The Science of the Supernatural

If Darwinism fails then supernatural causes are back on the table and should be included in science.

I do not think there can be a science of the supernatural.

I do not think that if Darwinism fails that supernatural causes will become acceptable.

If the hope of ID is that supernatural causes will be allowed back into science if they can only just get rid of Darwinism, ID is doomed.

The tools and methods of ID cannot differentiate a supernatural cause from a natural cause anyways.

Thoughts?

1,433 thoughts on “The Science of the Supernatural

  1. BruceS: Whereas you are saying AI can never happen algorithmically.

    No I’m saying that if an AI is not reducible to physics it would not be an AI it would be a person.

    The question of how a human could build something that is not reducible to physics is an interesting one.

    But I’m not saying it’s impossible It just won’t be an AI

    peace

  2. walto: I guess my presuppositions require validity. Sorry.

    How do you define validity?

    Why it’s valid if it does not conflict with your presuppositions of course

    peace

  3. fifthmonarchyman: You don’t teach an AI you program it.

    Wrong. You are not familiar with current technology. In fact, they currently teach themselves, once we tell them the rules of the game. Then they are better than humans.

    Nope it’s that an AI being a machine is incapable of “understanding” that or anything else whatsoever.

    Just your opinion.
    You could try Searle’s Chinese room to go beyond your personal view. But of course few experts take it seriously these days.

    In any event, why should human notions of understanding apply to whether or not machines can do math?

  4. BruceS: Or do you think that AIs have to be able to invent new mathematical concepts. Almost no humans do that. So are only mathematicians using oracles?

    I don’t think any human “invents” a valid new mathematical concept. Mathematical concepts are revealed

    peace

  5. BruceS: You are not familiar with current technology. In fact, they currently teach themselves, once we tell them the rules of the game. Then they are better than humans.

    They don’t teach themselves their programing allows them to execute the task in a progressively more efficient way.

    peace

  6. BruceS: Just your opinion.

    No it’s definitional. “Artificial” intelligence is not “real” intelligence.

    BruceS: why should human notions of understanding apply to whether or not machines can do math?

    It depends on what you mean by “do” if all you mean is execute a calculation then machines are more than capable.

    If you mean understanding then machines will never be capable of that

    peace

  7. fifthmonarchyman: No I’m saying that if an AI is not reducible to physics it would not be an AI it would be a person.

    The question of how a human could build something that is not reducible to physics is an interesting one.

    peace

    Assuming we have to build something that is not compatible with physics begs the question. As does assuming [ETA people’s intelligence] requires that people not be machines, if you mean that being a person is something that is not compatible with the laws of physics (I avoid “reducible” since it adds unneeded complications).

    (ETA was made because it is fine to assume people have eg immaterial souls, as long as one does not thereby assume their inteeligence is not compatible with the laws of physics).

  8. BruceS: As does assuming [ETA people’s intelligence] requires that people not be machines

    Look if you want to claim that you are just a machine I’m fine with that it’s a free country.

    I believe based on revelation that there is more to persons than that. That is why it’s not murder to crush a toaster.

    BruceS: if you mean that being a person is something that is not compatible with the laws of physics

    Never once did I sat that anyone including God can violate the laws of physics.

    Being compatible with the laws of physics and being reducible to physics are two very different things.

    We already covered this at length up thread

    BruceS: was made because it is fine to assume people have eg immaterial souls, as long as one does not thereby assume their inteeligence is not compatible with the laws of physics

    I never once said that people have immaterial souls.

    People are souls and they are not reducible to physics.

    No person not even God can violate the laws of physics.

    peace

  9. Folks sometimes complain that I repeat myself but comments like Bruce’s last show why it’s often necessary.

    It’s like he has just up and forgotten two thirds of this conversation

    peace

  10. BruceS: Assuming we have to build something that is not compatible with physics begs the question.

    I never once said we had to build something that is not compatible with the laws of physics. I said we would need to build something that is not reducible to physics.

    peace

  11. fifthmonarchyman: I never once said we had to build something that is not compatible with the laws of physics. I said we would need to build something that is not reducible to physics.

    peace

    In my view (and all the philosophers I have read), “reducibility” is a stronger claim than “compatibility” Sorry I did not make this clear.

    So I was saying even a weaker claim would beg the question.

    What does ‘reducible’ it mean to you.

  12. BruceS: What does ‘reducible’ it mean to you.

    It means in part that there can’t be two Kirks even though it may be possible to build an exact physical replica.

    Again all of this was covered at length up thread.

    If Kirk was reducible to physics an exact physical replica would in fact be Kirk

    peace

  13. fifthmonarchyman: Look if you want to claim that you are just a machine I’m fine with that it’s a free country.

    I believe based on revelation that there is more to persons than that. That is why it’s not murder to crush a toaster.

    Never once did I sat that anyone including God can violate the laws of physics.

    Folks sometimes complain that I repeat myself but comments like Bruce’s last show why it’s often necessary.

    It’s like he has just up and forgotten two thirds of this conversation

    I never meant to attribute those arguments to you.
    I was trying to be clear that even one made such arguments, that would not affect my claim about intelligence

    I consider doing miracles to be violating the laws of physics. So you and I disagree, I suspect, on whether God can perform miracles or on the definition of miracles.

    I don’t know where up thread I agreed that compatibility was stronger than reducibility. I do agree they are different. My point is that the weaker claim is all that is needed and so reducibility is an unnecessary complication.

    Of course, if you are saying that reducibility and being compatible with do not have the simple relation I say they do, then we won’t agree on the rest.

  14. fifthmonarchyman: It means in part that there can’t be two Kirks even though it may be possible to build an exact physical replica.

    Again all of this was covered at length up thread.

    If Kirk was reducible to physics an exact physical replica would in fact be Kirk

    peace

    You are just repeating an example discussed in the context of personal identity which somehow is supposed to mean something to me about reducibility in general. You are not explaining your understanding of reducibility.

    I never said we could build an AI that was Kirk. I said we could not rule out building an AI that was intelligent.

    Anyway, that’s enough for me today.

  15. BruceS: I consider doing miracles to be violating the laws of physics. So you and I disagree, I suspect, on whether God can perform miracles or on the definition of miracles.

    God is trustworthy. That means he will not violate his own laws. Any being that can do “miracles” by your definition is certainly not God.

    BruceS: I don’t know where up thread I agreed that compatibility was stronger than reducibility.

    I have no idea what stronger is supposed to mean here. If they are different they are different.

    There is no sense substituting the one for the other when it has no bearing on the conversation.

    Peace

  16. BruceS: You are just repeating an example discussed in the context of personal identity which somehow is supposed to mean something to me about reducibility in general. You are not explaining your understanding of reducibility.

    My understanding is really very simple here. Persons are more than the sum total of the physical components in their bodies.

    BruceS: I said we could not rule out building an AI that was intelligent.

    An AI can’t ever be actually intelligent.
    It can only be artificially intelligent.

    It’s right there in the name………

    Honestly I’m often amazed at the lack of attention folks have to the very words that they type.

    peace

  17. fifthmonarchyman: God is trustworthy. That means he will not violate his own laws. Any being that can do “miracles” by your definition is certainly not God.

    I have no idea what stronger is supposed to mean here. If they are different they are different.

    There is no sense substituting the one for the other when it has no bearing on the conversation.

    Peace

    OK, one more.
    On miracles: “Can do” is not the same as “would do” or “did do”. Although I guess I would have put resurrecting the dead into the did do category in my understanding of Christian theology.

    On reducibility: Stronger to me means that the weaker concept logically includes the stronger. So being red is stronger than being coloured. A concept is stronger in the sense that more is assumed/required for it to apply.

    ‘Reducible’ means the laws of (say) biology could be stated in quantum field theory using only QFT theories and terms. Compatibility is weaker than reducible because it just means no theories in biology can involve violations of the laws of physics.

    But if it is reducible, it must be compatible. Reducibility imples compatibility , and not compatible implies not reducible. That is the way I mean the terms for this conversation..

    (A bit rushed in that, so if I screwed up the logical relations, jump on me for sure).

    ETA: In any event, if one starts by assuming people including their intelligence are not reducible to physics, then I guess there is nothing more to it. Note: I am not sure whether or not you start that way.

  18. fifthmonarchyman: It’s not implicit it’s explicit. The ability to make choices is what makes you conscious.

    If that was explicit, I must have missed the part where you stated this.

    fifthmonarchyman: All machines do is follow their program. When they come to a fork in the road they continue down the path that they were programed to go down. Perhaps their path is determined by a random number generator but there is no selecting or choosing going on.

    They take on of two paths but they are not choosing or selecting. Got it!

    fifthmonarchyman: But what persons do is different. That is unless persons are just machines

    Persons do not become machines just because computers can make choices. You are suffering from tunnel vision, Fifth.

  19. BruceS: On reducibility: Stronger to me means that the weaker concept logically includes the stronger. So being red is stronger than being coloured. A concept is stronger in the sense that more is assumed/required for it to apply.

    ‘Reducible’ means the laws of (say) biology could be stated in quantum field theory using only QFT theories and terms. Compatibility is weaker than reducible because it just means no theories in biology can involve violations of the laws of physics.

    But if it is reducible, it must be compatible. Reducibility imples compatibility , and not compatible implies not reducible. That is the way I mean the terms for this conversation..

    That all seems right to me: compatibility is weaker than reducibility because it doesn’t require as much work to establish it.

    I appreciate your emphasis on QFT. Usually in this discussions people talk about “reducibility to physics” without any care about what they mean by “physics”.

    The big problem with “reducibilty” is that it’s often very tricky to get a firm handle on what “reduction” means. The classical cases of successful intertheoretic reduction involve seeing the entities and relations posited by one theory as a special case of the entities and relations posited by a more comprehensive theory. (Example: how electromagnetism allowed us to see electricity and magnetism as distinct phenomena grounded in the same basic laws.)

    It seems to me that successful intertheoretic reductions are actually quite rare in the history of science, and if I were better at philosophy of science I’d take a crack at why this is so.

    One thing I’d definitely stress is that reductions are much more difficult than they appear. As it is, we can’t even reduce Mendelian population genetics to molecular genetics. And there are some compelling arguments for why chemistry is irreducible to physics (from what I’ve been told). So I really don’t see any hope for the idea that any of the “special sciences” are reducible to fundamental physics. (Jerry Fodor was right about that much, at least, though I follow most philosophers of biology in challenging Fodor’s assumption that scientific explanations must involve laws.)

  20. In Fifth’s world everything is easy.
    What makes a person a person? Not being reducible to physics.
    And what does “not reducible to physics” mean to Fifth? Being a person, of course!

    How could you, professional philosophers, not see how easy all these stuff has always been?

  21. dazz:
    In Fifth’s world everything is easy.
    What makes a person a person? Not being reducible to physics.
    And what does “not reducible to physics” mean to Fifth? Being a person, of course!

    I enjoyed learning about FMM’s worldview. I was not surprised to find it so incompatible with mine.

    But we seemed to have been talking past each other once we started into AI, which I had should have expected but did not. So probably best for me to disengage.

    Based on things I have said to KN about similar situations, I definitely am in line for an “I told you so” from somebody.

    Me, for starters.

  22. BruceS: On miracles: “Can do” is not the same as “would do” or “did do”.

    I’m not sure if it makes a difference.

    God being omnipotent can do what ever he wants. Because God is trustworthy he would never want to violate his own law.

    BruceS: Although I guess I would have put resurrecting the dead into the did do category in my understanding of Christian theology.

    Saying that God would not violate physical law is not the same thing as saying your current understanding of physical law is correct or any where near complete.

    It’s not a violation of physical law for God to raise the dead. But it might be against your current limited incomplete understanding of physical law.

    peace

  23. fifthmonarchyman: God is trustworthy. That means he will not violate his own laws. Any being that can do “miracles” by your definition is certainly not God.

    Of course He cannot, if you are not bound by the regularities in nature ,you cannot violate them.

  24. fifthmonarchyman: It’s not a violation of physical law for God to raise the dead. But it might be against your current limited incomplete understanding of physical law.

    How about humans?

  25. BruceS: ‘Reducible’ means the laws of (say) biology could be stated in quantum field theory using only QFT theories and terms. Compatibility is weaker than reducible because it just means no theories in biology can involve violations of the laws of physics.

    This is pretty much mumbo jumbo to me. Quantum field theory is not all of physics and our understanding of physics is not complete. It’s possible that something could be incompatible with QFT and still be perfectly compatible with physics.

    When I say that a person is not reducible to physics I mean that even if our understanding of physics were complete and we knew the mass, position and velocity of every particle of a persons body. Those things would not tell you all there is to know about that person.

    I hope that helps

    peace

  26. BruceS: if one starts by assuming people including their intelligence are not reducible to physics, then I guess there is nothing more to it.

    It’s not just that I assume that to be the case. The thought experiment we have been discussing conclusively demonstrates it to be the case when it comes to any individual person you can point to.

    peace

  27. dazz: In Fifth’s world everything is easy.

    Some things are easy

    once again quoting Reid

    “If there are certain principles, as I think there are, which the’ constitution of our nature leads us to believe, and which we are under a necessity to take for granted in the common concerns of life,’ without being able to give a reason for them; these are what we call the principles of common sense; and what is manifestly contrary to them, is what we call absurd.”

    dazz: How could you, professional philosophers, not see how easy all these stuff has always been?

    I respect and admire professional philosophers but they are not Prophets and should they be treated as such.

    peace

  28. newton: How about humans?

    Obviously not with our present knowledge or abilities. I don’t have a crystal ball but would say probably not in the future either.

    peace

  29. BruceS: But we seemed to have been talking past each other once we started into AI

    It’s all the same conversation.

    We started talking about persons not being reducible to physics and in the course of the conversation we explored some of the implications of that fact.

    If your understanding in one area does not hold for another it probably means you need to examine your assumptions.

    peace

  30. BruceS: I enjoyed learning about FMM’s worldview. I was not surprised to find it so incompatible with mine.

    I enjoyed the conversation as well.

    I would like to complement you on your civility and efforts to understand a perspective you don’t share.

    This sort of thing has to happen more often or we risk the balkanization of society.

    peace

  31. BruceS: But we seemed to have been talking past each other once we started into AI, which I had should have expected but did not. So probably best for me to disengage.

    You were clearly trying to clarify your terms, while also trying to get Fifth to clarify his so you could discuss those too. OTOH he simply dismisses anything that doesn’t conform to his stupid presuppositions and refuses to flesh out arguments to support them. It’s not just an issue of clashing worldviews, rational discourse with this guy is impossible. I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know already but anyway

  32. fifthmonarchyman: “If there are certain principles, as I think there are, which the’ constitution of our nature leads us to believe, and which we are under a necessity to take for granted in the common concerns of life,’ without being able to give a reason for them; these are what we call the principles of common sense; and what is manifestly contrary to them, is what we call absurd.”

    If only you understood what common sense actually was–both to Reid and to pretty much everybody else……

    So little of your worldview actually comports with it.

  33. walto: So little of your worldview actually comports with it.

    You do know that Reid was a Christian who was licensed to preach in the church of Scotland don’t you?

    That is a Presbyterian denomination closely associated with the teachings of Calvin

    peace

  34. dazz: You were clearly trying to clarify your terms, while also trying to get Fifth to clarify his so you could discuss those too.

    I am more than willing to clarify any terms for anyone who asks all they have to do is ask clarifying questions.

    dazz: he simply dismisses anything that doesn’t conform to his stupid presuppositions and refuses to flesh out arguments to support them.

    You don’t produce arguments to support presuppositions. If you did they would not be presuppositions but conclusions.

    peace

  35. dazz: It’s not just an issue of clashing worldviews, rational discourse with this guy is impossible.

    I have no idea what you are talking about.

    We were having a very interesting conversation up until the moment that I pointed out that artificial intelligence is by definition not actual intelligence.

    peace

  36. fifthmonarchyman: You do know that Reid was a Christian who was licensed to preach in the church of Scotlanddon’t you?

    That is a Presbyterian denomination closely associated with the teachings of Calvin

    peace

    Yep

  37. walto: Yep

    I’d say his worldview and mine have an awful lot in common.

    Of course it’s possible that common sense philosophy is incompatible with orthodox Christianity but that claim needs to be demonstrated rather than just asserted

    Peace

  38. I will say that one area in which presuppositionalism goes beyond Reid is that it asks us slow down for a minute and ponder where those universal “principles of common sense” come from.

    I think that is a natural extension on Reid’s thought rather than anything foreign to it.

    peace

  39. here is a quote from the article you linked

    quote:

    Reid argues there is no way to explain the existence of these first principles and the common sense of humanity apart from God who created the world and has designed us to live and act within that world.

    Reid writes,

    I thank the Author of my being, who bestowed it upon me before the eyes of my reason were opened, and still bestows it upon me, to be my guide where reason leaves me in the dark. And now I yield to the direction of my senses, not from instinct only, but from confidence and trust in a faithful and beneficent Monitor, grounded upon the experience of his paternal care and goodness. In all this, I deal with the Author of my being, no otherwise than I thought it reasonable to deal with my parents and tutors. I believed by instinct whatever they told me, long before I had the idea of a lie, or thought of the possibility of their deceiving me (Reid, Inquiry, in Works of, I.184).

    end quote:

    sounds pretty consistent with my worldview 😉

  40. walto: Here’s something on that. I mean, I don’t agree with this guy on much either. But at least I can understand him and I think he’d be able to understand me.

    Just so you know I’m a very big fan of Kim Riddlebarger and my brand of Presuppositionalism owes a lot more to Gordon Clark than it does to Vantil

    Peace

  41. fifthmonarchyman:
    here is a quote from the article you linked

    quote:

    Reid argues there is no way to explain the existence of these first principles and the common sense of humanity apart from God who created the world and has designed us to live and act within that world.

    Reid writes,

    I thank the Author of my being, who bestowed it upon me before the eyes of my reason were opened, and still bestows it upon me, to be my guide where reason leaves me in the dark.And now I yield to the direction of my senses, not from instinct only, but from confidence and trust in a faithful and beneficent Monitor, grounded upon the experience of his paternal care and goodness.In all this, I deal with the Author of my being, no otherwise than I thought it reasonable to deal with my parents and tutors.I believed by instinct whatever they told me, long before I had the idea of a lie, or thought of the possibility of their deceiving me (Reid, Inquiry, in Works of, I.184).

    end quote:

    sounds pretty consistent with my worldview 😉

    Not consistent enough. There’s no calling truth God or constant retreats to revelation. I may think Reid is wrong, but as you’ve been told many times here, your stuff isn’t even wrong.

  42. walto: There’s no calling truth God or constant retreats to revelation.

    LOL

    That part comes strait from the Bible.

    I’m sure that Reid and all Christians who love God’s word would agree with it.

    peace

  43. Kantian Naturalist: That all seems right to me: compatibility is weaker than reducibility because it doesn’t require as much work to establish it.

    Is Friston’s free energy work compatible with physics? The latest Neuroskeptic blog entry links to Conflicting Emergences. Weak Vs. Strong Emergence For The Modelling Of Brain Function which claims there are issues because Friston uses downward causation in a questionable way. I think complexity theory plus mechanism can give an account of downward causation without unphysical, strong emergence. But the article’s other charge that Friston lacks neuroscientific support seems a reasonable challenge to me. I sometimes wonder whether the free energy stuff is mostly of interest to philosophers and AI researchers, not neuroscientists.

    I appreciate your emphasis on QFT. Usually in this discussions people talk about “reducibility to physics” without any care about what they mean by “physics”.

    That comes from Sean Carroll. Who, BTW, gets a backhanded compliment on his paper in Neuroexistentialism in that NDPR review. Something like “shoddy work, but nice to see a physicist taking philosophy seriously”..

    It seems to me that successful intertheoretic reductions are actually quite rare in the history of science, and if I were better at philosophy of science I’d take a crack at why this is so.

    The stuff I have read in SEP and elsewhere agrees that there are none that are non-controversial, not even chemistry to physics or TD to statistical mechanics. Accepted reductions tend to be for successive theories in physics and are more like approximation assumptions than theoretical reductions (eg SR at low velocity approximates Newtonian dynamics).

  44. dazz:, rational discourse with this guy is impossible. I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know already but anyway

    There is definitely a concern with using same definitions for terms. Beyond that, I think the showstopper is we differ in how to justify claims of knowledge. That makes any attempts to come to agreement exercises in futility.

    I a referring to the presuppositionalism stuff, of course. Which comes up from time to time in this thread.

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