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Apr 09 2012

Dawkins/Pell on Q&A

It’s about to be a long weekend of triumphant atheism in Australia, and Richard Dawkins set things up by sacrificing that idiot, George Pell, on the altar of reason. The whole debate is now online.

I was really unimpressed with most of the audience’s questions, and even less impressed with Pell. Pell threw in Atheist Hitler at about 11 minutes in, and some smug audience member exhibited his confusion about atheism and agnosticism at 14 minutes. Also, the guy at 21 minutes with a video embarrassed all Australians, I think.

It’s a good warmup for the rest of the week, though.


It was also a warmup for Richard: here he is the next morning on the radio.

649 comments

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  1. 501
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    rajkumar,
    No one is going to accept your silly new definition of “intelligent”. Please just accept that, and move the fuck on. You are a somewhat entertaining idiot, mainly because your extreme stupidity makes you say such incredulous things and that tickles my masochism bone. However, if your only output on this thread is trying to force a new definition for a word, then just leave now because no one wants to be bored.

    So, you are going to drop calling the law of physics “intelligent”, yes? You do see that you are using it in an idiosyncratic (to be nice)/ bullshit (to be truthful) way? I don’t care if you disagree. Just pick a new fucking made-up word for this amazing quality you think the laws of physics has, and explain how you know it has it, why it is significant, and why you need to make up some new word to explain a concept we already are discussing just fine.

  2. 502
    Kel

    ‘God’s eyes have some colour, but this is a colour that we cannot imagine or comprehend’?

    If it cannot be imagined or comprehend, then how can we know it? You’re still not getting to the core of the objection – that every time you try to describe the inexplicable with intelligence, you are defeating your own statement of its inexplicability. You can’t have it both ways: either God is inexplicable in which case it wouldn’t make any sense to talk about it, or God is explicable in which case we have no choice but to define it in terms of the comprehensible.

    And that’s the problem I’m seeing. If you want to say that there’s a possible intelligence behind the universe, then that’s fine. But if you do so, then you can’t then say that it’s incomprehensible to humans. If it’s incomprehensible, then how can we know anything about it – including that coveted trait of intelligence? If it’s truly incomprehensible, then there’s no point in saying anything about it. If it’s got intelligence, even an intelligence vastly different from our own, then it’s not incomprehensible but merely mysterious.

    In other words, your logic refutes itself.

  3. 503
    John Morales

    [meta]

    I see rajkumar tries desperately to hold on to teleology.

    (Good luck with that little conceit. ;) )

  4. 504
    John Morales

    Kel,

    If you want to say that there’s a possible intelligence behind the universe, then that’s fine. But if you do so, then you can’t then say that it’s incomprehensible to humans.

    Not only can rajkumar do so, rajkumar did so. :)

    The proposition is that this PIBTU is both incomprehensible and extant, obviously for ineffable* reasons.

    * Abductive reasoning indicates it’s wishful thinking.

  5. 505
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Kel, I like my meta-games too much.

    (Obviously, I equivocated between senses of ‘can’)

  6. 506
    Nick Gotts

    consciousness-razor@477,

    Actually, I think phil12 is right in saying there “never was pure nothingness”, in the sense that time is not separate from space, so a “time when there was nothing” (not even empty space) is ruled out. However, this does not imply that, if there was a beginning to time, a first event, something would have (but could not have) emerged from nothing, as I suspect phil12 would have claimed had he not flounced. For that to be so, there would have had to be a time when there was nothing.

  7. 507
    John Morales

    KG @506, you imply nothing is timeless.

    (In both senses ;) )

  8. 508
    Catnip, Misogynist Troglodyte called Bruce

    Oh Raj! You wound me!

    You got me. I’ve read books. I even remember some of the stuff I read. Know what else? I actually comprehend what I read, which is more than I can say for you. Hence the high school science lesson. You obviously failed it first time round, given your apparent lack of understanding of the subject.

    And as for speaking for myself, know what? I’ll let other commenters tell me if I’ve misrepresented them. Not sure you’ve got the credibility for that.

    Next?

  9. 509
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Isn’t it time to invite rajkumar to TZT?

    (PZ is less intolerant, there)

  10. 510
    Nick Gotts

    Something along the lines of:
    - we conjecture that unconditioned objects might exist
    - therefore, by their very definition, at least one unconditioned object must exist
    - unconditioned objects share attributes with what we refer to as god: uncreatedness, eternal existence, etc.
    - WHOOT THERE IT IS! – Anri

    That’s more like the ontological argument. The Kalam cosmological argument, which I think is what phil12 was intent on drawing out to interminable length, is summarised by wikipedia thus:

    Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence;
    The universe has a beginning of its existence;
    Therefore: The universe has a cause of its existence.

    The argument relies on the claim that the universe must have had a beginning in time because it’s impossible for infinite time to have passed, and since it had a beginning, it must have had a cause, THEREFORE GOD. Hence phil12′s babbling about whether trees, or the universe, can “explain themselves”, and about whether there are a finite or infinite number of “conditioned” things. It fails because the claim that there could not have been infinite past time relies on human intuition, which we know to be unreliable when considering cosmology, and in any case would apply to God just as much as to the universe. It also fails because even if the universe did have a beginning in time, it is not clear it would require a cause – indeed, since the only type of causation we know of operates within spacetime, the claim that it had a cause is doubtfully coherent. Sometimes “conditions for existence” is substitued for “cause” for an extra layer of obfuscation, as in phil12′s presentation.

  11. 511
    rajkumar

    Kel

    Yes. I see your point. Let’s just assume for a minute that the universe is intelligent, and this intelligence is nothing like anything we humans can understand or comprehend, because it is not human intelligence. Now, the reason we are saying the universe is intelligent is because we can see how the universe can create intelligence … after all, it has created us, and we are intelligent beings, and we and our intelligence are a part of the universe. Plus, the universe knows how to create time, space, and the objects within that space. Now, how all of this happens … how the laws of physics came about that make these things happen … we have absolutely no idea. This is why we cannot understand this intelligence, but we can still know there is intelligence in the universe nevertheless.

    If we go back to the colour example, this colour that God has in his eyes … we cannot know or comprehend this colour, because as humans we are limited by our perceptions. Suppose this is a colour that is invisible to human eyes, but we can still use some instruments to see this colour in a false colour image. Can we know the colour in its original form? No, we can’t. Do we know there is some colour there? Yes, we do.

    I think there is some confusion here. I am not trying to know this intelligence, or trying to explain the inexplicable. I am simply saying there is something out there that we do not understand, and we cannot understand, because as humans we have limitations placed on our minds. For example, when some scientists try to theorize very lofty ideas, like what was there before the big bang happened, they conveniently forget how our minds work in space and time, and what they are trying to theorize is space less and timeless. Not possible. Unless we evolve our minds to comprehend such a scenario.

  12. 512
    John Morales

    rajkumar @511, I wrote the same as you @504.

    (Heaps more pithily, of course)

  13. 513
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Don’t mind me saying this, but I think your mind and your creative abilities are frozen at some point in time and space — a point which certainly doesn’t belong to this era.

    No, I just hate pointless mental wanking. I’m trying to direct you in how to solve, not just wank, about what you claim. Why are you averse to really attacking your problem in a scientific manner, rather than wanking publicly on the internet about it?

  14. 514
    John Morales

    rajkumar:

    Unless we evolve our minds to comprehend such a scenario.

    So, the scenario is incomprehensible to us, but not to evolved us.

    Which means it’s not comprehensible to our minds.

    But the totality of science far exceeds any single mind, so that no one mind can comprehend what (reified) science can comprehend.

    Yet science exists.

    Therefore, your PIBTU is possible, much like an ATM machine is possible.

    (Hey! ATMs exist!)

    </helpful>

  15. 515
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    My guess, you still don’t get the point.

    You don’t have a point, you just think you do. That is your problem. You sound incoherent like a druggy, and shouldn’t show such behavior in public.

    Let’s just assume for a minute that the universe is intelligent,

    Presupposition argument. You must presume the opposite, non-intelligence, and then use the proper testing to show it is itelligent. Why are you afraid to do that, and keep trying to presuppose (make your conclusion a axiom of your argument, which is cheating) intelligence? Argue honestly and properly, or don’t mentally wank at all.

  16. 516
    John Morales

    [meta]

    PS PIBTUs are weak-ass demiurges rather than proper deities.

    (Poor rajkumar)

  17. 517
    Kel

    Plus, the universe knows how to create time, space, and the objects within that space.

    A ball doesn’t know how to fall to the ground, it just does. If you look at the scientific explanations throughout history, we see a trend from explanations involving intelligence to explanations not requiring intelligence. One big one Isaac Newton argued that the stability of the solar system and the motion of the planets must have been the result of an intelligence, yet it was even with Newton’s theories that an explanation was proposed requiring no intelligence whatsoever: the nebula hypothesis.

    One example is evolution. Evolution is a process by which there is no direction, no foresight, no agency. Yet from it we get life as we see it. Dan Dennett has a great paper on this phenomenon: Darwin’s Strange Inversion Of Reasoning. The point is that these things that we could ascribe intelligence to need not be the result of intelligence. Nothing in the process of evolution is intelligent, yet design that has astonished great minds throughout history emerges from the process. No knowledge needed, let alone detected.

    This is why we cannot understand this intelligence, but we can still know there is intelligence in the universe nevertheless.

    But in the universe we have blind processes that we know of that require no intelligence on the part of the process, yet give us design. Evolutionary algorithms are even used in engineering and computer science to come up with solutions that our intelligence can’t. Yet there’s nothing that these algorithms know, they are simply processes that grind out an outcome. I’ve written some of these myself, it’s not magic nor is it my intelligence that solves the puzzle (only my intelligence that solves how to solve the puzzle).

    In other words, what we’re left with is the problem of the illusion of design. Another way to put this is bottom-up design, as opposed to the top-down design in terms of how we classically think of intelligence. These are processes where design is an emergent property of the process, not some directed outcome of the system working towards an end. In our modern society we’re fortunate enough to know how to harness the power of both kinds of design, but it would be a mistake to think that bottom-up design is itself intelligent. It would be greatly missing the point of how it works.

    I am simply saying there is something out there that we do not understand, and we cannot understand, because as humans we have limitations placed on our minds.

    So what’s the solution? To lament its insolubility and not bother to try to understand anything? Yet the cosmos has turned out to be very comprehensible upon inspection, cosmologists have been able to make highly successful models that are able to explain the reality we live in. That doesn’t sound so inexplicable to me, in fact it sounds the opposite. To say that humans don’t know everything, or that they have limitations, or that there are things we don’t understand ids all true – but to say we cannot understand is erroneously defeatist in the face of just what’s been shown scientifically.

    And for what? I’m still not seeing what relevance this has to atheism…

  18. 518
    John Morales

    [[meta]]

    PPS … and Kurzweil’s Singularity is a weak-ass version of a demiurge.

    (Poor Kurzweil)

  19. 519
    Catnip, Misogynist Troglodyte called Bruce

    Suppose this is a colour that is invisible to human eyes, but we can still use some instruments to see this colour in a false colour image.

    No, I think you didn’t get the point, because if you did, you had no reason to bring that high school science about colour perception into the argument.

    QFFI

    Isn’t it sweet?

  20. 520
    John Morales

    [OT + meta]

    Catnip, may it mercifully be octarine, rather than some weird eldritch color from the many-angled dimensions.

    </shudder>

  21. 521
    consciousness razor

    Actually, I think phil12 is right in saying there “never was pure nothingness”, in the sense that time is not separate from space, so a “time when there was nothing” (not even empty space) is ruled out. However, this does not imply that, if there was a beginning to time, a first event, something would have (but could not have) emerged from nothing, as I suspect phil12 would have claimed had he not flounced. For that to be so, there would have had to be a time when there was nothing.

    I didn’t interpret it that way, as involving time literally. I guess it depends on just what he meant by “pure nothingness,” but I seriously doubt he’s thought about it that much. The rate of his successive posts smells strongly of copypasta. Anyway, he is right, if you assume there are logically necessary things, for which nonexistence would entail a contradiction.* Still no reason to think a god is necessary, though. Maybe that will come around comment #1000 in a long treatise he’s preparing at YouTube which I’ll never read.

    *I hesitate to say “math exists” in some kind of Platonic sense, but I have much less of a problem agreeing that mathematical truths don’t depend on the existence of some tangible object for them to be about. Whatever the case may be, math works and theology doesn’t, which is really all I need to know, especially before I’ve had coffee.

  22. 522
    rajkumar

    But in the universe we have blind processes that we know of that require no intelligence on the part of the process, yet give us design.

    How do we know that? How do we know these processes are ==blind== processes? Because they don’t fit within our description of how we define intelligence on Earth? Even when we take into account the fact where Earth stands in the grand scheme of things within the universe? Really? And you are saying I am making no sense? Try coming out of your cages …. if only for a minute. All of you.

    In the meantime, enjoy Melbourne if you are in Melbourne for that atheist thingy. I live here and I just love this city.

    Nerd: If you are in Melbourne, I have got a few suggestions for you. Try the suburb of St Kilda after 10 pm. If you are in city, it’s about 7 km south. If you are American, try not to make it too obvious. You’ll get a discount.

    Always nice to be here.

    See ya ll

  23. 523
    Nick Gotts

    Always nice to be here. – rajkumar

    You’re a world-class idiotic bore, rajkumar. Don’t hurry back.

  24. 524
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    How do we know that?

    What evidence, not mental wanking, do you have to show otherwise. The unintelligent universe is the

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Null_hypothesis

    , which requires solid and conclusive evidence to change. Funny how demanding evidence, not just mental wanking, sends you into spasms of irrationality. Why are you afraid of evidence, which the ONLY thing that will convince this group you are right.

  25. 525
    Kel

    How do we know that? How do we know these processes are ==blind== processes? Because they don’t fit within our description of how we define intelligence on Earth?

    No. Read through Dennett’s paper. If you’re still confused, spend some time learning about algorithms.

    But as an aside, we’re sitting on computers right now. How is it you think the computer is working? That it’s able to translate your jabbing at a keyboard into meaningful text that’s displayed on screen, then sent through cables to other boxes that then store it in a place where my computer can access and retrieve it – the computer knows nothing of any of what it’s doing, it’s components in processing all that goes into computation know nothing of what they are doing, they are simply arranged in a particular way that allows for all that complexity to happen. No intelligence is required in the process.

    Try coming out of your cages …. if only for a minute. All of you.

    Condescension on this level doesn’t really work when you’ve misunderstood what people are saying. I’ve laid out quite clearly what I’m talking about, but you’ve just taken my position without the accompanying explanation that I provided and completely misrepresented what I said. That’s really poor form!

  26. 526
    John Morales

    rajkumar:

    How do we know that? How do we know these processes are ==blind== processes?

    What part of the post was unclear to you, that you ask what was stated outright?

    But in the universe we have blind processes that we know of that require no intelligence on the part of the process, yet give us design. Evolutionary algorithms are even used in engineering and computer science to come up with solutions that our intelligence can’t. Yet there’s nothing that these algorithms know, they are simply processes that grind out an outcome. I’ve written some of these myself, it’s not magic nor is it my intelligence that solves the puzzle (only my intelligence that solves how to solve the puzzle).

    See ya ll

    Without clarifying whether it is doltishness or dishonesty that is your primary attribute?

    (Aaaw… how sad am I?)

  27. 527
    rajkumar

    Condescension on this level doesn’t really work when you’ve misunderstood what people are saying. I’ve laid out quite clearly what I’m talking about, but you’ve just taken my position without the accompanying explanation that I provided and completely misrepresented what I said. That’s really poor form!

    I am sorry. I had to come back because I thought I owe a little explanation to you….

    What I said basically means that we need to step outside of our **conditioned thinking** and our extremely rigid and inflexible thinking patterns for a second and use creativity — creativity which is available to all of us. But to make any good use of that creativity, the first thing we gotta do is we must try to see things within a fresh perspective. We must be willing to **admit** that a ‘fresh’ perceptive can and does exist. Isn’t it obvious that you can’t do any real creative work if you are going to rigidly apply 100 to 3,000 years old principles on the universe?

    From my standpoint, what you guys are basically doing is, you are all trying to prove how certain thoughts and principles and theories are correct to point of being **absolutely correct.** How we must interpret the universal laws within the framework of these principles, rules and whatever. What I am saying is, these principles, these rules, these interpretations, while not wrong, are also not **absolutely correct.** Which means, more can always be added. And more must be added if we were to do any creative work. Otherwise, stay happy and content in your … not cages, but in your happy little worlds. That’s all.

    Bye

    PS: Consider the option of you misunderstanding other people. Of course, it can happen, but it will be their fault and not yours, because they didn’t make themselves clear enough….

  28. 528
    John Morales

    rajkumar, ah, you’re doltish.

    (Fair enough)

  29. 529
    Kel

    I am sorry. I had to come back because I thought I owe a little explanation to you….

    I gave an explanation of the difference between bottom-up and top-down and explained how bottom-up design worked without any intelligence as a part of it. I even gave you a link to a paper that explores that concept, and spoke of a process that illustrates this difference. Your response was to accuse me of arguing from personal incredulity. What explanation you need to offer is why you felt the need to lecture me on my inadequate thought processes when you weren’t able to take what I was saying on board?

    We must be willing to **admit** that a ‘fresh’ perceptive can and does exist.

    Yet there’s nothing fresh about offering intelligence as an explanation – it’s been the default mode of thinking all through human history!

    Here’s the problem, all you’re espousing is trivial truisms that don’t really do much to advance the understanding of the world. Consider other possibilities? Well, of course! Don’t be to rigid? Yeah! But that’s not revelatory, it’s not even something out of the ordinary. And in this circumstance, it does no explanatory work other than to condemn people whose views you only have a fleeting familiarity with.

    From my standpoint, what you guys are basically doing is, you are all trying to prove how certain thoughts and principles and theories are correct to point of being **absolutely correct.**

    That’s not it at all. I’m not sure if anyone here would be willing to say if anything can be absolutely correct, outside of logic anyway. But from my standpoint, the mere posturing of possibilities doesn’t actually add anything to the discourse. If the only uncertainty you’re bringing to the system is uncertainty itself, then you’re not contributing anything meaningful to the discussion. It’s not about being absolutely correct, but recognising what works and what doesn’t. To take what you were saying, what does adding intelligence do to our understanding of nature?

    Consider the option of you misunderstanding other people.

    Again, of course.

  30. 530
    Louis

    Crikey. I see Rajkumar is still puffing away.

    Does it never occur to these theism/woo-loving goons that not only do we understand, but the fact that we understand is a problem for them. Handwaving us away doesn’t work. We’ve got your number.

    Louis

  31. 531
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    From my standpoint, what you guys are basically doing is, you are all trying to prove how certain thoughts and principles and theories are correct to point of being **absolutely correct.**

    If you think that is what we mean by evidence you are one ignorant bombastic fool. Science can never know something absolutely, but it can approach the truth asymptotically. What we are also saying, is that in order to have an intelligent discussion, you need to up your game so that your axioms aren’t just flights of fancy from what appears to be a drug induced stupor, but have some basis in reality. Otherwise, all you have is mental masturbation taht goes nowhere. Which means you need to better define your bullshit, and maybe even give up on it if you can’t do that basic excercise in logic and reason.

  32. 532
    Nick Gotts

    World-calls boring idiot can’t even stick the flounce.

  33. 533
    anthonycamuglia

    @Catnip, Not a Polymath

    Your statement 1:
    “Demagogery….The way some people in this forum have critiqued Dawkins performance. None have given the adulation that demagoguery would require.”

    Response:
    Your understanding of the term demagoguery is wrong, both by modern and historical definitions and uses of this word. Your definition is not a variation or alternative understanding, it is simply wrong. Demagoguery is the process by which an individual plays to the sensitivities, passions and prejudices of a group to allow promotion of their self interest or a cause they are interested in. This is a practice employed commonly by practitioners or radical atheism and is as disturbing as when it is perpetrated by individuals within other, albeit non atheist, religions (atheism is another religion after all – thanks to the practices of its adherents). You would be well advised to spend more time trying to understand the opinions of people who differ from you rather than spraying petulant insults. At the very least it would be less embarrassing for you if you took the time to learn the definitions of common english words before flying off on irrational tangents.

    Your statement 2:
    “He deserves to be derided” (referring to Cardinal Pell)

    Response:
    2. It is rather distasteful to hear any human claiming that another deserves to be derided, especially when the target of such a comment has given his life to the service of others. Your expressed attitudes and disrespect for fellow humans of different opinions from your own make it doubtful that you have served your fellow man or woman in the ways Pell has over his entire life including the most marginalised and derided within our midst. And when you state “What is Pell an expert in – nothing” it would be disingenous not to recognise that such a man has expertise in areas that even you may assert as being valid, such as serving the needs of the marginalised, sick and underprivileged. At the same time Pell is doing this you are on internet blog sites deriding people for their faith (that God does exist despite the inability to prove this with the scientific method) while not recognising your own valley sized blindspot that atheism is a form of faith, except in the negative, in so far as atheism is the belief in the non existence of God, a principle also unable to be demonstrated by the scientific method.

    Your statement 3:
    “If you are a medical practitioner, then I will avoid you like the plague, you clearly have no critical thinking skills & are as likely to bang fish together over me in an attempt to cure me as to attempt real (you know, sciency) medicine”

    Response:
    Having read your contributions to this blog, including the litany of insults you have dished out to several people, it seems unlikely that you have a deep understanding of science, the scientific method or it strengths and limitations. I would be fairly confident that I have greater critical thinking and scientific skills in my small toe than in your whole body despite your pointed insult iterated above. My day to day work also involves the performance of scientific research. You should consider that It may even be your lack of understanding of science, and thus its strengths and limitations, that reinforce your atheist beliefs. Perhaps if you new how imperfect and inadequate the scientific method is in so many areas then you would have less faith in it as the device by which all the questions of life will be answered.

    Science and the scientific method are valuable tools in the study of things that range from the grand undertaking to understand the physical laws and characteristics of the universe down to research into the assessment and treatment of human disease. Dawkins recognised on Q and A that some questions, such as why are we here in a philosophical sense, cannot be answered by the scientific method. However, instead of cogitating this a failing of the scientific method, he dismissed such philosophical questions as silly, not worth answering and expressed that they should not have been asked in the first place. This is clearly wrong and is in fact anti-science. The existence (or non existence) of God is a question in a similar vein, yet rather than dismissing it as a question that cannot be answered he simply answers it in the negative, essentially taking an act of faith, but in the alternative from those who believe in God. This is wrong, inconsistent, illogical and damages a long held dictum among practitioners of science that no question is stupid. I abhor even the thought of a scientific paradigm where there were questions that were not allowed to be asked. This kind of thinking belongs to Theocratic religious governments but I guess that is not surprising given how rapidly atheism has turned itself into a fundalmentalist religion.

    Anthony.

  34. 534
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    This is wrong, inconsistent, illogical and damages a long held dictum among practitioners of science that no question is stupid.

    Sorry, but as a long time practicioner of science, I will need a citation for this piece of bullshit. Some questions are stupid, and need to be called as such.

  35. 535
    anthonycamuglia

    Science is not just about citations. This small minded view of science and the plaque of the publish or perish culture is one of the key problems with the current development of research communities. This often leads to projects directed at getting publications, rather than answering important questions. Practitioners of science should be at the forefront of snuffing out this malignant trend building within in all fields of modern research. While great research is still being published, there is an iceberg underneath it of rubbish published to justify ongoing grant receipts. Sorry Nerd of Redhead, you are wrong, there is no such thing as a stupid question and this is often something I tell my students to encourage their development. I suspect that if you are as you claim a long term practitioner of science that you actually agree with me (as the view I have just expressed is not controversial within the scientific community) but probably you want to demonstrate your loyalty to your religious leader. I guess I can understand that.

    Anthony.

  36. 536
    anthonycamuglia

    If you are right Nerd of Redhead, who gets to decide which questions are stupid or not? Dawkins? The government? This atheism thing has a lot of dogmatic and controlling features to it for something that is not a religion.

  37. 537
    rr

    rajkumar, Penrose & Hameroff’s quantum consciousness and Orch OR theory are perfect for you.

  38. 538
    Anri

    He seems to have flown the coop, but:

    Technically, I never said that we should define anything in a non-human way, since it is quite impossible. But I did say that we can remain open to the fact that intelligence can exist in forms which we do not understand, cannot understand, being humans. If we say the universe is intelligent, then it could be an intelligence that we do not understand. You know, like when we get invaded by intelligent aliens in movies? We do not understand their intelligence, but we still recognize it as some superior kind of intelligence, because they are, as the saying goes, kicking our ass so effortlessly.

    Ok, I’m open to this idea.
    Present your evidence for it.
    If you don’t have evidence for it, please recognize this as middle-school psuedo-intellectual wankery (“But what if th’ whole Ooniverse is jussa atom inna even bigger Ooniverse, which is jussa atom inna…”) and understand why we’re not impressed.

  39. 539
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    anthonycamuglia:

    Sorry Nerd of Redhead, you are wrong, there is no such thing as a stupid question and this is often something I tell my students to encourage their development.

    Yes, there are.

    Stupid questions are those that are intended to be thought-provoking, but really simply ignore history and current knowledge. For instance, the question, “What if you redefined intelligence to include all physical processes?” is a stupid question.

    Another stupid question is, “What if you threw yourself at the ground, and missed?” In the context of physics, this is a stupid question. Potentially funny in the hands of the right author, but otherwise stupid.

    There are stupid questions, and they usually indicate a willful lack of knowledge on the part of the person posing the question.

  40. 540
    anthonycamuglia

    @nigelTheBold to the power of nigelTheBold

    If you understood more about quantum mechanics or astrophysics then you would realise that your question “What if you threw yourself at the ground, and missed?” is not a stupid question at all but a very valid one. This demonstrates the problem of calling questions stupid. I find it hard to believe that I am bloging on a site dedicated to reason and am having to defend the idea that asking questions is never stupid.

    Anthony

  41. 541
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    If you are right Nerd of Redhead, who gets to decide which questions are stupid or not? Dawkins?

    Easy, whoever the question is asked of. If you asked me if prayer was necessary for desired outcome of the day’s reaction, it would be a stupid question. Especially since science and atoms ignore imaginary deities.

  42. 542
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    This demonstrates the problem of calling questions stupid.You didn’t explain in any detail why the question was valid, but only presupposed it was valid, Not making your point.

  43. 543
    anthonycamuglia

    And in any case, the question “Why are we here”? (in a non biological sense) is not a stupid question. It is perfectly reasonable. Atheists themselves are continually answering it in public fora when they answer that we are not here because of God. But this argument is completely circular because ultimately an arbitrater is required to decide which questions are stupid or not and no person is qualified for this position. This whole notion is bonkers. This is one of the problems with dogma – perhaps atheists should ask some advice from their other religous counterparts on how to deal with it who have been using the concept of dogma for hundreds of years.

    Anthony.

  44. 544
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    anthonymuglia:

    If you understood more about quantum mechanics or astrophysics then you would realise that your question “What if you threw yourself at the ground, and missed?” is not a stupid question at all but a very valid one.

    No, it’s not. It’s a stupid question.

    If you asked questions about throwing atoms at the ground and missing, it might not be a stupid question. But in the context of even QM, it’s just a silly question about throwing yourself at the ground and missing (assuming the context of the surface of the earth).

  45. 545
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Dang, blockquote failure #542. The first sentence is the quote.

  46. 546
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    anthonycamuglia:

    And in any case, the question “Why are we here”? (in a non biological sense) is not a stupid question.

    It depends on the intent of the question.

    If you imbue the question with teleology, as in, “For what goal was humanity created?” then it is a stupid question, in that it begs the question. And in most instances, that is the intent of the question.

    If all you mean is, “Since we just happen to be here, are there common goals on which we can all agree?” then it is not a stupid question. In fact, it might be one of the most important questions.

    But these are really two separate questions worded the same way.

  47. 547
    Matt Penfold

    And in any case, the question “Why are we here”? (in a non biological sense) is not a stupid question. It is perfectly reasonable. Atheists themselves are continually answering it in public fora when they answer that we are not here because of God. But this argument is completely circular because ultimately an arbitrater is required to decide which questions are stupid or not and no person is qualified for this position. This whole notion is bonkers. This is one of the problems with dogma – perhaps atheists should ask some advice from their other religous counterparts on how to deal with it who have been using the concept of dogma for hundreds of years.

    Asking “Why are we here” is not reasonable unless there is actually a reason why we are here. Until you can show there is a reason then it makes no sense to even ask the question.

  48. 548
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    This is one of the problems with dogma

    Yes, your dogma that ther is no such thing as a stupid question. There are stupid questions, as the evidence we presented shows. You can’t accept reality due to your dogma.

  49. 549
    anthonycamuglia

    @Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    A question is valid because it is a question. It is inherent in the concept of the word question. This is why the scientific method has any foundation. You guys cannot have it both ways – if you want a robust scientific community you cannot restrict the ability to ask questions and inhibit and stymy innovation by creating a culture where their is a fear of asking a stupid question. The idea that the person being asked a question gets to decide if it is stupid or not is not a valid answer. A government when asked to stop persecuting its people cannot deem the question stupid and ignore its duty to uphold the rights of individuals. What you are suggesting is simply ludicrous.

    Anthony.

  50. 550
    anthonycamuglia

    Nigel, that’s right, “assuming you are talking about the earth” but you did not state that in your question. That is why I assumed you did not understand astrophysics. But you have demonstrated the problem if you start to write people’s questions off as stupid. Again, there is no such thing as a stupid question. I can see we will have to agree to disagree. There is no resolution to this impasse. Fortunately for you and me, western non theocratic societies as a whole adopt the attitude that there are no such things as stupid questions and that allows discussions such as this. It would be difficult to be a student of a teacher who believed in the idea of stupid questions.

  51. 551
    Matt Penfold

    A question is valid because it is a question.

    Rubbish.

    That is so idiotic I am at a loss to understand how anyone could actually say it.

    Try this:

    “What is the piano dreaming about?”

    That is not valid question. It makes no sense, since pianos are not sentient beings that dream. Replace piano with cat or dog, and you do have valid question.

  52. 552
    Nick Gotts

    atheism is a form of faith, except in the negative, in so far as atheism is the belief in the non existence of God, a principle also unable to be demonstrated by the scientific method. – antonycamuglia

    No it isn’t. Atheism is a disbelief in gods, based on the fact that no evidence for them exists. I’m an atheist in exactly the same sense as I’m an afairyist. I assume you do not believe in fairies. The non-existence of fairies is also “unable to be demonstrated by the scientific method”. So, is your disbelief in fairies a “faith”?

  53. 553
    Ingdigo Jump

    A question is valid because it is a question.

    Do penguins ever feel guilty about sexual thoughts?

  54. 554
    Matt Penfold

    It seems anthonycamuglia is confusing syntactic validity with semantic validity, or rather I suspect he knows the difference but is dishonestly pretending he does not.

    A question can be syntactically valid but semantically invalid, in that in can be correctly formed according to the rules of grammar, but be meaningless in that the question being asked makes no sense. It is pretty obvious that we talk of a question being valid we mean in the semantic sense, not the syntactic sense.

  55. 555
    Rey Fox

    What is it with pompous blowhards and signing their comments at the bottom? This is the internet, I can see your name at the top of everything you post.

  56. 556
    Rey Fox

    Questions can also be asked in a leading and dishonest manner.

  57. 557
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    A question is valid because it is a question.

    Talk abo8ut dogma…Then this is a valid question: Why do you pretend that all questions are valid, when some obviously aren’t.

    Another: Given that delusion is belief without evidence, why do you show you are a delusional fool by believing in your evidenceless and imaginary deity?

  58. 558
    Ingdigo Jump

    If you scuba dive down deep enough, is there a certain depth where trying to far forces gases IN due to pressure? And on a related note, on the space station can you fart to propel yourself from one side to the other?

  59. 559
    Ingdigo Jump

    Have you stopped eating baby chickens?

  60. 560
    Anri

    Science and the scientific method are valuable tools in the study of things that range from the grand undertaking to understand the physical laws and characteristics of the universe down to research into the assessment and treatment of human disease.

    Slight amendment:
    Science and the scientific method are the only way so far discovered to give us reliable information about the world around us.
    But do go on…

    Dawkins recognised on Q and A that some questions, such as why are we here in a philosophical sense, cannot be answered by the scientific method. However, instead of cogitating this a failing of the scientific method, he dismissed such philosophical questions as silly, not worth answering and expressed that they should not have been asked in the first place.

    This question can be answered scientifically:
    “As far as we can tell, there is no purpose in our existence beyond what we make it. The universe functioned perfectly well before we were here, and should continue on without noticing if we off ourselves tomorrow.”
    What answer has philosophy/other ways of knowing/navel-gazing given us?

    This is clearly wrong and is in fact anti-science. The existence (or non existence) of God is a question in a similar vein, yet rather than dismissing it as a question that cannot be answered he simply answers it in the negative, essentially taking an act of faith, but in the alternative from those who believe in God.

    The question “Does god exist” is answereable sceintifically:
    “As no evidence supports the idea that god exists, it may safely be discarded as irrelevant. Should evidence surface for this someday, we will reexamine it.”

    This is wrong, inconsistent, illogical and damages a long held dictum among practitioners of science that no question is stupid.

    The question is not stupd, merely dated.
    What’s stupid is when people see this answer and kick their feet in a tantrum of “I DON’T WANNA!”
    What’s stupid is when people presume that Iron Age goatherders had a better grasp of cosmology than we do today.
    What’s stupid is when people base legistation on their own bigotry after finding justification for it in myths about middle-eastern sky spirits.

    I abhor even the thought of a scientific paradigm where there were questions that were not allowed to be asked.

    And I abhor it when these questions are asked, and answered, and the answers are ignored.

    This kind of thinking belongs to Theocratic religious governments but I guess that is not surprising given how rapidly atheism has turned itself into a fundalmentalist religion.

    What text is dogmatic to ‘fundamentalist atheists’, may I ask?
    Or is there some confusion over the definition of ‘fundamentalist’?

  61. 561
    Nick Gotts

    I guess that is not surprising given how rapidly atheism has turned itself into a fundalmentalist religion. – antonycamuglia

    Were you always this unoriginal, or did you take a correspondence course?

    Atheism is the new fundamentalism
    War is the new peace
    Freedom is the new slavery
    Ignorance is the new strength

  62. 562
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I also suspect AC thinks philosophical wanking is evidence. Evidence is solid and physical, not mental wanking.

  63. 563
    Ingdigo Jump

    FFS the question if God isn’t being open minded. The contrary it is locking someone into a very specific ethnocentric track of thought that inherently limits the possible actions.

    What is God like? cuts off the options of no god and of polytheism

    Is there a god? is STILL the wrong question, because it is stuck in a very western view of God.

    The right question is “What is out there?”

    I’m sick of people trimming off branches of thought and acting like they’re more open minded than someone who has kept all the branches open and actually reached a tentative conclusion.

    It’s the difference between saying “Who killed Mr. Johnson?” and “How did Mr. Johnson die?” with the “open minded’ twits acting superior to those who say “based on the evidence Johnson choked on a rice crispy treat” because we are closed minded to the idea that Phillip Seymour Hoffman might have killed him.

  64. 564
    Rey Fox

    Raj:

    If we say the universe is intelligent, then it could be an intelligence that we do not understand. You know, like when we get invaded by intelligent aliens in movies? We do not understand their intelligence, but we still recognize it as some superior kind of intelligence, because they are, as the saying goes, kicking our ass so effortlessly.

    But they’re still interacting with us in an obviously detectible fashion. The supposed universe doesn’t. See, here’s the thing: In order to suppose that there is intelligence in the universe, you have to be able to distinguish that which acts intelligently from that which doesn’t. People above have mentioned the Turing test as an example. You haven’t demonstrated that you have any capacity to distinguish intelligence from non-intelligence. By positing intelligence behind everything, you have taken away the ability to distinguish it from non-intelligence. You have defined both concepts out of existence. And for some reason, you consider this to be bold paradigm-shattering thinking.

    But why do you cling to this idea?

    Like, the universe is **not** some blind and dumb and mindless forces interacting mindlessly……

    I would guess it’s because you find this idea repugnant for some reason. Like you need some sort of purpose, any purpose, imposed on you externally. Dressing this purpose up to be by definition impossible to understand with our human minds doesn’t get you out of that. And you accuse us of thinking in cages.

    If the universe is intelligent, never mind what sort of intelligence, then we can rest assured there are no ‘accidents’ or ‘chance occurrences’ in the universe, simply because the universe is intelligent.

    “Rest assured”…

    Now, the reason we are saying the universe is intelligent is because we can see how the universe can create intelligence … after all, it has created us, and we are intelligent beings, and we and our intelligence are a part of the universe.

    Or perhaps it’s that you believe that like can only come from like. These are old ideas.

    how did you miss the giant pink/purple/violet elephant in the room?

    I would guess because it’s invisible and ineffable and indistinguishable from regular physical forces.

    My other guess is, you have memorized many books, and it’s now quite hard for you speak or hear anything that doesn’t rhyme with your memory store.

    Why yes, we do tend to learn from people who know what they’re talking about and who have collected the data and done the thinking about it that we do not have the time to do ourselves. Sorry that we cannot be beings of Pure Thought, but you probably aren’t, either.

    How do we know that? How do we know these processes are ==blind== processes? Because they don’t fit within our description of how we define intelligence on Earth?

    You’re the one making the unevidenced leap here, not us.

    Even when we take into account the fact where Earth stands in the grand scheme of things within the universe

    And where, exactly, might that be?

    Isn’t it obvious that you can’t do any real creative work if you are going to rigidly apply 100 to 3,000 years old principles on the universe?

    The idea that there is purpose behind everything and that like begats like is ancient. Emergent properties and bottom-up structuring are the new ideas.

  65. 565
    Ingdigo Jump

    To clarify my metaphor.

    We find a man dead in the woods in a state of heavy decay. We must investigate what happened. Now some people are asking the question “What kind of animal killed him” and others are saying “Who killed him” both are looking for answers to those questions and despite claiming not to have any preconceived notions biasing them are inherently biased by the way they framed their question. Now some people actually ask “what happened” and use that to be open to all possibilities. In the course of the investigation evidence is going to come to light, say if the man tripped and fell down a cliff face and was killed by misadventure. What the “Which animal” people are saying is that we are closed minded for not considering it could be a Dog (hehe get it!?) that killed him. The problem is that we DID consider it, or at least leave the possibility open, but quickly Dog became unlikely. Somehow this makes us more closed minded than the people who spent hours looking for wild dogs

  66. 566
    Ingdigo Jump

    Now, the reason we are saying the universe is intelligent is because we can see how the universe can create intelligence … after all, it has created us, and we are intelligent beings, and we and our intelligence are a part of the universe.

    Assembly Line Robots can go 75MPH on the freeway because we see how they can build BMWs.

  67. 567
    Nick Gotts

    Why do you dig up corpses and fornicate with them, antonycamuglia?

  68. 568
    Louis

    KG,

    Sorry, but that is a valid question.

    Louis

    P.S. Okay, okay, I know it’s leading and I know it’s a logical fallacy and I know I know I know. But it’s a much funnier world in which that is a serious question. I mean, anthonycamuglia, corpse-botherer. It’s a hell of a title.

  69. 569
    Matt Penfold

    It seems antonycamuglia is having a little difficulty explaining why he fucks dug-up corpses.

    Given what he has said this cannot be because he does neither disinters dead bodies, nor then tries to copulate with them. The question has been asked, and therefore is valid, along with the underlying assumptions that go with it.

  70. 570
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    My question is, suppose the whole universe is intelligent hairy, and our intelligence hairiness, the human intelligence hairiness, is a very very small part of the universal intelligence hairiness. We are a part of the universe, and so is our intelligence hairiness a part of the universal intelligence hairiness. Now, trying to **understand** and **decipher** the universal intelligence hairiness using human intelligence hairiness would be like trying to the drain the ocean using a bucket. Don’t you think? If the universe is intelligent hairy, why do we assume that it must be the kind of intelligence hairiness that we can understand?????? Don’t we have at least some limitations on our minds beards?

    Figaroism: God is in the clippings.

  71. 571
    Louis

    I once dug up a corpse. But I was very polite and took it to dinner and a film. I never once made a move on it and treated it with respect at all times. I also asked its father if I could dig it up and take to dinner before hand.

    I am nothing if not a gentleman.

    Given the above information, and a series of 3462 subsequent posts in which I shall provide full details, I have a question:

    Why wardrobe banana fondler gibbon ratchet?

    Since I have asked a question that is a) a “why” question, b) replete with meaningful, well understood, common-or-garden English words, all used as per their standard definitions, and c) grammatically correct, I now demand that anthonycamuglia and sundry folk provide me with an answer to that question, or at least a coherent, meaningful proposal on how to answer it.

    I await the response with baited breath.*

    Louis

    * Oh yes, I know what I meant.

  72. 572
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    How do we know that? How do we know these processes are ==blind== processes? Because they don’t fit within our description of how we define intelligence on Earth? Even when we take into account the fact where Earth stands in the grand scheme of things within the universe?

    I propose that the universe is constipated. How do we know it is not? Because it doesn’t fit within our description of how we define constipated on Earth? Even when we take into account the fact where Earth stands in the grand scheme of things within the universe?

    I am starting a new religion. The Church Of Those Who Await The Coming Of The Holy Dump.

    Relief is coming…

  73. 573
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Also, why does 1+1=3?

  74. 574
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    Does the universe suffer from dandruff?

  75. 575
    Louis

    Woo Monster, #573: Because it equals 5.

    What a Marron, #574: Probably albatross. But never on a Sunday.

    Louis

  76. 576
    Louis

    Marron = Maroon.

    I am not implying you are a chestnut.

    Louis

  77. 577
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Does the universe suffer from dandruff?

    Undoubtably. But not any kind our limited Hooman brainz can understand.

  78. 578
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    I am not implying you are a chestnut.

    Please rephrase that in the form of a question, lest the universal intelligence go unrecognized.

  79. 579
    Louis

    What a Maroon,

    No worries.

    Am I not sure that you are not a chestnut, probably?

    Louis

  80. 580
    rajkumar

    Kel:

    Yeah, one last comment. You asked: The universe being intelligent or not intelligent, what has this got to do with atheism?

    The answer is: EVERYTHING. Intelligence, as in the universal intelligence, is kind of a dirty four-letter word in atheist circles. Atheists are going to resist this concept with all their might, as people here are. But when people do that, it is highly unlikely that it is science or reason they are defending here. What is more likely is that it is their atheism which they are defending here. This is because science and reason can never make anyone as close-minded and as dogmatic as most people here are.

    Look at Nerd. Need I say more? Calling him/her close-minded or dogmatic would be like giving him/her way too much credit. It looks more like that the person operates in this world without any concept of having a mind at all.

  81. 581
    Kel

    The answer is: EVERYTHING. Intelligence, as in the universal intelligence, is kind of a dirty four-letter word in atheist circles.

    But what do you mean by intelligence? You know, if you’re going to talk in this way – that there’s this elephant in the room that people have to dogmatically reject – you need to make it clear as to what that elephant is. As far as I could see, you’re trying to have a definition of intelligence as some nebulous imposition without really saying what that intelligence could mean and what it’s implications are. And even when I went to the lengths of explaining how process can have design outcomes, including giving you a paper on that matter, you didn’t engage my logic at all – instead choosing to base my position on your personal assessment of intelligence being a dirty word.

    And that I find odd. I have no problem with the possibility of there being intelligence out there and there being intelligence as a driving force, indeed it would make no sense to talk about Shermer’s Last Law without recognising that possibility. Yet you feel compelled to make it out as if the reaction to your comments is based on a psychological distaste rather than all the reasons people gave you against your position. I spent time substantiating my comments yet you felt compelled to ignore that and switch in your own explanation for my position. If you think that atheists unfairly dismiss the possibility of intelligence, that doesn’t excuse not engaging in the arguments they bring forth.

    This is because science and reason can never make anyone as close-minded and as dogmatic as most people here are.

    You’re basing this off a fleeting interaction with people on here, what’s amazing is that you think that’s sufficient to establish that about people.

    Look at Nerd. Need I say more?

    Yes, two things. First, one data point doesn’t make a representative sample of generalisation. Second, you’re judging a person’s entire psychology based on the way they post on a particular topic on the internet – how is that any way sufficient to establish that? You’re engaging in ad hominems, meanwhile I see that you still haven’t addressed my logic…

  82. 582
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    It looks more like that the person operates in this world without any concept of having a mind at all.

    Why? What EVIDENCE have your presented to change my mind? I see thing, as Sgt. Schultz says. Your word play/mental masturbation won’t change my mind one iota. Evidence, what separates the druggies from the real philosophers. And the lack of evidence puts you in the druggie category.

  83. 583
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Oh, and rajkumar, we all know that your imaginary intelligent universe is your concept of your imaginary deity. Yawn, only the fifth such try this year.

    If you are interested in such mental wanking, try a philosophical web site by someone like Matthew Segall. Google his name, as I don’t want to corrupt my computer with pure presuppositionalism and lack of EVIDENCE.

  84. 584
    Kel

    Here’s a scenario for the origin of this universe that has intelligence at a core:

    An evolved alien species in another universe use their advanced technology and understanding of the universe to create a baby universe.

    In this scenario, it would be wrong to deny that intelligence could be a cause of this universe. This scenario, although itself speculative, isn’t much of a jump from our understanding we have now, nor does it contradict anything we know about the universe. In other words, it’s possible. Is this the universe we live in now? It could be, but somehow I don’t think this scenario is going to sit well with theologians. After all, it’s no more a recognition of God than when pacific island tribes first encountered the technologically-superior Europeans. This scenarios has nothing in common with theism other than the positing of intelligence at the origin of our universe.

  85. 585
    rajkumar

    But what do you mean by intelligence? You know, if you’re going to talk in this way

    You make me come back over and over again.

    Yeah. I see the problem. But you have to understand my problem too. We are trying to discuss something for which we have no words and no concepts. But if I have to get a start, let’s look at human intelligence. We know what it is, don’t we? But where did this intelligence come from? Through billion of years of evolution? Enlarge your perspective. Where is this evolution taking place? In the universe, right? So, we may say, the universe as some greater intelligence has created some lower form of intelligence in humans. What do I mean by intelligence? Intelligence is something that can create more intelligence through its own intelligence. For example, the universal intelligence can create human intelligence, and the human intelligence can create artificial intelligence, and the artificial intelligence can … maybe some time in the future … create more intelligence. We humans have intelligence, but where did this intelligence come from? Intelligence cannot come from no where, and it must come through some greater intelligence. That’s the idea.

    Yes, two things. First, one data point doesn’t make a representative sample of generalisation. Second, you’re judging a person’s entire psychology based on the way they post on a particular topic on the internet – how is that any way sufficient to establish that? You’re engaging in ad hominems, meanwhile

    And this somewhat ironic when I see this in defense of someone whose every second post contains ‘wanking in the public’, and ‘shut the fuck up’. I don’t mind anything he/she says, but I can’t see how you can defend him/her on such grounds…. If I were a judge and you were his/her defense lawyer, I would have charged you for contempt of court for defending him/her on such grounds, believe me.

  86. 586
    adamk.

    Here is my take on the “page 92″ controversy:
    http://ad4mk4.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/did-cardinal-pell-misled-viewers-during.html

    Basically cardinal Pell not only had to apologise to Jews after the debate but was also factually wrong about Darwin. He should have checked not only page 92 but also pages 93 and 94 of the Darwin’s auto biography.

    NB in my view it could have been more productive to use a “small target” strategy against cardinal Pell. He is who wants us to believe in his “stuff”. It may be just enough to show that he cannot give any concrete arguments based on facts to support his claims.

  87. 587
    Kel

    We humans have intelligence, but where did this intelligence come from? Intelligence cannot come from no where, and it must come through some greater intelligence. That’s the idea.

    Human intelligence comes from the bottom-up process of evolution, and evolution doesn’t require any intelligence of its own. Did you read the paper I linked yet?

    And this somewhat ironic when I see this in defense of someone whose every second post contains ‘wanking in the public’, and ‘shut the fuck up’.

    This is what you said: “Look at Nerd. Need I say more? Calling him/her close-minded or dogmatic would be like giving him/her way too much credit.” Yet now you’re complaining about his rudeness. That’s neither an indicator of being close-minded nor dogmatic. I’m not defending his posting style (there’s little I can do about it other than to not post that way myself), but I don’t think it establishes what you are alleging it does.

  88. 588
    rajkumar

    Human intelligence comes from the bottom-up process of evolution, and evolution doesn’t require any intelligence of its own. Did you read the paper I linked yet?

    This is where I disagree. I am saying intelligence simply cannot from no where or nothing. And I am saying, there is another possibility worth consideration: What we call ‘no intelligence’ could turn out to be some intelligence that is far more complex and superior than our own intelligence, way beyond our comprehension. As part of human egotistic behaviuor, what we do not understand, we usually try to rationalize as ‘nothing’, assuming we have the capacity to understand everything. This is simply wrong. We have limitations on our minds, as I have said in my previous posts, and I do believe we need to acknowledge these limitations first to have any real chance of going beyond them.

    No, sorry, I haven’t read the paper. I am kind of not partial to philosophical writings. In Nerd’s words, ‘mental wanking’.

    By the way, I am not complaining about Nerd’s rudeness, I never did. I just expressed my concern how you offered such a defense for someone who knows nothing about making rational arguments. And then, I am just expressing my opinion about him, as he is expressing his opinion about me. I don’t think he is rude, because I believe even being rude requires a little bit of mind work.

  89. 589
    John Phillips, FCD

    rajkumar, all you are doing is playing presuppositionalist games. Next you’ll tell us that ‘god’ works in mysterious ways as, by any other name, that is the gambit you using. Want to be taken seriously? Then stop with the mental masturbation and ‘supposing’ and give us some evidence, however little, that we should take you seriously. Cheesemakers, I have had more productive discussions on shrooms or acid than this.

  90. 590
    John Phillips, FCD

    P.S. admitting having limitations doesn’t justify making shit up. That’s what the god botherers do.

  91. 591
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I just expressed my concern how you offered such a defense for someone who knows nothing about making rational arguments.

    You haven’t made a rational argument, which requires evidence to keep it grounded in reality. Your arguments like what what druggies have propounded on for years. Nothing that will hold up to reality. Why don’t you go to Wankers Central, where you don’t need evidence, and your evidenceless opinion is considered golden…

  92. 592
    A. R

    This is where I disagree. I am saying intelligence simply cannot from no where or nothing.

    Oh, but it can, provided that enough of the right neurones are firing in the right way. Seriously, read that paper.

  93. 593
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    What do I mean by intelligence? Intelligence is something that can create more intelligence through its own intelligence. For example, the universal intelligence can create human intelligence, and the human intelligence can create artificial intelligence, and the artificial intelligence can … maybe some time in the future … create more intelligence.

    That is nobel prize winning explanation right there. “Intelligence is something that can create more intelligence through its own intelligence”. Wow. Just give up trying to explain your understanding of “universal intelligence”. You have had many chances and have so far repeatedly failed to say anything comprehensible.

    We humans have intelligence, but where did this intelligence come from?

    Clearly not all humans.

    Intelligence cannot come from no where, and it must come through some greater intelligence.

    Fucking provide some evidence for this claim. Provide a reason to accept that intelligence cannot emerge naturally but must come from some greater intelligence.

    That’s the idea.

    It is an idea, but a fatuous one for which you have not supplied any evidence for.

    And this somewhat ironic when I see this in defense of someone whose every second post contains ‘wanking in the public’, and ‘shut the fuck up’.

    Boo hoo. Does it make you feel sad when he points out that you are just mentally masturbating? Nerd has been addressing you in the manner that you deserve. Your stupid presuppositional argument isn’t even worth the time Nerd took to call you a moron. What can be asserted without evidence…
    I thought his #400 was spot on,

    Why do those like rajkumar who claim to be doing deep thinking, always sound unclear, incoherent, stupid, ignorant, illogical and poster people for Dunning-Kruger. Must be a character flaw.

    Also, fuck you*.

    *You don’t mind if I borrow this just this once, do you Brownian?

  94. 594
    Kel

    This is where I disagree. I am saying intelligence simply cannot from no where or nothing.

    So where does my logic go wrong in describing bottom-up design?

    No, sorry, I haven’t read the paper. I am kind of not partial to philosophical writings.

    But the paper answers the very question you are asking… If you would prefer a scientist over a philosopher, there’s always Richard Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker, or Sean Carroll’s The Making Of The Fittest, both of which explain the process in very scientific terms.

    I just expressed my concern how you offered such a defense for someone who knows nothing about making rational arguments.

    And I’m expressing my concern that you’re attacking Nerd Of Redhead (and everyone else here) while avoiding engaging with my rational arguments.

  95. 595
    rajkumar

    @Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls:

    Tell me something, since you talk so much about producing ‘conclusive physical evidence’, how can I produce evidence for something like the universal intelligence? Who said I had any evidence? I am just discussing a concept here, which could be wrong. But most of you people, especially you, are not even open to discussing a concept that contradicts your atheistic beliefs, and you still have the guts to call yourselves people of science?

    This evidence talk, it is all hogwash, and you know that. You are not defending science or reason here. You are just defending your atheism here, plain and simple.

  96. 596
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    And I’m expressing my concern that you’re attacking Nerd Of Redhead (and everyone else here) while avoiding engaging with my rational arguments.

    QFT.

    Rajkumar is defining rational argument as one that agrees with his evidenceless bullshit. For those of us here at Pharyngula, evidence must at some point be shown to show that your philosophical wankery isn’t totally bullshit. But Rajkumar, you are incapable of either showing said evidence or shutting the fuck up. Which tells us you are nothing but a liar and bullshitter. Oh, prove us wrong with solid and conclusive physical evidence….

  97. 597
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Intelligence cannot come from no where, and it must come through some greater intelligence.

    Oh, brother.

    It certainly isn’t seeping through the internetz in great waves.

  98. 598
    rajkumar

    So where does my logic go wrong in describing bottom-up design?

    What’s bottom-up design, in simple words?

  99. 599
    Kel

    But most of you people, especially you, are not even open to discussing a concept that contradicts your atheistic beliefs

    Again with the psychologising… can you just engage with the arguments as they are presented instead of adding in your own commentary on the people making the arguments? Please?

  100. 600
    Rey Fox

    So, we may say, the universe as some greater intelligence has created some lower form of intelligence in humans.

    Why would we say this? What need do we have for this hypothesis? What does it explain that the null hypothesis doesn’t? How would you know if it was wrong, what would point that way?

    Intelligence is something that can create more intelligence through its own intelligence.

    Delightfully circular. Lots of things make more of themselves. They don’t do it necessarily with intelligence…or maybe they do, since you still haven’t defined “intelligence”.

    Intelligence cannot come from no where, and it must come through some greater intelligence.

    Says you. Like does not have to come from like.

  101. 601
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Who said I had any evidence? I am just discussing a concept here, which could be wrong. But most of you people, especially you, are not even open to discussing a concept that contradicts your atheistic beliefs, and you still have the guts to call yourselves people of science?

    You think that it is ironic that people on a science blog aren’t interested in listening to you sank about a claim that you openly admit to having no evidence for?

    I think rajkumar is tapping into the Universal Stupidity. Only a greater stupidity could create rajkumar’s lesser form of stupidity.

  102. 602
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    You think that it is ironic that people on a science blog aren’t interested in listening to you sank wank about a claim that you openly admit to having no evidence for?

    FIFM

  103. 603
    Kel

    What’s bottom-up design, in simple words?

    I explained this above in #517. But here’s the thing, when you don’t understand the process of design, then how can you say it’s impossible for intelligence to come from non-intelligence?

    If you want a explanation in simple words, here you go: bottom-up design is a process that gives design without the design being a part of the process. Evolutionary theory, for example, will be able to produce all sorts of designed objects, but the process is really life trying to survive and reproducing. That mutations arise and how they go in that process has nothing to do with anything in the process itself, but the outcomes of the process will mean that advantageous mutations will accumulate through time. Nothing in the process needs any intelligence, it’s algorithmic.

  104. 604
    Amphiox

    Intelligence cannot come from no where,

    Why not?

    and it must come through some greater intelligence.

    Why?

    So, we may say, the universe as some greater intelligence has created some lower form of intelligence in humans.

    No, we may not. Not without evidence.

    Tell me something, since you talk so much about producing ‘conclusive physical evidence’, how can I produce evidence for something like the universal intelligence?

    It is up to you, who make the claim, to figure out the how.

    I am just discussing a concept here, which could be wrong.

    And therein is the key. Forget the “evidence” word, as you clearly have trouble comprehending words of 3 syllables or greater. Ask instead, since you admit that you might be wrong, ‘how would you know if you were indeed wrong’? That is, in the end, what evidence means. How would you CHECK if you are right or wrong?

    A concept whose correctness cannot be tested is a useless concept, not worth discussing.

  105. 605
    Amphiox

    I am saying intelligence simply cannot from no where or nothing. And I am saying, there is another possibility worth consideration: What we call ‘no intelligence’ could turn out to be some intelligence that is far more complex and superior than our own intelligence, way beyond our comprehension.

    And if intelligence cannot form from nothing, where did this far more complex and superior (and therefore EVEN HARDER to form) intelligence come from?

    Can you not see how this conception degenerates into nonsensicality?

  106. 606
    Amphiox

    No, sorry, I haven’t read the paper. I am kind of not partial to philosophical writings.

    If you can’t be bothered to even consider the evidence that is presented to you, then you are not worth talking to.

    This evidence talk, it is all hogwash, and you know that.

    If you are not even interested in grounding your speculations in evidence, ie IN REALITY, then you are not worth talking to.

    Goodbye.

  107. 607
    A. R

    rajkumar: Clearly, you are unwilling to look at the evidence, thus you are a worthless troll. Goodbye.

  108. 608
    commondescentsee

    Is there more than one edition of Darwin’s autobiography. I can not find the “page 92″ reference Pell was talking about. I see that Richard has commented on the issue and said that the “Darwin as self-proclaimed theist” point was out of context and from a younger Darwin. So what age was Darwin when he made the “theist” comment?

  109. 609
    rajkumar

    If you want a explanation in simple words, here you go: bottom-up design is a process that gives design without the design being a part of the process. Evolutionary theory, for example, will be able to produce all sorts of designed objects, but the process is really life trying to survive and reproducing. That mutations arise and how they go in that process has nothing to do with anything in the process itself, but the outcomes of the process will mean that advantageous mutations will accumulate through time. Nothing in the process needs any intelligence, it’s algorithmic.

    Thanks for calling that simple. But life isn’t simple I guess…. Evolutionary theory, could itself be a part of some larger evolution? For example, evolution that produced life on earth, is part of some universal evolution, and the universal evolution could itself be a part of some larger evolution, and up to ad infinitude? How do we know where to draw the finish line?

  110. 610
    rajkumar

    And if intelligence cannot form from nothing, where did this far more complex and superior (and therefore EVEN HARDER to form) intelligence come from?

    Can you not see how this conception degenerates into nonsensicality?

    We do not know. If it is indeed a fact, then we can at least start some exploring in that direction. Answer will come up on their own. What you are saying is, because it is hard to explain and boggles the mind, therefore we should try to even go in that direction. That’s just dull. As I said before, it is most probably due to the wrong assumption that human mind has the capacity to understand everything, and what we don’t or can’t understand, goes under the carpet. It doesn’t exist. This is called denial.

  111. 611
    rajkumar

    Sorry. In my previous comment…

    therefore we should try to even go in that direction

    should read…

    therefore we shouldn’t try to even go in that direction

  112. 612
    John Morales

    rajkumar:

    How do we know where to draw the finish line?

    (Heavy, man!    Here — lemme toke on that…)

    How do we know whether we know where to draw the finish line?

    How do we know whether we know whether we know where to draw the finish line?

    How do we know whether we know whether we know whether we know where to draw the finish line?

    How do we know whether we know whether we know whether we know whether we know where to draw the finish line?

    (Ooh yeah! That’s the stuff. Groovy.)

  113. 613
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Evolutionary theory, could itself be a part of some larger evolution?

    Speculation is mental masturbation. Show some evidence, or shut the fuck up.

    How do we know where to draw the finish line?

    The first place to answer that is evidence, the last place mental masturbation, which is the only thing you have. Worthless.

  114. 614
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    Evolutionary theory, could itself be a part of some larger evolution? For example, evolution that produced life on earth, is part of some universal evolution, and the universal evolution could itself be a part of some larger evolution, and up to ad infinitude?

    And it could be turtles all the way down. Who gives a fuck?

  115. 615
    John Morales

    rajkumar:

    This is called denial.>/q>

    See, if it’s a fine day and you wash the car, then half an hour later clouds come over and rain on it, you’re in denial if you think this wasn’t cosmic and intentional and personal.

    (Of course, now that I’ve noted that, I’ve jinxed myself)

  116. 616
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    rajkumar:

    If physical evidence is impossible, if experimental evidence is impossible, if it cannot be measured, weighed, observed, or if no evidence can be found anywhere of this purported universal intelligence you claim is obvious, then it does not exist. Which means that it belongs not in a laboratory but in a session of circular masturbatory philosophy.

  117. 617
    Amphiox

    What you are saying is, because it is hard to explain and boggles the mind, therefore we should try to even go in that direction.

    No.

    But I suppose given your inability to understand the english language, it is not surprising that my point flew over your head.

    However, now that I know you are not interested in examining evidence honestly or debating in good faith, I have lost interest in explaining things to you.

    Goodbye.

  118. 618
    Amphiox

    Suppose you found yourself in a completely dark area, and cannot see where you are going. What is the optimal way to proceed?

    rajkumar seems to think that anything other than charging blindly forward, singing “Kumbaya” the whole way, is the same as standing still and not moving at all.

    rajkuma cannot seem to wrap its small imagination around the concept that the best way forward is to you proceed with caution, reaching out with your fingers, feeling the ground, and only stepping forward once you have confirmed that there actually is ground there to step on. And if you ever find yourself in a position where you reach forward, and cannot feel anything, you pause (not stop), to think, and work on a better way to explore safely.

    This is what it means to restrict ourselves to that evidence which we are capable of comprehending in our current state, and when we reach the limits of the evidence we gather, we pause to work on expanding our ability to gather evidence.

    Because while there might be a valuable prize somewhere out there in the darkness, there might also be a pit of stakes.

    And until rajkumar demonstrates that it is actually capable of comprehending this analogy, rajkumar is not worth talking to.

  119. 619
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    Intelligence Hair cannot come from no where, and it must come through some greater intelligence hair.

    All hail the hair!

  120. 620
    John Phillips, FCD

    @commondescentsee, if you get the ’1958_autobiography_F1497′ PDF off ‘The Complete works of Charles Darwin Online’ site, the sentence starts at the very bottom of page 92 and continues onto page 93. Note, it is ab~30MB download but is free.

  121. 621
    John Phillips, FCD

    @commondescentsee, direct link is;

    http://darwin-online.org.uk/pdf/1958_autobiography_F1497.pdf

  122. 622
    Menyambal

    rajkumar, it seems you are trying to get all of us to be open-minded. We ARE open to new things, but we are skeptical and careful, too.

    You, on the other hand, are so open-minded that your brain has fallen out.

  123. 623
    Catnip, Misogynist Troglodyte called Bruce

    Sorry. Threadrupt for a while…
    AC:

    Your understanding of the term demagoguery is wrong, both by modern and historical definitions and uses of this word. Your definition is not a variation or alternative understanding, it is simply wrong.

    You’ve got me there. I misremembered the definition and commented without checking. Apologies. There is still no evidence of demagoguery, as Dawkins is not attempting to appeal to emotions, fears or vanities to gain political power. Quite the reverse, he is attempting to limit the political power of the religious by appealing to people’s power of reason.

    (atheism is another religion after all – thanks to the practices of its adherents)

    On this though, you are demonstrating you understand neither atheism nor religion

    You would be well advised to spend more time trying to understand the opinions of people who differ from you rather than spraying petulant insults

    You’ve made your opinion clear. I disagree with it and your premises.

    It is rather distasteful to hear any human claiming that another deserves to be derided, especially when the target of such a comment has given his life to the service of others. Your expressed attitudes and disrespect for fellow humans of different opinions from your own make it doubtful that you have served your fellow man or woman in the ways Pell has over his entire life including the most marginalised and derided within our midst

    Have you heard of the child abuse scandal that plagues the catholic church? The cover ups and obfuscation of the church are as much his as every other in the catholic hierarchy that allowed it to occur. Do you call this service of others? You have a funny definition of service of others.
    Most marginalised within our midst? You mean like homosexuals, single mothers, and the aids epidemic in Africa, contributed to by the Catholic campaign to limit the availability of condoms? And you find my derision of Pell distasteful? I think you need a priority readjustment.

    And when you state “What is Pell an expert in – nothing” it would be disingenous not to recognise that such a man has expertise in areas that even you may assert as being valid, such as serving the needs of the marginalised, sick and underprivileged

    See above. His expertise in this area is not demonstrated.

    At the same time Pell is doing this you are on internet blog sites deriding people for their faith (that God does exist despite the inability to prove this with the scientific method) while not recognising your own valley sized blindspot that atheism is a form of faith, except in the negative, in so far as atheism is the belief in the non existence of God, a principle also unable to be demonstrated by the scientific method

    Once again you demonstrate you don’t understand Atheism:
    Quoting you:

    You would be well advised to spend more time trying to understand the opinions of people who differ from you rather than spraying petulant insults.

    Lesson: (repeated) Atheism is not a believe that there is no god. Atheism is the failure to believe in the existence of a god (or similar god like being) without any shred of evidence. How many times will you be told this before you acknowledge the difference & accept that you got it wrong?

    At the same time Pell is doing this you are on internet blog sites deriding people for…..

    As are you, I might point out.

    Having read your contributions to this blog, including the litany of insults you have dished out to several people, it seems unlikely that you have a deep understanding of science, the scientific method or it strengths and limitations. I would be fairly confident that I have greater critical thinking and scientific skills in my small toe than in your whole body despite your pointed insult iterated above.

    Dunning-kruger. Also arrogance. You claim to have more critical thinking skills than me, but you are convinced that you know what atheism is, when you keep demonstrating that you don’t.
    So I have been a bit insensitive to several of the commenters here? Only those who postulate absurd ideas, and then whine when they don’t get taken seriously. Welcome to pharyngula.

    My day to day work also involves the performance of scientific research

    You want a medal? So what? We get all sorts here.

    Perhaps if you new how imperfect and inadequate the scientific method is in so many areas then you would have less faith in it as the device by which all the questions of life will be answered.

    I don’t have any faith in the scientific method. I evaluate it against the requirements & find that as yet, there is nothing on offer that gives me more information. Certainly divining meaning from bronze age myths does not give me more information.

    The existence (or non existence) of God is a question in a similar vein, yet rather than dismissing it as a question that cannot be answered he simply answers it in the negative, essentially taking an act of faith, but in the alternative from those who believe in God.

    No, he says that there is no evidence for a god, and parsimoniously dismisses the hypothesis as not being relevant. It doesn’t affect his life & there is no reason to behave as though there is a god. That is where your understanding of the scientific method is clearly lacking.

    his is wrong, inconsistent, illogical and damages a long held dictum among practitioners of science that no question is stupid. I abhor even the thought of a scientific paradigm where there were questions that were not allowed to be asked. This kind of thinking belongs to Theocratic religious governments but I guess that is not surprising given how rapidly atheism has turned itself into a fundalmentalist religion.

    A fundamentalist religion, yes….. Like in, we have this old holy book, that we haven’t read, but is the font of all morals & knowledge. Like in, we burn believers at the stake. Like in, we fly aeroplanes into buildings. Like in, we deny human rights to others, to pacify our fanatical belief that our non-deity wants us to.

    If you are right Nerd of Redhead, who gets to decide which questions are stupid or not? Dawkins?

    You mis understand. You get to ask the stupid questions, we get to deride you for it. If it has merit, then that will become obvious when you demonstrate why it’s not stupid & we will stop deriding you for it. You haven’t yet done that. That’s how freedom works. Note that we don’t get to burn you at the stake, we don’t get to demand you repent on pain of having your children taken from you or being buggered for it.

    [/regression to yesterday]

  124. 624
    Menyambal

    Catnip, that was lovely.

  125. 625
    Kel

    Thanks for calling that simple. But life isn’t simple I guess…. Evolutionary theory, could itself be a part of some larger evolution? For example, evolution that produced life on earth, is part of some universal evolution, and the universal evolution could itself be a part of some larger evolution, and up to ad infinitude? How do we know where to draw the finish line?

    Evolutionary theory could be part of something larger, but what makes evolution work requires no intelligence whatsoever. Evolutionary algorithms can be, and have been, used for engineering solutions, where the algorithm itself abstracted from the physical process that is what enables the design solution. The point being that it’s simply unnecessary to put evolution as a product of intelligence; and that refutes your point that intelligence requires intelligence in order to have intelligence. An intelligence could be there, but it would be missing the point to try to reframe the problem in order to rescue intelligence. It’s quite simply unnecessary

  126. 626
    rajkumar

    Evolutionary theory could be part of something larger, but what makes evolution work requires no intelligence whatsoever.

    I think we can have some agreement here, because we are actually talking about two very different kinds of intelligences. You are, as it is obvious, talking about intelligence as it is strictly defined by us humans, with no alterations or additions allowed whatsoever. I am talking about intelligence that has a far wider meaning, — or the possibility that intelligence as we define now can have a far broader and richer meaning. The problem is, as I said before, I can’t use proper words and concepts to define what I am trying to say here, because there are no proper words and concepts available to us. Don’t say I didn’t try…

    It’s something like talking about pre-big bang conditions. We all know there was something before the big bang, but we simply cannot talk about it meaningfully, because our minds cannot imagine or comprehend something that is outside of space and time. But some still people still try…

    To answer your assertion, I think the process of evolution itself could be called intelligent, because the process can and does create intelligence. In other words, it is no accident that we have evolved as intelligent being on planet earth. Plus, we as humans, do not fully understand this process, as yet. In fact, nowhere near that. So, any such assertion that leaves no room for a possible discussion in a certain direction, has basically no meaning in science, because it appears very dogmatic, and gives the impression that you are just trying to defend your atheism.

    Ok. This time … it’s really goodbye

    Bye.

    Nerd: See you. You know what? I like reading your posts even as a lurker. I think you have great talents, but you are wasting your talents and time here…. Have you thought about becoming a professional clown????

  127. 627
    Kel

    I am talking about intelligence that has a far wider meaning, — or the possibility that intelligence as we define now can have a far broader and richer meaning.

    But you’re not actually saying anything when you say that. How can you say that it has a far richer meaning when you then say that you don’t know what it is or how to define it? It’s just pointless posturing to say that counts as intelligence until you can actually substantiate it. If you don’t understand algorithms, if you don’t understand bottom-up design and the implications this has, then what are you doing chastising others for being dogmatic? Your ignorance isn’t a desirable quality…

    I think the process of evolution itself could be called intelligent, because the process can and does create intelligence.

    But then if that is all you mean by intelligence, then you’re not really saying anything at all by labelling something intelligent. And if you’re going to use intelligent that way, you lose all capacity to complain about atheists for not recognising intelligence – because obviously they recognise the design powers of algorithmic processes, the only difference is that you call it intelligent. There’s no substantial disagreement, only what label you impose onto it.

    So, any such assertion that leaves no room for a possible discussion in a certain direction, has basically no meaning in science, because it appears very dogmatic, and gives the impression that you are just trying to defend your atheism.

    Again, you’re the one making this about my atheism. I’ve talked about design external to any question about God’s existence. I’ve explained what I mean by intelligence, I gave different accounts of different possible processes, and I even gave a plausible (if not speculative) account for intelligence being behind the laws of physics at they are. Yet instead of taking my points seriously, you have and again and again tried to make it about my atheism. You don’t argue by going after someone’s psychology, it’s an act of intellectual cowardice. You had the chance to engage the arguments as I put them forward, instead you’ve time and time again tried to label me dogmatic.

    Ok. This time … it’s really goodbye

    I hope so, it’s been a waste of time dealing with such an intellectually dishonest ignoramus. You couldn’t even read a single paper on the very matter which you pronounced couldn’t possibly happen. Next time, if you want to talk matters it really shouldn’t be too much to ask that you show a bit of understanding before you wander into condemn people for being too dogmatic on the topic… Get an education!

  128. 628
    commondescentsee

    @John Phillips, FCD Thank you very much for the link to Darwin’s full autobiography. The paragraphs that follow the “theist” comment put it in context. As Darwin says with age his “theist” conclusion was “gradually and with many fluctuations” weakened. Additionally he goes on to say “I cannot pretend to the least light on such abstruse problems (namely God) The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic.” This gets across his more terminal conclusions about god and faith and such. A true scientists wanting evidence in all cases and having to settle with no answer where there is no evidence. Again thanks for the clarification :)

  129. 629
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Nerd: See you. You know what? I like reading your posts even as a lurker. I think you have great talents, but you are wasting your talents and time here…. Have you thought about becoming a professional clown????

    “That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” Christopher Hitchens. Your whole bullshit exercise and OPINIONS can and is dismissed for what it is, mental wanking, going nowhere, but making you feel good. Try evidence, it makes science increase the knowledge of humankind, whereas mental wanking does nothing except take up time better spent elsewhere…

  130. 630
    Catnip, Misogynist Troglodyte called Bruce

    Wanking is a waste of fucking time? ;-)

  131. 631
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Wanking is a waste of fucking time? ;-)

    A hit, a palpable hit.

    Nice #623 BTW.

  132. 632
    Grumps

    . You are, as it is obvious, talking about intelligence as it is strictly defined by us humans, with no alterations or additions allowed whatsoever. I am talking about intelligence that has a far wider meaning, — or the possibility that intelligence as we define now can have a far broader and richer meaning

    wank

    I can’t use proper words and concepts to define what I am trying to say here, because there are no proper words and concepts available to us.

    wank

    because our minds cannot imagine or comprehend something that is outside of space and time. But some still people still try…

    wank… oh yes, right there!..

    Ok. This time … it’s really goodbye

    Wank.. coming..Yeah!!

    .. thanks.

  133. 633
    Louis

    Wank.. coming..Yeah!!

    New keyboard for Grumps! STAT!

    And also a moist towellette and some Lucozade.

    Louis

  134. 634
    concernedjoe

    I am about to engage in a “bare knuckle” – i.e., mano-a-mano – fight with a full grown wild hungry angry male tiger. But first I seriously ask you all this all important question: “what the fuck should I wear to the opera tonight?”

    The funny thing when it comes to questions is context counts; so does coherency of subjects, and of question form and fit. And so does definition of terms. And so does scope. An etc. I guess is appropriate.

    But of course .. there are no stupid questions! Let me move on.

    If everything is chemistry and physics (which believe it is) and freewill for instance is an illusion (again I lean toward agreement) then could intelligence be an illusion.

    OK OK – I know I have to get to the point. Let me try to make it it by way of a question.

    Since it is all just chemistry and physics – and freewill (decision-making just stimulus-reaction per action pathways programmed/constructed) – then what is the difference between HOW the universe acts and how our brain acts? I mean philosophically (given the underlying physical principle) – not differences mechanically.

    Are we all (us and every other thing, proton, particle..) just along for the ride essentially? If so, are we all “intelligent”* basically?

    * at a fundamental level what is “The ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills”?

    Hint as to my thinking: this is not a discussion as to matter of degree. And knowledge is a bit and pathway (program) set up by a stimulus. And ability is just following the program.

    I ain’t a woo-meister. Just thinking – or reacting I should say ;-).

  135. 635
    John Morales

    [OT]

    concernedjoe ,

    If everything is chemistry and physics (which believe it is) and freewill for instance is an illusion (again I lean toward agreement) then could intelligence be an illusion.

    Read Blindsight by Peter Watts for an exploration of this concept.

  136. 636
    Grumps

    @Louis
    phew, mopping my brow (or whatever you call it) here.
    Keyboard’s OK thanks. (I’ve got protection).
    Also good with Towelettes (moist or otherwise). But yeah, send me some Lucozade.

  137. 637
    Catnip, Misogynist Troglodyte called Bruce

    Thanks, Menyambal & Nerd :-)

  138. 638
    Louis

    Grumps,

    Waxed keyboard eh?

    {Strokes beard}

    Very sensible. Verrrrrrry sensible.

    {Nods sagely}

    USB Lucozade on its way to you now.

    Louis

  139. 639
    Kel

    It’s easy to disprove atheists by calling the universe God. “What, you atheists disbelieve in the universe? Then what is it you’re in now? Checkmate!” Yes, if you talk about intelligence in a sense that’s indistinguishable from what atheists talk about natural processes, you can get atheists logically without saying anything beyond what atheists are saying. It’s foolproof I tells ya!

  140. 640
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    It’s foolproof I tells ya!

    Yep, and how many times have we seen the same stuff this last year?

    Good job trying to bring Raj out. Too bad he couldn’t see you were really trying to help him, instead of just getting him off his inane script.

  141. 641
    Rey Fox

    Wanking is a waste of fucking time? ;-)

    Only if fucking time is assumed to exist.

  142. 642
    Amphiox

    (atheism is another religion after all – thanks to the practices of its adherents)

    Yet another example of an erroneous conflation of atheism with secular humanism. Secular humanism could, just barely, be considered to have quasi-religious properties, and many atheists are also secular humanists.

    But not all atheists are secular humanists, and not all secular humanists are atheists.

  143. 643
    concernedjoe

    John #635 thanks for the pointer..

    Yup – the old Chinese Room.

    I am not a philosopher – shucks probably not a thinker anymore – but I cannot resist my 2 cents.

    To me arguments for “mind” as separate from program are arguments from incompleteness to justify a form of dualism.

    Let’s say I can carry on a conversation convincingly in a foreign language that is really incomprehensible to me. To me all that means is that I am missing the program and information that would allow comprehension.

    I for instance may lack this program (reaction pathway and decision criteria) simply because my learning meta-structure was deprived of the stimuli necessary to complete such constructs. However nothing says – assuming adequate learning meta-structure – that given more stimuli (information and signals) that I could not began to comprehend what is going on and use that info to my advantage (hey a plug for an evolutionary concept).

    And nothing says the same scenario for a computer.

    The logical model is the same – the technology implementation may be different. Re: the latter – a big so what! It is the logical model we measure to. Understanding can be measured – the success score is what counts.

    As to the Universe being intelligent – my statements previously were simply to say we are the stuff of the Universe and the Universe includes us. If I take the reverse-engineering to an extreme – indeed a small speck of the Universe evolved into sapient matter and energy. The evidence is us. But it is all just chemistry and physics at work.

    I know I know – I am out of my league!

    Peace out .. and thanks to all who contributed to game!

  144. 644
    concernedjoe

    And nothing says the same scenario for a computer [is impossible to the nth degree forever].

  145. 645
    Kel

    To me arguments for “mind” as separate from program are arguments from incompleteness to justify a form of dualism.

    My understanding of the CHinese Room thought experiment is that there’s more to mind that merely symbol manipulation. Searle is not a dualist, nor does he try to advocate dualism, but he thinks that mind is something more than computation.

    The thought experiment seems fairly sound, and we have some good empirical support for it with programs like Watson. It, at least to me, is just saying while our brains perform computations, that computations don’t represent the totality of brain activity.

  146. 646
    concernedjoe

    Kel appreciate your more learned insights.

    I have a problem but perhaps just definitional.

    What is the scope of “computational”

    Computers and of course humans do more than “2+2=4″. They are stochastic processors (humans are build and programmed at their lowest architecture that way – obviously computers have to be manufactured that way and not all are).

    I think of it as branching and bounding – when it is not under “automatic response” (ouch that’s hot) it gives illusion of deciding and of freewill.

    If this is other than computation – well then I get “while our brains perform computations, that computations don’t represent the totality of brain activity.”

    However to me it is all stimulus, biasing, reaction. Nothing in my mind or experience says that technology will never get to that in computers. And thus – that it is all “computation” (as I define with the inclusion).

    Again I could be missing terms definitionally or be missing a broader point. Just pointing out my humble view/stumbling block.

  147. 647
    Kel

    Kel appreciate your more learned insights.

    tbh, I don’t think that I’m more learned than anyone else here on the matter.

    I think of it as branching and bounding – when it is not under “automatic response” (ouch that’s hot) it gives illusion of deciding and of freewill.

    As an aside, what’s the difference between the brain actually having free will and the illusion of it? One bridge in the brain is the conscious / unconscious divide, and in that I can see this being a problem of the appearance of conscious decisions stemming from unconscious activity. But conscious deliberation can and does happen too. Is there any way of talking about illusion meaningfully without effectively retreating to a form of epiphenomenalism?

    However to me it is all stimulus, biasing, reaction. Nothing in my mind or experience says that technology will never get to that in computers. And thus – that it is all “computation” (as I define with the inclusion).

    One of the big things that I seem to read from philosophers of mind is that this approach to language (Searle certainly thinks so) excludes a fundamental part of mind – the phenomenal experience. Even in this situation now, that deliberate feeling of which words to type and which keys to press while seeing them appear on the screen isn’t really reducible to computational explanation. It may be, or it may be something akin to computation (David Deutsch, for example, talks of consciousness as a virtual machine), but the Chinese room thought experiment does seem to leave out a key insight into how it is our minds work. At the very least, it gives us a good insight into how intelligence can manifest in other ways. The way a grand master plays chess is vastly different to how an IBM supercomputer plays chess, though these days grand masters can no longer compete with supercomputers.

    Again I could be missing terms definitionally or be missing a broader point. Just pointing out my humble view/stumbling block.

    This is a much more interesting conversation than what was going on before.

    My personal stumbling block, and I’m not alone in this from my cursory glance at the literature, is how we can get from computation to phenomenology – or even how there’s any consciousness at all. I’d buy David Chalmer’s argument about the hard problem of consciousness if his philosophical zombies argument wasn’t so bad. To me, it seems obvious that conscious experience plays an integral role in cognition, and I have no idea how to match that with the scientifically-established physicality of mind. I like Thomas Nagel’s point that where we are now is like the Greeks 2000 years ago saying “matter is energy”. “Mind is brain”, but just what that means isn’t exactly clear in the way that we know matter is energy.

  148. 648
    concernedjoe

    Kel thanks for taking the time.

    “.. what’s the difference between the brain actually having free will and the illusion of it?”

    It depends on your objective.

    First it is an effective illusion. So things go perfectly well (even if the brain fails to make right decisions specifically) to operate on the premises that

    (1) people excluding aberrations and/or coercion can and mostly do make their own decisions [they can be found guilty or praiseworthy],

    (2) people are malleable again excluding aberrations and/or coercion can and do learn/train and change/develop new behaviors and insights

    (3) people during the process of decision making take in INTERNAL as well as external stimuli (info, sensations). They have a level of architecture that is programmed to process feed into the decision processes learning and experiences

    (4) people need this freewill/in control framework to operate day to day – e.g., it would be counterproductive to instill automaton-ism – i.e., drift toward no guilt/no control thought patterns.

    However if you are after the objective of “how” (such in the psychological/neurological arts/sciences) then it is important to recognize that it is an illusion. That it all is just chemistry, physics, and programming.

    And if you are after the quest for a “better society” it is important to recognize given the above that being guilty is not the same as being responsible and that people punishment makes little sense unless it is designed to effect change effectively. In other words, recognizing that it is an illusion helps us actually be more effective because it dissipates some of the more primitive (less effective and useful) triggers and responses.

    Our brains are computers. It is all chemistry, physics, programming, and information.

    Yes as you said .. ‘“Mind is brain”, but just what that means isn’t exactly clear’. We do not understand the workings perfectly.

    And I’d add the implementation technology is different between a brain and an everyday computer.

    IMHO at a logical model level it all boils down to the same thing.

  149. 649
    consciousness razor

    Is there any way of talking about illusion meaningfully without effectively retreating to a form of epiphenomenalism?

    Well, yes. I don’t understand why you think there’d be any need to link the two. One can obviously say that we really do have conscious experiences and intentions, which aren’t epiphenomenal because they’re not causally inert; and that those occur because of previous events. In other words, things cause our wills and those cause other things. Causes are the input (no free will) and the output (not an epiphenomenon).

    Also, I think it’s probably more accurate to say that believing in free will is more like a misunderstanding or a confusion, rather than an illusion, since being an illusion implies that it correspond to an actual experience. Sam Harris recently did a talk on free will, and at one point he addressed just that, trying to describe how we don’t even feel like we have free will. That may sound arrogant or presumptuous, to say that others aren’t feeling what they claim to feel, but I think it’s plausible that some people merely believe they have that experience because they haven’t thought about it the right way. It takes some fairly careful metacognition about complex ideas to understand, and many simply fail to do that. They just report incredulity or maybe other aspects of experience which don’t amount to the same thing.

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