God Bless America, pgs 201-202

Mar 7, 2016

New Age Spirituality places great emphasis on personal experiences. It has been scientifically proves that echinacea doesn’t prevent or treat colds and influenza, but regardless, the herb is still one of the world’s most popular remedies. Whether it’s the placebo effect, or a matter of timing, people conclude, “It works for me.” Correlation is powerful personal proof. Urban legend is also treated as science, and testimonials from friends, family, and gurus appear to be convincing proof. Anecdotal evidence is preferred to scientific evidence. For example, a ghost sighting may be explained as a hallucination, but the supernatural explanations are preferred to the natural ones. The witnesses argue that their personal experiences are real, and you weren’t there. You don’t know what they saw.

You’re too afraid to accept the truth. You’re closed-minded, and there are more things in heave and death than are dreamt of in your philosophy…
New Age spirituality is not only unscientific, but is also often anti-science. Science is perceived as unchangeable, cynical, reductionist, and materialist. Scientists are accused of only being interested in making money. People can be suspicious of science, and inaccurate belies and conspiracy theories are widespread. Activists spread panic about genetically-modified foods, and deny that global warming exists. Often, these misconceptions are dangerous.


 

Discuss!

150 comments on “God Bless America, pgs 201-202

  • The witnesses argue that their personal experiences are real, and you weren’t there. You don’t know what they saw.

    It is at this point in a discussion that I always run into trouble with the “spiritual” bunch. As they blabber on about their extremely magical personal experiences they somehow perceive that I’m not feeling enthralled over the whole thing. In an about face they turn very negative on me if I question any part of their incredible story. It’s a strange interaction to behold.

    The appreciation of supernatural forces seems to be a litmus test with them to discover if their interlocutor is spiritual like they are or one of those dull, robotic science nerd materialists who live in a near doom state of being and are probably immoral on top of everything else.

    So discouraging because why am I being insulted for trying to get to the truth of the matter? It’s them making up bizarre stories and then getting very pissed off when I don’t swallow it hook, line and sinker!



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  • 2
    rocket888 says:

    Whenever I hear that “science” speaks I am reminded of the Woody Allen movie sleeper where Woody wakes up in the future and finds that health food stores had been debunked decades earlier. He’s told that fat turns out to really be good for you.

    When that movie came out, fat in one’s diet was “obviously” bad for your health. Well, that doesn’t seem to be so obviously true today.

    So how is the average person supposed to know what’s really true about areas that only a few researchers have any expertise. It’s all about the battle of the googles. My search said this, while your search said that! But who is really in a position to know?

    One of my favorite ones is how the medical practice of “bleeding” someone is still treated as such complete nonsense that it compares with believing in witches.

    Are you all ready for me to cast a spell? I can hear you laughing.

    Well, it turns out that bleeding can be useful because it reduces the amount of iron in one’s system and some nasty bugs totally thrive on iron. How do I know this, well, naturally I simply read this in a book. So how can I tell if it’s true? Answer: I can’t. So, I simply choose to believe that the researcher who wrote that book got it right.

    As far as things like genetically modified foods and global warming go, I wonder if it’s also just a battle of the google searches. For every pro I can find a con. And how many of us have the several or more PHDs needed to be able to have any first hand knowledge of either subject (probably it requires 10 or more to “really” understand all the factors of climate change).

    It would be really fun to be a Sleeper and wake up 100 years into the future to find out how they think of our 21st century science? I wonder just how prescient Sleeper will have turned out to be.



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  • rocket888 #2
    Mar 8, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    As far as things like genetically modified foods and global warming go, I wonder if it’s also just a battle of the google searches. For every pro I can find a con.

    The problem with google searches is that is that “cons” (in the criminal sense), appear to have equal status and numbers with reputable studies.

    That is why reputable peer-reviewed science journals and articles based on peer-reviewed science journals, should be used as sources.

    Frequently we find there are thousands of qualified experts supporting a science based view, and a noisy handful of contrarians or denial nuts, concocting mental contortions opposing it.

    And how many of us have the several or more PHDs needed to be able to have any first hand knowledge of either subject (probably it requires 10 or more to “really” understand all the factors of climate change).

    That is why we use views from reputable scientific bodies of experts who have hundreds of PhDs in relevant subjects, contributing to their statements.

    These should not be confused with online surveys of assorted ignorant muppets, with strong opinions on subjects they know nothing about!

    https://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-scientific-consensus-intermediate.htm

    The following scientific organizations endorse the consensus position that “most of the global warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities”:

    American Association for the Advancement of Science

    American Astronomical Society

    American Chemical Society

    American Geophysical Union

    American Institute of Physics

    American Meteorological Society

    American Physical Society

    Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society

    Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO

    British Antarctic Survey

    Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences

    Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society

    Environmental Protection Agency

    European Federation of Geologists

    European Geosciences Union

    European Physical Society

    Federation of American Scientists

    Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies

    Geological Society of America

    Geological Society of Australia

    Geological Society of London

    International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA)

    International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics

    National Center for Atmospheric Research

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

    Royal Meteorological Society

    Royal Society of the UK

    The Academies of Science from 80 different countries all endorse the consensus.



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  • Let there be no mistake, organized religion is and has been the problem for millennia, anyone who knows history and the history of science will know this. Why? Because it shuts down questioning, skepticism, doubt etc. The fundamentalists want a theocracy, to control the government and education, look what is happening in the south vis a vis that moron Trump. Organized religion is a business and science threatens their business interests. They and their predecessors before them must continue to preach their scams, frauds, snake oil, lies, and con-jobs (using an ignorant 2000 year old book) to maintain control over their ignorant, frightened followers. In their eyes science is frightening, they are right it is. It is all money control and business.



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  • Yeah, you can lump all that together as “New religion”; scientology, mormonism, spiritualism: all variations on the time honored religious business model in which the gullible pay the bills.



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  • “The witnesses argue that their personal experiences are real, and you weren’t there. You don’t know what they saw.” Isn’t this the same thing the alien abductees use to say? We don’t hear much about UFOs or alien abductees anymore since everyone has a camera on their phones.



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  • rocket888’s slightly anti science reply inadvertently puts his finger on the nub of the problem. The average human bases his/her beliefs on the weight of available opinion. NOT on the weight of evidence . So it does not work to say “x number of well respected scientific institutions say such and such is a fact” because they are a minority in terms of opinion.



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  • “It has been scientifically proves”

    ” there are more things in heave and death”

    “inaccurate belies ”

    This is witchcraft at work. Perfectly spelt New Age nonsense words thrown in to confuse and bewilder, a common tactic of those who cast spells. Even the best spell checkers provide no immunity, and as for spelling checkers, they just waste your herbal thyme!



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  • I often perform in Woodstock, NY which is a magnet for New Age seekers of spiritual panaceas. Oh, the nonsense! On more than one occasion I have felt compelled to interject. There was the octogenarian hippie who was telling a gathering that to avoid poison ivy events you should eat some poison ivy. I interrupted her to ask (nicely) the following questions:
    “Have you tried this yourself?”
    “No.”
    “Do you know anybody who has tried it?”
    “No.”
    “Do you think that somebody’s throat might swell up and choke them if they were to swallow poison ivy and it caused its usual symptoms?”
    “I don’t know. I didn’t think of that.”
    The gentle woman seemed to reconsider her advice. She was an exception. There are others who were once cordial with me and who now don’t speak to me because of my very brief summary of homeopathy. “Scam.”



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  • @rocket888

    Best moment in “Sleeper”: Woody Allen turns on his 200-year-old VW Beetle, and it starts first time. When I saw it in a cinema in New York City in 1970, there was a huge cheer for this moment.

    Yes, people really did cheer in cinemas back then. Not often, it had to be Worthy.

    Re the original article, above: Atrocious lack of proof-reading. Is the rest of the book as bad?

    (I take proof-reading failures like this as a sign that the author cared so little about writing that I’m getting the message, don’t waist(*) your time reading. As a student paper it would get an F)

    (*) yes, I did that on purpose



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  • @rocket888:

    bleeding can be useful because it reduces the amount of iron

    Correct. It’s called Venesection, and there’s a department for it in my local hospital. Quite commonplace, and the only known treatment for certain genetically determined conditions.

    Probably bleeding got a bad rep because it got overused, applied where it wasn’t appropriate, not because it was superstitious nonsense that didn’t work at all. Anybody know of anything in modern medicine that might be in danger of falling into disrepute through overuse?



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  • 12
    enlightened1 says:

    Theism and Atheism are always at odds with one another. Perhaps the following conversation between a theist and an atheist will make it better to understand reality.

    Atheist: How do you think the universe was created?

    Theist: I believe that God created the universe.

    Atheist: Have you seen this “God”?

    Theist: No, you cannot see God because He is non-physical and is beyond the comprehension and grasp of the human mind!

    Atheist: If God is non-physical and beyond the comprehension of human mind then he is practically non-existent. Why should I believe in something that is non-existent even to the human mind?

    Theist: So how do you think that the universe was created?

    Atheist: Science has proved that the universe created itself from nothing.

    Theist: Have you seen or experienced this “nothing”?

    Atheist: No you cannot see or experience “nothing” because it is non-existent!

    Theist: If one can believe that the universe can come out of “nothing” that is non-physical which has never been seen or experienced and is thus incomprehensible to the human mind, why does one find it difficult to believe that it can instead come out of “something” that is similarly non-physical which has never been seen and practically incomprehensible to the human mind?

    The question we need to ask ourselves is this: Does pure “nothingness” really exist?

    On a graph with existence at “0” as a reference point, nothingness exists on both extremes of that point! The negative infinity to the left of the “0” has an existence of its own but in relation to “0” is in a dimension so much lower than it and so far removed from it that relatively appears non-existent to it. Similarly the positive infinity to the right of “0” has an existence of its own as well but in relation to “0” is in a dimension so much higher and so far removed from it that relatively appears non-existent to it as well!

    Thus pure “nothingness” has no existence of its own and is only relative and if one can believe that creation sprung out of non-existence from the negative end of the infinity spectrum, one cannot equally deny the possibility of it having sprung out of non-existence from the positive end of the infinity spectrum as well!
    To our human intelligence, one extreme of “nothingness” appears non-existent due to it being in an infinitely high dimension far removed from human comprehension; while the other extreme of “nothingness” appears non-existent due to it being in in an infinitely low dimension non-perceptible by any known laws of physics! It is all relative.

    Moreover, in the physical creation itself there are theoretically proven existences that appear non-existent to our human detection. Concepts such as the dark matter and dark energy are all theoretically and scientifically proven existences which are elusive and beyond our detection. The inability to perceive or detect these have been attributed to the fact that they do not interact with the rest of the matter in the usual way and are unable to produce an ordinary reaction to which we are conditioned to, thus rendering them experimentally undetectable even though they are to be found everywhere around and within us.

    Billions of neutrinos and other undetectable exotic substances are constantly passing through us and we are swimming in an ocean of such so-called non-detectable existences. 96% of the universe is supposed to be comprised of such elusive existence that are theoretically accounted for but practically non-existent to us due to their “exotic” interaction with the ordinary matter. It is interesting to observe how in our universe the more an existence is universally present, permeable and manifest, such as the dark matter and the dark energy, the more it is elusive and hidden from our perception and detection.

    Thus if the more universally manifest and permeable an existence, the more non-existent or hidden from us it appears to be, how much more the possibility that a God Who is the most manifest of the manifest Existence and the most permeable of the permeable Existence, would be the most hidden of the hidden and the most undetectable of the undetectable and the most veiled from our human detection and perception!
    Humbly presented



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  • Ahmad #12
    Mar 14, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Theism and Atheism are always at odds with one another. Perhaps the following conversation between a theist and an atheist will make it better to understand reality.

    Atheist: How do you think the universe was created?

    Theist: I believe that God created the universe.

    Atheist: Have you seen this “God”?

    Theist: No, you cannot see God because He is non-physical and is beyond the comprehension and grasp of the human mind!

    Atheist: If God is non-physical and beyond the comprehension of human mind then he is practically non-existent. Why should I believe in something that is non-existent even to the human mind?

    Interesting; – but it seems to be geared to some individual theism and some particular individual atheist.

    Perhaps a slightly different conversation would be enlightening!

    Atheist: How do you think the universe was created?

    Theist: I believe that God created the universe.

    Atheist: Which god? There are or have been thousands of them?

    Theist: No, you cannot see God because He is non-physical and is beyond the comprehension and grasp of the human mind!

    Atheist: If your choice of God is non-physical that is non-existent for practical effects in the material universe. Why should I believe in somethings which is one of an assortment of conflicting illusions in the indoctrinated human minds of various cultures?

    Theist: So how do you think that the universe was created?

    Atheist: Science has shown that the universe evolved from the expanding energy of the Big-Bang! We do not know the exact details of the initiation of this, but it bears no relationship to the numerous creation myths.

    <

    blockquote>
    Theist: Have you seen or experienced this “nothing”?

    Atheist: Actually is is Roman Catholic theology which claims “God created the world from nothing”, but some quantum physics suggests that positive and negative energies can give an average of zero.

    Atheist: BTW: There is no such thing as “nothing” anywhere in the universe. Even in the depths of intergalactic space, there is gravity and radiation!

    Thus if the more universally manifest and permeable an existence, the more non-existent or hidden from us it appears to be, how much more the possibility that a God.

    This is known as the “god of gaps argument”! It is the fallacy of claiming to know some unknown, without evidence, simply because someone else does not know the answer to unkowns, which are unknown to everyone!

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/God_of_the_gaps
    God of the gaps (or a divine fallacy) is logical fallacy that occurs when Goddidit (or a variant) is invoked to explain some natural phenomena that science cannot (at the time of the argument). “God of the gaps” is a bad argument not only on logical grounds, but on empirical grounds: there is a long history of “gaps” being filled and the gap for God thus getting smaller and smaller, suggesting “we don’t know yet” as an alternative that works better in practice; naturalistic explanations for still-mysterious phenomena are always possible, especially in the future where more information may be uncovered.



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  • Dear Alan4Discussion #13, thank you for taking time to share your ideas with me as well. Let us analyze this together again. Thanks!

    “Atheist: Which god? There are or have been thousands of them”

    Theist: The god/s you are referring to is what the human mind has created. Such a god cannot be the Creator because it is created by the limited, finite, or surrounded mind and that which is limited or finite cannot comprehend the unlimited or infinite. The God / Force that I refer to is the Infinite “Unknowable Essence” Whose understanding is beyond the comprehension of any finite human mind.

    Atheist: If your choice of God is non-physical that is non-existent for practical effects in the material universe. Why should I believe in somethings which is one of an assortment of conflicting illusions in the indoctrinated human minds of various cultures?

    Theist: You are absolutely correct! One should not believe in the assortment of god/s created by the fantasy of the human mind.

    Atheist: Science has shown that the universe evolved from the expanding energy of the Big-Bang! We do not know the exact details of the initiation of this, but it bears no relationship to the numerous creation myths.

    Theist: No one exactly knows what was there before the singularity after which it started to expand. All we know is that the process of expansion had a beginning. Was there existence before the singularity? Perhaps, and as I clearly mentioned in my views above, such a pre-existence existence is a necessity because nothingness does not exist! All existence is relative. Pre-existence existence relative to our existence may appear non-existent, yet it existed.

    Some Creationists argue that Creation had a beginning. Such an assertion is a denial of a God! For if there was a time when there was no creation, then there could have been no Creator as well! A Creator pre-supposes a creation and in the absence of a creation, the existence of a Creator is a moot question. Hence as you rightly mention, all such creation myths are nothing but myths.

    The point is that as we do not know what was there before our big bang but in spite of our current ignorance we have no trouble accepting that “unknown” to be the cause of our existence. If we can accept an “unknown” to be the cause of our creation, why should we reject the possibility of an unknown intelligent Force / God as the cause of our creation?

    Atheist: Actually it is a Roman Catholic theology which claims “God created the world from nothing”, but some quantum physics suggests that positive and negative energies can give an average of zero.

    Theist: As discussed before “nothingness” is only relative. There is no such thing as “nothing”

    Atheist: BTW: There is no such thing as “nothing” anywhere in the universe. Even in the depths of intergalactic space, there is gravity and radiation!

    Theist: I concur. That is the point I have made in my discussion above as well!

    “Thus if the more universally manifest and permeable an existence, the more non-existent or hidden from us it appears to be, how much more the possibility that a God….”

    Atheist: This is known as the god of gaps argument….

    Theist: No, you have misunderstood the gist of what I said. Please read it again if possible. In short: A fish that is surrounded by water cannot see the water because it is swimming in it all the time! If there is a God and that God is Omnipresent and completely and evenly permeates all creation, then that Force / God cannot be detected. Such a non-detection is not a proof of It’s / His non-existence.



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  • Ahmad #14
    Mar 14, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Dear Alan4Discussion #13, thank you for taking time to share your ideas with me as well. Let us analyze this together again. Thanks!

    “Atheist: Which god? There are or have been thousands of them”

    Theist: The god/s you are referring to is what the human mind has created. Such a god cannot be the Creator because it is created by the limited, finite, or surrounded mind and that which is limited or finite cannot comprehend the unlimited or infinite.

    That is so! The difference is that atheists understand that this explanation applies to all gods. Theists think it only applies to others than their own!
    Some neuroscoentists and psychologists, explain the delusions of unknowable supernatural “knowledge”.

    The God / Force that I refer to is the Infinite “Unknowable Essence” Whose understanding is beyond the comprehension of any finite human mind.

    Or simply a delusion which confuses the minds of those whose indoctrinations has blinded them to the contrary evidence of the inconsistency and lack of credibility for theist claims.

    Atheist: If your choice of God is non-physical that is non-existent for practical effects in the material universe. Why should I believe in somethings which is one of an assortment of conflicting illusions in the indoctrinated human minds of various cultures?

    Theist: You are absolutely correct! One should not believe in the assortment of god/s created by the fantasy of the human mind.

    Atheists recognise that that is all of them, although different versions of gods have been created at different times. Theists have a strong indoctrinated faith in the god(s) of their own culture, but these are different in different cultures and conflict with each other.
    Theists have difficulty with the question,
    ” What evidence do you have that your god the right one, and those of other people, the wrong ones?” – Or indeed any evidence of its existence other than as an image in the imaginations of believers?

    Theist: No one exactly knows what was there before the singularity after which it started to expand. All we know is that the process of expansion had a beginning. Was there existence before the singularity?

    The “singularity is hypothetical mathematics, but the evidence of the Big-Bang is sound physics.
    Never the less, “existence” before the beginning of the space-time continuum, is a bit of a weird concept, but it makes no difference to the paradox of “who created the creator, of the creator, of the creator, of the creator… etc?” rather than simply accepting, that the answer is currently unknown physics.

    Perhaps, and as I clearly mentioned in my views above, such a pre-existence existence is a necessity because nothingness does not exist!

    Even if we accept this speculation, there is no reason apart from anthropomorphic thinking, to suppose a living creator, or aliens etc. were involved, rather than simply physical forces or energy , in forming the universe.

    Then there is the massive jump from a remote deity with no detectable properties, to the Earth-bound theological stories of interactions with humans. (humans being an almost infinitesimal and insignificant percentage of the Solar-System, the galaxy, and the universe!)

    God cannot be detected. Such a non-detection is not a proof of It’s / His non-existence.

    Anything which cannot be physically detected as altering the physical world in some way, has no influence, and might as well not exist! It is irrelevant to humans!

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Negative_proof
    If the only evidence for something’s existence is a lack of evidence for it not existing, then the default position is one of mild skepticism and not credulity. This type of negative proof is common in proofs of God’s existence or in pseudosciences where it is used as an attempt to shift the burden of proof onto the skeptic rather than the proponent of the idea. The burden of proof is on the individual proposing existence, not the one questioning existence.



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  • Hello Ahmad.

    You seem to be arguing, with some conviction, that the theist is right in this hypothetical argument. I’m sure that Alan4discussion is happy to identify himself as an atheist. In the interests of openness and honesty, are you in fact a theist, and if so, of what type? Which of the several thousand named gods have you chosen to believe in, and why?



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  • Ahmad’s one true god (not the delusional made-up gods of other people) is like water to a fish, is undetectable and so on. That’s fine, I’m sure we can sum that up as “has no impact on us so can be ignored”, meaning no practical dispute between Ahmad and the Atheist.

    It’s the complete non-sequitur of then saying that this god has something to do with human religions, institutions, books and stuff, and demands that we behave in certain ways (as written in some old books), that’s where the disagreement starts. The gods of religion are all created by the minds of men (usually, maybe a few women got a look in sometimes but I doubt it).

    Ahmad, you’re welcome to a non-interfering undetectable deity that requires no maintenance or attention and has nothing to do with man-made religions. I just wonder, why you’d want to bother? Isn’t it simpler to just assume there isn’t one?



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  • OHooligan, Thank you for your comments! In sharing my beliefs I do not intend to offend anyone. I enjoy association with many atheists and have high regards for them because unlike most other people of Faith they tend to be logical and are not bound by dogmas and superstitions.

    I do however believe that a higher Force (we may call a God, for lack of a better word) is the Cause of creation and that this Creative God is an “Unknowable Essence” who is outside the comprehension of human mind. The moment a person makes an attempt to describe this unknowable Essence / God, it attains physical attributes and turns into a mere creation of the human mind (delusional made-up gods). I do not however believe that such a God remains aloof from His creation. Even though we have no access to His domain, yet I feel there is a purpose in creation: To evolve!

    Evolution is a scientific fact. It is a much more complex and holistic process than what is believed today. To better understand this, I may use the analogy of a tree from the world of nature.

    A tree evolves from a seed that contains the genetic imprint of the entire tree. This seed breaks open within the matrix of the soil and the root, the trunk, the branch, the leaf, the flower and the fruit eventually evolve from the very same one seed. During the evolution of this tree from the same one seed, these various parts do not evolve all at the same time. The root will evolve prior to the trunk; the trunk evolves prior to the branches; the leaf will evolve later on each branch; and the flower and the fruit may eventually evolve last of all.

    Even though the leaf evolved prior to the fruit, we would never consider the fruit to have once been a leaf and that the leaf later changed to become a fruit; And even though the leaf and the fruit both share a common origin from the same one branch, we do not consider the leaf or the fruit to have once been a branch and that the branch later changed to become the leaf or the fruit! Similarly even though the branches and the roots both share similar structural features, yet we would never consider the branches to have once been the root simply because they look alike, or simply because the roots may have evolved prior to the branches! The root, the branch, the leaf and the fruit all evolve from the same seed, yet each is destined to evolve into its own end product.

    The leaf was a leaf and a fruit was a fruit from the very beginning of their existence within the seed because they each had their genetic code and sequence within the DNA and they were both destined from the start to evolve into either a leaf or a fruit. Similarly throughout the evolution of the tree from the seed into a trunk and later into a branch coming off the trunk, the leaf and the fruit were potentially present at each stage, yet throughout this journey they were both hidden and concealed until the appropriate time and condition when they gradually became outwardly manifest upon the same tree.

    Even though the trunk and the branches preceded the existence of the leaf and the fruit, yet if one were to dissect or analyze any section of the branch or the trunk under a microscope, one would never find the leaf or the fruit. On the contrary, all the cells within the trunk or the branch may look and behave alike, but at the specific moment during the evolution of the tree when the conditions are appropriate, the leaf and the fruit that were once outwardly hidden, gradually make their appearance from the same branch. The branch itself did not change into the leaf or the fruit. We wouldn’t say that the fruit was once a branch and then it changed into the fruit! No, rather the existence of the fruit was hidden but inherently and potentially present within the entire tree right from its conception as a seed.

    In like manner, plants, animals and humans have potentially existed from the very beginning and have evolved from the same seed of creation in what may have been the singularity before the birth of our universe with the so-called “big bang”, yet each was destined to evolve into its own end product!

    The existence of the rational human was present from the very beginning within this seed of creation and man evolved and traversed through the same shared common existence through which the vegetable and the animal existences passed through. During such a journey there hath been a time when both the animal and man shared similar physical and social features and were essentially indistinguishable from one another, until at the right moment and under the right conditions the rational human gradually became apparent upon this tree of creation. First, the plants gradually made their appearance from the branch of creation, later, the animals gradually made their appearance from the same branch of creation, and still at a later time, the humans gradually made their appearance from the same branch of existence.

    Just as the existence of the leaf prior to the fruit does not mean that the leaf changed to become the fruit, similarly even though the plants existed before the animal, we cannot say that the plant changed to become an animal! Similarly even though the animal existed before the human, we cannot say that the animal changed to become a rational human. All we can say is that the rational human, the animal, and the plant were all hidden and potentially concealed in the past while still sharing the same common ancestor or existence, and each gradually became manifest off that common existence at the right moment during the evolutionary phase when the conditions were right, and each gradually evolved into the end product that we see today.

    Such a concept of evolution does not deny the principle of natural selection which lies at the core of the current theory of evolution! It only explains how this seemingly random process of natural selection is deeply interwoven with the conscious process of purposeful evolution like the yin and yang of life, allowing for a continual and multiple varieties of species.

    Let us explore this concept a little further: The evolution of a tree in nature is not only based on its inherent DNA but its survival is also affected by its surrounding environmental factors such as the sun, the soil, the water, the climate and other such phenomena in nature. The outcome of this environmental interaction predisposes the tree to natural selection and thus the tree will have to adapt itself to its surroundings in order to survive. Such a natural selection is not predicted within the DNA of its seed.

    Similarly in the tree of evolution, the emergence of the mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, the animal kingdom and the human with rational faculty and consciousness was potentially predictable and destined within the seed of creation because if this seed did not have the essential ingredients and potential to produce these, it could not have done so. However, just as the tree that is exposed to its environment continues to evolve through natural selection, so do the different species that have evolved in each kingdom when exposed to their environment continue to evolve through natural selection.

    As a result of such a natural selection, in time, some species become extinct while some new ones evolve. This process of natural selection forms an essential part of evolution because without this we would not have variety and complexity of species. Thus, we have thousands of different species that have evolved under the vegetable kingdom and thousands that evolved under the animal kingdom and each such evolved species that form out of natural selection was not necessarily destined within the seed of creation and its emergence and extinction is dependent upon natural selection. The seed of creation did not have a DNA for each such variation, but it has within it the principle of natural selection thus allowing for such variation and creation of different species. However, the grand branching into a mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, the animal kingdom and ultimately the human with intellect was potentially destined within the seed of creation.

    Such a concept of evolution, far from being unconscious, directionless, or based purely upon chance, necessitates a Supreme Consciousness, a Primal Purpose, or a First Will as the key to unfolding the blueprint of the evolutionary process!

    As such, evolution is an organic phenomenon that gradually and progressively reveals the plan of the One who is its Author: God. Such a process has no beginning and no end but has a point of reference or a beginning for each universe. Like a seed from which a tree evolves revealing all its different branches, leaves, flowers, and fruits; similarly a universe evolves from a seed from which creation evolves revealing all its different creatures with all its majesty. There might have been infinite such universes before ours and infinite such universes that may follow ours.

    Social evolution follows similar trend: Formation of family units, tribes, clans, city-states, nations and today we stand at yet another stage in the social evolution: The unification of the entire world as a single nation.
    Religion too follows such an evolutionary trend. In every age, divine revelation is revealed in proportion with with capacity of human intellect and according to the exigencies of the time.



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  • The moment a person makes an attempt to describe this unknowable Essence / God, it attains physical attributes and turns into a mere creation of the human mind (delusional made-up gods).

    This sounds remarkably similar to Quantum Theory.



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  • Ahmad’s long speech is rich in what Dan Dennett would call “deepities”. It is so full of confusions and misconceptions that the task of correction would be overwhelming. Here are just a few of many points that could be made:

    “A tree evolves from a seed that contains the genetic imprint of the entire tree.”

    Embryonic development is not evolution, and seeds do not evolve into trees. The author seems to have no understanding of the genetic mechanisms that give rise to tissue and organ development, much less of the mechanisms of evolution.

    “Similarly even though the animal existed before the human, we cannot say that the animal changed to become a rational human.”

    A common religious misconception – humans evolved from animals, as if the sole purpose of the rest of the animal kingdom was to produce humans. Humans, of course, are not animals.

    “Similarly in the tree of evolution, the emergence of the mineral kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, the animal kingdom and the human…”

    It seems that humans now have their own monospecific kingdom. The world’s most dominant kingdom, the Monera, doesn’t even rate a mention.

    “this seemingly random process of natural selection is deeply interwoven with the conscious process of purposeful evolution…”

    “Such a concept of evolution, far from being unconscious, directionless, or based purely upon chance, necessitates a Supreme Consciousness…”

    Anyone who thinks that evolution is random, directionless or based purely on chance simply doesn’t understand natural selection. And what exactly is “purposeful evolution”?

    “Like a seed from which a tree evolves revealing all its different branches, leaves, flowers, and fruits; similarly a universe evolves from a seed from which creation evolves revealing all its different creatures with all its majesty.”

    A deepity – meaningless fluff. There are lots more.

    I could go on, but it would be tedious. Thanks Ahmad – you’ve given me some valuable material for my students to dissect.



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  • Ahmad #18
    Mar 15, 2016 at 12:48 am

    Such a concept of evolution, far from being unconscious, directionless, or based purely upon chance, necessitates a Supreme Consciousness,

    This is one of the key differences between the dogma of “theistic evolution”, and the science of evolutionary biology.

    a Primal Purpose, or a First Will as the key to unfolding the blueprint of the evolutionary process!

    The only detected “primal purpose” of evolution, is that successfully replicating organisms, continue to replicate their versions of genetic material.

    As such, evolution is an organic phenomenon that gradually and progressively reveals the plan of the One who is its Author: God.

    This is very much the delusion generated by the ego-centric, Homo-centric human ego which created gods in its own image!

    Such a process has no beginning and no end but has a point of reference or a beginning for each universe.

    As I partially pointed out in a previous comment, humans represent an almost infinitely small section of astronomical and geological time, the Solar System is an almost infinitely small section (less than a hundred billionth) of our galaxy, and our galaxy is only one of billions of galaxies within the universe. For most of the time since the Big-Bang, the Solar System did not even exist!

    To suggest that generating humans, is “a purpose of the universe” is like suggesting that creating a grain of sand is the “purpose” of Earth’s oceans!
    It is ridiculously out of all proportion to the physical dimensions and time-scales involved!



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  • Dear Macropus, thank you for taking time to read my somewhat long article. I value your comments. Just a clarification: When I mention that “Similarly even though the animal existed before the human, we cannot say that the animal changed to become a rational human”, I do not mean there wasn’t a time when man was not and did not behave as an animal. Maybe my choice of wording was incorrect. Rather as we all know, the physical body of man evolved from the common ancestor of which other present day animals evolved as well and there is no doubt about it whatsoever. What I meant to say is that man’s identity as a rational human was preserved while still living within this common ancestor just as say a fruit’s identity is preserved while still living within the branch of a tree. It is true that we do not refer to embryonic development as evolution, however the reason I have used the example of a tree is because everything in nature comes into existence slowly. All life processes follow similar pattern. A fruit does not simply appear immediately when a seed is sown, an adult human does not appear immediately when a zygote is formed, the present day universe itself took some 14 billion years to evolve to its present state, and the planet earth itself did not appear to its present day condition to support life immediately as it was formed. Everything in nature takes time to appear and reach a stage of maturity and so is the process of evolution. The present day human, the present day animals, vegetation, and in fact all life evolved and slowly unfolded to the state that they are in today; just as say the human organs such as liver, heart, brain etc. appear from embryonic stem cells slowly. All such organs do not appear at one time. Moreover, the embryonic stem cells can change into any organ, but there is “something” within the embryo that guides the process. This is just an example to make my point and not an exact process of evolution. I am aware there is a difference between embryonic development and evolution but I am using the analogy of the former to make us draw a parallel and better understand the underlying laws of nature. Moreover, my point is not to emphasize man as belonging to a separate human kingdom. As you mention, the Monera is by itself a vast kingdom. Instead of referring man to a human kingdom we can simply call him an animal with an evolved rational faculty. Terminology does not matter and I do not wish to entangle ourselves in the confusion of terminology as we would digress from the subject matter. What I was trying to delineate was the process. Once again, I thank you for taking time to share your thoughts.



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  • Ahmad #22
    Mar 15, 2016 at 6:13 am

    Rather as we all know, the physical body of man evolved from the common ancestor of which other present day animals evolved as well and there is no doubt about it whatsoever. What I meant to say is that man’s identity as a rational human was preserved while still living within this common ancestor

    This is shown to be wrong by genetics. A whole lot of human DNA arose from mutations a long way down the branches of speciation. Very little related to brain development was in early single cells.
    The evidence suggests that the first brain structures evolved in worm-like creatures about 500millions years ago, which is about 3billion years after life began evolving from the first common ancestor.

    just as say a fruit’s identity is preserved while still living within the branch of a tree.

    This is where your analogy fails. The cells of a plant contain a full set of chromsomes and DNA of the current individual. These cells are copies of earlier ones which have been modified, and adapted by mutations and natural selection over millions of years.

    Moreover, the embryonic stem cells can change into any organ, but there is “something” within the embryo that guides the process. This is just an example to make my point and not an exact process of evolution.

    Those “somethings”, would be HOX genes which switch other genes on or off at particular stages or locations.

    The genes to produce a fruit are already in the cells of the seed. Most of the current DNA of modern species, is not in their ancient ancestors.

    It is true that we do not refer to embryonic development as evolution, however the reason I have used the example of a tree is because everything in nature comes into existence slowly.

    Embryonic development traces the history of evolution, in individuals, but the programming of it has been selected over thousands or millions of generations.
    Parallels show the diversification as species branched off from common ancestors.

    http://genetics.thetech.org/online-exhibits/genes-common
    How much DNA do you share with these living things? Roll the cursor over each image to find out.



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  • Ahmad, clearly you love the sound of your own voice, or more accurately the sight of your own typing, but quantity does not = quality. Spewing out reams of pseudo scientific bollocks rather than just the occasional line or two of it doesn’t make you any wiser, or more correct. It’s still gibberish, just lots of it. Ken Ham or Deepak Chopra would be proud of you though because you’ve got the art of writing deepity drivel down to a tee. No doubt you’d fool plenty of the faith headed, semi literate or hard of thinking but in here you just come across as yet another god deluded ranter.



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  • Dear Arkrid, I had no ill intentions of sounding any wiser or more correct and if it ever came across that way, I apologize. Perhaps the reason I went into details was to help express this concept which might appear different and new.

    Dear Alan4Discussion, I thank you for taking time to share with me information about genetics. I also thank Macropus, OHooligan and David Allen for your share of comments as well.



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  • Ahmad #26
    Mar 15, 2016 at 8:09 pm

    Dear Alan4Discussion, I thank you for taking time to share with me information about genetics.

    It would be interesting to see how this information has changed your view in the light of the new evidence now available to you.

    You will appreciate, that one of the key differences between science and dogmatic religions, is that science updates its views, rejecting old failed ideas, when new evidence becomes available through improved investigation techniques.



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  • Ahmad,

    “Terminology does not matter and I do not wish to entangle ourselves in the confusion of terminology…”

    This says it all. What does it matter if I use the word “evolution” when I mean “embryological development”? In science and in all areas of rational thought, terminology is crucial. Otherwise how do we know what you mean? And how much of my time do you waste by using words you don’t mean, and arguments from which you resile as soon as your terminological confusion becomes evident? There will be no confusion if you use the right words, and you will waste much less of my time if you say exactly what you mean.

    It’s called discipline. It’s part of rational discussion and it’s something you need to learn.



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  • Macropus,

    “It’s called discipline. It’s part of rational discussion and it’s something you need to learn.”

    Are you confident there isn’t anything that you need to learn as well?

    It is easy to insult and belittle someone else in an attempt to make one feel superior in a discussion, but it requires courage to set one’s guards down and step back from an argumentative and defensive mode so as to be able to see clearly and judge fairly.

    “And how much of my time do you waste by using words you don’t mean, and arguments from which you resile as soon as your terminological confusion becomes evident?”

    No one has forced you to waste your time by reading my words. Why should you even bother to read something about which you have already made up your mind to be wrong? Moreover, I did not abandon my discussion but I refrain from arguing just for the sake of argument. It is impossible to discuss reason and logic with someone who only wants to argue at all costs simply to prove a point rather than to honestly investigate without any preconceived notions!

    “This says it all. What does it matter if I use the word “evolution” when I mean “embryological development”? In science and in all areas of rational thought, terminology is crucial.”

    The worst thing in an honest discussion is when someone takes a word or a sentence out of context in order to use it in his argument and prove a point. When I mentioned “terminology does not matter” I am referring to the fact that instead of digressing from the main subject and start arguing whether man belongs to a human kingdom or animal kingdom, it would be better to put aside such a bias in terminology so that we can better understand the gist of the subject-matter rather than to be caught in the war of terminology!

    In an honest discussion a person should be careful to avoid becoming myopic and get caught up on few select words lest it might prevent him from looking at the bigger picture. I clarified my point in my previous discussion when I said, “I am aware there is a difference between embryonic development and evolution but I am using the analogy of the former to make us draw a parallel and better understand the underlying laws of nature.”

    Thank you again for sharing your thoughts.



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  • Dear Alan4discussion,

    Thank you for being kind enough to follow up. You also touched upon a vital point about the stagnation of dogmatic religion and the progressive nature of science. I will surely respond and share my views soon enough. as I have to take some rest before the dawn of yet another day!



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  • Ahmad #29
    Mar 17, 2016 at 12:10 am

    When I mentioned “terminology does not matter” I am referring to the fact that instead of digressing from the main subject and start arguing whether man belongs to a human kingdom or animal kingdom,

    In evolutionary science the word “kingdom” denotes a specific level of ancestry and diversity for which solid evidence has been established. There have been differences of view, but the broad details are clear. Humans are classified in the Animal kingdom, (which includes Corals, Jellyfish, Insects, etc) then as Vertebrates, Mammals, Primates, Genus Homo, and Species sapiens.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_%28biology%29

    it would be better to put aside such a bias in terminology so that we can better understand the gist of the subject-matter rather than to be caught in the war of terminology!

    I think the point in science, is that knowledge is built on the shoulders of intellectual giants of the past, who have done the research and set up the broad classifications.
    (The fine details are subject to review by expert bodies.)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Spindle_diagram.jpg

    When we are discussing relatedness of Domains, Kingdoms, Phylums, Classes, Orders, Families, Genera, Species etc., the point in time and stage of development at which the evolutionary branches separated is the key issue. A great deal of research work has been done on this, both in genetics and in palaeontology putting many issues beyond doubt.

    As you can see from the linked diagram of the Vertebrate evolutionary tree, Mammals – (which includes mice, horses and humans), are on a separate/later branch from sharks, bony fish,amphibians, reptiles, and birds.

    Mammals come into the sequence at the level of CLASS, and Homo sapiens, at the level of genus and species.



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  • Alan4Discussion,

    “Mammals come into the sequence at the level of CLASS, and Homo sapiens, at the level of genus and species.”

    Thanks! You may change the word “kingdom” I used in my discussion with “species”. It would still not change the gist of the subject-matter.



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  • Ahmad #32
    Mar 17, 2016 at 7:32 am

    Alan4Discussion, – “Mammals come into the sequence at the level of CLASS, and Homo sapiens, at the level of genus and species.”

    Thanks! You may change the word “kingdom” I used in my discussion with “species”. It would still not change the gist of the subject-matter.

    That is the problem with using undefined terminology, in place of widely recognised usage. It causes failures of communication.

    Using the term “Kingdom” in place of “Species”, in no way alters the evolutionary branching relationships of Mammalian or Primate species, but does cause misunderstandings.

    Nobody disputes that humans are a separate species from Bonobos and Chimps, although questions arise as to whether the genus “Homo” is really justified in separation from the current genus “Pan” given that we share about 98% of our DNA with Chimpanzees.

    “Homo”, does of course include several now extinct species of Hominids, but some of the lineages are not entirely clear from the fossils, so continue to be debated.
    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/08/malapa-fossils/fischman-text



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  • M27Holts #34
    Mar 17, 2016 at 8:54 am

    Alan4Discussion #33 – How many homo sapiens have attempted to shag and breed with chimps? or has this been proven by dodgy scientific experimentation?

    I don’t know, but there are no known hybrid offspring.

    The Pan – Homo classification issue is at genus level, not species level, where inter-generic hybrids are far less likely than inter-species level hybrids (such as H. sapiens and H. neandthalensis).



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  • @M27Holts

    34

    Mar 17, 2016 at 8:54 am

    How many homo sapiens have attempted to shag and breed with chimps?

    Is this rhetorical? I am often dense to these things. If not then the answer is No Data!

    But what we know about humans “shagging” with members of other species is that it is not uncommon. Whether or not they are attempting to breed with them is unknown but doubtful. I doubt that breeding was their motivation at the time.

    Mostly I am talking about the males of our species of course.



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  • @ Laurie #36

    In the bonobo world, patriarchal groups are run with violence while matriarchal groups run on sex, for control. If it is initiated by female chemical scent then I would say it can only be for breeding reasons with the rampant male looking like the guilty one!!! 😉



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  • bonnie

    haha. How awesome are we now?! Speak truth to Humanists – As a species, we may have a few despicable behaviors in our repertoire.

    Ho-hum. Moving right along…



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  • Olgun

    matriarchal groups run on sex, for control.

    Even as a female sapiens I can think of several reasons to have sex. I’ll jot down a few of those reasons from a book I have here on my shelf:

    In that original study, we identified 237 distinct sexual motivations that covered an astonishing variety of psychological nuance. These motives ranged from the mundane (“I was bored”) to the spiritual (“I wanted to get closer to God”), from altruistic (“I wanted my man to feel good about himself”) to vengeful (“I wanted to punish my husband for cheating on me”). Some women have sex to feel powerful, others to debase themselves. Some want to impress their friends; others want to harm their enemies (“I wanted to break up a rival’s relationship by having sex with her boyfriend”). Some express romantic love (“I wanted to become one with another person”); others express disturbing hate (“I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease”).

    From:
    Why Women Have Sex, Understanding Sexual Motivations-From Adventure to Revenge (and Everything In Between). By Cindy M. Meston and David M. Buss

    Introduction page xii



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  • In the program on the Congo where I saw these two male and female dominated groups, I saw it as a simple switch. With the males it was a case of I am bigger and stronger than you so agression was switched off and fear switched on in an instant. In the female group, dry humping another female and inserting a finger in the rectum of her adolescent offspring had the same switching off/effect with fear being replaced by pleasure(or a distraction?) and maybe a reminder of sex used for bonding purposes, which they do a lot of. I think it shows the power, in normal situations, of the females in sexual situations.



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  • Alan4discussion #31

    “Rather as we all know, the physical body of man evolved from the common ancestor of which other present day animals evolved as well and there is no doubt about it whatsoever. What I meant to say is that man’s identity as a rational human was preserved while still living within this common ancestor”

    You: This is shown to be wrong by genetics. A whole lot of human DNA arose from mutations a long way down the branches of speciation. Very little related to brain development was in early single cells. The evidence suggests that the first brain structures evolved in worm-like creatures about 500millions years ago, which is about 3billion years after life began evolving from the first common ancestor.”

    Me: It appears that you have still not grasped the intent of what I wrote or may be I was not clear enough in my explanation. When I mention that “man’s identity” as a rational human was preserved while still living within this common ancestor, I do not mean that our human DNA and genome was preserved all the way back billions of years ago! No way, that would be absurd! By “man’s identity” I do not refer to his DNA structure, but rather to the potential inherent within the evolutionary process to eventually evolve and produce the present day man. If the evolutionary process did not have within itself the flexibility and the potential to produce a man, then a man would never have evolved from our common ancestors! Thus, our identity was “potentially” present right from the beginning of the universe, not our DNA!

    For example, carbon and oxygen were not created in the big bang, but rather much later in stars. Now even though carbon was not present during the big bang, yet the potential for its appearance existed right from the very beginning of the universe, for if the universe had no potential to evolve carbon and oxygen, these would not have been created! Similarly the potential for the creation of a human with intelligence and his identity existed right from the very beginning of creation for if it were not so, a human would not appear.

    All organic life processes follow the same pattern in the sense that they unfold gradually. They have a beginning but not all their end-products appear immediately as the process starts. An adult human potentially exists within an embryo yet it takes time for it to unfold, a tree potentially exists within the seed yet it takes time for all its different parts to unfold and become visible. Similarly the appearance of the rational human potentially existed within the big bang all the way up to our common ancestors, yet it took billions of years of evolution for it to become apparent.

    “Moreover, the embryonic stem cells can change into any organ, but there is “something” within the embryo that guides the process. This is just an example to make my point and not an exact process of evolution.

    You: Those “somethings”, would be HOX genes which switch other genes on or off at particular stages or locations.The genes to produce a fruit are already in the cells of the seed. Most of the current DNA of modern species, is not in their ancient ancestors.”

    Me: The HOX genes themselves are regulated by gap genes and pair-rule genes, which are in turn regulated by maternally-supplied mRNA. This process may still go back further but it still does not explain what that “something” is within the embryo that initiates this cascade of processes and regulation!

    You mentioned earlier: “You will appreciate, that one of the key differences between science and dogmatic religions, is that science updates its views, rejecting old failed ideas, when new evidence becomes available through improved investigation techniques.”

    Me: As you rightly mention, dogmatic religions collapse due to their inability to adapt to change. Just as we see species evolve, so do we find societies evolve too. The very same process of evolution can also be seen in society. The creation of a family unit evolving into tribes, later into city-states, and ultimately evolving into the formation of nations, manifests such an inherent process of social evolution. Perhaps we stand at yet another step in our social evolution: The integration of various nations into ​one world unit!

    Religion too necessarily follows such an evolutionary process. The problem lies in the fact that when it evolves and when a new revelation appears, the adherents of the past revelation do not like the change and they stick to the age old ideas which then in due course of time become infected and diseased.



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  • Ahmad #42

    By “man’s identity” I do not refer to his DNA structure, but rather to the potential inherent within the evolutionary process to eventually evolve and produce the present day man.

    You know, Ahmad, even if this were true, it would by definition be equally true for the ant, the dung-beetle, the zika virus, the brussels sprout and any other living organism you care to mention.

    In other words, it is, as someone has already pointed out, a deepity: something that you may feel sounds impressive, but is in fact utterly meaningless and gets your argument precisely nowhere.



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  • Ahmad #42
    Mar 17, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    It appears that you have still not grasped the intent of what I wrote or may be I was not clear enough in my explanation. When I mention that “man’s identity” as a rational human was preserved while still living within this common ancestor, I do not mean that our human DNA and genome was preserved all the way back billions of years ago! No way, that would be absurd! By “man’s identity” I do not refer to his DNA structure, but rather to the potential inherent within the evolutionary process to eventually evolve and produce the present day man. If the evolutionary process did not have within itself the flexibility and the potential to produce a man, then a man would never have evolved from our common ancestors! Thus, our identity was “potentially” present right from the beginning of the universe, not our DNA!

    What you are saying here is essentially, that the laws of physics have the potential for a universe to evolve life.

    … . . and further, that having evolved diversifying life, some of those branches have potential to evolve life with brains – albeit a very small proportion of the millions life forms, and only during the (geologically) very recent part of Earth’s history.

    As I pointed out earlier. Th Earth, the Solar-System, and our galaxy are tiny parts of the universe as a whole and humans are a tiny percentage of Earth’s mass, and of Earth’s time of existing as a planet.
    I find the religious suggestion, that humans are a central feature of the universe quite absurd, so regard the claim as a feature of human self centred egotism, projected on to nature. I think it is widely recognised, that individuals and religious groups usually regard themselves (and their gods) as a key part of the universe, but the physics really does not match up with the theological and mythological claims!

    There is a monumental credibility gap between deist or animist claims, and the mythologies and claims of religions, religious sects, and denominations.

    For example, carbon and oxygen were not created in the big bang, but rather much later in stars. Now even though carbon was not present during the big bang, yet the potential for its appearance existed right from the very beginning of the universe, for if the universe had no potential to evolve carbon and oxygen, these would not have been created!

    Scientists are well aware of the formation of heavy elements in stars, and of their recycling, following from where their have been supernova explosions.

    However there are many random factors which would make planning or predictability of these processes, impossible.

    We are present on Earth, because we would not be here to ask the questions if circumstances had been slightly different.

    If you start with a religion and follow science to reject most of the nonsense, it is possible to stick at the point of deism.

    If you start with physics, and the evolution of the universe and life, there is no obvious need for gods or living creators in the processes.

    Including creators, only introduces the paradox of who or what, created or evolved, the creator, of the creator, of the creator, – ad infinitum!



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  • Ahmad #42
    Mar 17, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    The very same process of evolution can also be seen in society. The creation of a family unit evolving into tribes, later into city-states, and ultimately evolving into the formation of nations, manifests such an inherent process of social evolution. Perhaps we stand at yet another step in our social evolution: The integration of various nations into ​one world unit!

    Religion too necessarily follows such an evolutionary process.

    What you are describing is MEMETICS, which is well known on this site for obvious reasons.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memetics

    .Memetics is a theory of mental content based on an analogy with Darwinian evolution, originating from the popularization of Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene.[1] Proponents describe memetics as an approach to evolutionary models of cultural information transfer.

    The meme, analogous to a gene, was conceived as a “unit of culture” (an idea, belief, pattern of behaviour, etc.) which is “hosted” in the minds of one or more individuals, and which can reproduce itself, thereby jumping from mind to mind. Thus what would otherwise be regarded as one individual influencing another to adopt a belief is seen as an idea-replicator reproducing itself in a new host.



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  • Can I ask two quick questions?

    Where is our question of the week located? It hasn’t been on the front page lately.
    We now have a “like” button. Can we see who clicked the like button?



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  • Alan4discussion #44

    “As I pointed out earlier. The Earth, the Solar-System, and our galaxy are tiny parts of the universe as a whole and humans are a tiny percentage of Earth’s mass, and of Earth’s time of existing as a planet. I find the religious suggestion, that humans are a central feature of the universe quite absurd, so regard the claim as a feature of human self centred egotism, projected on to nature”

    The human that I refer to in my discussion, is not simply to us homo sapiens on this planet earth! It is selfish to think that in such a vast universe life evolved solely on one minuscule planet! I firmly believe that such a process of evolution of a “rational being” occurs throughout the universe, however, not in the same manner and process as ours.



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  • Ahmad #48
    Mar 18, 2016 at 9:17 am

    The human that I refer to in my discussion, is not simply to us homo sapiens on this planet earth! It is selfish to think that in such a vast universe life evolved solely on one minuscule planet! I firmly believe that such a process of evolution of a “rational being” occurs throughout the universe, however, not in the same manner and process as ours.

    The question of the possibilities of life and intelligent life within the galaxies and the universe, has made progress towards answers as technology has developed.
    Extra-terrestrial life is probably quite rare, and intelligent life even rarer, but the chemistry suggests it is possible in favourable conditions.

    I put various comments and informative links on this subject in this earlier discussion, spelling out the pros and cons of various locations and circumstances.

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/02/exoplanet-census-suggests-earth-is-special-after-all/



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  • Marco #43

    “You know, Ahmad, even if this were true, it would by definition be equally true for the ant, the dung-beetle, the zika virus, the brussels sprout and any other living organism you care to mention.”

    The physical evolution of man is no superior to other such life processes. What makes man different from others is not the evolution of his physical structure, because physically man is inferior to most other animals, but rather to the emergence of rational faculty that distinguishes him from other animals. Within the “ideological DNA” of the universe, the emergence of such a rational being was present and it was destined to unfold and become apparent only in degrees through billions of years of evolution. For lack of a better word, the ideological seed of creation had the ideological gene for the potential emergence of a rational being, or else a rational being would not have emerged. It is impossible for consciousness, self-awareness and ability to reason to be present within a branch, but the root or the essence from which this awareness evolved be utterly deficient in it.



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  • Alan4discussion #49

    “Extra-terrestrial life is probably quite rare, and intelligent life even rarer, but the chemistry suggests it is possible in favourable conditions.”

    Until the early 1920s, most astronomers thought that the Milky Way contained all the stars in the Universe. We do not have all the answers about intelligent life in other parts of the universe yet. We are like babies within the cosmic evolution that is trying to make sense of all this.



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  • Ahmad #50
    Mar 18, 2016 at 10:01 am

    You know, Ahmad, even if this were true, it would by definition be equally true for the ant, the dung-beetle, the zika virus, the brussels sprout and any other living organism you care to mention.”

    because physically man is inferior to most other animals, but rather to the emergence of rational faculty that distinguishes him from other animals.

    While humans have a higher level of brain development than most animals, the claim to some sort of exclusivity, is egotistical wish thinking.

    Within the primates there are various species (Notably Capuchins and Chimps), which have skills comparable to human stone-age ancestors, and wh may well have the possibility of evolving human like traits, if human competition is removed.

    There are also many other species which show considerable intelligence and or tool use. Until remote photography was invented, people were largely ignorant of this range of intelligence within the animal kingdom.

    Within the “ideological DNA” of the universe, the emergence of such a rational being was present and it was destined to unfold and become apparent only in degrees through billions of years of evolution.

    This is pure whimsical speculation, for which there is not a scrap of evidence.

    For lack of a better word, the ideological seed of creation had the ideological gene for the potential emergence of a rational being, or else a rational being would not have emerged.

    This is pure assertion, for which there is no evidence. All the evidence of evolution, shows mutation-driven branching diversity with natural selection promoting successful strategies. There are billions more bacteria than humans on the planet.

    It is impossible for consciousness, self-awareness and ability to reason to be present within a branch, but the root or the essence from which this awareness evolved be utterly deficient in it.

    Again, this is simply assertive incredulity which denies the innovative nature of evolution in exploring random possibilities, with the living or dying individuals, testing the viability of these variations over the generations.

    The evidence shows that the evolution of specialist cells, sensory organs, and brains, followed the advent of multi-cellular organisms about 3 billion years after abiogenesis on Earth. Consciousness, awareness, and intelligent anticipation, were selected for, aiding the survival of those individuals with genetic development of such aptitudes.

    These DNA and RNA structures, are far removed from the mechanisms of early self replicators.



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  • Ahmad #50

    Within the “ideological DNA” of the universe, the emergence of such a rational being was present and it was destined to unfold and become apparent only in degrees through billions of years of evolution. For lack of a better word, the ideological seed of creation had the ideological gene for the potential emergence of a rational being, or else a rational being would not have emerged. It is impossible for consciousness, self-awareness and ability to reason to be present within a branch, but the root or the essence from which this awareness evolved be utterly deficient in it.

    Ahmad, this is a science site. Claims carry no weight until you supply evidence for them. So your ‘ideological seed’ and your ‘creation’ get no free pass here. On the contrary, until you supply evidence for them, they will merely be treated as your attempt to co-opt evidence-based science in support of some deity-driven Just So story. It won’t wash here. In the absence of evidence – and I do mean evidence, not words, not stories, not assumptions, not ‘I reckon’, not ‘My preacher told me’, not ‘This is the only way I can reconcile the findings of science with my religious faith’ – I’m afraid you’re just wasting everyone’s time: your own and, more importantly, ours.



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  • Ahmad #51
    Mar 18, 2016 at 10:20 am

    Alan4discussion #49 – “Extra-terrestrial life is probably quite rare, and intelligent life even rarer, but the chemistry suggests it is possible in favourable conditions.”

    Until the early 1920s, most astronomers thought that the Milky Way contained all the stars in the Universe. We do not have all the answers about intelligent life in other parts of the universe yet. We are like babies within the cosmic evolution that is trying to make sense of all this.

    Not having ALL the answers, does not mean that we have none of them!

    If you read the discussion I linked at #49, you will see we now know a great deal about the possibilities of habitable zones, metalicity, time-scales giving time for evolutions, and largely variable or unstable conditions, showing contra-indications.



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  • Alan4discussion #46

    “What you are describing is MEMETICS, which is well known on this site for obvious reasons.”

    Memetics is a beautiful concept. The fact that non-physical ideas and concepts are viewed as “living” organisms, confirms that not all existence simply belongs to a physical biosphere but that there are existences possible within a non-physical realm as well.

    However, within the context of our discussion of social and religious evolution, memetics does not explain the cause of the ideological quantum leap. It describes how such non-physical concepts and ideas, such as religion, are capable of reproduction and evolution spreading to new hosts, who will spread them further, but it does not adequately explain what causes it in the first place. It does not explain how feeble men such as Krishna, Buddha, Moses, Jesus, Mohammad, or Baha’u’llah could produce such a transformation within the lives of their adherents whose effects lasts for centuries, while as powerful dictators or other ideologically strong rulers could not.

    Memetics does not explain how against all odds when the majority of current ideologies were against the ideologies of a new religion, and against severe hostilities and persecutions from among the fittest among their community, a few numbers of powerless, often illiterate initial followers of religion, were able to plant the banner of success.

    If the evolution and persistence of religion was simply based on the survival of the fittest, then every known religion should have been extinct by now, for it could not withstand the amount of severe persecutions and oppression to which each one of these were exposed to during its infancy.

    Moreover the fact that every proceeding religions acknowledges the validity of the preceding ones, signalizes how each one builds upon the other and is linked to one another in an ever advancing civilization.



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  • Marco #53

    “Ahmad, this is a science site. Claims carry no weight until you supply evidence for them. So your ‘ideological seed’ and your ‘creation’ get no free pass here.”

    Marco, a meme is a scientific fact but by itself is an ideological concept. It is a non-physical bodiless replicator, yet it exists! If such a non-physical ideological replicator can have an existence, why shouldn’t an ideological gene?



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  • Alan4discussion #52

    “Within the primates there are various species (Notably Capuchins and Chimps), which have skills comparable to human stone-age ancestors, and may well have the possibility of evolving human like traits, if human competition is removed.”

    Absolutely! If human competition is removed then evolution will cause such species to evolve into rational beings simply because the purpose of creation is to produce a rational being and it does not care whether it is homo sapiens or other species.

    “This is pure whimsical speculation, for which there is not a scrap of evidence…….Within the “ideological DNA” of the universe, the emergence of such a rational being was present and it was destined to unfold and become apparent only in degrees through billions of years of evolution.”

    So is a meme an ideological concept, yet I would not consider it a whimsical speculation!



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  • Alan4discussion #54

    “Not having ALL the answers, does not mean that we have none of them!”

    Similarly, only having a few answers does not mean that we can jump to any conclusion and decide that there cannot be other rational beings in the universe besides ourselves!



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  • Ahmad #56

    Marco, a meme is a scientific fact but by itself is an ideological concept. It is a non-physical bodiless replicator, yet it exists! If such a non-physical ideological replicator can have an existence, why shouldn’t an ideological gene?

    Leaving aside the fact that ‘memes’ are basically an analogy, ‘x exists, therefore why shouldn’t y?’ is not evidence for the existence of y. (‘Swordfish exist, therefore why shouldn’t unicorns?’ is not evidence for the existence of unicorns.)

    You have claimed the existence of an ‘ideological gene’. The onus is therefore on you to provide the evidence for such a gene. Over to you. Evidence please. Evidence, not word games. Not maybes. Not ‘why nots’. Not analogies. You are claiming there is more than mere physics, chemistry and biology involved in our existence. That is a big claim: you will need hefty evidence to back it up. In the absence of such evidence, I’m afraid it will only be a waste of everyone’s time to engage with you further.



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  • Ahmad #57
    Mar 18, 2016 at 11:59 am

    Alan4discussion #52 – “Within the primates there are various species (Notably Capuchins and Chimps), which have skills comparable to human stone-age ancestors, and may well have the possibility of evolving human like traits, if human competition is removed.”

    Absolutely! If human competition is removed then evolution will cause such species to evolve into rational beings simply because the purpose of creation is to produce a rational being and it does not care whether it is homo sapiens or other species.

    You are simply reading your presuppositions into nature. These primates could evolve into the sentient species niche, because that niche became available. Intelligence evolves in species, particularly predatory species, because of environmental challenges, and competition for survival.

    Primates, however are a tiny fraction of one percent of the numbers of living organisms on Earth, so there is no reason to believe they are of any more special or significance than millions of other species. Humans are only “more significant” in the perceptions of humans because of their egocentric thinking based on the evolved need for self-preservation.

    the purpose of creation is to produce a rational being and it does not care whether it is homo sapiens or other species.

    This is pure whimsical speculation, for which there is not a scrap of evidence

    …….Within the “ideological DNA” of the universe, the emergence of such a rational being was present and it was destined to unfold and become apparent only in degrees through billions of years of evolution.”

    There is simply no evidence of this mythological “ideological DNA” of the universe”. There is no evidence that intelligent life has any necessary survival advantage. Indeed the handful of surviving intelligent species, as a proportion of the billions of other organisms on the planet, clearly indicates they are a very small minority.

    So is a meme an ideological concept, yet I would not consider it a whimsical speculation!

    That is a false comparison.
    A meme is a specific programme within the physical mechanism of the brains which adopt it, affecting the behaviour of the individuals so programmed. This can be scientifically tested.

    You have produced nothing to support your suggestions that there is of some sort of grand programming of life or the universe with some purpose of generating intelligent life.
    Most of the evidence indicates that all but a very tiny percentage of the universe does not produce life of any kind, and of that where there is life, only for a tiny fraction, for a tiny fraction of time, has it shown any intelligent forms among the huge diversity and numbers of variations.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/aug/23/species-earth-estimate-scientists

    Humans share the planet with as many as 8.7 million different forms of life, according to what is being billed as the most accurate estimate yet of life on Earth.



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  • Ahmad #58
    Mar 18, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Alan4discussion #54

    Not having ALL the answers, does not mean that we have none of them!

    Similarly, only having a few answers does not mean that we can jump to any conclusion and decide that there cannot be other rational beings in the universe besides ourselves!

    I did not say that the possibility was ruled out.
    I said that any such intelligent life, if it exists, is likely to be very rare for the reasons I quoted on the earlier linked discussion.

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/02/exoplanet-census-suggests-earth-is-special-after-all/#li-comment-198579

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/02/exoplanet-census-suggests-earth-is-special-after-all/#li-comment-198454



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  • Ahmad #55
    Mar 18, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Memetics does not explain how against all odds when the majority of current ideologies were against the ideologies of a new religion, and against severe hostilities and persecutions from among the fittest among their community, a few numbers of powerless, often illiterate initial followers of religion, were able to plant the banner of success.

    On the contrary! Memetics shows that the survival of memes is not dependent on the meme benefiting the individual.

    If the evolution and persistence of religion was simply based on the survival of the fittest, then every known religion should have been extinct by now, for it could not withstand the amount of severe persecutions and oppression to which each one of these were exposed to during its infancy.

    Individuals can be sacrificed, providing that the meme is promoted an passed on to greater numbers! That is one of the evils of religious memes.
    The welfare of individuals is sacrificed in favour of promoting the dogmas and expansion of the religions.
    (For example, the poor pay tithes to Rome while popes preach “helping the poor” from a golden throne in a palace!)
    http://www.theology21.com/2012/09/29/poverty-and-the-popes-golden-throne/

    They often also discourage restricting family numbers by contraception to ensure a good supply of baby believers born into poverty and starvation!



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  • Ahmad #55
    Mar 18, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Memetics is a beautiful concept. The fact that non-physical ideas

    All ideas are “physical”. They are the electro-bio-chemistry of the brain.

    http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/synapse.html
    Neuroscience For Kids

    and concepts are viewed as “living” organisms, confirms that not all existence simply belongs to a physical biosphere but that there are existences possible within a non-physical realm as well.

    There is no evidence whatever for a “non-physical realm”.
    It is a fantasy within the physical brains of whimsical thinkers!
    If you wish to make such a claim, please point out somewhere in the observable universe where there is no physical presence of matter, forces, or energy.



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  • Ahmad,

    You use of the word “potentiality” is absolutely meaningless and says nothing at all . You could also say that the initial conditions of the Universe contained the potentiality for ants, molecules, wind chimes, Arsenal football club, my cat Salem etc. Your statement can be rephrased as ” i will denote everything that has existed, exists or will exist as once “potential”” , which is equivalent to stating the “The Big Bang happened and now everything that exists exists”, you are saying nothing more than this simple tautology.

    Basically all you are doing is grammatically misusing the term “Potential” to designate “everything that now exists before it existed” which is to render the term meaningless as it applies to absolutely everything. . We all know that before things exist they do not exist, and adding the term “potential” to this statement is meaningless and redundent.

    Obviously you need to use the term as a vindication of your Aristotlian metaphysic where it might carry a semantic value, but in the real world it is superfluous and hence meaningless..



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  • Potentiality ,carries as its normal usage, the sense of being something being statistically possible or probably. If we replaced all your usages of ” potentiality” etc with a synonym of say “statistically possible” then all your arguments would lose all force and meaning, wouldn’t they?

    You are using ” potential” in a purely metaphysical sense, as a corollary of your teleological religious beliefs, to designate some kind of pre-existing none material essence or whatever ( I guess the up to date pseudo-scientific gabble now would be ” coded information”, God as the ultimate programmer).. All your statements are not saying anything about the real world as it is, but are merely a circular restatement of your metaphysical beliefs. You are certainly not fooling anyone here that anything you say has any scientific or factual meaning, and if you yourself think they do then, I am sorry to say, you are only deluding yourself.



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  • Steve #64

    The word potential that I use is like saying that a tree potentially exists within the seed or an adult human potentially exists within the embryo.



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  • While still living in a physical world of three dimensions of space and one dimension of time, it is utterly impossible to see anything else outside our physical dimension! Even though non-physical realities such as love, mercy, anger exist, yet since we are physical beings and our understanding is only limited to the world of physical dimensions, such non-physical realities are reduced to their physical biochemical counterpart in order to understand and explain them.

    A radio with a limited frequency bandwidth cannot pick up the ultra-high frequency TV signals, and thus to it such higher frequency signals simply do not exist! In this example both these entities belong to the same physical world where one entity is incapable to grasp the other; then how much more difficult it would be for a physical entity such as man, to grasp a non-physical entity! To prove the existence of a higher non-physical dimension to a man immersed in a 3-D physical world is outside the scope of the physical realm.

    Analogies have been used as a way to understand concepts that may otherwise be difficult to grasp. In the physical world we see how physical traits can be transmitted to an offspring, and we conclude that non-physical concepts and ideas too can be transmitted in the society in a similar manner. Similarly, in the physical world we see a human develop from a single cell within which exists the blueprint of all his future limbs and organs that gradually unfold to produce an adult human, and thus we can infer that the universe must have similarly developed from a single big bang within which existed the blueprint of all its future so-called “limbs and organs” that gradually unfolded through to produce its end-products.



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  • Ahmad #67
    Mar 18, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    While still living in a physical world of three dimensions of space and one dimension of time, it is utterly impossible to see anything else outside our physical dimension!

    This sounds very like a “God-of-gaps fallacy”

    Even though non-physical realities such as love, mercy, anger exist,

    As I explained earlier, brain chemistry is not “non-physical” regardless of fanciful thinkers wishing it so. The emotional reactions to the stimulation of the endocrine system and hormones, is understood by biologists as physical and chemical processes, and is known to neuropsychologists in terms of reactions and behaviours.

    Non-physical “aether” is mythology, from the ancient ages of ignorance.

    yet since we are physical beings and our understanding is only limited to the world of physical dimensions,

    As no one has produced evidence of any non-physical dimensions, wild speculations can only be classed as fantasy!

    such non-physical realities are reduced to their physical biochemical counterpart in order to understand and explain them.

    Where claims of their non-physical nature, are debunked by science which explains the mechanisms involved.

    Similarly, in the physical world we see a human develop from a single cell within which exists the blueprint of all his future limbs and organs that gradually unfold to produce an adult human,

    The DNA in a fertilised cell has evolved over millions of years with selection shaping the physical body from earlier replicated and tested structures.
    All the evidence indicates the Big-Bang evolved in seconds as a physical reaction without any diversity or selection mechanism.

    You seem to adding the presupposition of a circular argument to your list of fallacies.

    and thus we can infer

    and a non-sequitur fallacy!

    that the universe must have similarly developed from a single big bang

    Plus the forced analogy!

    within which existed the blueprint of all its future so-called “limbs and organs” that gradually unfolded through to produce its end-products.

    Which presupposes a design, and ignores all the random factors, fluctuations, variations, and a lack of a selective or replication process which refute such claims and show the falsehood of the analogy.

    It is pure whimsicality, based on the psychological need for the authority figure of a deity! – probably inherited from childhood culture.



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  • “like saying that a tree potentially exists within the seed or an adult human potentially exists in the embryo”

    Nope, you are not using it to simply show a statistical possibility, you are using it in a entirely ( your) metaphysical way so that you can circularly ” reason” that there is design and teleology involved, as is obvious in all your statements .

    Again to say ” a adult human potentiality exists in the embryo” only has sense if it means that unless something goes wrong, death for example, a human embryo develops into a human adult I.e it has a statistical meaning of the potentiality of the human embryo surviving into adulthood. THAT is the only factual or scientific meaning the term” potential” can have in this context, and this is obviously not the grammatical usage of the term that you are applying in this context.

    Apart from this statistical use of “potential” ,to indicate the possibility of early death, the use of the term in this phrase is redundent and meaningless. Human embryos do not develop into lions or tigers, they do not have any ” potential” to develop into anything else, so to say they have the ” potential” to become human adults is redundant, tautological and meaningless, it is already contained in the use of the terms embryo and adult, which simply refer to the same creature at different times in its life cycle. Potential is about possibilities and ( aside from early death as above) the human embryo turning into an adult is not a possibility or a potential, it is a simple fact. Again all you do is take the tautology ” human embryos turn into human adults” add a factually and scientifically redundent and meaningless term ” potential” and then very oddly conclude by adding a word without any factual content that you have thereby discovered a major principle, “potentiality becoming actualised” or whatever, of how the Universe works!!! When all that has actually happened if that you have been bewildered by language.

    Can you not understand you are saying nothing factual or scientific, and that nothing you say can have any impact or bearing on science? As even your usage of simple words like ” potential” are not scientific or factual, but are (your) metaphysical then everything you say is literally scientifically and factually nonsensical. Not right or wrong, but nonsensical. You are merely stating your beliefs, which is fair enough, but those have nothing whatsover to do with science or facts.



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  • Steve #69

    That is the beauty of it Steve. An adult human potentially exists in an embryo and as you correctly mention it has a statistical chance that it can die and not live. Similarly, our universe with all its life forms potentially existed within the embryo of creation. At the time of the big bang everything went as it should and if there would have been even a slight deviation, the atoms and other structures could not form and the universe as we see today would not exist. The odds that the universe was successfully created by chance and the odds of its continual survival, and the odds that life could simply begin by chance, and the odds that a rational being evolved by chance, are far far higher than the odds that it had a willful Creator with a blueprint that unfolded in time. And by a willful Creator I am not referring to any man-made god, but to a Creative Force that is far above the expression of any physical words.



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  • Ahmad #70
    Mar 18, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    Similarly, our universe with all its life forms potentially existed within the embryo of creation.

    So you keep repeatedly asserting, but you have no evidence whatever to support that claim!

    At the time of the big bang everything went as it should and if there would have been even a slight deviation, the atoms and other structures could not form and the universe as we see today would not exist.

    I think you mean;- “At the time of the big bang everything went as it did.

    The odds that the universe was successfully created by chance and the odds of its continual survival, and the odds that life could simply begin by chance, and the odds that a rational being evolved by chance, are far far higher than the odds that it had a willful Creator with a blueprint that unfolded in time.

    Its like having a particular hand of cards dealt.
    After you have picked up the cards and looked at them, the retrospective odds of having that particular set of cards is 100% certain regardless of any odds prior to the deal.

    As I pointed out earlier, creators of any kind simply produce the paradox of who or what, created the creator, of the creator, of the creator, of the creator, of the creator, of the creator, etc.
    It’s “Turtles all the way down“!

    We don’t know what energy was fed into the Big-Bang, but let’s not make up magic fairy stories!



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  • I am afraid that I already knew that you would have absolutely no comprehension of what I was saying, however badly I might have expressed it.

    “”On simplicity and difficulty. What makes a subject difficult to understand – if it is significant, important – is not that some special instruction about abstruse things is necessary to understand it. Rather it is the contrast between the understanding of the subject and what most people want to see. Because of this the very things that are most obvious can become the most difficult to understand. What has to be overcome is not difficulty of the intellect but of the will.””

    Again if you wish to express you beliefs that is fine, what you believe is your business, all I am saying is that you should not delude yourself by thinking you have given them any scientific, factual or mathematical foundation, you have not.

    Wittgenstein

    It is of course equally futile to explain to you that the improbability of two things happening (X plus Y) is always greater than only one of those things (X) so the improbability of both God and the Universe existing must be greater than the improbability of just the Universe existing. . I.e the argument from improbability is actually an argument against God. ( Don’t bother to counter as there is no valid argument from improbability, either for or against the existence of either God or the Universe, I was just trying to pedantically point out a separate flaw within already deeply flawed reasoning).



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  • Alan4discussion #68

    Alan, your analysis of the subject further proves that it is simply beyond the ability of a human living in a physical world to express in words anything outside its limited dimensions of space and time. Just as in the story of the Flatland, the dot and the line cannot provide any reason or logic to prove the existence of a sphere, similarly no amount of human reasoning or logic can prove the existence of a Creator and spiritual dimensions higher than ourselves. Thus it would be impossible to authoritatively prove a definite plan / intent for our creation.

    However, as a cautionary note: Just as it would be arrogant for a line to say that there can be no other dimension above it simply because it cannot see it, similarly it would be arrogant for a materialist to deny the existence of higher dimensions simply because he cannot physically see them!

    I am not here to prove a point or to convert anyone or to take part in any argumentative discussion and what matters for me the most is the spirit of love and kindness with which we address one another to express our differing viewpoints. I would like to thank you for all the information you shared and the attachments and websites that helped further enrich my knowledge.



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  • Steve #72

    “It is of course equally futile to explain to you that the improbability of two things happening (X plus Y) is always greater than only one of those things (X) so the improbability of both God and the Universe existing must be greater than the improbability of just the Universe existing.”

    This would only be true is both X and Y are two completely unrelated denominators. If the Creator is like the physical Sun, then creation is like the rays emanating from it. As such rephrasing your own argument, it would sound as thus: “It is of course equally futile to explain to you that the improbability of two things happening (Sun plus its rays) is always greater than only one of those things (Sun / Rays) so the improbability of both God and the Universe existing must be greater than the improbability of just the Universe existing.” As you see, you cannot dissociate the rays of the sun from the sun!



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  • I also said do not bother to “counter” as there is no valid ” argument from improbability” anyway.

    Anyhow, If you read carefully what you wrote you will, hopefully, see that all you have said is exactly what I said, to quote your own words ” so the improbability of both God and the Universe existing must be greater than the improbability of just the Universe existing.”!!!!!!!

    Not being interested enough to query the sense of your argument from analogy may I point out that what you should have said was something like…… That as the sun/rays or God/universe are just one thing therefore there are not two seperate things to be more improbable e.g there is no X plus Y to be more improbable than X , there is just X

    Also I hope you realise that there is not much communication, if any, going on here.



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  • Alan4discussion #71

    “As I pointed out earlier, creators of any kind simply produce the paradox of who or what, created the creator, of the creator, of the creator, of the creator, of the creator, of the creator, etc.”

    The concept of creator of the creator paradox only holds true for a creator bound by the laws of physical universe. Consider this: We will never understand what pre-Big Bang reality was like, or what it was formed of, or why it exploded to create our universe. Such notions are beyond human understanding. Why? Because Time, Space, all the laws of physics, all reasoning and logic that we use is based on post-Big Bang reality that took place some 14 billion years ago. No amount of human reasoning or logic based on a post-Big Bang reality will be able to describe any pre-Big Bang reality! This being true, why should we then insist a pre-Big Bang God to be subject to post-Big Bang laws, theories, logic or reasoning?

    Moreover, if simply the notion of a pre-Big Bang reality is beyond our human understanding, how then can we even fathom to understand the reality and the nature of the Creator of both the pre and post Big Bang reality? Hence the creator of the creator paradox fails within that realm.



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  • Steve #75

    “Anyhow, If you read carefully what you wrote you will, hopefully, see that all you have said is exactly what I said,”

    I only rephrased the portion of your paragraph needed and left the other aspect intact to show you how wrong your conclusions would be when you replace the X and Y with sun and its rays!



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  • Your argument, that pre- big bang we have no reason to expect that post-big bang laws or causality etc apply, is correct.

    The logical conclusion from this fact ( that we have no information pre- big bang and also have no basis to make any inferences as we cannot even presume causality ) should be that we can say NOTHING about pre-big bang , it is not a pre- big bang God which is beyond our understanding it is the pre- big bang itself, to say anything about a God is nonsensical E..g to say there was a creator or to say there was not a creator are both equally senseless propositions, as is indeed to say the Universe was created or the Universe was not created, all such propositions are without basis.



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  • @Ahmad

    “Moreover the fact that every proceeding religions acknowledges the validity of the preceding ones, signalizes how each one builds upon the other and is linked to one another in an ever advancing civilization.”

    Twaddle and drivel. Every religion on the planet thinks that it, and only it, is right and every other one is wrong. Religion’s primary purpose is to oust every other religion until it achieves total dominance. You continue to say nothing of import couched in flowery deepities and garnished with faux gratitude to Alan for enlightening you with his facts and web links from which you also learn nothing and which make no impact on your thought processes or knowledge. As with Stardusty Psyche this is pointless, circular and little more than trolling for attention. You don’t want to learn anything, you just want to expound on your nebulous ineffable creator delusion as long as there are people willing to get sucked into the argument and humour you.



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  • @phil-rimmer (and anyone else).

    New Age spirituality is not only unscientific, but is also often anti-science. Science is perceived as unchangeable, cynical, reductionist, and materialist.

    I must say, I don’t know about this. Why such intolerance and judgment and condemnation? What is the vision? What kind of a world does this author want? If it were possible would we want to whip up a world where unreason or irrational thinking would be taboo, would have no place at all? Science started with wonder and with speculation. People are struggling, searching. We can’t all be scientists, and not all “new age spirituality” is anti-science. The author is putting too fine a point on this, and setting up a straw-man, as Phil R. would say.

    Whatever happened to Live and Let Live? Hokey? Not at all. Science is great. We all know that; but while anecdotes can never give us facts, the description of a “spiritual” experience can gives us information, as it were, about that person’s inner experience. Why dismiss everything right off the bat because it is not scientific? It won’t add nothing to science, but it will further erode and diminish the quality and condition of our inter-human lives (already in a state of shambles). It behooves us to have a bit more compassion and curiosity and acceptance, and less disdain, contempt, and rigidity.

    I would recommend a marvelous essay by William James. It is called On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings. He presents an argument, to wit, that most of us are incapable of appreciating the inner experiences of other human beings.

    All lies eventually do harm and one should always demand evidence where any claims or assertions having to do with science are involved. If someone claims that they know something to be true and bases this on an anecdote, as opposed to evidence, then yes, be skeptical or reject it; it is not science and can never be science.

    But that is not what I’m saying. (What am I saying exactly?) Here is my point: if, for example, someone says, with passion and conviction: “when I look at her face I see God”, or if someone says: “I felt the hand of good for a fraction of a second while I was composing that piece”, don’t wear a frown, don’t look incredulous. Say nothing, or smile, or walk away. But don’t dismiss it as nonsense. It may not be. You will never know. Never.



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  • Ahmad #76
    Mar 18, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Alan4discussion #71 “As I pointed out earlier, creators of any kind simply produce the paradox of who or what, created the creator, of the creator, of the creator, of the creator, of the creator, of the creator, etc.”

    The concept of creator of the creator paradox only holds true for a creator bound by the laws of physical universe.

    Not really! The very concept of a “creator”, assumes some directed process, requiring some active intervention by some pre-existing complex functioning entity which must itself have origins.

    It is therefore legitimate to question the origins of the (necessarily complex creator), just as it is legitimate to seek the physical source of the energy, which we have not yet identified.
    Occam would clearly favour some straightforward physical interaction of forces and energies.

    Consider this: We will never understand what pre-Big Bang reality was like, or what it was formed of, or why it exploded to create our universe.

    There is a long history of claims about “what science can never reveal or understand”!

    Approximately 99% of them have been proved wrong. The rest are yet to be determined.

    Such notions are beyond human understanding.

    Such notions are beyond human understanding at the present time!

    There is no reason (beyond personal incredulity), to assume they will remain so!



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  • @danielr #80

    I agree with one major caveat. Poetic truths are often great ways of understanding your feelings. Some even become cultural inventions, that may be often times benign having essentially poetic roots. Justice is a cultural invention built on mostly consensus feelings and how we want those feelings to be managed, so too Romantic Love.

    How these evolve and are used is the problem. In more enlightened societies ideas of Justice have evolved from a simple idea of blame of bad individuals into the more useful and evidenced idea that society may unwittingly form and foster the “bad” behaviour of others and that “badness” is both more diffuse in its source and more tractable. Societies become more tractable and have their collective “poetic” feelings driven in turn by our cultural inventions and their evolution in the face of real-world selective pressures. We see positive reinforcement as more effective in managing the “badness” of others and come to feel that folks are not simply occasionally demon-driven, bad to the bone.

    Romantic love is the most curious and sweet pain that makes happy masochists of us, as vividly alive as when standing on a blowy, vertiginous cliff edge with a prospect sweeter than we have ever imagined, that begs us step closer. We experience by contrasts, and romantic love embraces extremes in short measure. This externalised poetry woven into our cultural fabric helps us celebrate these dangerous feelings. Living by such poetry can go wrong though. Deciding upon the love of your life is the root of more creepy stalking male behaviour and quite enough boiled bunnies…

    The poetry of our own feelings and the personal narratives we make for our lives is fine when it remains within us but use it with others a whole world of harms can arise. Sell it to them and it can become a source of manipulative power. Sell kids the idea of life after death and death becomes the more fearful, rather than a simple fact of life. Sell kids hell or their own perfectability or born with sin and you have enough claws in them to make them your plaything.

    Personal poetry harms no-one. But these, turned outwards, can become emotional tractor beams that can reach through reason and cause mayhem.

    The right place for metaphysics is in formulating hypotheses. The right approach to hypotheses is to test them until they break…and never forget they remain on trial until broken.



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  • Gapology 1.01

    It is a recognised feature of god-delusions hiding from detection, that they will have their hosts direct attention to the most distant and accessible places in space and time, to avoid the investigations of neuroscience clearly identifying their locations in believers’ brains, and their techniques of creating self referencing illusions in the synapses of their hosts!



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  • It is a mistake to think religion and ritual etc are primarily examples of mistaken science .The “power” of religion is cultural and psychological, and is independent of the factual or scientific existence or non- existence of God etc. It is delusional to think giving everyone a good scientific education will make religion magically dissolve ( although of course in some instances it will) just as it is delusional to think that if everybody embraces Jesus it will make the World a happy clappy place.

    “Christianity is not a doctrine, not, I mean, a theory about what has happened and will happen to the human soul, but a description of something that actually takes place in human life. For ‘consciousness of sin’ is a real event and so are despair and salvation through faith. Those who speak of such things (Bunyan, for instance) are simply describing what has happened to them, whatever gloss anyone may want to put on it.”
    ― Ludwig Wittgenstein



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  • @stevet #84

    Huge admirer as I am of Witgenstein, a blind spot was culture, its reach and the flexible nature of it. He failed to emphasise sufficiently that, real as feelings are to the experiencer, charactristics like “sin” and “faith” are culturally contingent constructs, not the meant-to-be attributes of humans. He simply didn’t or couldn’t step back enough.

    Our values (those subconscious heuristics by which judgments appear in our brain), sacred and profane, evolve just as we do and in the face of pressures real and imagined, but ultimately and consistently in the face of the real.



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  • Phil,

    I think it would be harder to find a greater hater of the tenets of religion than Wittgenstein. His approach was to question what people were actually doing when ” doing” religion, and that it consisted of a whole family of different cultural, social and psychological processes ( ” doing” pseudo- science being a minor one) serving multiple purposes, and was not a single “thing”. E.g his critique of Frazer’s one dimensional “Judaic- christian “religious” interpretation of diverse rituals in the Golden Bough. He also certainly realised religious concepts and rites were culture bound and not meant-to-bees, ( he famously dismissed Ethics as not a philosophical or metaphysical topic but a social topic ), however he also at the same time declared that some expressed , however distortedly, feelings and practices etc which are common to all humans and human societies e.g game playing, social rituals, fear of death, etc . In his terminology, what we all have in common is the human form of life, although our expression of that is contingent and culture bound

    . “We feel that even when all possible scientific questions have been answered, the problems of life remain completely untouched. Of course there are then no questions left, and this itself is the answer”

    Wittgenstein



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  • @stevet

    Indeed, Wittgenstein was at pains to point out the intractability of metaphysics using reason, because definitions can have no rigour.

    But my point is that this “so we can say nothing with any rational confidence about these matters”, rather falls short of what is actually possible to say, as Popper argued.

    We can indeed investigate and speak about the roots of experience albeit in as yet murky and unclear ways without invoking metaphysics. Neuro science creates hard hypotheses increasingly. His NOMA type attitude in denying theologians the use of philosophy, fails to license scientists access to the situated mind.

    Fair enough, we may say, considering the time he worked, well before the neuro-philosophers of today, but it makes him less of an authority here.



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  • Indeed Wittgenstein would have no problems at all with neuroscience, with his interests he would be intrigued, he consistently stated that the scientific method was the correct way to make sensible propositions about the real world.

    In your paraphrase of his ” whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent” the phrase” these matters ” would not be applicable to neuro- science etc as we can speak of neuroscientic ” matters” in the normal scientific way, and it would also have no connection with ” roots of experience”, a phrase he would probably consider as a somewhat unsatisfactory use of metaphor. If by ” roots of experience” you simply mean a satisfactory and full explanation of how the brain works then, as above, he would have no problem whatsoever with that, and it is not something whereof we cannot speak. His denial of the sense of metaphysics was not a denial of science or new scientific discoveries so I am slightly puzzled by your response,i.e he would say philosophy or metaphysics can say nothing sensibly about the matter of the ” roots of experience” but science most certainly can.

    And ,allowing for the sake of argument that he could be said to have a NOMA type attitude, then that attitude would be restricted to language, about different language- games and certainly not about restricting the fields of study of science or “denying it access to the situated mind” i.e his version of NOMA would be along the lines of “it is nonsensical to use metaphysical language in a scientific context”

    As he was not proposing any theories at all about how the world works any advances in science do not make him obsolete, although of course new knowledge might have led him to reformulate some propositions.

    Not sure how I ended up here defending Wittgenstein but I might as well end up letting him say what he thought philosophy was about ,which was most certainly not to be in competion with science or attempting to delimit its fields of study, and is not made ” obsolete” by new discoveries.

    “The object of philosophy is the logical clarification of thoughts.
    Philosophy is not a theory but an activity.
    A philosophical work consists essentially of elucidations.
    The result of philosophy is not a number of “philosophical propositions”, but to make propositions clear.
    Philosophy should make clear and delimit sharply the thoughts which otherwise are, as it were, opaque and blurred.”
    ― Ludwig Wittgenstein



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  • @stevet

    I think most of my response to #88 would come from reposting #87. I am offering an opinion of W’s use here. That he proposes the reality of the religious experience to the experiencer is voicing what is now mostly a truism. There is more that can be said of course, but it is indeed philosophers as much as any, who are saying more.

    Popper proposed that metaphysics did indeed have a useful space in the formation of scientific hypotheses. In their destructive testing involving observation and measurement they may indeed become more defined and less metaphysical growing one day, maybe, into the rigour of science.

    My contention is that the latest batch of Neuro-Philosophers (Dennett, the Churchlands etc.) understand that philosophy is a tool with limited reach, but that it is nevertheless an essential part of the kit. I don’t believe W would so readily go there. Popper really pissed him off.

    But….that is only my “hypothesis”…nor a scientific one. I may be picking a fight out of boredom. I’m finding it quite a struggle to disagree….



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  • Now we are probably just talking semantics., about the differences between what is considered a scientific hypothesis and what is considered a metaphysical one and what is considerd a thought experiment etc No real idea of what Popper’s take was, although I am well aware W.ittgenstein thought Popper consistently misunderstood and consequently misrepresented his thinking.

    Wittgenstein’s only point was to distinguish between scientific and metaphysical languages (language- games) and their correct usages. He considerd that a metaphysic is ( approximately and roughly) an complex construct of associated concepts , expressed in its own distinct language-game in which the “signs” constituting this metaphysical language- game do not have to carry, or refer to, any factual or real content , and that in scientific language- games the ” signs” do have to carry a factual content, and that consequently to use a metaphysical language- game in a scientific context is nonsensical.

    What, as distinct from metaphysics, we can call thought experiments, scientific conjectures using new concepts or ” philosophical ” ruminations or new models or new formal notations etc etc etc must all , if they are to be considered scientific, simply follow the rules of the scientific language-game and must be expressed, using “signs” that, at least theoretically , are capable of carrying a factual content.

    He imposed no other constraints at all about how a scientist goes about his investigations, or what means or contrivances they use to ” conjure” up scientific hypotheses, and the thought experiment was one of his own favoured methods.

    As for the philosophy of neuroscience ( and it is not philosophy as W. knows it, Captain) might I recommend, if you have the time, inclination and money , which I am pretty sure you don’t, the following Wittgensteinian style critique of the philosophy of neuroscience ( you will certainly find a lot to disagree with in the book, if that is your current criteria for reading materials, as it takes large swipes at the coherency of those you mentioned)

    Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience Paperback – 25 Mar 2003
    by M. R. Bennett (Author), P. M. S. Hacker (Author



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  • @phil-rimmer
    @stevet

    I had a bit of difficulty composing that comment, putting my thoughts together. I don’t know, frankly, precisely what I am trying to defend, and yet I feel that there is something that is imperiled and in need of defense and preservation.

    Of course I agree: their truth is not the truth (as Dawkins has said and as we all know) and if they think it is, then that will continue to lead to problems…

    But I was going after something more than just respecting the inner feelings and subjective “truth” of others. I am most definitely a non-theist, but I cannot be one comfortably all the time. What gives me pause – and I have said this before – is this: inspiration. “I am trying to talk to my God!” Beethoven uttered those words, and they resonate with me. — Science does not own inspiration! If there are those within the scientific community who think it does then I would say that science can indeed be “reductionistic”, to use Stollzsnow’s (the OP’s) language.

    Steve, there was a gentleman from Malaysia who had taught Wittgenstein that I e-met on this site and haven’t had the pleasure of talking to in quite some time: is that you, by any chance?



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  • @OP – New Age spirituality is not only unscientific, but is also often anti-science.
    Science is perceived as unchangeable, cynical, reductionist, and materialist.

    The underlying physical material reality studied by science, is unchangeable, so unlike self-delusion, collective delusion, wish-thinking in general, or psychedelic revelations, objective scientific methodology, does produce consistent results, which do not change according to whimsical trends in fanciful thought processes, or fashionable pseudo-philosophies!



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  • If you want to know how to boil an egg then a explanation in terms of rules to follow (e.g find a saucepan , fill with water, place on stove etc) is useful and ” sensible” whilst an explanation purely in scientific terms ( e.g increase the velocity of molecules of H2O contained in a shape with the following mathematical description and made up of the following atoms in the following ratio…etc) although true is neither useful or “sensible” ( in W. terms using a rule based language game is, in this instance, more sensible than using a scientific one.)

    Similarly in trying to understand Beethoven’s inspiration expressed by his “I am talking to God ” then an scientific explanation in terms of underlying brain processes etc etc although true is neither useful or “sensible” and a sensible explanation would be in terms of aesthetic, musical, religious, historic cultural etc language- games. ( A disciple of Scientism could counter that the items in the non- scientific arguments could themselves all be given a scientific explanation ( e.g musical beauty in terms of sound wavelengths etc) and that consequently everything can be reduced or translated to a scientific explanation. Of course in thinking so all they would be doing is illustrating the idiocy of Scientism)

    And yes, since I was born in Malaysia etc I believe that I am the same me as when I was previously on this site.



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  • a sensible explanation would be in terms of aesthetic, musical,
    religious, historic cultural

    I am not sure whether I understand this properly but the above should ALSO include science. Without it the story is incomplete isn’t it?



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  • @ Steve 93

    I am so glad to see you again. You might not remember me (and I had a different photo). I was pretty sure that that was you, as you write so well about W.

    I was the one always harping on Kant. Now you must remember.

    As for the Beethoven quote: that wasn’t the best example of an expression of feeling inspired, but to create something and truly have the feeling that one is a sort of channel, can be, from what I have heard, quite uncanny. I worry that scientific-biological explanations of such private and rare expressions and feelings, will ultimately destroy this kind of “inspiration” which no one really can ever fully understand (if I am not mistaken) and perhaps overstep its bounds in the process.



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  • Olgun 94

    Yes indeed, and also of course science, but science or any other type of explanation does not neccessary make the story ” complete”. There is no absolute ” completion” that can be reached as every explanation begs another explanation, the story is only ” completed” when the one who asked for an explanation demands no more explanations because they are satisfied with the given explanations and have reached a satisfactory understanding, although of course they could also demand no more explanations because they are unhappy with those being given and simply want to hear no more.



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  • Dan 95

    There would be a danger of destroying ” inspiration” only in the minds of those who make the logical error of thinking that a explananion REPLACES that which it is explaining.

    And yes Dan, I remember you. The participants in this site seem to retain a hardy core!



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  • @stevet #93

    Those are fairly familiar opinions but for some philosophy didn’t remain the isolated and healed over, non-overlapping magisterium W wanted. Popper invoked its use in precisely a pump-priming for scientific hypotheses. Quine developed this hybrid beast quite happy this was the only way that philosophy anyway could inflate from nothing.

    Understanding inspiration can indeed be a scientific excercise. Vilayanur Ramachandran has proposed mechanisms for some of these valuing modes of cognition, aesthetics if you will, but just as Newton did not unweave the rainbow, he merely took two steps closer. Besides, a stack of but-why’s hover nearby waiting their turn to come into land. In knowing as much as we can know about such things, maybe the more settled and congruent way we may each come to understand these things.

    There is no decent argument to stop short. Indeed by stopping short in our knowledge we get solipcism and shallow rooted fancy. We get “God-Given” and all different gods.

    The newer aesthetic of “valuing hueristics” (how I’ve come to think of aesthetics!) as a second order by-product of evolution (say) only makes our achievements the more startling, the more unlikely and the less limited. My aesthetic response to these ideas is no less fierce and inspiring as any previous inspired thought. Though (a little unfairly targetted by Bennett and Hacker) Damasio (a musing neuroscientist, not a philosophising one) was entirely right to note that we appear incapable of rational descision making without emotional valuion of some sort. We discover that to act reasonably, reason cannot be a cold fish.

    Having a cortex, an inferential rind to second guess the instinctive reptile that it smooths over creates extraordinary behaviour changes from lizard to mammal. Bennett and Hacker are entirely premature in their complaint about modularism. These are very, very early stages of understanding these separately developed areas. It is entirely specious to complain about first inklings. Understanding the evolutionary roots of modularity (Why might this bit have evolved? What evolutionary pressure?) This, of course, neglects the subsequent evolutionary elaborations creating those great feedback loops. Decent investigative tools are only now becoming available. Their complaints about equating mind and brain (alone) are nonsense. Both embodied and situated cognitions are increasingly common standpoints (Not least promoted by Damasio.)

    Having a cortex and generating inferences about our primitive emotional selves, being able to use our spindle cells and anterior cingulate cortex to stifle our emotional responses in response to cortical inferences does not seem to make us less emotional, less inspired, just more mutual, more effective problem solvers. Like first world problems expanding to fit the space our emotional range remains as vigorous as ever. In the same fashion, as possessors of situated cognitions (culture as a further cortical rind of inference-making), making us further self aware of our neural selves, this will never become a switch to disable feeling. Only move things around…

    I remember Bennett and Hacker from ages ago. Their caveats are smaller than they think and shrinking. Choosing Wittgenstein, for them was like begging the question.



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  • Phil,

    Would not disagee with what you are saying apart from a slight caveat, think their point about not equating mind and brain was primarily a matter of linguistic clarity, and not a point about the complementary viewpoints of situated and embodied cognition . E.g their caveat about saying things like ” the brain thinks” is a mereological linguistic point based on the fact that thinking is something normally attributed to the whole person ( normally we say I think, not my brain thinks or my mind thinks or my body thinks) and that to say the ” brain thinks” is metaphor, ( in that what the brain ” does” is neuronal not intentional ) and such phrasing can lead to logical confusions and hence incoherent conclusions.. Of course the usage of language evolves and their attempted prescription has long since been dismissed it is now accepted usage to use such phrasing. Although of course their caveat still applies, in that to say the ” brain thinks” or the “brain decides” , or “I think” or “I decide” , or “my mind thinks” or ” my mind decides”, is to apply “think” and ” decide” in different ways and we still have to be careful to this distinction.

    And would hope that Bennett and Hacker are pleased that there caveats are shrinking as this would show they have been clarified and resolved, which, I believe, was their only intention e.g not to say you are ” wrong” but to say look here..what you are saying is incoherent…, please clarify.



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  • @stevet #99

    their only intention…..not to say you are ” wrong” but to say look here..what you are saying is incoherent…, please clarify.

    Entirely appreciated.

    The charge of scientism is an easy one to make early in the stages of a discipline, especially one destined to be the most complex we might ever undertake.

    As the predictive hypotheses start to appear, as we plan to try an artificial hippocampus for the first time, our former Wittgentinian inability to form more cogent metaphysical definitions of mental processes will start to dissolve as it meets the tractable physical.

    At some more leisured time and in a more appropriate thread I would love to discuss the personal models we make of our own internal mental processes. These, in several particulars I contend, are hugely cultural in their form and really quite mutable. For the last ten years I have developed a specific experience of self consciousness which I don’t find that others share. Recently I lost the “quale” of the colout pink, in part as a result of my work, but curiously not for purple. Churchlands work on colour, however, can predict specific qualia never before seen. Cognition is a book like any other, waiting to be read and maybe modestly rewritten.



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  • @ Steve #96

    And if we go back and look at the science of aesthetic, musical,
    religious, historic, cultural than thats a lot of science?

    We already have headphones that work underwater by playing the sound through your jawbone. What will happen to the philosophy once we take the sound away altogether. If we get to a point where your “personal music receptors” can be manipulated by electrical impulse, with or without rhythm, and you have been moved by purely electronic stimulation that has been ‘written’ by a computer specifically for your brain, has the computer the reached a conscious state but is not conscious itself?



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  • Sorry but not really sure of the point you are making.

    For the electrical headphones then we would be ” hearing” by direct stimulation rather through our ears, and, if the quality was the same and the procedure unobtrusive, then it would make little difference. Bach is still Bach whether played on a record or a CD or heard through the ears or by direct stimulation.

    And a computer can only be conscious in the same sense that an Abacus is conscious.



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  • @ Steve, Phil, et al

    “There would be a danger of destroying ” inspiration” only in the minds of those who make the logical error of thinking that an explanation REPLACES that which it is explaining.” – Steve

    An explanation can never replace that which it is explaining.

    But if one loses one’s inspiration, or one’s passion for something, whether it be acting, writing, another person, for music, etc, it would not have been an “error” – logical or otherwise – if this loss had occurred as a result of finding out (through science or from reading W., or both) that what had given rise to this passion in the first place does not exist.

    If Dante’s experiences vis-à-vis his beloved had been explained to him in precise psychoanalytic terms or neuro-scientific terms, she would no longer be the “living miracle” he thought she was. Wouldn’t his experience of beatitude be altered in some way forever? wouldn’t his astonishment and bliss melt away? If what Beethoven was constantly referring to as the “divine” were finally revealed to him through an unanswerable and definitive explanation as a bona fide delusion, wouldn’t his passion for composition be diminished?

    The OP used the word “reductive.” Reduction or some fundamental change or alteration will take place as a result of a veritable avalanche of explanations that we are all trying to assimilate, and are approaching, explanations which artists will have to confront.

    Dawkins asked what Haydn’s Evolution would have sounded like. I think it is reasonable to assume that it would not be . . . quite the same



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  • If inspiration or passion itself is the ” thing” then it matters not what it is inspired by, and “Evolution” would be as inspired and magnificant as the “The Creation”, and Dante’s passion itself would still be the same but with a different rationale.

    Inspiration, passion etc are not the products of our ignorance about certain things.



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  • @stevet

    “Inspiration, passion etc are not the products of our ignorance about certain things.”

    There has always been a fundamental antagonism between art and science.

    In my somewhat poorly phrased comment I was not suggesting that the idea of the artist as a channel, or the idea of beauty producing a “spiritual” experience, are (necessarily) false ideas, the products of ignorance – waiting to be exposed as such. Nor can it ever be proven that these are delusions. However, as the information pours in, the artist will find it increasingly difficult to establish and maintain inspiration.

    My premise is this: there must be room in a creative artist’s mind or heart. That is my view. The point of departure is openness. Openness to the poetic truth of metaphor, to mystery, to the possibility (and this might offend some people) of a God. (I am an atheist in theory, but remain open to all feelings in practice.) Soon science (and I love science, except when it diminishes the artist’s imagination) will make quotes such as these (below) sound like nonsense, if it hasn’t already.—Not because it disproved anything, but because it continues to flood us with explanations and answers, and thereby confusing the mind and paralyzing one.

    If “ignorance” means not knowing something, then yes, this is necessary, if inspiration is to survive, or to thrive. The artist is an existentialist. His stock in trade is mystery and questions. Answers are his enemy. They cannot disprove what Dante saw and felt, but they can stultify.

    “To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts – such is the duty of the artist.” Schumann



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  • 109
    bonnie says:

    @ #108 – “To send light […] – Schumann

    As in blissfulness balm for a tortured soul? Robert and Clara were of the ‘Romantic Era’.



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  • @danielr #108

    There has always been a fundamental antagonism between art and science.

    For most of the time, no. A look at the lives of the great men and women of the past show a broad acceptance of both. Poets and composers were astronomers and chemists….

    This antagonism is a drummed up thing, though both sides (as they became) share blame for the split as noted by C.P. Snow in 1959. My own complaint about the arts was its seeming post war need to compete in similar style to science, most probably to retain funding in Universities. The French, philosophising technocrats by culture, invented the spectacular bollocks of Post Modernism. From its not unreasonable shallows to the appalling and abysmal deepities it mostly told those with a taste for hard science to fuck off, taking many social scientists with them into the protective murk.. An unmitigated disaster…

    I do recommend “The Age of Wonder” Richard Holmes as a corrective.

    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/oct/11/richard-holmes

    Before now I have claimed that a major purpose of art is as a psychology experiment we get to perform on ourselves, the results of which may well remain beyond words to express. I’m quite as happy with-

    “To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts – such is the duty of the artist.” Schumann

    I would only add that it may light corners unknown and nameless strange…

    Are rainbows ever unwoven?

    A peak experience for me, as I have recounted before, was seeing Peter Brooks “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. So disconnected seemed the profundity of the experience with the simplicity of the staging that I invented a term that night that I have found useful often since….Open-handed Magic.

    But-whys exist all the way down like turtles and there is no risk of depleting mystery in our adventuring. Scientists are never happier than when uncovering the next mystery. I proposed to Dan Dennett once (back in 2004) that the nature of our self conscious experience may in part come from a need to have a simple but up to date model of ourselves, just a few pertinent characteristics to allow us to model our likely interactions with others and best manage the outcomes. We need simplicity for speed but can recoupe some computing finesse with up to the second models…am I fit, competent, brave…etc. etc. Dennett was kind to say he though something like that the case. For the last twelve years (out of interest) I have lived every day testing this idea and find that having another moment for introspection only seems to make my behaviours more tractable and effective. I question more consciously who I think I am now…what am I able to achieve with this daunting prospect of X or Y? To have more noticeable internal features simply progressively banishes some cultural homunculus from the controls into something I can engage more comprehensively in. (This desire as much as anything is why I loathe the Libertarian Omni-Competent homunculus or the American Dream wish as hard as you can homunculus.) Better knowing how we actually work just allows us to move on to a more profound engagement with living.



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  • “We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be answered, the problems of life have still not been touched at all.”
    ― Ludwig Wittgenstein

    And neither will be the graces of life, such as inspiration, art, passion etc, be touched.



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  • @ Steve 111

    I hate dark corners.

    What I was trying to say before is that no music is needed if we can satisfy those brain connections in another way. Transmitters can be receptors. From banging drums to a fine orchestra, evolutions rhythm is there for us to tune into with no dark corners that can’t be lit up. Because the population varies in its ‘tastes’ and makes the finding difficult, it does not mean we have to attach some mystical ‘god of gaps’ to our inability to understand. Blanket catering for all is the problem. IMHO!!!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8415HRX9q8



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  • Steve # 111

    Thank you so much, Steve, for the wonderful W. quote and your beautiful comment. It helped me a lot.

    The W quote: where can I find it? I have The B&B Books, Philosophical Investigations, and On Certainty.



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  • @ Steve

    Do we still call it music if it is just stimulation with no composition?

    I am not talking about playing Bach directly to the brain. It will be, maybe, the ‘music of the future but it will not be recognisable as such.



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  • @stevet #111

    I disagree profoundly with both you and W here.

    I think much will be known and much will, therefore, mutate. Our emotional capacity always expands to encompass the range of possible experience.

    I know how to better cultivate inspiration and how to recuperate. I know in a little detail how inspiration works. How it can be Phil-given not God given. How I may seek catharsis and tears sometimes or sometimes innocuous pablum. I learn how my friend sets himself for creativity or formal work…

    Am I any more willful as a result? Arguably not, but I am better rehearsed. I am less surprised, less disappointed in myself and more rewarded.



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  • I do not think W. was saying that either the form or content or basis of inspiration etc will be unaffected by changes in knowledge, but saying what we designate as ” inspiration” is independent of the particular circumstances of its instances,. Inspiration itself is a human capability not a purely social construct i.e the ” inspiration” of someone 30,000 years ago will still be equivalent to the “inspiration” of someone 30,000 years in the future, even though both the emotional and cognitive bases for the inspirations, and also the form and content of the expression of those inspirations, might be radically different.

    I see no major contradiction between what you say and what he said.



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  • 115

    There can be music without composition. Birds are not composers but we hear their songs, the music of the wind rustling through trees or a windchime, the musical babble of a stream etc or even the music of John Cage’s 4′ 33″, the music of Silence.



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  • @stevet #117

    Yet I am not persuaded. Any definition of inspiration would fail W’s test, most especially if taken as a sign of a metaphysical entity.

    Is inspiration unbidden, unexpected or bidden, expected but merely un-time-tabled? Can it be trained for? What of its shrouded roots? Most probably a dull evolutionary working out of permutations from memories old and new, failing sufficient heuristics to remain sub-liminal, until the moment when, dink, the mutation that turns the light on…Inspiration isn’t the marvel, it is us working side by side with ourselves, unseen. That is the truer marvel. Nothing external to be breathed inward.

    We may insist in our reverence for this…cue music… “gift”, but, if this thing is to have any (meaningful!) qualities at all in its description, if it is not to be an inadequately signed metaphysical entity, then W must be seen as bringing us ashes here, not merely silence.

    Charitably, he has no-bid the question but it will take more than a poker to keep from making my own bid (along with Popper and Quine.)



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  • W. would perhaps note that the latin root, meaning the intake or drawing of a breath, is pertinent in that it conveys that inspiration is not an purely intellectual act ,and then might go on to talk about the many different and varied situations in which we find ourselves taking an involuntary sharp intake of breath , and then move on to explore all the different ways and contexts in which we say we find ourselves be inspired and have a inspiration.

    He would then, as usual, perhaps say that philosophers should not waste their time making up new, and purely philosophical, meanings and uses for words, as then they are no longer talking about what they set out to talk about but instead are now only talking about their own thoughts, but should use a word as it is ordinarily used, in this case inspiration is briefly “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.”. As I said before it is a human capability. This of course shifts any possible ” mysteries” or metaphysics onto that which stimulates the inspiration or that which is generated by the inspiration.



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  • Steve 115
    Phil 116

    “Birds are not composers but we hear their songs.”

    I agree, Steve, but would you say that birds and other animals produce sounds but not words? My late-Wittgenstienian friend has convinced me that all words are mere sounds; but are all sounds words in so far a the sounds communicate something?

    I asked him this: all words are sounds, but not all sounds are words. When you break a piece of wood in two it makes a sound; is that language?

    His reply: “No difference, according to W., except what actually happens. (Communication, comprehension.)

    “If a stick breaks, the sound is not a word, unless one positions the sound to act as a word. The sticks do not converse with each other.”

    Phil, you say you “know” what inspiration is, or how it works. Is there one thing that all experiences of inspiration have in common? (I like using W-type arguments against other W-type arguments. The serpent begins to devour itself, starts with its tail.—Not out of meanness, but because his own criticisms and questions can, at times, be applies to his own assertions),—And what is the relationship between knowing and that which is know? One can be inspired, but what can we know other than that certain changes in the brain, and nervous system, is manifesting itself in some way. (But lack of inspiration can produce observable changes in the brain and body as well.) What does that tell us about the original feeling itself or its source? Does scientific knowledge pertain to the root of inspiration or merely to manifestations of corresponding activity, of phenomena (neuronic activity, etc.)?

    I can’t hold a candle to (either of) you, when it comes to science, neurology, or the peculiar philosophy of W (who I have only recently begun to study), but I ask you, Phil: what it is that science knows? What precisely do you – as a scientist– know, about how beauty and love work, and in particular, about how inspiration works?

    How far can that knowledge really take us?

    (No hostility whatsoever intended. I am merely asking questions.)



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  • Olgun 115

    What I was trying to say before is that no music is needed if we can satisfy those brain connections in another way.

    That sounds like something out of a dystopian science fiction novel to me. Sounds truly ghastly, although logical in an odd sort of way. Get rid of everything circuitous and extraneous and get straight to the effect. No listening, no looking, no interaction or communion, no experience to speak of. – Just the effect itself (experience in the cheapest, most vulgar sense possible) without anything producing the effect, other than the activation of those “brain connections.”

    Let’s hand out laughing gas too. No need for the movies or the theaters.

    Reminds me of Woody Allen’s Orgasmatron (Sleeper). No love-making, just the final, end result.

    Let’s extend this: no love, just the feeling of love. Activate those brain connections.



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  • Olgun 115 – Dan 122 – Steve 119 – Phil 116
    “Birds are not composers but we hear their songs.”

    I think the evidence is that birds are composers, with, traditional songs, regional variations, and the clear purpose of courting, or teaching offspring the songs. Birds also frequently use a high perch as a stage.
    In the absence of teaching or copying, cruder attempts are made.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_vocalization

    Early experiments by Thorpe in 1954 showed the importance of a bird being able to hear a tutor’s song. When birds are raised in isolation, away from the influence of conspecific males, they still sing. While the song they produce, called “isolate song”, resembles the song of a wild bird, it shows distinctly different characteristics from the wild song and lacks its complexity.[76] The importance of the bird being able to hear itself sing in the sensorimotor period was later discovered by Konishi. Birds deafened before the song-crystallization period went on to produce songs that were distinctly different from the wild type and isolate song.



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  • Alan, if you are not writing notes down on a piece of paper you are not composing. That is what composing usually entails. Composing is defined that way. We can stretch our concepts as far as they can be stretched and include everything, but is that useful?
    Can a bird write an essay? Perhaps it can. It makes lines in the dirt. Those dashes are like words, are words. Is this the same as what Mark Twain did when he sat down at his desk?
    You see, while one could argue that there is no essential qualitative difference between what Mozart or Bach did and what these birds do, and no essential qualitative difference between what Twain did and the birds may do, the fact remains that there is an incalculable quantitative difference. And quantity changes quality.
    It is as important to acknowledge the differences as it is to observe the similarities between the various forms of life.



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  • I was using , in the context of the discussion, ” composers” in its normal grammatical usage, from a dictionary, of “a person who writes music, especially as a professional occupation.”. My point being that we hear music in all kind of sounds, not just in sounds organised by humans.

    We are all fully aware that birds ” compose” their songs etc, but that does not make them people or ” composers”. Perhaps you could listen to birds singing and then compare to Messiaen’s use of bird song in his compositions, and then you will be able to literally hear the grammatical nuance.



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  • There is no logical contradiction is saying in one context. ” birds are composers” and in another context saying ” birds are not composers. The difference between the two applications of ” compose” is a grammatical difference, not a logical or factual one.



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  • @stevet #126

    then you will be able to literally hear the grammatical nuance.

    Did you mean semantic nuance, perhaps? Both uses are fully grammatical. Both uses fully justified by the (fascinating!) dual root etymology of the Old French (from ponere transmogrified into pausare but incorporating its idea of setting or fixing and not just laying down).



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  • 128

    A ship plows the sea. A farmer plows the earth.
    Therefore, all ships are like farmers.

    That is also as untrue as it is true, depending on the context, as you say.



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  • @ Dan #123

    The point is it can, in my mind, be done, not that we will ever go there. Although in a way we are already doing it with vitamins and supplements. We don’t get to enjoy texture and taste.



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  • @danielr #122

    Phil, you say you “know” what inspiration is, or how it works.

    No. I said a little. Enough to see it is not a formless singular entity as commonly used, but something with parts.

    Is there one thing that all experiences of inspiration have in common?

    I wouldn’t know. The inspiration of my friend off his meds seems different to mine. Less friendly.

    Does scientific knowledge pertain to the root of inspiration

    It pertains to the better harvesting of it. It pertains, I sense, to understanding its parts, the associative corteces and our metaphorical mapping to similar entities and processes, the sub-conscious activities of model making and their likely evolutionary iterations, our sub-liminal heuristics valuing so we, the conscious twin, can focus on survival.

    How far can that knowledge really take us?

    Such knowledge is only just being brought together for the first time and comes with an enormous caveat. But what is clear is that inspiration (sudden insight) is the end of a (mostly subconscious) mental process and is simply a more complete and dramatic form of ANY of our thoughts popping into our head. We see none of our thoughts in preparation, though having had them, we do test them often within conscious experience and often as we apply the cultural tools of language and logic. Rejecting a thought after a conscious test we await its replacement.

    My discovery over the years of being an inventor is to feed the unconscious twin with endless amounts of material, most usefully materials not directly about my specific problem. I try not to force fill the blank page but as often as not take on another problem. A decade ago I thought my inventiveness was falling off. (Age I thought.) Now I feel more inspired than ever. Finding grist for my subconscious metaphorical mill is no struggle at all. The problem is getting to finish a nice relaxing bath.



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  • Phil

    I had a disturbing thought just now. It occurred to me that if science can know and explain what hunger is (and I am sure we can know and explain hunger without too much difficulty) then perhaps such things as inspiration can be explained in the same terms, that is, in physiological terms. I have been trying to decide why inspiration must necessarily be mysterious and those other (vulgar) feelings and instincts are not. I have not been able to come up with a satisfactory answer, am forced to admit that inspiration (and this would apply to other things too) might not be more mysterious or untouchable. So would a permanent admission such as that reduce me (or others)? Not sure.



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  • @danielr #123

    Pure pleasure is instantly forgettable and merely fills time. Worse it hollows out need, a deficit. Pleasure recalled, from the context of its pleasurable anticipation to its bitter sweet passing, the rich complexity of (often physical) detail that creates the retrievable tag, and that would need an impossible million very particular, personal and contingent nerve endings stimulating, is the pleasure to have. Pleasures that are distinct in their context are the ones we need, the ones to last and keep us warm in our dotage.



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  • @danielr #133

    For me nice as the ah-ha moments are, far better is when a few of them turn out to be right.

    This is all part of our best cultural invention yet, becoming willful entities. Freedom evolves as a wise neuro-philosopher once said. We need this freedom not to become random but to become right…more often.



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  • Dan #125
    Mar 22, 2016 at 6:39 am

    Alan, if you are not writing notes down on a piece of paper you are not composing. That is what composing usually entails. Composing is defined that way. We can stretch our concepts as far as they can be stretched and include everything, but is that useful?

    You could define it that way, but that is just word play. Notes on paper make no sound.

    When I compose songs with a guitar, I frequently just write down words in lines, with a few verbal notes about guitar chords and rhythms.
    I also vary the arrangement according to the audience.
    It is only with large choirs and orchestras, that a fixed musical score is needed to keep the players together.
    With small groups in jam sessions, (skilled) members can “wing it” without written music!

    Composing is creating new melodies and accompaniments as sound. Music scores are just an attempt to record the rudiments of these for future reference.
    A musical score cannot reproduce the music of an instrument or DVD with all its tonal effects.



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  • @ Phil

    But what is clear is that inspiration (sudden insight) is the end of a
    (mostly subconscious) mental process

    Could this be part of the same process we discussed on another thread where, information was randomly being sent back from the visual cortex trying to match what we are seeing. You said that it might be the stuff dreams are made of. when the peg fits the hole it becomes an ‘inspiration’?

    Am I also understanding it correctly that W seems to make it sound as if we need another organ in our body to spew out moments of inspiration and comes at this problem from the top down?



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  • I think that the emphasis on personal experience can be harmful. Such experiences are anecdotal and can’t be scientifically tested. It turns the mind in on itself to reflect on abstract words such as, holism, channelling, truth and spiritual, which are all open to interpretation. As these ideas spread into a population, claims of ghost sightings and hearing voices become the norm instead of a worrying disorder. Dubious behaviours are likely to go unchallenged.
    New Age Spirituality sounds like a counterculture meme, but the language is not so different from mainstream religions. Public forums and charismatic speakers maintain the momentum. Now that the meme appears to have embedded itself in popular culture, irrational decisions and behaviours are becoming alarmingly salient, shown from shopping habits to politics.
    This irrationality is clear in homeopathy, a lucrative pseudoscience, which has put wild plants at risk (1). Increased demand for echinacea and gingko has caused over-foraging and destruction of natural habitats. For the genuinely sick, homeopathy has lead to terrible consequences (2). Some will abandon tested prescribed drugs for ineffective alternative remedies.
    Words like nature, green and natural seem to have taken on new memetic meanings. By targeting GM foods, activists have seized the opportunity to spread unfounded fear (3). The ensuing panic has deprived impoverished nations of much needed and affordable nutrition (4). Despite assurances from scientific data (5), activists remain obstinate and the fears persist.
    Scientific ignorance in activism (6) appears to be useful for big businesses too (7). Denials of global warming by prominent scientists (8) have confused the public and removed the responsibility for action away from the energy industry (9). Oil and gas companies (10) deny the causes are manmade thereby avoiding mandatory costs in cleaner technology. Consequently, the climate’s “tipping point of no return” is left for future generations to deal with. Scientist predict record breaking temperatures, erratic weather and crop failures that will lead to social tensions and mass migrations (11).
    Misinformed societies are breeding grounds for new religions and they will all claim to know the “truth”. These beliefs spread out into all parts of society and, when beliefs occupy influential positions, they affect everyone. With improvements to public security and science education, abuses brought on by religions are starting to emerge. Condemning vulnerable generations to a lifetime of unprovable supernatural ideas should be considered immoral.
    1 United Plant Savers
    2 Homeopathy: there’s nothing in it by Simon Singh
    3 Soil Assoc.: GM
    4 Zambia and GM Food Aid by Alexandra C. Lewin
    5 WHO: Food Safety
    6 SkepticalScience.com – 97% consensus
    7 Book: The Neglected Sun
    8 Book: Heaven and Earth
    9 Greenspirits Strategies: Open Letter
    10 Unearthing America’s Deep Network of Climate Change Deniers
    11 NASA: Global Climate Change



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  • Phil 129

    Nope, I deliberately meant grammatical . As you say both semantic values are valid but that is not where, in this instance, the nuances or errors arose. The nuances or errors or misunderstandings arose in the application of the valid semantic values, and the rules for the correct application of semantic values is grammar.

    Of course you are also right to say that the semantic difference itself could be labelled as a nuance of meaning and then you would also be perfectly right to say ” hear a semantic nuance”.



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  • Olgun #137

    For me inspiration is most like having a really, really good thought. It is driven by a need established previously that may often disappear from conscious notice.

    The stuff of dreams are not often discernibly related to a previous need, but rather appear to be a random collection of fragments. These, I propose, the Prosaic Apparatus, (used in modeling our daily experience to lighten our cognitive load) “practices” on, attempting to string the disparate elements together into as best a coherent narrative as it can. The fragments may often be recent memory fragments and the process may be related to the fact that sleep (with REM) appears to be part of an essential memory consolidation, tagging, strengthening process. I have proposed that the dreams we may most remember may be the ones where the process of creating coherent narratives may prove to be the most troublesome. Paradoxically they become memorable for their lack of utility, by rousing or agitating us, whilst those less observed, nightly, slip quietly into semantic and biographical memory for our later and unremarkable use.

    Guesses all, but consistent with current understanding.

    Steve #139.

    Fair enough…



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  • @ Phil #140

    I sort of putting them both in the filing category where a part of the brain is trying to make sense of the narrative in order to put away the files that have been coming up over and over again. My hidden childhood war time memories that used to have me screaming out in the night until about the age of nine only went away when I found out the real story. Until the right narrative for the separate words fit they cannot be filed. A friend mine started having a repeating dream once he got married and moved from London to Taunton away from his family. He dreamt he was laying face down on the floor of his parents home and he would suddenly start to float toward the window. The window was a long thin opener and he could never quite fit through and he would wake up in a panic. He asked me what I thought. I was well aware it would be his personal interpretation that mattered but knowing him and his family well I gave it a go. His mum being overpowering and highly neurotic and his dad being a soft spoken gentle man who stuck with his wife and how much my friend loved him, he didn’t want to leave his dad alone because he thought it would really go down hill fast. It seems obvious but the floating away I associated with him leaving home but picking a window he could not actually fit through helped him hold on. Whether it was a correct analysis or just food for thought for him, the dreams soon stopped.

    I suppose I can see inspiration more of problem solving. A journey needs to be planned and time to think it through is needed, whether you have the means or the skill etc…once the pathway is found, probably ignoring a few negatives or possibles, it comes out as inspiration. But can’t that still be handled through the same narrative finding process? Sub-consciously dreaming up scenarios and reporting back with a result. It just does it much much faster than our conscious mind and has better math skills.



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  • I forgot to say that my thoughts above may be the reason that children should be told they can be anything they want to be. Putting obstacles in the way of ‘dreams’ is not necessary as their decision making skills may be better than we think. take away some of the negatives and the dream world can bring back a higher hit rate. “I always dreamed I would be a […]” doesn’t sound far off then. It just means your dreams came back with a negative result given your present situation?



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  • @ Olgun #141 142

    I guess our metaphorical brain may run through varieties of personal problems sub-consciously and may run through it at night as through it subconsciously by day. Some daytime experience may serve as a reminder and the fragment needs dealing with, perhaps.

    Sub-consciously dreaming up scenarios and reporting back with a result.

    This is entirely the process I imagine, but mostly during the day the report back remains sub-conscious I propose, until passing one of the many subconscious heuristic tests. If passing sufficient tests the idea may be “judged” as potentially salient and manifest itself consciously.

    I think dreams may possibly be so symbolic on infrequent occasions. I suspect they are taken as symbolic with insufficient reason on many more occasions.

    It just does it much much faster than our conscious mind and has better math skills.

    It is probably slow and would be tedious as the permutations evolved. The good thing is its mostly (even in dreams) not consciously insistent, so appears effortless.

    I do occasionally dream solutions to my work problems, though sadly not of the stature of the benzene ring structure of Kekule. The inspiration, however, is mostly waking….I suspect I give myself quite a number of problems without the usual formal walkaround to understand what the problem actually is. The problems may start out as pretty much subliminal, though all inspirations have a clear causal home.

    I once invented in my sleep a very compact and rather novel fission bomb structure, suitable for tactical deployment. As a strong disapprover of such things I was rather shocked. It would have worked too! I think I worried about how easy they were to make. See I can do it in my sleep!

    Putting obstacles in the way of ‘dreams’

    Please, please, please note. (and I have said it so many times), I am against promoting the idea that you can be anything you may wish. Right at the outset I indicated children finding every area of knowledge and endeavor as potentially rewarding deserved great encouragement. All things they are interested in are to be pursued, examined and enjoyed as much as they wish. Other choices are to be added for their consideration…always. Increase and facilitate choice. Simply, don’t live your own life through them.

    Michael Jackson needed more of a childhood (more inner resources) so he wouldn’t go and steal others’. Don’t stint on a rich childhood.



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  • @ Phil #143

    Please, please, please note.

    Noted Phil. I think I understand what you are saying now. Highlighting the two words suddenly clicked!

    I agree on all counts then. I mentioned how the Jewish community thrive on such a system.



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  • Phil, Steve, Olgun

    Inspiration has always suggested to me the aligning of my will with that of a higher power, with a metaphysical being of some kind. I don’t believe in any such being, but I have always left a little room for it in my psyche, just in case. (like Pascal’s wager, but different.)

    It occurs to me now, as I said, that there is no good reason to think that any such realm (of a metaphysical being) exists.

    Inspiration is not (to me) an insight, or an excellent idea, or even a great idea; it is a feeling that various artists, musicians, and creative people –including scientists – in general, have described of being a channel. They feel as if their mind or their hand, in the act of writing a book, or composing, or improvising, or sculpting, is being guided. This feeling of alignment happens rarely, but I myself have felt it for a fraction of a moment once or twice while playing a solo on the guitar.

    You, Phil, are a strong believer in the unconscious, as am I.

    If you were to find out somehow that this unconscious or subconscious simply does not exist in the way you had thought, and was now unrecognizable to you, would you be deterred as an inventor, as a creative person?

    I can no longer believe in inspiration in the same way. (Yes, I had beliefs.) It has to be biological through and through.

    That is where I am right now with this.

    But philosophy and science implies love of the truth, or a commitment to adhering to what one regards as true, based on reason. We need to embrace (“love”) the truth even if we do not like it.

    But if the the loss of faith –yes, faith – in the possibility of something more than just physical existence, produces a torpor, despair, has a diminishing effect, then how does one deal with that? What are the naive spiritually-oriented artists of the word to do with only a body, which is, finally, a rather vulgar thing – in spite of its endless fascination to biologists?



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  • @phil-rimmer

    Well, I just finished listening to Beethoven’s piano Concertos 3 and 4, back to back. (Claudio Arrau on piano). I experienced something that I can only describe as spiritual. No other word comes close. I guess that part of my psyche that I referred to earlier (comment # 145) is still there.

    I guess I am an agnostic of sorts; at times I am compelled to question the non-existence of the soul. (Atheist, agnostic: I am sometimes one, sometimes the other, both at times, and neither at times. Categories, labels.— They lock us in.)

    This kind of “working for me” (OP) species of faith does no harm to anyone, although I wouldn’t use that precise phrase. And don’t get me wrong: I am as critical and resentful of religion as anyone else on this site. But there are many modes of faith, and many modes of opposition to faith. I am often reminded of the line “Madame, thou dost protest too much” from time to time as I read these threads.

    I remain certain, will continue to waver back and forth on this issue, and determined still to remain open.



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  • I remain certain, will continue to waver back and forth on this issue, and determined still to remain open.

    Corrected sentence:

    I remain uncertain, will continue to waver back and forth on this issue, am determined still to remain open.



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  • Dan, you make an interesting point about th use of “inspire”. It has the quite separate meaning of “uplift” in the most general and non specific of ways, something akin to being woken up when already awake, made marvellously still whilst your spring is re-wound, as it were.

    This or some version of it may accompany that sudden insight into the artistic or scientific problem that I have described, but it may just appear as a more general purposing.

    These are thrilling time-stopping moments of often unexpected aesthetic reward. I often find them in trite musical circumstance, the opening of the last movement (?) of Mahler’s 4th (Kein Musik ist ja nicht auf Erden….but it has to be Horenstein and Price) The introduction of the second theme in the first movement of Beethoven’s seventh. I haven’t the faintest why (in specific terms) nor any way to describe the curious feelings these things invoke. This is why I talk of art (for instance) as illuminating those “nameless strange” places within us, some seemingly unique. To use Bonnie’s recent image of a geode. We are like geodes using art etc. to take soundings of our wonderful, same but different insides…

    I’ve explained (as ever in a way that doesn’t stop the next but why) how such feelings may come about, how they are possibly second order effects of bodging, lazy evolution using crude detectors for kin or fitness of partner or safeness of environment or food etc. etc. firing off, creating itches that need scratching. Homeostasis, getting back to the non-itchy state of passivity, is our most basic of biological urges, the one we had when we were just a mindless prokaryote. We love scratching because it brings us peacefully home and ready for the next itch. With the richest array of itches we have found our way to invent behaviours to scratch from walking in nature, to listening to music. We do what autists do, we stim. We have turned a crude and messy byproduct of evolution into gold.

    For me this only adds to my sense of windswept possibility for us. Nothing closed in, prescribed, proscribed. I feel more like I am at the heart of things (as much as anyone can be) than a player in someone else’s game. I’m a very happy geode adventurer….



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  • Dan

    But if the the loss of faith –yes, faith – in the possibility of something more than just physical existence, produces a torpor, despair, has a diminishing effect, then how does one deal with that?

    I feel lucky that my Dad sold me the idea of our mutual adventuring and the great sinuous ribbon of our collective achievement to gift each generation with the best seat in the house. Never having been sold the idea of immortality, neither I nor (it seems) my kids seem too troubled by our very necessary transience. After all the greatest poetry is only available to those who know they must finally lose everything. We see and value by contrasts. Ours is the price for having the sweetest life.

    Pascal’s wager works most sweetly in reverse, to live well and content with your one life, careless of any reward.

    I don’t know how to make you content with your once bound world (as I see it) suddenly set free. The indoctrinations of childhoods by the prevailing culture, by the everyday language of “aunt Betty passed yesterday”, set minds just so. The aesthetic particulars formed by childhood experiences may be rather a baleful gift.

    There are many bad thinking habits I am keen not to pass on to my kids or others. I think there is great reward in working for others’ happiness. In feeling you are working for others. To be drawn out of all our own self perceived unhappinesses to work for others is often more stably-happy making than simply seeking happiness. Mutuality has been a repeated and rather blissful discovery for me. Finally, I think collectively we may truly bring about the characteristics and capacities we imagine and wish for ourselves. We must wish for them slowly, so they are ever finessed.



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  • I told the story of how I began to appreciate classical music but think Dan was not around at the time.

    I had only just left school and started work. I thought Id set my alarm-clock-radio to a pop station but had set it to a classical station. The following morning I woke to a wonderful feeling and a great dream. I forced myself to stay in the moment and fall in and out of sleep so I could carry on listening to the piece of music coming out of the radio and the dream it was making me have. The dream was of horses running through a Grand Canyon type setting. Running through streams and patches of grass and having a wonderful horsey time. The music was Rodrigos guitar concerto. I was hooked but I had no idea what the piece was about just my own dream for the narrative.

    I actually don’t like to find out too much about a piece because of that. I found many pop songs that I enjoyed were ruined when I found out the real lyrics because they did not match my relationship with the rhythm in my mind. I preferred to be free to imagine what I wanted and not be restricted to the intended narrative of the piece. I disliked the ‘1812’ once I found out the intended story. I am like that with paintings also, not wanting anything from the art ‘experts’ who sound as if they are disappearing up their own arses. Having said that, a review by Julian Barnes on the painting “Raft of the Medusa” is brilliant and adds rather than takes away mainly because it explains how religion really nobbled and censored the final composition to appeal to the ‘soul’ rather than the horror of its reality. So mostly I enjoy my music on a primeval level happy to be ignorant of the critics explanation.

    Once I tuned into Jazz and the complexity of it, I find that the most evocative but there is some really horrendous jazz out there. I found I liked voices that sounded like the instrument it replaced but sometimes the words got in the way.

    In traditional Turkish music, some music played on the Saz is called “call and response” and sounds like two people having a conversation with, in most cases, a sadness to it, a mother/father crying, letters from a loved one away at war being replied to etc….Depending on what I imagine it to be it can be very moving indeed but I find it most powerful when allowed to imagine and not stay within the original narrative although I am aware a certain sound will invoke half of what the composer intended just by its very style or instrument used. I find nothing mysterious in being told a story and reacting to it, albeit I am the one (sort of) making up the story. Being moved is a real reaction in life and see no reason to go off into the realms of souls and the unknown anymore than the reaction I get when I hit my thumb with a hammer.

    I know some here don’t like anecdotes as evidence but if you cannot fathom out the feelings in yourself you can only go to a place where the mystical things sleep. I get uplifted when I discover things about myself and how to control them or, let them run wild in my imagination.



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