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January 31, 2009

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Quite a nice takedown, but of course I have to quibble about the Quantum Mechanics. You said that the need for a conscious observer is unfalsifiable, and while this may be true if we extend this to the need to have a conscious observer somewhere in the future to puzzle things out, the more common interpretation can actually be falsified rather simply. In fact, it has been falsified, almost from the beginning of such experiments. It simply is the equipment which counts as the observer and causes collapse, not any human observing (otherwise the nature of experiments would change every time the human blinked, along with other easily-noticeable absurdities). Of course, this isn't to say that a human can't function as an observer, just that it doesn't necessarily have to be a human.

The Cheshire Cat keeps coming to mind. I wonder what Egnor would have to say about a smile. Not the lips and teeth, but the smile itself. Or an ocean wave. Not the rushing water or the energy producing it but the wave itself. Is materialism unable to account for these things? Do we have to invoke dualism to make room for them?

The word "mind" is as much a noun as the word "brain" and for that reason it's surprisingly easy to get confused when talking about them by expecting them both to have a similar sort of material substantiality. But brain is something that is; mind is something that happens. That seems to be what Egnor is stuck on.

I'm less than convinced that it even makes sense to speak of the idea of non-material explanations. An explanation has to invoke a model, and AFAICT materialism covers whatever we can usefully model.

I fail to see the usefulness of a dualist, non-materialist view of the mind, since we lack any non-materialistic method of interacting with the mind, unless you believe in psychic powers.

All external interaction between the mind and the outside world (which in this context includes the mind's own body) is via the physical sensations of the five senses.

What always amazes me about these arguments is that no-one seems to notice that materialism is not identical to physicalism.

See the entry for physicalism in the Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy: "Physicalism is sometimes known as materialism. Historically, materialists held that everything was matter -- where matter was conceived as "an inert, senseless substance, in which extension, figure, and motion do actually subsist" (Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge, par. 9). The reason for speaking of physicalism rather than materialism is to abstract away from this historical notion, which is usually thought of as too restrictive -- for example, forces such as gravity are physical but it is not clear that they are material in the traditional sense (Dijksterhuis 1961, Yolton 1983)"

See time and conscious experience for a physicalist, non-materialist approach.

Dualism of the Gaps means that if materialism cannot (yet) explain everything then dualism does not get to be the explanation by default.

but it's not by default, it's by observation of complex information arising suddenly; which is consistent with design, and so far, in no way consistent with any of the total of "naturalistic" mechanisms of biological variation that have been identified; which makes design at least an alternative, and so far, a better alternative ;

but it's not by default, it's by observation of complex information arising suddenly;

Suddenly? Suddenly when? How suddenly? What information suddenly arose? How are you defining "information"? Where is this taking place? What are you talking about?

which is consistent with design, and so far, in no way consistent with any of the total of "naturalistic" mechanisms of biological variation that have been identified;

Errant nonsense. Evolution does lead to increases in information, and we're well aware of this.

which makes design at least an alternative, and so far, a better alternative

No, it doesn't. Just for starters, it doesn't make "design" an alternative because that's still not actually a scientific hypothesis.

es58 :

but it's not by default, it's by observation of complex information arising suddenly; which is consistent with design…

It’s not, but regardless your argument is irrelevant, since dualism does not imply design. This post is not about the design/not design argument; it is about the materialism/dualism argument.

es58:

What is your evidence for intelligent design?

Suddenly? Suddenly when? How suddenly? What information suddenly arose? How are you defining "information"? Where is this taking place? What are you talking about?


sudden:

-) eyes in the cambrian,
-) numerous occurrences in life's history
referred to explosions
(see koonin)
-) full blown appearance of dna/ribosome relationship from ???,
-) single celled life to multicelled life
-) appearance of numerous phyla
-) life from no life
-) big bang to universe that can support life
-) nothing(?) to big bang

info theory has definitions of information; dna is code - is that not information?
(is no code information?)
it from bit

point is, there are reasons to consider it;
g of gaps is an argument from ignorance; I have no idea so ascribe to god

here, there are things that point to there being intent; I'm not saying it's a theory or hypothesis, but an inference; it was the default inference; Darwin was responding to it; in some narrow areas his descriptions are very accurate, but the attempt to generalize them to all life, which at the time of his writing appeared strong, has weakened considerably as new details have been discovered, making them far less compelling, which leads to reversion to the original, default inference

by the way, agree that what I've said here doesn't necessarily affect the dualism discussion; was responding to response of Egnor's calling g of the gaps "rhetorical"

if you want to delete the posts on that basis, it's up to moderator;

es58;

What is your evidence for intelligent design?

The Cambrian explosion refers to a period of something like 70 to 80 million years in length, by what definition is that 'sudden'?

here, there are things that point to there being intent;
I'm not seeing it.
Darwin was responding to it; in some narrow areas his descriptions are very accurate, but the attempt to generalize them to all life, which at the time of his writing appeared strong, has weakened considerably as new details have been discovered, making them far less compelling, which leads to reversion to the original, default inference...
Who gives a damn about Darwin? We have modern synthesis, now. It covers all those details nicely without supernatural manipulation from "intent" based solely on the fallacy of argument from ignorance.

es58, you haven't given any reason why any of those things you've listed require "design" to explain them, or how evolution (or abiogenesis, or cosmology, since you're randomly grabbing whatever you can, no matter how unrelated to evolution) suffer from an inability to explain them.

No, you don't get to say "We're not sure yet, therefore god." As you said, it's an argument from ignorance--it's a logical fallacy, not a scientific hypothesis.

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