BruceS’s link to a series of discussions with the leading atheists of our day, about emergence, reductionism, and mostly just about how to make naturalism sound believable to the gathered masses the atheist preachers exist to proselytize to, is a rather entertaining bit of folly to indulge in. Its the end result of what you get when you band together the most well known atheists, each who consider themselves to be solely the smartest person in the world (due wholly to the history of their lucky accidental mutations which have no meaning, they will remind you over and over) and get them all to agree that they believe the same thing, and then listen as they all try to figure out what it is they believe. Madcap slapstick ensues.
So what you get is Jerry Coyne musing about quantum mechanics, Sean Carroll musing about biology, Terrence Deacon musing about end directedness and reductionism, Danniel Dennet wondering why ontological questions are interesting, Alex Rosenberg reminding everyone that we are all atheist right?, and Simon DeDeo telling everyone something that no one is sure why he is telling them. And Richard Dawkins wondering what time lunch is.
But one particular point, that they often brought up and caught my fancy, was the reference to the fictitious Laplaces Demon (at least we think its fictitious). The idea being that if someone could know the state and location of every atom on earth, we can know all events, both past present and future-for isn’t it certain that all of life is really just atoms, and the illusion that its something else (Yes, yes, the conference attendees all nod their heads, we all agree that’s all the world is. Emergence is just an illusion, because we aren’t the Demon, and we can’t know all the atoms..but if we could…life’s puzzle would be solved. Nod, nod!)
So a question comes to my mind. If they all believe, that if the demon could know the location of every atom, then there is nothing we couldn’t know, because ultimately that is all the world is. That is all you are, just your atoms. And if the demon knows the position of everyone one of your atoms, as well as the environment of atoms you exist in, nothing is a mystery. So let’s suppose if that was the case, does this mean, if another demon came along, who had the power to remove just one atom from the universe, and that Demon decided he would remove one of YOUR atoms, or one of Sean Carroll’s atoms and make it go puff, disappear, would Sean Carroll no longer be Sean Carroll? If they removed one of your atoms, would you no longer be you?
What if the demon removed two of your atoms? Or six? When would you no longer be you? How many atoms would it take? How many skins cell gone, until you are no longer you, and the demon must recalculate his entire predictions for the universe? Because if this is really what the confederacy of atheists really believe, then of course they believe that one less atom, makes you less you. The only question becomes, how much less, until you are not you?
How many atoms does it take to make Sean Carroll? I think this would have been a much more interesting question, then Alex Rosenberg and Terrence Deacon asking everyone if they agree we are all atheists. But then again, I don’t think they really wanted to answer questions.
Would BruceS be any less interested in the fundamental questions of life, if he were one less atom?
If you can use this evidence to explain what a naturalistic world would look like (after we find what it looks like) why is it any more unlikely to say this is what a supernatural world would look like?
I think if we started from the beginning, and asked a cave man if this sounds more like a natural world or a supernatural one, 100% would say that sounds like a supernatural one. I don’t know how materialists can honestly say otherwise.
Its like I have said, you can take all evidence and dismiss it, because no evidence is enough for some. The stars spelling out God still won’t convince many.
In fact I think if all the stars aligned and spelled out God, what most materialists would say is something like “Well, dark matter, and some other kinds of forces sometimes blip in and out of existence, and move celestial bodies. Its more like a probability thing. In some universes, maybe they spell out chicken, or horseradish. We have no evidence of an outside agency, so I see no reason to assume one. Its just math…”
That is no different to what materialists are doing now.
Well that depends on what you mean by those labels, doesn’t it?
I generally don’t care what label you use to describe something, as long as you are being consistent in your use of that label, and you have clearly defined what it refers to.
Whether you call the world of atoms “natural” or “supernatural” is neither here nor there. All you’ve done is stuck a nameplate on the box of [things made of atoms].
What matters is what you mean by that label. Does it have other entailments? What else would you put in that box, if anything? What do you think should go in the “natural” box, if not things made of atoms? What method do you use to distinguish between two hypothetical natural and supernatural objects?
If I hand you two objects, I don’t tell you anything about them beforehand, what experiment will you perform to decide which of the objects are natural or supernatural? What observation will tell one from the other? What behavior will you expect of a natural object, and what behavior will you expect of a supernatural object?
I think a cavewoman who’s got a bit of curiosity in her will ask what you mean by “natural” and “supernatural”? If you don’t first define what those words mean before you set out to investigate whether the world is “natural” or “supernatural”, then your subsequent labeling of things as either “natural” or “supernatural” is completely arbitrary and just an exercise in coming up with a name.
Your evidence so far seems to be a completely subjective and ill-defined thought-experiment about what a “caveman” would label things made of atoms. And you haven’t even told him what those words mean.
What the heck, it doesn’t matter if you call something natural or supernatural? And you believe that?
You don’t get that if we accept the existence of the supernatural, we are talking about a cause, a purpose to the world?
I think it is just such a level of denial, when the naturalists can say, well, so what if there is something outside this universe which causes things, it could just be that way because its that way, why analyze it further. Its as if you have no curiosity whatsoever for the largest question of all, why are we here.
The third way people are content to just accept, “Its just what nature does, even if we can’t understand why.”
Don’t you see the problem then? You are asking the people who don’t believe in only the material to give you evidence for it. But your side can’t say what evidence would look like. Well, you have all this evidence of a mysterious, organized world. And yet you still want to dismiss it, no matter how counter it is to the idea of chaos and meaninglessness.
If the complex world of atoms is just chaos and meaninglessness, I think all introspective people can do is shake their heads and say, gee, you sure aren’t very skeptical. What more do you want?
It’s a fact. They’re just labels. Until you define what those labels mean, what it means for something to be natural or supernatural, then it’s completely inconsequential.
They’re just names. What does it mean to say that something is supernatural?
If I go out and point out some rock on the ground, and then say “that rock is supernatural”, what have I said about the rock?
If I then say “that rock is natural”, what have I said about it that makes it different from before?
No, never heard that definition of the supernatural before. Ever. But okay, if that’s how you use the word. I’d like you to elaborate a bit though.
Going back to the rock example. I now say the rock is “supernatural”, and this means you now think that the world has some particular cause and purpose? Is that correct?
I can make no sense of this. I don’t know who even says that. Is there something outside this universe which causes things? How do you know? How do I analyze it?
I have nothing but curiosity for that. It’s just that I’d like to have some way to investigate such questions. For example, can I find that out by performing experiments on the rock? How so? What observation could I make in my experiments on the rock that would tell me whether there is something outside of the universe “causing things”?
Please answer the questions I posed here and in my previous post. Every question mark in my posts define a question I’d like an answer to. How would I distinguish a natural from a supernatural rock? How about natural from supernatural atoms? How do natural objects behave, how do supernatural objects behave? How does their behavior imply causation beyond the universe? What does it mean to say “beyond” or “outside” the universe?
Are there natural in addition to supernatural things, or does everything have to be one or the other?
I think it is you who needs to answer this question. I have already said what is evidence of the supernatural. The appearance of a constructed world is evidence.
So what would evidence be for you? It sounds like you are saying there could never be any evidence. So there is really no need for you to be curious, because nothing would ever convince you.
No, that really is you. YOU are the one saying there is evidence for the supernatural. In fact you seem to be saying that EVERYTHING is supernatural, or at least that atoms are supernatural. That means you have some category, defined by some properties. I’m asking what those properties are?
What does that mean? “appearance of a constructed world”?
Those atoms you spoke about and your caveman thought-experiment – you are convinced that telling the caveman about atoms would convince the caveman that the world is supernatural. How so? What is it about the atoms that makes you conclude that?
You must have some sort of expectation about what the world would be like if it was natural, and what it would be like if it was supernatural.
I don’t know what would be evidence for the supernatural unless you define it for me. You say something “outside of the universe” is evidence for the supernatural. Okay, so supernatural to you means “outside the universe”? Fine, then how do we get evidence from “outside the universe”?
This isn’t my problem. I’m not the one claiming there IS or IS NOT something outside the universe. I’m asking how we find out. YOU are the one claiming we have such evidence (it’s apparently atoms) and I wonder what it is about the atoms that makes you say they are evidence for something outside the universe. You find them counterintuitive in some way? Sure, but how does that mean there is something outside the universe?
What would convince me is a clear definition, and then some way of performing an experiment or observation that would distinguish the natural from the supernatural. You don’t seem able to explain how that could be done. That’s not my problem.
Also, why do you ignore all the questions I pose? It’s really weird that you constantly avoid attempts to get you to clarify how you would distinguish the supernatural from the natural.
For my own part I’m saying I don’t know what the difference is. There are things, they have the properties that they do, and we try to determine what those properties are and what explains them by doing science. We can then categorize them by their shared or distinct properties.
You seem to have two categories, natural and supernatural, and I’m wondering how you determine what you put in those categories. You seem to be all over the place here. Things about causes from outside the universe (how do you know that something is caused from outside the universe? If you claim that it is, then you must have some way of demonstrating this), things about having purpose, things about the “appearance of a constructed world”, and then … atoms. It’s a total mess. Perhaps you really do have a coherent argument for the supernatural, but you’re not being clear at all.
You do science on an object (like atoms), discover that it does [what?] and then you put it in the “supernatural” category. You do science on another object, discover that it [does what?] and then you put it in the “natural” category.
If I could say one thing about all your posts on this subject combined it’s that you seem to be really disappointed that we don’t jump to the conclusion that something with an unexplained nature or cause must have been caused by a God from outside of the universe. Your whole shtick here seems, at philosophical rock-bottom, to amount to an argument from ignorance. We don’t know, we don’t know how to find out, therefore God.
I trust I don’t need to explain that is a logical fallacy, and that we should try to avoid logically fallacious reasoning.
You wrote earlier “You don’t get that if we accept the existence of the supernatural, we are talking about a cause, a purpose to the world?”
And you’ve spoken about how atoms totally should convince anyone that the world is supernatural.
And that evidence for the supernatural is the “appearance of a constructed world”.
All of this is a complete mess. I don’t see the thread that ties these things together at all. Let’s focus on the atoms for a bit, and your “cause” and “purpose to the world”. Can you tie those together for me? Atoms exist, they have these particular behaviors, therefore we should conclude something about “a cause, a purpose to the world”? Bridge that gap for me with logic and reason. Please.
That’s your argument not mine.
If you can’t tell me what would be evidence for the supernatural, then how can you ask for any.
I have already given what I feel are at least ten examples of evidence. If that is not evidence to you, you either have to explain what would constitute evidence (how about evidence for a God, what would constitute that for you?), or acknowledge that you are saying nothing could convince you.
The latest findings in quantum research should prepare us for an understanding that the everyday world of our experience falls far short of reality.
Arthur Zajonc, in the book, “Catching the Light” writes:
The fundamental structure of matter is looking more like fields (holistic) rather than sub-atomic “particles” (reductionistic).
If light and matter are proving to be so different to what we imagined, how much more so might consciousness prove to be?
To paraphrase Zajonc:
In a conversation Schopenhauer remarked to Goethe that light would not exist without sight. Goethe responded vehemently, “No! You would not exist if light did not see you”
Might it not be the same with consciousness? Like coming from like. We are drops in the ocean, individual conscious beings emerging out of a universal consciousness. An all pervading universal consciousness cannot, by itself, be self-consciousness, because it has no “other” by which it can see itself as “self”. But we, because we see ourselves as separate beings, do have self-consciousness.
If you were a follower of one of the Abrahamic religions you might say that God needed to create other beings in order to be aware of himself, and beings such as Satan are a result of this.
Well I would say that there is a whole spectrum of consciousness. Even within personal experience we know of different states of consciousness from being unconscious through dream consciousness to a fully awake self-consciousness.
Animals show this range of consciousness up to a very basic form of self-consciousness, but this is nothing compared to the self-consciousness that can be displayed by humans. IMO social insects display a group consciousness which is more advanced than the consciousness shown by individual insects.
Your lack of even attempts to answer my questions is looking increasingly odd.
I have explained that you must first define the supernatural. Not give examples of things you THINK are supernatural. I don’t care that you think atoms are supernatural. I want to find out how natural versus supernatural atoms should be expected to behave. If you can’t tell me that, then how did you decide to classify atoms as supernatural?
Define it in such a way that I could perform experiments that could distinguish the natural from the supernatural. That’s how science is done.
In order to choose between competing hypotheses I need to understand what is different for them. And in order for the hypotheses to be testable, they must make predictions that can be observationally verified. You refuse to do the work of defining your terms, and describing experiments. And then you want to fault ME for your refusal to describe how I would test for your ill-defined concept. I concede, I don’t know how to test for distinguishing between categories you refuse to define.
Give me a definition. Define what should be true for a natural object, and define what should be true for a supernatural object, and then tell me how I could experimentally distinguish between the two. I hand you a rock and ask you to determine whether it is natural or supernatural. What do you do phoodoo? How would YOU go about it? Perhaps I could agree that your method would tell the difference.
I’m not asking for examples of things you categorize as supernatural. Telling me that you think atoms are supernatural doesn’t tell me what it is ABOUT atoms that makes you conclude that. For example, just to pick something, if you told me that a defining feature of the supernatural is “it has microscopic constituents that can’t be seen with the naked eye”, then I could simply do microscope observations and determine that something is indeed made of smaller constituents than can be seen with the naked eye, and then ta-da! That now belongs in the supernatural category according to my definition. And by negation, natural things should NOT have miscroscopic constituents. So that would make it really simple to tell them apart.
So, why don’t you just come up with some simple defining attributes that all supernatural entitites should have in common, and all natural entities should have in common which are different from the supernatural ones?
Don’t give me lists or examples which you have not explained why you categorize as you do. Give me definitions, then explain how they apply to your examples (like atoms).
Anything to dodge answering what would constitute as evidence for a God to you, huh Rummy?
It sounds like you are forfeiting.
I guess we’ll just have to let potential lurkers decide for themselves who’s forteiting here.
ETA: Please don’t ask me to define ostensive. I can barely even pronounce it.
An ostensive definition will not suffice here because definition by example does not allow me to elucidate how one distinguishes whether an object is natural or supernatural. That’s the whole point here.
I want to understand WHY atoms are evidence for the supernatural. What is it about atoms that make them qualify as supernatural?
Phoodoo can use ostensive definitions all he wants, but will have to rest content with having a private language noone else understands. But he isn’t content with that, he wants to convince us that atoms are evidence for the supernatural. That means he has some explaining, not merely pointing, to do.
Since you don’t know the difference between natural and supernatural, I guess for you all things are supernatural.
You could tell me the difference? It’s incredible that you keep refusing. It smells of deep insecurity.
They’re just as much quablegibambed, ubyginastiral, or zyptsachazed, as they are natural or supernatural. Since I don’t have a definition for these words it’s kinda senseless for me to even use them.
I really admire your patience…😁
Yes. Some believe that there are different “levels” of consciousness in life systems…
I only know that ours is unique… 😏
We can do a simple thought experiment here where we reverse the situation. I now declare that atoms are evidence of naturalism, and that anyone who disagrees is just in denial and everyone can see it. If we could travel back in time and tell cavewomen of atoms and all their remarkable properties and how everything we can see is made of them, they’d agree that naturalism is true.
Atoms don’t occur naturally.
What do you mean by atoms? Are we talking about the same thing?
I wonder why cavemen didn’t just assume atoms existed? I mean if that’s what a normal person would assume a natural world would be like, without anyone telling them, shouldn’t all people just assume we are made of tiny particles that aren’t really particles, and that don’t really exist, unless we observe them to exist, and they come and go, and are constantly being rearranged, but that deer always still just looks like that same deer, and your wife still looks like your wife, even though really she is something completely different all the time?
Why would you even need to tell them? Its natural right?
Yes we are talking about the same thing. I mean by atoms what you mean by atoms. Those things listed in the periodic table of elements.
HAHAha YES! EXACTLY phoodoo. You’ve walked straight into my position and you didn’t even notice. Why the FUCK would anyone just assume that a supernatural world would be like atoms behave, if you didn’t already tell them?
Hahahaha oh my goodness. NOW YOU GET IT! You have now correctly identified the utter stupidity of your appeal to an imaginary caveman scenario.
I have to ask about this:
How the fuck did you get to that conclusion?
We should invent a caste of people who we cosset so they can pore over golden pages in golden palaces and interpret the supernatural world we can only be told about, for us.
Oh, wait now.
You there? How did you determine that “[atoms] don’t really exist, unless we observe them to exist”?
If someone didn’t know, and you explained to them that the world was made from these crazy atoms of energy, that come and go through our body, and have this weird entanglement property that can connect them through billions of light years of distance, and you gave them a choice, a natural world or a supernatural world, and you think they would say, “yea, sounds like just like natural things happening with no design, and just meaningless materialism.”
If that is what you think, given the choice of two possibilities, that’s what most prehistoric people would choose, well, I seriously question your judgement.
If someone didn’t know, and you explained to them that the world was made from these crazy atoms of energy, that come and go through our body, and have this weird entanglement property that can connect them through billions of light years of distance, and you gave them a choice, a natural world or a supernatural world, and you think they would say, “yea, sounds like just like supernatural things happening by design with a purpose.”
If that is what you think, given the choice of two possibilities, that’s what most prehistoric people would choose, well, I seriously question your judgement.
Careful deliberation after considering all the facts.
Heh, I’d like to see that purported deliberation and the facts then.
Hehe. It’s sort of like designing. You can’t really see it taking place you can only see its effects.
I believe you, they appear to be similar in that way. Some conclusion, or final creation is arrived at, but nobody can explain how.