery one in the world of rhetoric, he is.

your wife is more than just a sequence of chemical/biological events.

Of course she is. She is also a climber, a mother, a daughter... That's three plus yours, that's enough to prove your rhetoric is biased and a poor rep of reality.


btw, Ed frequently forays outside the lightcone, I don't. I'm pretty much a non-relativistic, down to earth, nose to the granite type guy. Like the art of OW really, it depends on what one's disciplines of interest are, their boundaries and how far you want to push them.


Possibility / Likelihood / Claim:

(1) Our minds are a vast collection of interconnected subagents that are themselves mindless, mechanistic.

David Eagleman,
Brains are like parliaments. They are built of multiple, overlapping experts who compete over how best to proceed. This is why you sometimes find yourself arguing with yourself -- a seemingly illogical feat that our current computers do not attempt. The human brain runs on conflict.

Brains... can be of two minds, and often many more.

Fully mechanistic, btw.

I suggest the missing factor is competition among experts who all believe they know the right way to solve the problem.

Sounds familiar. ;)

I suggest that conflict-based, democratic organisation -- which I call a team-of-rivals architecture -- is the best route to a fruitful new age of biologically inspired machinery.

Now ideas like this is what we should be discussing.

Yeah, I know, more wishful thinking...

Midvale School for the Gifted
Nov 19, 2012 - 09:18pm PT

Nov 19, 2012 - 10:44pm PT

Jstan's wonderful story reminds me of my own graduate student days in neurophysiology. Not once, either in the lab or outside it, was basis of consciousness discussed. It was understood that this was not an approachable research topic, and not interesting to talk about compared to cars, music, etc. As with religion, you were welcome to your opinion but no one felt a need to hear it.

Roger Penrose, smart as he certifiably is, is not smart enough to leave consciousness alone. He starts well by defining the notion of "mechanistic." A mechanistic process is one that can be implemented by a Turing machine, or as Largo puts it, an algorithm. In other words, thanks to results in logic from Turing, Godel, Church, and others, we know that there are questions which cannot be answered by computation. Are those questions important, though, outside of formal logic, or can they be safely ignored? Many people have ignored them and got on with what can be computed, but Roger Penrose makes a novel use of the result. He gives examples of problems which humans can see the answer to, but which have been proved to be non-computable by Turing machines. Therefore the human brain must be not mechanistic in the very comprehensive definition of "mechanistic" given by Turing and others.

Roger Penrose is also a bold thinker. He takes the implications of his ideas seriously. The ability of the human mind to do what a machine cannot is based, he guesses, on physics we have not yet understood. In his words:

"What I have in mind rests on certain types of mathematically precise activity that can be proved to be beyond computation. As far as is yet known, no such mathematical activity is needed to describe physical behavior. Nevertheless, it is a logical possibility. Moreover, it is not just a logical possibility. According to the arguments of this book, something of this general nature must be inherent in physical laws, despite the fact that such things have not yet been encountered in known physics."

Shadows of the Mind - A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness
Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 28

Math, logic, and intuition have pointed to new physics before, but here biology also plays a role in the (admittedly vague) prediction. It will be mind-blowing if undecidability, from the abstract realm of mathematical logic, requires new physics. In his early days Max Delbrück had a similar conviction:

"If one looks at even the simplest kind of cell, one knows it consists of the usual elements of organic chemistry and otherwise obeys the laws of physics. One can analyze any number of compounds in it but one will never get a living bacterium out of it, unless one introduces totally new and complementary points of view."

Thinking About Science - Max Delbrück and the Origin of Molecular Biology
Fischer, E.P., and C. Lipson 1988

He was wrong.

Trad climber
Here and There
Nov 20, 2012 - 12:07am PT
Why didn't "evolution"leave an inscribed recipe for the brain and body???
Before the advent of the brain and primates. Evolutionists say plant life consciously decided to metabolized the brain. Did plants "FEEL" a need for a brain? Without a brain they couldn't "think" they needed a brain! So did in fact "feelings" create the brain? with no stored knowledge on how to do so ? And where would the motivation come from required to keep trying over and over 1 million times until the actual thinking process started? it certainly didn't get it right the first time.Meditate on that for a minute... seems absurd don't it?

Dude. You really did flunk your high school biology class didn't you? Because from what you wrote above and most of what followed it's obvious you don't know much about evolution. Maybe just enough to get in trouble but not enough to actually understand the mechanisms. Of those mechanisms, I've never understood "consciousness" or some life form "consciously" deciding to "metabolize" or do whatever to become the brain or anything else.

That's not how evolution works. The basics have been explained more than once in this thread and are quite easy to find online. Why do you keep trying to make evolution something it's not?

Nov 20, 2012 - 01:07am PT
Then we could eliminate at least history from the schools.

I don't think you got the notion quite right. Things will continue to be the things that they are (protons will not become electrons, etc.), but that does not mean they will not change. All things in the universe change; there is no thing in phenomenality that does not change.

You are the result of an infinite number of influences, all which stipulate or cause you to be and do what you do. You cannot help be who and what you are. That's what I meant by "things continuing to be exactly what they are." The Universe might lead you to quit alcohol, take up a romantic affair with someone, or go on a shooting rampage at the local college. But you are not in control. It's just the universe at work.

I think in everyone's heart of hearts, everyone suspects that they are not in control of most anything. Everything (to include us) that happens occurs the way it does because of sooo many reasons that are beyond anyone's control. We cannot escape our circumstance, and there is nothing that we can do to influence it. Everything is where it needs to be, and in fact nothing could not be anything other than what it is.

Decades ago, I lost my wife (divorce) and my business in the same day. The latter was engineered by the former. A friend of mine in venture capital counseled me within the week. He said: "Mike, I'll tell you two things you don't want to hear right now. One, what happened to you could not have happened any other way. Two, it was the best thing that could have happened." I cussed him and said I thought he was an idiot; he had no idea what the hell he was talking about. Years later I came to realize he was right on both counts.

I think it's like that with everything. Things cannot be other than what they are, and they are the best that could be hoped for given all considerations.

Trad climber
Here and There
Nov 20, 2012 - 01:49am PT
I think in everyone's heart of hearts, everyone suspects that they are not in control of most anything. Everything (to include us) that happens occurs the way it does because of sooo many reasons that are beyond anyone's control.

Not in my heart of hearts nor elsewhere do I suspect that I'm not in control of most anything. The world throws at us innumerable experiences that are out of our control. In each of those experiences, though, there are an almost infinite (if not truly so) means of reacting. Each reaction creates a new world leading to new experiences and new means of reacting. I chose to believe that choice is not preordained, by previous choice or any other method. We make up the Totality with our every choice. The Totality does not make us


Nov 20, 2012 - 11:30am PT
I have previously suggested the following but got no response. On the premise that the high road
to progress is paved with failure, I'll go round again.

Hawkins suggests we are basically prediction machines. Our brains are built for that survival
function with the ability to relate one's present surroundings to the scenarios stored in memory.
Some of this is visible in the higher neurological levels but surely not all. But overarching
everything is a fundamental assumption, itself based on prior experience -

that one moment will be followed by another.

That expectation, that a prediction is even needed, exists at the highest neurological level and

is consciousness.

One might ask what constitutes consciousness at the molecular level. It might be something as
simple as the automatic chemical processes by which energy is stored following a synaptic firing.
The energy needed to support a subsequent firing.

if the expectation that the present moment will be followed by another, is in fact fundamental to
the design of our neurological machinery, we might expect the prospect of death will present us
with difficulties

some visible

others buried.

I expect it is the buried ones that are the most problematic.

I too await the inevitable. Somehow we may survive. Yet again.

High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Nov 20, 2012 - 11:35am PT
Much thought-provocation last half dozen posts or so.


MikeL, you're sounding like a mechanist, there, in your last post, in several of your sentences. Right on. Then again, Slayton shows the duality (the dual framing), I think, that our minds are capable of in considering our abilities (powers) and behavior against the backdrop of a mechanistic nature.


I have previously suggested the following but got no response.... I'll go round again.

That might be because it was a worthy suggestion. Often, it is the "nonsense" - esp from the respected - that gets the most immediate, voluminous and fiercest response. :)

Pinker, Dawkins and many others as well have also considered "consciousness" in terms of (a) evolved learning machines and (b) simulation systems - as part of nervous system control functionality - where "prediction" and "simulation" are, well, similar.

I'm sure you watched the Hawkins pieces at BB2006 - it was powerful.

Nov 20, 2012 - 12:29pm PT
In each of those experiences, though, there are an almost infinite (if not truly so) means of reacting.

Slayton, I suspect your articulation must be limited by semantics and concepts. (We all are.)

Doesn't your use of the word "reaction" signal there is little choice?

You really think there is an infinite number of choices that can be made? By you? By anyone? By a rich or poor person, by a catholic or protestant, by a female or male, by an Indian or Japanese, by a primitive in New Guinea or a sophisticate in New York City? Can one become another by choice?

Perhaps you really want to say that there's a little bit of both choice and reaction? Maybe it's not choice OR reaction; maybe it's not choice AND reaction, maybe it's NEITHER not-choice NOR not-reaction? (Tricky, no?)

You and I are stuck with concepts and beliefs, and both make us assume positions and attitudes that neither care for. Maybe neither beliefs or concepts can. Maybe neither should.

What I imagine you might be pointing to is Bell's Theorem and multiple universes--where each and every decision splits reality into a diverging parallel universe. If all decisions lead to parallel universes, then doesn't that also indicate a lack of control and rigid causalities?

Each and every polarity (like good and evil, like choice and determinism, like light and dark, like life and death) indicates an indescribable unity that cannot be captured by concepts, words, or symbols. There are things that transcend our intelligence. It's our intelligence that separates and parses reality into opposing dualities, and then attempts to choose one over another. Those are not choices that can be made. They are impossible.

. . . if you ask a human what it is that they recognize as their experience, you end up with an answer that Watson could also provide.

Ed, are you saying that Watson would / could / should (ala Turing) mimic what a human would say?

. . . one moment will be followed by another.

That's one way to look at it. But I'd argue there is only one moment, Jstan, unless you believe that time is an absolute entity or quality. Time is a creation of the mind. The past is a memory, and the future is its projection. There is only one here and now, and that is the only moment that ever exists.

BTW, John, other scholars have argued other points of view about what kind of machines human beings are. One group (sociologists) has argued that human beings are sense making machines. (Which is what we are attempting to do right here on ST--constantly.)

Nov 20, 2012 - 12:55pm PT
Slayton believes in free will and choice, while Jstan believes that human beings are prediction machines. (Would that imply that humans are immensely frustrated by themselves?) Ed, takes a middle ground that says, "humans *are* what humans do."

It's occurred to me that I can perhaps explain my position better with an analogy. (It's not quite "mechanistic," HF.)

Assume for the moment that the workings of the universe, the Totality, is designed / written by a novelist or a playwright (that could be absolutely impersonal). A good (resonate) story of living is one where deeds are not created for the instruments (the organisms--us). Organisms are created with certain given characteristics so that particular actions in the "lila" (drama) can take place. Fresh characters are created by the novelist through whom events could take place. Indeed, it strikes us as unrealistic and dissatisfying if a character behaves outside of who and what they are in a story. When characters in stories do act in such inconsistent ways, we discount the value of a story and complain that the novelist has manipulated the plot or characters, or tricked us. We feel cheated. We claim the novelist is no good. "Life is just not like that."

Social climber
joshua tree
Nov 20, 2012 - 01:10pm PT
" You are the result of an infinite number of influences, all which stipulate or cause you to be and do what you do. You cannot help be who and what you are."

God said that He could SEE us before He formed the Earth. And that He can SEE into all time. This gives me a sense that everything's already been done. When I look back on my past. I recognize that my path was almost always being steered by outside forces. And of all my physical experiences the only thing that I was truly in control of, was my attitude. And what I projected back to the ones involved with my experience. Basically was I positive or negative in reaction. But more importantly was I exuding LOVE or HATE ?

Jus Love'in

Social climber
joshua tree
Nov 20, 2012 - 02:41pm PT
I said:
Evolutionists say plant life "consciously decided"to metabolized the brain.

I should NOT have said consciously decided! Evolutionists don't believe in consciousness right?

I should have said; evolutionists theory is causation from the solar cycle(sunlight and weather)
And the applied laws of Physics. Pushed the elements of the Earths crust around until they "fused" together. Providing them with inert means of memory through the process of logical
Algorithms. To which they were able to build algae and other simple plants until they could grow out of the sea. Then adapt to Earths air environment. Thus enabling them to produce
RNA. Then behold a COMET lands on earth bringing DNA. And the rest just followed suit?

Is THIS what the JINGYS and the FRUITLOOPS believe as the truth of evolution?

PLEASE help show me where I have it wrong!!!

I am not bashing!!! I only wish to understand your factual point of view!!
When I offer creative discussion. You elude with negative remarks and links to someone else's speculations and ideas. As if all the answers are out there and I can pick them up like a handful of sand.

Jus Inquisitine'in

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