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Comments by Artful_Dodger

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Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 7597 by Artful_Dodger

Yes Richard. You adapted to your surroundings, but there was purpose in your evolution, and a mind behind it!

Wed, 11 Jun 2008 12:12:00 UTC | #182113

Go to: Is Science Killing the Soul?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by Artful_Dodger

MPhil certainly did not deal with it. All he did was take a very long time to say that substance dualism is obsolete. This, in fact, turns out to be very far from being the case.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 07:38:00 UTC | #179120

Go to: Is Science Killing the Soul?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 31 by Artful_Dodger

The mind, like the Apollo spacecraft, IS DESIGNED to solve many engineering problems, and thus is packed with high-tech systems, each contrived to overcome its own obstacles


Is this maybe a slip of the tongue on Dawkins' part? Did he not mean to say "designoid"? But then Pinker goes on to use the term designed in the same way. If it swims like a duck, wattles like a duck, quacks like a duck maybe there is just the ghost of chance that it is a duck!

The questioner who referred to the television analogy was onto something, and neither Dawkins noir Pinker addressed the point. The same could be said about the message encoded in the signs that we call "language", or an argument "materialised" in the pixels or in the ink of a text. The message/argument and the materialisation of it are not consubstantial with each other. I have raised this issue again and again on this site and no one has produced a reasonable response to it. Pinker is trying to have his cake and eat it. He is very reluctant to dispense with the "wonder" of the questioning consciousness and so he retains it, but provides no basis upon which it can be retained.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 06:49:00 UTC | #179079

Go to: Richard Dawkins lecture at ASU's Tempe Campus

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 72 by Artful_Dodger

Dawkins is quickly losing his grip on argument and becoming a showman. His capacity for over-simplification of his adveraries' arguments, even the very sophisticated arguments of some scientists who have engaged him recently, beggars belief. Does he not listen to what these people are saying. "Intelligent design" is not only about irreducible complexity. It is about positing the existence of God on the basis, among other things, of the "non physical" rationality that enables us to argue anything in the first place.

Someone has generously suggested that there are "new things" in this talk. What are they? There is absolutely nothing that is new here: his simplistic dismissal of Intelligent Design, his "no such thing as a Catholic child, a Protestant child". His "video-comedian" is clearly a man after Dawkins' own heart, but it has been on this sight before. Very scientific by the way, isn't it? Who would bother to ""send in a letter" in response to that drivel?

Fri, 30 May 2008 10:00:00 UTC | #177043

Go to: The Dissent Of Darwin - The World Of Richard Dawkins

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 44 by Artful_Dodger

Thank you for that Corylus. I will read the book and get back to you.

Thu, 15 May 2008 11:59:00 UTC | #171478

Go to: The Dissent Of Darwin - The World Of Richard Dawkins

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 34 by Artful_Dodger

So is it your assertion that universal physical laws would not exist if there was no'one around to perceive them?


On the contrary. My point (which you now seem to accept) is that universal physical laws WERE in place before anyone was around to observe them, and would therefore exist even if they could not be perceived by anyone. The law of gravity (to name but one) certainly existed before any human being was around to record it or even feel it. There are many laws which are in force as we speak but which have not been identified, and maybe never will.

Naturally a "sentence" being formulated by a conscious agent will register its presence somehow or other on the brain. But the sentence does not reside in the brain. No amount of neurosurgery could extract sentences or memories or thoughts from the subject. We may be able to detect the signals, but not find the thoughts themselves.

Thu, 15 May 2008 06:44:00 UTC | #171380

Go to: The Dissent Of Darwin - The World Of Richard Dawkins

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by Artful_Dodger

human expressions of the results of universal physical laws


So you agree that universal physical laws exist BEFORE they are apparent to anyone's senses. That is a very non-empirical claim, is it not?

Thu, 15 May 2008 06:24:00 UTC | #171368

Go to: The Dissent Of Darwin - The World Of Richard Dawkins

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 29 by Artful_Dodger

Black wolf, literature DOES have an existence which is independent of printed works. If every single copy of Don Quixote were to vanish from the face of the earth, the story of Don Quixote would remain intact. A great deal of poetry existed in "community" before and sometimes without ever making an appearance on any printed page. Every sentence a writer pens exists in his or her mind before they pen it. Every thought, every word, every number exists quite apart from its physical materialisation. I should have thought that was obvious, even if not directly relevant to the issue under discussion here. But prime numbers are actually among the clearest proofs of the pre-empirical non-material reality of certain truths. And even die-hard materialists like Dawkins find the appeal of the non-material irrestistible, as is evidenced in this article.

Thu, 15 May 2008 05:58:00 UTC | #171354

Go to: The Dissent Of Darwin - The World Of Richard Dawkins

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by Artful_Dodger

Quetzalcoatl, you are missing the obvious. If nature is all there is how can we rise above it? What do we rise into? Can't you see that that is why I'm saying that Dawkins is dualistic? You and he are explicitly acknowledging the existence of a sphere which is "above" nature.

Thu, 15 May 2008 05:24:00 UTC | #171337

Go to: The Dissent Of Darwin - The World Of Richard Dawkins

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 22 by Artful_Dodger

But since we humans have the attributes I mentioned above, we are able to overrule nature


Rather like someone trying to pull themselves up by their own proverbial bootstraps.

Thu, 15 May 2008 04:53:00 UTC | #171324

Go to: The Dissent Of Darwin - The World Of Richard Dawkins

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by Artful_Dodger

Quetzalcoatl, I'm sorry but you need to read Dawkins' words more carefully. He says on the one hand that "nature is pitifully indifferent". Is everything included in his definition of "nature"? If so, then there can be nothing IN nature that he can possibly invoke do give us either the inclination to "overreach" our selfish genes or the wherewithal. If his definition of "nature" does not encompass everything, then we are appealling to some quality or property that transcends nature, which is clearly dualistic and even mystical. It is mystical and mystifying because it appeals to an unexplained, unexamined "upper storey" which is exempted from the pitilessness and indifference that define nature. When he says that human being are unique, in what sense does he mean this? Well he says so quite explicitly. We are unique in the sense of having more highly evolved brains. But on what grounds does this allow us to no longer be dictated to by our genes, which are our "natural" legacy. Are we thus moving into a territory where "nature red in tooth and claw" no longer prevails. What is that territory? Where is it, if it is not part of the natural realm, which is pitiless and indifferent?

Thu, 15 May 2008 04:29:00 UTC | #171320

Go to: The Dissent Of Darwin - The World Of Richard Dawkins

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by Artful_Dodger

However, you go further when you call evolution evil. I would simply say nature is pitilessly indifferent to human concerns and should be ignored when we try to work out our moral and ethical systems. We should instead say, We're on our own. We are unique in the animal kingdom in having brains big enough not to follow the dictates of the selfish genes. And we are in the unique position of being able to use our brains to work out together the kind of society in which we want to live. But the one thing we must definitely not do is what Julian Huxley did, which is try to see evolution as some kind of an object lesson


That settles it. He's a dualist!

Wed, 14 May 2008 22:52:00 UTC | #171262

Go to: Evolution: What is 'Natural'?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 245 by Artful_Dodger

ThoughtsonCommonToad, why is it such a hard decision? Why is it hard to decide to do the right thing? But yes, it is hard NOT to decide in favour of self-interest, especially when the surrounding culture is making yus believe that by so doing we are actually doing the right thing.

Mon, 12 May 2008 12:17:00 UTC | #169922

Go to: Evolution: What is 'Natural'?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 241 by Artful_Dodger

By the way, Christian parents have the right to teach their kids that the institution of marriage is intended by God to be heterosexual. That will form part of what they pass on to their kids, tho it will not be the only part. Will parents also be getting into trouble for teaching their kids about the sanctity and intrinsic dignity of all human life from conception? It is ironic that many of the people who shout loudest about the supposed psychological torture of parents transmitting their Christian beliefs to their kids are quite prepared to accept with complete equanimity the wanton slaughter of millions of unborn children, even right up to birth, for no other reason than that the woman's right not to have the child outweighs the child's right to be born.

Mon, 12 May 2008 12:01:00 UTC | #169909

Go to: Evolution: What is 'Natural'?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 239 by Artful_Dodger

MPhil, I know nothing of the Jesus Camp. I have seen something of the Baby Bible Bashers, and what I have seen of it makes me cringe. But I don't know anything about how they came to be doing that. I don't know if they were manipulated and indoctrinated into doing it. I can't say whether any "child abuse" was involved.

Quine what do you mean "through adherence to old myths". If you are talking about belief in historic Christianity then any of the kind of stuff you are talking about is out of synch with how Jesus treated people. The cults and sects you mention, with people threatened and tortured to keep them in the cult, and to keep them in line, are deviations and distortions. Jim Jones, for example, in a documentary I saw, at one point threw the Bible down and said "you don't need this any more. I am the word of the prophet". It was not long after that that the tragic collective suicide ensued.

Mon, 12 May 2008 11:46:00 UTC | #169902

Go to: Evolution: What is 'Natural'?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 227 by Artful_Dodger

MPhil, I reckoned that was what you were referring to. I would like to read your paper. I am a Christian parent, and know a lot of other Christian parents. Christian parents in my experience do not subject their kids to threats of eternal damnation unless they behave in a particular way. That indeed would be psychological abuse and manipulation. But do you really believe that parents who sincerely transmit their faith in God to their kids, striving to embody and exemplify God's love and goodness towards them and towards other people (friends, guests in their home etc.) are guilty of indoctrination and mental torture? Naturally we hope that our children will embrace our beliefs. But (in my experience) there is not and cannot be any kind of manipulation or emotional pressure. I'm not denying that it happens in some cases, but it contradicts the whole thrust of Scripture, which is respectful of the will of every human being to orient his or her life towards God or away from Him. When we choose the latter we are choosing our own destiny. God does not force a relationship with Him on anyone, either in this life or beyond.

Mon, 12 May 2008 10:36:00 UTC | #169868

Go to: Evolution: What is 'Natural'?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 224 by Artful_Dodger

Today, when some believer tries to pass off substance dualism, they are stung by philosophical antibodies in a gang-up. I can't help but be pleased.


Quine I realise that substance dualism is out of favour with materialist philosophers, and, given the paradigm shift since Hume in particular, enjoys little credibilty in philosophy departments as a whole. But I think you will find that it will not go away so easily. There have been some robust defences of it recently. The problem with it is, of course, that it is incompatible with a materialistic conception of the human being, which is the real reason why most academics, committed a priori to naturalism as they are, will not even engage with it. CS Lewis mounted a stringent defence of it in the 40s, but it has gained in sophistication and in explanatory power since then.

Mon, 12 May 2008 10:24:00 UTC | #169862

Go to: Evolution: What is 'Natural'?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 222 by Artful_Dodger

MPhil, maybe you could enlighten us as to which religious practices you consider to be incompatible with the first principle of justice?

Mon, 12 May 2008 09:58:00 UTC | #169850

Go to: Evolution: What is 'Natural'?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 184 by Artful_Dodger

many numerous philosophers.

Tautology.


Sorry, just a typo. I was going to write many, then changed it but didn't get rid of the "many"

By the way, typos seem to me to put paid to the brain/mind identification. A thought is not one and the same thing as the physical / material represetation of it. Hence, when we make spelling mistakes or typos the "word" or "thought" that we intended may be different from its actual, black and white (or whatever) representation of it. The message is independent of the medium. Do you see my point?

Mon, 12 May 2008 07:03:00 UTC | #169762

Go to: Evolution: What is 'Natural'?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 176 by Artful_Dodger

Riandouglas, I don't htink they have ruined my argument - far from it. Substance dualism is far from having been written off. It is the position held by many numerous philosophers. OK, from a monistic, physicalist point of view it is not tenable. But that is hardly surprising, is it?

Mon, 12 May 2008 06:49:00 UTC | #169752

Go to: Evolution: What is 'Natural'?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 170 by Artful_Dodger

Artful, how does something non-physical/immaterial [sic] interact with the physical/material? Wouldn't such interaction be subject to scientific inquiry? Why has no such interaction been observed?


This is a very good question riandouglas. This is one of the areas that I feel I need to explore a bit more. There are different views within the Christian community. Suffice it to say that yes, the interaction will be open to scientific enquiry. Neuroimaging can tell neuroscientists what is going on in a person's brain when they are engaged in any "soulish" activity: listening to music, enjoying a conversation, reasoning, making a moral choice, having a spritual experience and so forth. Our body and the "self" that inhabits it are fully and completely integrated. But that does not mean that what the person is experiencing is nothing but the pattern of electical discharges that show up on the neuroimage. The neurological changes that occur are open to scientific scrutiny, but not the "meaning" of the experience in the consciousness of the individual. If our ideas and reasonings were fully explicable in terms of these physiological phenomena, then Lewis' point was precisely that the content of our beliefs would be invalidated.

Mon, 12 May 2008 06:33:00 UTC | #169743

Go to: Evolution: What is 'Natural'?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 161 by Artful_Dodger

Irate, naturally there is physical evidence only for physical phenomena. If you require of texts arguing in favour of dualism that they produce physical evidence for non-physical properties then, needless to say, you will not find a shred of such evidence, and if you did it would refute the thesis that it is put forward as supporting. We are talking about inference to the best explanation. And, from that point of view, the position defended by CS Lewis, as explained by Reppert, is perfectly reasonable.

1. No belief is justified if it can be fully explained as the result of nonrational causes.

2. If naturalism is true then all beliefs can be fully explained in terms of nonrational causes.

3. Therefore, if naturalism is true no belief is rationally inferred.

4. If any thesis entails the conclusion that no belief is rationally inferred, thn it should be rejected and its denial accepted.

5. Therefore materialism should be rejected and its denial accepted.

Mon, 12 May 2008 06:02:00 UTC | #169725

Go to: Evolution: What is 'Natural'?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 156 by Artful_Dodger

OK I'll take some time out and I'll read Churchland, Mackie and Dennett. In the meantime let me recommend this book to you:

"CS Lewis's Dangerous Idea" by Victor Reppert

Mon, 12 May 2008 05:31:00 UTC | #169708

Go to: Evolution: What is 'Natural'?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 140 by Artful_Dodger

As I said before, it is you lot who are side-stepping my questions. No one has come up with anything like a credible account of how reason and morality can be shown to have a natualistic origin. Dawkins himself tacitly admits as much when he urges us to "transcend" the nature that gave rise to us - to step outside the supposedly all-encompassing natural selection paradigm in order that "nature red in tooth and claw" does not have the last world. But if nature is all there is what "on earth" do we escape into? I have read a number of physicalist accounts of mind and morality and none of them addresses this cardinal difficulty in anything like a satisfactory manner. If you have an answer, don't just throw the names of naturalist philosophers at me. Show me where and explain to me how they have resolved this issue.

Mon, 12 May 2008 03:53:00 UTC | #169664

Go to: Evolution: What is 'Natural'?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 135 by Artful_Dodger

Shh, we don't want to spring the full surprise all at once. A little bit at a time :-)


Thank you for your consideration riandouglas. "Mankind cannot bear too much reality".

Mon, 12 May 2008 03:17:00 UTC | #169656

Go to: Evolution: What is 'Natural'?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 115 by Artful_Dodger

Not only are you presupposing a god (which makes your argument circular), but a particular god.


Not any more than your presupposing the non-existence of God makes your argument circular.

Mon, 12 May 2008 00:16:00 UTC | #169595

Go to: Evolution: What is 'Natural'?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 105 by Artful_Dodger

Given that it is, then the whole story of Jesus is an irrelevance since there was no literal fall only a metaphorical one.


Epeeist, there is nothing metaphorical about the fall, except (possibly) the images, the word pictures, that were used to describe it. The tree and the fruit and the talking serpent may not be literal, but the all too real narratives that they are intended to illustrate: of defiance against God, of human beings setting themselves up as gods, of human self-deification leading to human destruction (with implications for the created order of which humans (men and women equally) had been made the custodians, are absolutely literal. The evidence of them lies all aroound us everywhere we look. This makes the story of Jesus not only relevant but indispensible.

Sun, 11 May 2008 23:49:00 UTC | #169581

Go to: Evolution: What is 'Natural'?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 103 by Artful_Dodger

Can you present any argument or evidence for the existence of this god of yours? Before I entertain the existence of your god as a probability, you'll have to show that to be the case.


Riandouglas, there are loads of arguments that I can refer you to. The one that is relevant to this thread is the very existence of the faculty of reason, which is not reducible to natural causes. Science since Aristotle has always been driven the observation of rationality at the heart of the universe. Along with many scientists and philosophers I contend that this rationality points to an extra-, non-material origin of the universe. As Paul Davies (not a Christian of course) said: "The impression of design is overwhelming". Scientists (Kepler, Newton et al) looked for and found scientific laws because they believed in a Law-giver.

Sun, 11 May 2008 23:40:00 UTC | #169577

Go to: Evolution: What is 'Natural'?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 96 by Artful_Dodger

Epeeist, read the rest of my post. Of course there is a range of literary devices in any text. Texts which make historical or propositional claims are, to that extent, meant to be taken literally, and may contain a great deal of historical fact. But while you discount the possibility of God existing let alone speaking there is hardly much point in my arguing that he has spoken through one text rather than another. Let me know when you change your mind about the former and we can start discussing the latter.

Sun, 11 May 2008 23:14:00 UTC | #169566

Go to: Evolution: What is 'Natural'?

Artful_Dodger's Avatar Jump to comment 92 by Artful_Dodger

Rather than trying to convert the convinced, we should focus our efforts on the younger minds that have not yet been polluted with the sickness of [religion]


Isn't that what the Jesuits used to say? Sounds like a very "rational" project! The premise of course is that atheism is the default "mechanism". Gradgrind would be proud of you. "Let's set up schools where children will be exposed to facts, pure and simple. We will have to careful of the reading material we admit onto the shelves! Encyclopedias and text-books with spadefuls of information. Fiction which depicts kids acceding to glory in sport and setting an example of achievement and supremacy. But at all costs we must keep them from reading the kind of fantasy that might encourage them to feel deep down that there might be more to existence than can be accounted for by the empirical sciences. No Lord of the Rings or anything of that ilk, unless it be heavily anotated by scholars who will be able to explain away any longings that such literature might awaken! We must at all costs protect their little minds (neurological machinery) from being polluted!"

Sun, 11 May 2008 22:53:00 UTC | #169557