NDE (Neo-Darwinian Evolution) = OOL & evolution without prescriptive goals, both being nothing more in essence than functions of material forces & interactions.
ID (Intelligent Design) = Deliberate OOL & evolution with prescriptive goals
(I included OOL because if OOL contains purposefully written code that provides guidelines for evolutionary processes towards goals, then evolutionary processes are not neo-Darwinian as they utilize oracle information).
I’m not an evolutionary biologist, nor am I a mathematician. Therefore, when I argue about NDE and ID, the only cases I attempt to make are logical ones based on principles involved because – frankly – I lack the educational, application & research expertise to legitimately parse, understand and criticize most papers published in those fields. I suggest that most people who engage in NDE/ID arguments (on either side) similarly lack the necessary expertise to evaluate (or conduct) such research on their own.
Further, even if they had some related expertise that makes them qualified, to some degree, to successfully parse such papers, as has been brought up in this forum repeatedly is the lack of confidence in the peer-review process as a safeguard against bad science or bad math, or even fraudulent and sloppy science. A brief search on google or bing for scientific fraud and peer review process will find all sorts of studies about a growing epidemic of bad citations – citations that reference recalled, recanted, fraudulent or disproven research.
So, for the majority of us who are not conducting active research in evolutionary biology, nor are mathematicians or information theorists, what are we really saying if we assert that “evolution has been proven by countless papers”, or “ID is necessary to the formation of DNA”? When one of us claims that Dembski’s work has been “disproven”, or that Douglas Axe has proven something about functional protein probabilities, what does it mean when we (those whom I am referring to in this post) have no personal capacity to legitimately reach that conclusion via our own personal understanding of the math or the research fields/data involved?
All we can be doing is rhetorical characterizing and cheerleading. We argue as if we understand the research or the math, but in fact (for many of us) we don’t, and even if we did, unless we are doing that research, we cannot have that much confidence in the peer-review process. All we can do (outside of arguments using logic and principle) is quote abstracts and conclusions or other people we believe to be qualified (and honest) experts about data and research we don’t really understand and which may or may not be valid. This is really nothing more than just cherry-picking convenient abstracts and conclusions and assuming the peer-review process worked for that particular paper.
Therefore, the NDE/ID argument for most people has nothing to do with (and, in fact, cannot have anything to do with) valid and informed interpretations of biological data or an understanding of the math involved in information theory as it is applied to evolutionary processes – even if they believe that to be the case. Logically, if we admit we are not really personally capable of qualitatively examining and reaching valid conclusions of research that we would somehow vet as valid research, we must admit all we are really doing is choosing to believe something, and then erecting post hoc arguments in an attempt to characterize our choice of belief as something derived from a legitimate, sound understanding of the facts (biological & mathematical) involved.
This means that for most of us, the NDE/ID argument is really a proxy argument that belies the real argument, or the reason we have chosen NDE or ID to believe in the first place. IMO, that “reason” is a disagreement of ontological worldviews, and I think that the two general worldviews that are in conflict which are fighting a proxy battle through the NDE/ID debate are:
1) Humans are deliberately generated entities that exist for a purpose;
2) Humans are not deliberately generated entities that exist for a purpose.
Now, I don’t claim those general worldviews cover every foundational motive or position in the NDE/ID debate. But, I think it is logically clear that most of us must be presenting what can only be rhetorical cheerleading in an attempt to construct post hoc rationalizations for our choice of belief (combined with attempts to make the other “side” feel bad about their position via various character smearing, motive-mongering, name-calling, belittling their referenced papers and experts, and other such invective, and so we must have chosen our belief for some other reason, and IMO the two categories above represent the two basic (and pretty much necessary) consequences of NDE/ID beliefs.
So, to simplify: for whatever psychological reasons, people either want or need to believe that humans are deliberately generated beings that exist for a purpose, or they wish or need to believe the contrary, which leads them to an emotional/intuitive acceptance of ID or NDE, which they then attempt to rationalize post hoc by offering statements structured to make it appear (1) as if they have a valid, legitimate understanding of things they really do not; (2) that they have real science on their side; (3) that experts agree with them (when, really, they are just cheerleading convenient experts), and (4) that it is stupid, ignorant, or wicked to not accept their side as true.
Can you know? if you can’t, why should you care?
Maybe this is just speculation, but I can understand how, if one has a deep, abiding and ineradicable faith in an entity that might be imaginary and in any case is in principle outside empirical evidence, one might be tempted to adopt a philosophy where evidence has the limits necessary to respect that faith.
So evidence as we know it is fine for things like hitting your mouth with the food consistently, or avoiding traffic accidents, or getting dressed. Indeed, evidence is not only acceptable but required for nearly all purposes in life, for all life even at the level of bacteria. But that sort of evidence is anathema in the God Compartment. When that zone is entered, “evidence” becomes something utterly other, nearly meaningless lest it be unacceptably threatening. As it must, for the sake of sanity.
You are good evidence.
If you didn’t manage to surprise me with every second comment, I could say to myself, “Well I’m just generating this reality since everything in my reality makes sense to me”.
Since you don’t make sense to me, I can make a very “rational” case based on logic, that you are not an extension of me, and therefore real.
As I have indicated, I don’t need to defend a worldview. It works, provides technology, medicine and other benefits, and has all but replaced the interventionist worldview for most people.
You provide a diversion on the internet, but given another court case like Dover, no lawyer would allow you near a witness stand. And that is mostly what I care about. I care not a bit what people believe in their hearts. I care that pseudoscience could be taught as science.
William J Murray,
I think that is what motivates most people, and that is that the flawed reasoning of IDists be kept out of science.
Theism has no place in a lab.
Good point! You’d also be a genius painter, writer, scientist because every time you see a Rembrandt, read Shakespeare or read Einstein’s papers, you have generated them yourself! Since I know I’m not that clever, there has to be an external reality.
Reminds me of an episode of the TV series “Awake”, where the main character isn’t sure whether he is dreaming or not while he is in a session with a shrink. The shrink prints out a random part of the declaration of independence and makes the guy read it out loud. Then she points out that if he was dreaming he must have memorized the declaration while he was awake. I thought that was a neat trick, and a clever idea of the writer!
Now look what you did!
You make me wish I WAS that brain in a vat! 🙂
Anyone who has vivid dreams knows that the brain in a vat, or even the Matrix is a possibility.
Slightly OT but around a year ago I had what could only be described as an ‘irony dream’.
In my dream I was in a pub with friends and explaining why ‘this’ (waving my arms around for emphasis) couldn’t possibly be a dream; it was all too detailed. Then I woke up.
I was giggling all day.
There’s a well-known argument, the provenance of which of course escapes me as I’m writing this that goes something like this:
1) At some point, unless it destroys itself, an intelligent species will develop the capability to create highly detailed simulations of any imaginable reality.
2) One of the most interesting phenomena to investigate in such a simulation is consciousness.
3) Sufficiently complex simulations will develop the ability to simulate consciousness.
4) The entities that develop this capability, whether “real” or simulated, will create and run numerous such simulations.
5) Therefore, the odds are good that any conscious entity is actually in a simulation.
I’m sure I haven’t done the argument justice, but it’s enough to keep me amused when I can’t fall asleep.
It’s Nick Bostrom’s argument.
I don’t want to get mired in Privileged Planet hokum, but I doubt there are many advanced civilizations.
It doesn’t matter to me what the true nature of reality is. In my reality, people have been discussing this for thousands of years to no effect. It’s amusing but not productive.
Unless you can make a living selling books and lectures.
There is a practice called ‘lucid dreaming’ in which people cultivate the ability to detect that they’re dreaming while still in the dream. With this awareness, you’re able to put the dream to good use (recreational, psychological, even didactic) rather than just going along for the ride.
One of the tricks of lucid dreaming is to look at printed material such as a sign, a newspaper, or the cover of a book. You then deliberately direct your gaze elsewhere, then back to the printed material. If the words change, you know you are in a dream.
It works for me. As Woodbine’s anecdote illustrates, the brain is pretty good at generating the illusion that dreams are reality. You have to look for the seams in the illusion.
Ok, if you don’t even understand that what you seem to think are 2 different problems here are one and the same in the context we are discussing (because one is nothing but an illustrative example for the other), there is really little I have left to say to you on this.
I’ll just note that you suggest to solve moral problems that you personally deem appropriate by attempting to enforce your view.
Ah, so you just forgot to put *according to my premises and the logical consequences that I believe these premises have* in front of that sentence then…
I find it strange that you would consider ANYTHING universal to all experiential channels. You seemed to say earlier that anything that anybody could imagine has an experiential channel (but maybe I just misunderstood that, you are the one with the TV, after all). I can certainly imagine experiences that lack or contradict either of those things that you think are universal. Maybe you mean universal to all experiential channels on your own TV?
I used to be able to do this quite a lot, and a a teenager was even able to achieve … well, y’know (blush) by directing the dream, despite the fact that I was aware of dreaming and could not move. I still get the “I’m dreaming” realisation occasionally – most frequently, I am up a tall tree or soloing a rock-climb somewhere and in difficulty. I realise I could not possibly get in that situation in real life, and all I have to do is step backwards. As to locating the women in this dream-world … same as the real world, these days! :0)
I know what you mean. I have been able to “continue” dreams of the night before that were, ahem, especially pleasant. During the “follow-up” dream I would be aware that I was doing that. Did any philosophers work out the implications of this kind of ability?
WRT the sort of idealism and solipsism being discussed here, I commend Wittgenstein’s penetrating little book On Certainty.
I’ve never sought lucid dreams, but I have a rich recalled dream life and once did have the experience of an extremely lengthy and compelling lucid dream that I guided at will and brought to a deliberate close.
It shed no light on whether we are brains in a simulation, but it certainly made it clear that simulations are found in brains.
Yes, and it gives credence to the idea that waking consciousness is itself a kind of dream, just one that is guided and constrained by sensory input.
Structurally this calls to mind the cortico-thalamic model of consciousness, which notes that all sensory input maps onto the thalamus, then projects to the various primary cerebral cortices. What I find interesting is that ten times those ascending connections project back to the thalamus, all intermingled with the reticular activating system, which regulates wakefulness and attention. So we have massive looping feedback, as though thalamus is driving and sustaining a cortically based simulation with signals supporting wakefulness and relaying information, and the cortex in turn directing and selecting as it goes (not to mention initiating motor plans with all of the feedback that entails). While consciousness can survive the destruction of massive areas of cortex, bilateral ablation of pencil eraser-sized areas of the thalami obliterates consciousness, resulting in a persistent vegetative state.
On the subject of free will and mind/body duality: