John McLatchie, a celebrity ID-ist according to TSZ, and Alex O’Connor had a debate titled “Theism vs. Naturalism: Which is a Better Account of Reality?” Continue reading
The essay that follows is from a collection of writings I’ve been working on since the summer of 2021. The collection is entitled Schrodinger’s God and nearly all the essays deal with paradoxes, contradictions, inconsistencies, and just plain old absurdities with regard to concepts of God or gods that I have come across. Like the Schrodinger’s Cat thought experiment that was conceived to illustrate what Erwin Schrodinger felt was an untenable implication of the superposition principle, Schrodinger’s God is my attempt to illustrate untenable implications of certain claims, beliefs, tenets, and principles concerning god concepts, particularly omni-god concepts.
There is a scene in the 2015 movie Avengers: Age of Ultron in which Tony Stark in his Iron Man armor is chasing after Ultron after the fight on the ship that Ulysses Klaue was using to store his weapons and vibranium stock. Finally cornering Ultron against one of the ships, Ultron says, “Ah, the vibranium is getting away.” Stark responds, “And you’re not going anywhere!” To which Ultron quips, “Of course not. I’m already there. You’ll catch on.” Continue reading
Darwin said, “the eye to this day gives me a cold shudder”. If that was true back then, if he had today’s knowledge of the eye he would be shaken down to his genes. A cursory glance at the scientific findings or our visual system reveals an organized complexity at all levels of resolution from millimeter to nanometer.
Take a close look at an eye. Between the object that I fix my gaze on and its sharp image cast onto one of my retinas there stands the cornea, aqueous humour, the iris and pupil, the lens, the vitreous humour
Precorneal tear film provides nutrients, lubrication for the cornea. It is antibacterial and removes debris while allowing light to pass through, refracted but virtually unrestricted. It isn’t a homologous film but consists of three layers, an outer lipid layer, an aqueous layer which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the cornea, and an inner layer of mucus.
Passing through this it then encounters the cornea and is again refracted, and then to the iris which control amount of light, onward through the lens which is adjusted by the ciliary muscles to focus the image at the retina.
From first entering the eye the light passes thorough a series of remarkable structures.
The basic principles of corneal structure and transparency have been known for some time, but in recent years X-ray scattering and other methods have revealed that the details of this structure are far more complex than previously thought and that the intricacy of the arrangement of the collagenous lamellae provides the shape and the mechanical properties of the tissue.
If the remarkable structure of the cornea isn’t awe inspiring enough, then surely a glance at the retina will fill anyone with eye-popping astonishment. Not forgetting that retinas are living entities with life cycles that allow the whole to function as the parts are constantly being renewed.
I was inspired by comments in my previous thread to take a closer look at the visual system we share. Just a short time searching for info on this system has provided me with so much detail to add to my basic knowledge of the mechanisms involved. I think we could discuss this in more depth, share knowledge, and have an argument or two along the way. Sounds like fun to me and I’m sure I’ll learn a thing or two.
The Rediscovery of Meaning is a volume of a collection of essays by Owen Barfield listed here.
Here is a video on Owen Barfield and the meaning crisis. It includes many video clips discussing the history of knowledge from our modern Western perspective. Barfield notes the feeling of meaninglessness that was coming to prominence in the twentieth century and continues on. He asks:
How is it that the more man becomes able to manipulate the world to his advantage the less he can perceive any meaning in it?
Uncommon Descent still has some interesting topics, but the authors of the OPs simply do not tolerate any comments that do not validate their opinions.
Worse than this, they label any commenter who disagrees with any of their opinions as a Darwinist/atheist/subjectivist/materialist/communist/progressive. The two most flagrant abusers are Barry Arrington, the moderator, and Gordon Mullings, who posts as KairosFocus.
Kairosfocus’ most recent rants have been about objective moral truths and his charity of the day, self-evident first duties. It has been pointed out to him on numerous occasions that his objective moral truths are nothing more than human behaviours that most people have subjectively determined to be in their best interest if they want to continue to thrive in a social setting.
Rather than address the arguments raised against his views, he repeatedly erects strawman versions of his opponents’ views, and then argues from consequence.
The issue worth discussing here, is whether KF has a valid point.
Parapsychology, psi, ESP, auras, NDEs, anomalous cognition, psychic research. A load of woo! Nothing to see here!
Can we ignore the testimonies of those who claim to have had a near death experience, people who demonstrate blindfolded vision or who seem to have other psychic abilities?
She’s either a heartless con merchant who uses children to fool the public or someone who sincerely believes she is enhancing their lives and what you see is genuine. What are your thoughts on this.
Michael Alter, who has written three books on the Resurrection of Jesus, surely needs no introduction here. On December 27, he was interviewed by Edouard Tahmizian of Internet Infidels. A summary of the interview is given below. Enjoy!
Humans know about what surrounds them by virtue of their sensory perception. It is impossible otherwise to know about the world outside our head. It is necessary but is it sufficient? No. To develop our full intellect we need to develop our cognitive skills and, crucially, learn a language. Luckily, humans are a social species and language together with the physical adaptations necessary to speak, hear and understand develops in childhood seemingly without much effort, just by being immersed in the family group.Continue reading
Here is an informative little video by a guy named Steve Mould who does a lot of “science” videos on youtube. Its all (ostensibly) about how simple little processes can make “meaningful” structures from stochastic processes-and he uses magnetic shaped little parts to show this. Its a popular channeled followed by millions, and is often referenced by other famous people in the science community-and his fans love it.
And hey, it does show how meaningful structures CAN form from random processes. Right? So you can learn from this. Wink, wink. Nod, nod. And all the skeptics will know exactly what he is really saying. Cause we are all part of the clique that knows this language-the language of the skeptic propagandist. I mean, he almost hides it, the real message, it is just under the surface, and the less skeptically aware, the casualist, might even miss it. The casualist might not learn as much about Steve Mould and what he is trying to say here-but the skeptic knows. “See, atheism is true! Spread the word!” Steve has given the wink. The same wink used by DeGrasse Tyson, and Sean Carroll, Lawrence Krauss, Brian Greene, and on and on. You know the one.
Modern science is in danger of fragmentation and of becoming a study of artificial abstractions which become increasingly severed from reality.
As translated from Maurice Merleau-Ponty in L’Œil et l’Esprit
“Science manipulates things and gives up living in them. It makes its own limited models of things; operating upon these indices or variables to effect whatever transformations are permitted by their definition, it comes face to face with the real world only at rare intervals. Science is and always will be that admirably active, ingenious, and bold way of thinking whose fundamental bias is to treat everything as though it were an object-in-general – as though it meant nothing to us and yet was predestined for our own use.”
Introducing the Goethean method brings back the connection between the investigator and the subject under investigation.
[Courtesy of Unsplash.com & Kitti Incédi]
[Courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey]
Dr. Gaven Kerr is a lecturer in philosophy at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Ireland. In a recent online interview with writer and philosopher Pat Flynn on a Youtube video titled, “Philosophy Friday: Classical Theism and Divine Simplicity” (March 23, 2021), Dr. Kerr (who is a Thomist and a stalwart defender of classical theism) made nine incredible metaphysical claims (two about agents in general, and seven about God), as well as six philosophically controversial background assumptions. Below, I shall argue that when taken together, these claims and assumptions add up to a picture of a God Who is literally as dumb as a rock. Basically, He’s a black box. The exalted language which Thomists use to describe God is mere window dressing, obscuring the fact that the God they worship never even thinks about the creatures He has made: they depend on Him, but on the Thomistic view, God creates them without having to think any thoughts about them, like “Let there be light” or “Let us make man in our own image.” All God ever thinks about is Himself, and even His act of “thinking about” Himself consists in nothing more than His being Himself. In other words, God knows Himself (and His creatures) simply by existing. In this post, I shall argue that the Thomistic account of knowledge is downright nonsensical, that Thomists’ reasons for denying that God has any thoughts and feelings about us are based on faulty assumptions, and finally, that if their account of God were correct, it would be irrational of us to love God or to feel grateful to Him for anything. Taken to its logical extreme, Thomistic classical theism makes the hearts of believers grow cold, and it is a lucky thing indeed that most Christians (Catholics included) are blissfully ignorant of what it teaches about God.
For those readers who are interested, here is Pat Flynn’s interview with Dr. Kerr:
Kantian Naturalist brought up the subjects of autopoesis and organizational closure whereby biological systems maintain a distinctive form while being thermodynamically open. Not only do they achieve a low entropy state but they maintain it over time.
Autopoietic systems are “structurally coupled” with their medium, embedded in a dynamic of changes that can be recalled as sensory-motor coupling. This continuous dynamic is considered as a rudimentary form of knowledge or cognition and can be observed throughout life-forms.
This is not yet the inner conscious awareness possessed by higher animals but it is a step in that direction. Continue reading
This is too long for a meaningful excerpt. The origin of the report, and its motivation, are political, but it’s pretty detailed.
Have at it.
Who’d have thought it would make it this far?
27th July, 2011, was the date of the very first opening post at The Skeptical Zone. The site was created by Dr Elizabeth Liddle, partly to facilitate extended discussion that got buried at the “Intelligent-Design” promoting site, Uncommon Descent, where Lizzie was an active critic for some time before falling prey to the Barry Arrington ban-hammer. It was also an experiment in attempting to facilitate discussion across widely-differing viewpoints by proposing a code of conduct involving assuming all other participants are commenting in good faith. There have been ups and downs over the years with perhaps the most disappointing aspect that Lizzie herself has ceased to be involved (except she still pays the bills).
So it is something of a miracle that the site is still active albeit well down from its peak around the end of 2015. Anyway, here we still are, some of us. I wonder what the next decade will bring.
Does evolution repeat itself? Could evolution repeat itself? Where do people stand in relation to the thoughts of Gould and Conway Morris?
Gould has a point, everything is in a state of becoming. As Heraclitus would say, all is change. Replay the tape and nothing would be the same. But would or could there be any similar trends? Would life in general proceed in such a radically different way that Gould makes out?
From “Life’s Grandeur”, Gould states:
“…no persuasive or predictable thrust toward progress permeates the history of life…
“Wind the tape of life to the origin of multicellular animals in the Cambrian explosion, let the tape play again from this identical starting point, and the replay will populate the earth (and generate a right tail of life) with a radically different set of creatures. The chance that this alternative set will contain anything remotely like a human being must be effectively nil, while the probability of any kind of creature endowed with self-consciousness must also be extremely small.”
Conway Morris disagrees with Gould’s conclusion. He champions an inevitable path and cites convergent evolution as evidence which suggests this.
In “The Crucible of Creation” he states,
“What we are interested in is not the origin, destiny, or fate of a particular lineage, but the likelihood of the emergence of a particular property, say consciousness. Here the reality of convergence suggests that the tape of life, to use Gould’s metaphor, can run as many times as we like and in principle intelligence will surely emerge.”
I’m interested in what people have to say about this and its relation to topics such as the emergence of bilateral symmetry and differentiation from head to tail, extreme specialization, encephalization, endothermy, caring for young, transitions from aquatic to terrestrial living and other related topics. These processes have occurred multiple times in different lineages over time.
Does someone with an open mind want to try to tackle this? Its about a theoretical ant on a rubber string. If the ant is crawling on the string, but the string is expanding, can the ant ever reach the end. In the video they claim it can, because the ant’s progress gets stretched towards the end, at the same time the string is stretched. But this is a bizarre interpretation in my opinion. This is only true if the string is being stretched in only one direction, that is, the direction that it is approaching. So the string is secured at one end, and streched at the other end, so indeed it keeps getting closer to the end.
But if neither end is secured, and it is stretched, there is no reason for the ant to be stretched in the direction of its progress, thus it would never go anywhere. But neither the narrator, nor anyone in the comments seems to have a problem with this. Why?
And is this in any way analagous to spacetime stretching?