Am I doing the right thing?

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homegrown
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by homegrown »

Off the cuff I argued be good or go to jail - which is an apeal to self interest, but I should have argued that yours isn't a fair question.

"...trying to turn a convict from his life of debauched criminality. Lacking the tools of persuasion available to a priest, god, heaven and the eternal afterlife, he would be reduced to appealing to what? In a world of mechanical science, where is the appeal to emotion, the man would be forced to accomplish a huge task of education, the point of which would be to prove to the other man the benefits he's consideration for others, will ultimately have, not on himself, but on the humanity of which he is a part."

You'd take away religious appeal to emotion, but allow no benefits to accrue from accepting a scientific understanding of reality. If we'd accepted science from the start, it wouldn't be the same world. Further, your question assumes criminality is a moral question, whereas criminality is largely the socially constructed product of scarcity and/or psychology.

Religious, political and economic ideologies employ fantastic justifications for gross injustice; designed by the rich to reconcile the poor to doing the greater part of the work for a lesser share of the benefits - or to go away and die quietly because they're 'no longer required.' Ideally - had humankind accepted a scientific conception of reality in common, and applied technology on merit to maximize human welfare in balance with environmental sustainability, then scarcity would have been defeated by now. Were there no scarcity - there'd be no acquisitive motive for criminality.

What remains is insanity - and here again accepting a scientific conception of reality is a powerful defence against psychosis. Any fantasy must necessarily be logically flawed, and so is countered against with reference to truth. But in this world truth is little valued - so people are allowed to construct psychotic bases of analysis that justify criminal acts. Note here - the person is still good, but good in relation to fantastic terms; like a suicide bomber who praises Allah before murdering a hundred inccoent people - would be acting rightly if his mad ideas were true. But they're not true - and nor are the religious, political and economic ideologies of contemporary societies.

The fantasy of gangsterism is much the same. It's the product of a falsely grounded system; not the consequence of the moral failings of those involved. The same motives wouldn't exist in a world without scarcity - and where people knew what was true. I wouldn't suggest therefore there would be no criminality at all, but people are essentially good - such that if it's rational for them to be good, they'll be good. Your religiously founded ideological system doesn't afford large sections of society the opportunity to balance rational self interest with an innate moral sensibility. From fantastic ideologies there's religious and ethinic discrimination - feeding into political and economic disadvantage; and people construct an identity around exclusion, and act rightly in relation to that identity. If you want the individual on society's side - then you have to include everyone, and offer something attainable and worthwhile. Un-ideally, from where we are now, just the hope of a future would be a good start.
homegrown
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by homegrown »

Immanuel Can, thanks for your comments - get back to you shortly.
James Markham
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by James Markham »

Homegrown, I get the impression that you think I'm in some way against your idea, so let me say now, as I said previously, I'm not, I think it a marvellous ideal, and if everyone was as intellectually motivated as yourself, it could work very well. But what I've also pointed out, is that people are not all alike, and the fact is that unfortunately a huge percentage of the population are not interested in the level of scientific understanding necessary to achieve the benefits you predict.

So you've also said we could leave some people to persist in their religious beliefs, and concentrate on educating those who are already predominately of a secular nature. And that by doing this, through a scientifically orientated education, we can bring humanity together, into a more considerate, empathetic union, who's goals and aspersions would become more humanistic in nature. Now I'm not saying this is impossible, and I'm certainly not suggesting it isn't a noble intention, all I'm trying to say is if we only deal with scientific absolutes, it may not have the effect you desire.

When we are dealing with ideas, things can seem plausible, but when attempting to act on them, we find that what is a simple idea, is in fact an impossible reality, and I think that is the case here. For instance, if we encourage the scientific view of evolution, above creationism, then what a lot of people would hear is that life is about the survival of the fittest, I don't think this is such a good basis for philanthropy, in fact I see it as a good mandate for self interest. Then there is the subject of an afterlife, I've always found that the meanest type of soul, is usually confidant that there is no afterlife, there by dispelling any concerns about penitence or something similar. Generally, if you can install some element of doubt, then people will want to err on the side of caution. And although they won't become a saint overnight, they will at least begin to question theirselves.

So let me ask you a question. If life is determined by the principle of survival, and that having the fittest survive is beneficial to the species, then why should people bother with the weak minded, and worse off? And also, if when we die, there is nothing more to come, then why should we care about the destruction of humanity?

I don't ask these questions for any other reason than a general interest in the answers that science can provide for them. I have found nothing satisfyingly positive about scientific orthodoxy, I'm thinking that maybe you have.

At any rate this is an interesting topic, so try and see me as devils advocate, I'm not dismissing your views, just trying to find the fruits thereof.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by Immanuel Can »

Well, at the very least you've got me interested. I want to see what he thinks about your suggestions.
James Markham
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by James Markham »

I'm hoping homegrown is simply taking care with his reply, and has not abandoned the topic.
homegrown
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by homegrown »

Immanuel Can,

1. I wish I could remember Dennett's description of evolution as a grand narrative uniting all of....geology, biology, agronomy, meteorology, archeaology, anthropology....the list went on and on, of scientific disciplines reconciled by an evolutionary paradigm. Reconciled theoretically, each part within themselves, and then with eachother - in mutual confirmation of how things came about, as apparently diverse as the structure of the brain and structure of coastlines. Yours is a pretty mean description of a theory that does so much. If that doesn't constitute proof - what could? If evolution is wrong - then reality is wrong. We are all brains in jars.
In order to identify a transitional form as you concieve of it - you'd need a whole population of some animal to be fossilized, all its ancestors, and all its forebears. It just doesn't happen. The missing link isn't missing. All forms are transitional. Vanishingly few organisms are fossilized. Almost all the dead decompose into their constituent atoms. Of the few that are fossilized, and of those - the few that are found, can hardly be expected to constitutue a complete fossil record.
Reproducability of evolutionary mutation has been shown with selective breeding. Darwin employed pigeons as an example - but managing evolutionary mutation is basically what agriculture is. The obvious advantage over nature is that agriculture is directed and observed. Nature is not directed - to breed for wool, meat, or milk, nor is it observed, but evolution still occurs. Google "moths, industrial pollution." Sometimes we catch nature at it. Beyond that there often occur what we call birth defects. Almost all random genetic mutations are likely to be detrimental - but in nature, just occasionally a mutation occurs that offers a distinct advantage in the struggle to survive and breed. This trait then becomes more common in subsequent generations - until it becomes ubiquitous to the population as a whole.
Moral evolution? No. Mine is not a moral argument - but rather is concerned with the development of knowledge within an evolutionary context. In much the same way I know more and better today than I did when I was 16, humankind knows more and better now than we did 2000 years ago. Or we should do - if we had a rightful relation to knowledge, and would accept the implications of what we know. Instead, because the Church supressed science - allowing political and economic ideologies to develop without relation to truth, the implications of what's scientifically true are ignored while science is used as a tool for ideological ends. So we're better able - but not better; more powerful - but less true.
As for I.D., I wonder if there might be some underlying motive or agenda at work here? They do seem to find a lack of evidence grounds for a very singular conclusion. Improbability and irreducible complexity are entirely speculative - and to me fall foul of the folly of skepticism, in that they object without an evidential basis to what's apparently the case. But the answer never is - and never will be 'magic beans.' It's just not how the universe works.

2. The point I was trying to make here was that if societies can be founded upon common myths, global society bound by common acceptance of scientific truth would work.

3. Francis Bacon invented science...all on his own. Surely you don't believe that. Galileo's 'Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems' (1632) - demonstrated the superiority of hypothetico deductive method over classical thought, but I wouldn't claim Galieo alone 'invented science' either. You can trace the origins of scientific thought back to Anceint Greece, and the Catholic Church had been supressing the works of Greek philosophers brought back to Europe by soldiers returning from the Crusades from around 1100 A.D. But Galielo's clash with the Catholic Church is when the supression of scientific thought - for its own sake, began. Deeply involved in European politics, the Catholic Chruch planted the seed from which the contemporary psyhosis of societies has grown - to become a threat to the whole of humankind. This psychosis is the cornerstone of my critique of contemporary society; so while you may debate the precise historical turn of events - that wouldn't change the fact that the religious, political and economic ideological architecture of contemporary societies is false to a scientific understanding of reality.
Secular is a meaningless word. It's rather like atheism, that implies theism is the norm. Any non-religious system of government is secular. It doesn't mean anything. I assume you're referring to Russian communism and German fascism - as secular propagandists and manipulators, though in what way 'best' I can't imagine? German fascism lasted less than a decade. Russian communism lasted almost a century. You disregard the fact that they're opposite extremes of the libertarian/equalitarian political spectrum - to describe them both as secularists. Today, just about every government in the world is secular, (though in fact they're all ruled by religio-ethnic elites) - and all somwhere on that spectrum between facist and communist.
What I'm suggesting is something entirely new, namely that over Liberty and/or Equality - we raise Truth as a universal political virtue. That's what I mean by government responsible to scientific truth. It's different to anything that has gone before.

4. I'm glad you agree that acting upon falsity within a causal reality has ill-effects - but do you appreciate why therefore religious, political and economic ideology necessarily dooms humankind? It's causal. Ill-effects accumulate beyond the range of the ideological misconception. The energy crisis, climate change, over-population, deforestation, overfishing, pollution and so on are all externalities of national soveriegnty and capitalist economics - threats caused, which cannot be addressed by action in course of these same ideological falsities. In order to address these threats we need a global scientific approach. Happily, I believe the opposite is also true - for acting on scientific truth there seems to be a logical progression of policies, that taken in turn would enable us to solve all these problems.

James Markham,

Thanks for your interest. Please don't take as condemnatory my determination to communicate a reasonable understanding of this idea. I thought I'd acknowledged - if only tacitly, assertions of the kind that 'a huge percentage of the poulation are not interested in the level of scientific understanding necessary...' Wasn't your previous argument about the brains tendecy to stability - as the reason I'm wasting my time. But as it seems you feel it necessary to repeat it, let me address that idea specifically. I don't think that level of scientific understanding is neccesary. While philosophers seek to dig to the root of things - if a majority are not so inquisitive, fortunately, this idea can be expressed very simply. For example: 'Government based upon knowing what's true and doing what's right.'

I have said people could persist in their religious beliefs - if governments realize the need to accept a scientific understanding of reality in common. That so, there would be no need to disabuse the populus. It would be utterly counter-productive to legislate against religion. Top-down change seems to me infinitely preferable than seeking to re-educate the masses in order to effect change in government - but ultimately, it's not my call. I'm a philosopher. I've discovered something true and important. I take every reasonable opportunity to communicate this idea. That's my job, my vocation, my calling. I do my duty. What you do, or what anyone else does...

I cannot comprehend what you say next. This is beyond bizzare. Humankind is barreling toward extinction and your concern about encouraging a scientific view of evolution, as necessary to continued existence is...it doesn't promote philanthrophy? Maybe the key to understanding this is in what you say next about the value of belief in an afterlife. I've often thought that religious belief in heaven allowed people to disreagrd the prospect of human extinction - but I've never seen it expressed quite so blatantly before. If you were able to contemplate it - you might realize what's at stake here. Think upon the fall of the most advanced and massive civilizations ever - the individual as one of many millions of people suffering as the petrol pumps and supermarkets empty, the lights go out, the cold creeps in and the violence begins. The lucky ones will be those nuked to oblivion - here one minuet, then gone. Maybe you imagine you're going to wake up then - floating on a cloud, smiling into the face of God. I do hope so - but I wouldn't bet on it. If instead you find yourself clawing at the rubble of civilization with broken and bloody fingernails, and tempted to scream 'why hast thou forsaken me?' at the sky, remember - you're not forsaken, but judged unworthy of existence by the causal dynamics of reality because you wouldn't see what's before your very eyes.

In the context I've raised survival - it's always survival of the human species as a whole. Only for animals is evolution about survival of the fittest individual. Human beings are moral creatures. It would be morally abhorrent to deny the right to life to individuals based upon an assesment of intellectual capacity. If you don't know why that's so - I can't explain it to you. Similarly, I don't know if anything happens after we die. I suspect we just cease to be. Hopefully our children mourn us and thank us for the world we left behind, for the opportunities we've given them. If you don't know why it might matter that our children: 1) exist, and 2) do not spit upon our graves - I can't explain that to you either.

What I can explain however, is that human beings are moral creatures because they evolved within a social environment. Put simply, moral behaviour was an advantage in the struggle to survive and to breed, such that an innate moral sensibility was built up and passed on from one generation to the next. It follows from the fact that human beings evolved from animal ignorance into knowledge over time that religious texts such as the Bible are expressions of that innate moral sense. The fact that the Bible expresses advice against covetousness for example, by referencing thy neighbours ass - demonstrates fairly conclusively that it's a dated and parochial expression of an innate moral sense that existed beforehand, and still exists in the psychological make-up of the human being. The mistake many people make is to think of religion as: 1) true, and 2) a well-spring or source of morality - rather than an expression of the moral sensibility innate to the human being. Thus, you argue the threat of heaven and hell really existing is necessary to make people act morally - but heaven and hell are really only metaphors for moral conscience. Further, rather than, as you suggested, religion encouraging people to question themselves, I suspect the externalization of moral conscience through religious belief is psychologically damaging - in that it allows people to do evil all week, apologize on Sunday, then do the same again all next week. In the US - for instance, it doesn't surprise me that it's Bible bashing Republicans who least want the poor to have healthcare. Why? Because religious belief allows them to dismiss the suffering of others as God's will, without hearing the voice of moral conscience from within. It's the same sort of denial you demonstrate above - careless of threats to humankind because you think you're going to Heaven. Please understand, I'm not saying this to mock you. Mental illness is not a laughing matter. :)
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Immanuel Can
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by Immanuel Can »

I
wish I could remember Dennett's description of evolution as a grand narrative uniting all of....geology, biology, agronomy, meteorology, archeaology, anthropology....the list went on and on, of scientific disciplines reconciled by an evolutionary paradigm.


1. What Dennett is rhapsodizing there is called a "metanarrative": it's a 'grand story' that feeds into a total view of the world. Its supposed elegance also completely begs the question of whether that metanarrative is true or false.

The evolutionary metanarrative is a paltry one. It reduces all existence to material causes, and completely cuts out essential properties from consideration -- properties such as mind, values, consciousness, personhood -- which it is, by nature of its assumptions, completely inept at dealing with. But don't take my word for it: read Nagel's book "Mind and Cosmos," and you'll find a brilliant atheist arguing precisely the same thing as I am. So no, it's not "mean" to point that out: it's simply the uncomfortable truth about Naturalism.

As for transitional forms, there ought to be billions of the suckers, not merely rare instances. The fossil record is actually embarrassingly bare. Not only that, but the variation among the supposedly unfixed species should be extremely wide after billions of years, and the population of the earth ought to be immensely greater than it is.
Then you make a very common but obvious logical error in regard to your comments on mutation. Reproduceability of evolutionary mutation has not been shown with pidgeons or any other animal. You're guilty of a non-sequitur there. You're thinking that the variations within the species pidgeon would amount to evidence for evolution: but they don't. Evolution is not merely mutation *within* a species, but the actual becoming of whole new species out of others. Such a thing has *never* been demonstrated. You're just wrong. The same applies to the old moth nonsense. It shows that white moths do better on white backgrounds, and black moths do better on black ones. But what it needs to show is a moth becoming a bird or a dog. Your examples don't work for what you hope they do.

There's a whole lot of really evident problems with the evolutionary theory we currently have, and any honest scientist will tell you that if evolution carries through, it will not be without solving a whole lot of additional problems. Like all theories in science, it must remain open to evidence or it becomes mere dogma.

We agree that knowledge progress is not moral progress. Fine.

Improbability and irreducible complexity you call "speculative"? Nonsense. You can see both in everyday life all the time. They have a very good evidentiary basis, actually: a child can identify irreducible complexity, and improbability is a mathematical matter. However, I see you've decide to try to engineer special difficulties in order to avoid facing them. But if you've already decided not to accept any evidence that suggests them, then there's not much to add. On the other hand, I suspect you just haven't read very deeply. I can recommend readings to fix this, if you wish.

2. It was tried in the Enlightenment. You can try again if you wish. Good luck. Try not to kill so many people this time.

3. Francis Bacon invented *the scientific method*. That's different from saying "no one knew anything until Francis Bacon," which I neither said nor implied. Still, the emergence of the scientific method in the West needs explaining. Some people think Aristotle is the father of science, because of his contributions to logic and empiricism. But he never came up with the key -- that method for sorting speculation from factuality in the natural world we call "scientific method." So he kept believing the body had humours in it, or the earth was the center of the universe, and he had no systematic way of challenging himself on that. He remained a speculator, because he couldn't discipline his observations adequately. That's what Bacon fixed.

4.
The energy crisis, climate change, over-population, deforestation, overfishing, pollution and so on are all externalities of national soveriegnty and capitalist economics - threats caused, which cannot be addressed by action in course of these same ideological falsities
That's your silliest sentence. So science has nothing to do with these? Nor does the Industrial Revolution? What "ideology" made those happen, and how did they get so free from blame for what are obviously byproducts of science and technology? As for capitalism, it's an economic strategy. It's not, per se, an ideology in the way that what you call "religions" are. You're just repeating leftist mantras, clearly not knowing that's what you're doing.

Now, don't get me wrong: I like science. it's a great way for working on certain kinds of problems. But real science is always rational and corrigible. It considers evidence, does not reach beyond what it actually knows, and when challenged, is reformable through logic and testing.

What you are practicing is not science, though: it's an ideology called "Scientism." That is, it is a rather a naive and fervent belief that anything that gets the label "scientific" is thereafter exonerated from blame for anything it does, since "science" (so conceived) is assumed to be the one totally good force leading us on to enlightenment, and "religion" or "ideology" is assumed to be universally dark and poisonous. What you're doing is just secular religion with a pseudo-scientific vocabulary. It makes grand claims, misunderstands the limits of its subject matter, and has an eschatological hopefulness that true science itself never indulges.

I suggest you can do better if you keep your view of science closer to the sorts of claims science actually makes. Otherwise, you're bound to be disappointed.
homegrown
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by homegrown »

Immanuel can, thanks again for your...lightning reply. Sorry for my snailism. I respect your intellect and will happily commit to putting the bullshit oneupmanship aside and making what sense of this we can if you're also willing to do so. I do not agree with you - or Nagel. I've done some reading and shall tell you why in my reply to your previous post. Again, thanks for your interest.
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jermaine
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by jermaine »

It follows from the fact that human beings evolved from animal ignorance into knowledge over time that religious texts such as the Bible are expressions of that innate moral sense. The fact that the Bible expresses advice against covetousness for example, by referencing thy neighbours ass - demonstrates fairly conclusively that it's a dated and parochial expression of an innate moral sense that existed beforehand, and still exists in the psychological make-up of the human being. The mistake many people make is to think of religion as: 1) true, and 2) a well-spring or source of morality - rather than an expression of the moral sensibility innate to the human being. Thus, you argue the threat of heaven and hell really existing is necessary to make people act morally - but heaven and hell are really only metaphors for moral conscience. Further, rather than, as you suggested, religion encouraging people to question themselves, I suspect the externalization of moral conscience through religious belief is psychologically damaging - in that it allows people to do evil all week, apologize on Sunday, then do the same again all next week.
I would partially agree with you on some view. However, the word religion could not be found anywhere in the bible. It was man who came with that word. Likewise, heaven and hell is not metaphors for moral conscience. I may not have proof as of now about heaven and hell for, I'm still in my body. But the Bible said it. I acknowledge the fact that human being knowledge is increasing since the existence of science from human mind became present. Ergo, the mere fact that science exist was proof that human knowledge develop. Nevertheless, science is not suppress by politics, religion and economic. It is suppress by itself. For, a scientist didn't accept things on theory until there was no proof or evidence before it was accept truth. But, most of those scientific theory failed to provide enough evidence like the theory of Charles Darwin about the existence of man.
James Markham
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by James Markham »

Homegrown, your starting to sound a bit vague as to what it is your actually proposing. So you agree that this scientific view of the world is mostly the concern of the ruling class, and you seem to believe that armed with such an understanding, they would somehow change the world into a better place, but you don't say how, or in what way things would change.

I think your a bit like a conspiracy theorist, but with the added twist, that you believe you have all the answers, and can change the world into utopia, if only someone would listen. But then when someone does listen, and asks questions, you become surly and uptight because your ideas have no real relevance, and rely instead on long diatribes and the suspending of intellect.

I asked you why people should care about humanity, when taken in a purely scientific setting, man is just an animal. You say we're special, and that our survival is somehow important, but you can't say why. Well that doesn't surprise me, because scientifically we're not special, or even significantly important to the survival of life in the universe, in fact, if you get all purely scientific we're probably more of a danger to life, any intelligent species is. The story that science tells is that life either came to the earth as bacteria millions of years ago, or formed naturally from the formation of amino acids into protein molecules, whatever the way, the suggestion is that life is natural, and undoubtedly abundant in the vast reaches of the universe. So whether we assume the universe to be infinite, or finite, you tell me the benefit of intelligent, as opposed to unintelligent life? Why does it matter? All life on earth is constructed around the behaviour of sub cellular organelles, which are common to all life, so the emphasis is simply on the survival of life, and if life survives in any form it's as good as any other, the only benefit I can see in intellect, is the ability to contemplate, which is of a purely individual nature, and not of any consequence to life in general.

There's also the fact that life, according to science, seems to flourish, and diversify after mass extinction, so any worries you have about human impact is unfounded, life will invariably bounce back, and if it doesn't develop our level of intelligence, it will only make it safer for life in general.

The main thing I get from you is a kind of narcissism, you think you've discovered some fact that'll save the world, we'll you haven't. You laughingly call yourself a philosopher, and unashamedly remain rooted in empirical science, that's not what I understand as philosophical, I moved past and into deeper levels of understanding many years ago, writing off any body of knowledge as you do is pure ignorance, and believing in your own intellectual superiority is pure arrogance.

I'm not religious, I don't believe in heaven, or gods in clouds, and I don't think I'm mad for asking questions. What I do think is mad, is any form of fundamentalism, which is what your attempting to promote. Are you a scientologist, if you are then your in good company.
homegrown
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by homegrown »

Immanuel can,

1) I don't underestimate the significance of such properties as 'mind, values, consciousness, personhood' but surely they only come into play after a certain point in the evolutionary development of humankind. It's the point described by James Shreeve as the 'creative explosion.' Before this point the artefactual record suggests humans had much the same simplistic, non-reflective, instinctual mental state as animals - whereas afterward, we find improved tools, cave painting, burying the dead, jewlery. But then it's not clear whether you accept evolution as explanation for the existence of humankind or not; less yet the emergence of consciousness. I'd concede there are debates within the evolutionary paradigm - and it's sometimes difficult for me to remember where exactly I've come to an opinion on a debateable issue - such as, for instance, punctuated equalibrium. This isn't a debate about whether evolution did or did not occur. It's a question about how exactly it happened, and a debate, the answer to which - whatever it is, would wiegh heavily on your expectation of billions of transitional forms in the fossil record. If you check I said 'all forms are transitional.' But if you question whether the evoltionary metanarrative is 'true or false' - if you think it's false, perhaps you might make clear what you think happened instead.

Perhaps you might also like to give some indication of what you think truth is. For me - truth is a variable quality - as opposed to a binary proposition. The true in 'true or false' is not appropriate when applied to theoretical propositions. Rather, the validity of a theoretical proposition is determined by the number of perceptions reconciled in terms of the idea. The evolutionary metanarrative therefore, is highly valid by virtue of reconciling such a large number of perceptions - about 'geology, biology, agronomy, meteorology, archeaology, anthropology' and so on - in the same terms. You saying this 'begs the question of whether that metanarrative is true or false' is wrong because it's an inappropriate conception of truth. Were evolutionary theory false it would be logically flawed, and unable to reconcile such a large number of perceptions of reality without running into contradiction.

This is a quote: "Evolution is not merely mutation *within* a species, but the actual becoming of whole new species out of others. Such a thing has *never* been demonstrated. You're just wrong. The same applies to the old moth nonsense. It shows that white moths do better on white backgrounds, and black moths do better on black ones. But what it needs to show is a moth becoming a bird or a dog. Your examples don't work for what you hope they do."

The kind of change you're talking about now - the word is 'speciation' - can only take place over a very long time and so cannot possibly be demonstrated. As you do with a misconception of what truth is, here again I think you're making logical inferences on the basis of categorization errors. You seem to think the abscence of any half moth/half dog in the fossil record is grounds to deny the voracity of evolution - but that isn't how evolution works. I did say - 'all forms are transitional' - and that's significant, because all forms have to be functional, to survive to breed to pass on any beneficial mutations to subsequent generations. And this is just one limitation on design possibilities available from any particular position in design space. (Design and design space are hypothetical/metaphorical allusions to all possible evolutionary outcomes. See: 'Mendellian library.') Beginning with a single celled organism - one can reach anywhere in design space. But evolutionary decisions have intractable implications for all subsequent forms - so for instance, deciding upon mitochondrial as opposed to photosynthetic means of energy management in single celled organsism made the difference between plants and animals. That decision cannot be revoked by any subsequent form; so consequently, just as cucumbers cannot become snakes - moths cannot become birds or dogs. From moth - there is no way to reach bird or dog; both because all forms in between have to be more suitable and successful than their ancestors for the mutation to prosper, and because the design that is moth has already excluded many factors of the design that is dog.

This is a quote: "Improbability and irreducible complexity you call "speculative"? Nonsense. You can see both in everyday life all the time. They have a very good evidentiary basis, actually: a child can identify irreducible complexity..."

This kind of reply is unhelpful. I accept that it's your opinion - and it's different to mine, but if you are going to contradict me, please provide examples. If, as you suggest - irreducible complexity has a good evidentiary basis and can be 'identified by a child' this shouldn't be too difficult. Otherwise, the vehemence of your disagreement means nothing at all. Suggesting I haven't read very deeply is beneath you. There are a billion books. I've only read about half of them. Next week I intend to read the other half billion - but you'll forgive me if I don't get through them all. One of the lessons Dennett often repeats is: 'evolution is smarter than you are.' So, what may seem irreducibly complex to you, may not be irreducably complex to all the forces and properties of nature acting one upon another over a billion years.

The dismissal of the possibility of the spontaneous formation of DNA by proponents of I.D. seems ridiculous to me - and only more so when one considers that it's a psuedo-scientific cloak for bible bashers whose raison d'etre is that there are unseen forces at work. You didn't address this point, so I'll repeat it: I.D. falls foul of the folly of skepticism in that it denies what is apparently the case. It says something that clearly did happen - cannot possibly happen, so it's obviously wrong. But in fact, when you consider the structure of DNA from a bio-chemical point of view it all seems very possible; for sugars form strong bonds with phosphates, and less strong bonds with adanine, thyamine, cytosine and guinine. Then, adanine and thyamine form weak bonds with cytosine and guinine respectively. (I think that's the right way around.) Further these chemical compounds occur when an electric current is passed through water, so the structure of DNA is inherent to the propensities of its chemical constituents to form bonds, and it's reasonable to suppose those constituents would all be in the same places together on the primitive earth - for about a billion years. I would very much like for you to propose an alternative explanation that doesn't invoke something infintely more improbable.

2. I've asked you to can the bullshit oneupmanship - but admittedly, only after you posted this prime example: "It was tried in the Enlightenment. You can try again if you wish. Good luck. Try not to kill so many people this time." I don't know if you've got me confused with someone else - or whatever, but I specifically refuted the assumption many people hold that the Enlightenment was the scientific, rational revolution generally supposed. It most certainly was not. Nation states are not real things, money is not a real or natural object, monarchy remained in power on the basis of divine right - but we got capitalism and a House of Commons to balance the power of the House of Lords. What's so very Enlightening about that? I characterized the change I want to see in the phrase: "Over Liberty and/or Equality - we must raise Truth as a universal political virtue. That's what I mean by government responsible to scientific truth. It's different to anything that has gone before." You didn't acknowledge this either.

3. If Bacon made a contribution to defining and popularizing scientific method in western culture - that in itself should tell us something important, since like you say, Aristotle was nearly there thousands of years before. Galileo was there in 1632 - but was supressed. He was arrested, tortured, tried - and found greviously suspect of heresy. Under threat of excommunication and death he was forced to recant his works. Galileo was a contemporary of Descartes - who's speculations on the same subject resulted in the meaningless metaphysical mantra 'I think therefore I am.' While Galielo lived out his few remaining years under house arrest - Descartes went on to teach in the Court of Queen Kristiina of Sweeden. And that's the problem - while philosophical opponents have been supressed, sychophants to ideological power prosper. So it's inherrently difficult to present an unorthadox viewpoint, and metaphorically I'm definitely saying 'the King's got no clothes.'

4. Let us put the question of the nature of capitalism aside; though surely you see the folly of denying capitalism is an ideology while accusing me of reciting leftist matras! I've specifically refuted the left/right political spectrum; yet to no-one's great suprise, you discover your own pet bogeyman by misunderstanding what I'm saying. There's nothing at all silly about the sentance you quote - you just don't understand it. I am going to have to ask you to grant me the respect of supposing I intend to say what I say, and have my reasons for saying it. If it seems silly to you it's because you don't understand what those reasons are. You can just ask for clarification. Inbetween the insults it's possible to discern you think the energy crisis, climate change etc, is caused by science and technology - rather than by ideology. You say: "What "ideology" made those happen?" I'm quite disappointed that you'd ask that question so late on, because honestly, you can't hope to understand anything I say unless you understand the following idea. Let me explain it agian.

Human beings evolved from ignorance into knowledge over time, and - long before they came into scientific knowledge, made up religious, political and economic justifications for the inequiatble distribution of power, work and resources within society. Money is one such ideological construction, nation state is another. Capitalism is at best the logic of money - at worst, an elitist plot, but it's an ideology nonetheless. Ideologies are not true - they do not describe real or natural phenomena. They are fictions - that together in various admixtures, constitute worldviews entirely inconsistant with a scientific understanding of reality. Leftist/rightist ideologies are equally inconsistant with a scientific worldview. For reasons grounded in such ideological misconceptions of reality; that is, acting upon idelogical identities within an ideological political and economic system - people make decisions to apply or withhold certain technologies. Primary considerations in the application of energy technology are 'national security and national economic interest.' These are ideological considerations that bear no relation to the scientifcally concieved merits of energy technology - such as safety, thermodynamic efficiency, pollution or sustainability. What merits there are - are ideological merits, which is to say fictional - and so the wrong technologies are applied.

But it's not just energy - it's everything. For instance, people dying in the third world for want of medicines you can get over the counter here - while pharma companies focus scientific research and development on fat, bald, flaccid white mens problems because that's where the money is. Another example, the U.S.A and U.S.S.R built 70,000 nuclear weapons during the Cold War. They didn't accept that the world is a single planetary environment and humankind is a single species; but instead of these simple scientific facts, assumed their ideological differences were fundamental, and used science and technology as weapons in an ideological dispute - each national group an ostensibly intelligent people acting rationally, but in relation to ideological falsity, and so unto the insanity of Mutually Assured Destruction.

Applying science and technology for ideological reasons is wrong because while ideology is made up and false to reality, science is true and objective with respect to the particular interests of any and everyone. Science is better knowledge - and because truth has greater explanatory potential than falsity, better reconciles political and economic difficulties. The mistake we have made is akin to putting an idiot in charge - and forcing a genius to serve the idiot. It's the wrong way around. Rather than learning from valid knowledge of reality - and governing human conduct in relation to truth, science merely makes the ideological idiot more dangerous than he should be. And all this relates back to the Church - that supressed science from 1632 onwards. Do you understand? You don't have to agree, but as you cannot possibly understand anything I say until you understand this idea - I'll close now, awaiting confirmation that you get it.
homegrown
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by homegrown »

James, Surly, me? I wonder why. Could it be because, for example while as a philosopher I can propose a change that needs to occur, it's quite obviously impossible for me to dictate how such a change would occur - and yet you say, for that reason I'm being vague about what I'm proposing. That's a snidey remark and cheap shot. And this motif is an element of your overall theme - repeated ad nauseum, that I'm wasting my time. It's more subtly done than most - but it's still abuse. If you were actually interested in the idea - you might ask about it, but having skimmed your post, what I'm getting throughout is a continued stylistic critique, insults and abuse, argument about the argument rather than any engagement with the issues themselves. I've got broad shoulders. I can take it. I may or may not respond more fully later - but James, buck up.
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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by Hobbes' Choice »

homegrown wrote:No-one else seems to appreciate the value of a scientifically valid understanding of reality. Even those who claim to value science - do not see the madness of human affairs conducted in relation to religious, political and economic ideologies that are not true. It's been a difficult journey - for I was born in ignorance and naturally adopted the ideas of those around me, and only later came to realize the insanity of those ideas. Now I'm profoundly alone. It's difficult sometimes to justify recommending these ideas to others. I know first hand the cruelty of disenchantment. But the life of the species is at stake. How can I do other than - at least, register the knowledge, that others can freely choose to listen or not?

I do not think the following facts and implications can be faulted:

1. Human beings evolved from animal ignorance into human knowledge over time.
2. Human beings formed societies long before they came into scientific knowledge.
3. Science was first supressed - and later employed in the service of ideological power.
4. Acting upon falsity - within a causal reality, is counter-productive.
3. Depends on what you mean by science. Before formal science challenged religion humans learned and then taught much about the world. You have only to think about the huge range of technologies that have helped us build, and farm and create objects.
4. Such falsity that you have alluded to, if believed by others takes on a sort of reality that runs with its own logic, in the realm of ideas. Progress has proceeded from such false schemes, as systems that organise evidence, even if they have a false premise can still be useful and give pragmatic results.

e.g. the Theory of the Four Humours, clumsily sustained medicine from the ancient period until well into the 1800s. Ptolemy's system of cosmology put the earth in the centre of the universe; yet was useful to navigation. And it was widely believed that all living things were the creation of god; though this did not stop the categorisation of "creation" being of utmost importance to Darwin when he replaced that idea with Natural Selection.
Despite these fundamental flaws, many such theories have provided systematic knowledge to thrive and to give insights into the way the world works.

We can never tell which of our own cherished theories will subsequently be abandoned in the future, but as long as they 'fit the appearances" of the natural world we will continue to believe in them and use them as if they were to final answer
homegrown
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by homegrown »

James,

This is you: "Homegrown, your starting to sound a bit vague as to what it is your actually proposing. So you agree that this scientific view of the world is mostly the concern of the ruling class, and you seem to believe that armed with such an understanding, they would somehow change the world into a better place, but you don't say how, or in what way things would change."

and you wrote that in response to this:

"I have said people could persist in their religious beliefs - if governments realize the need to accept a scientific understanding of reality in common. That so, there would be no need to disabuse the populus. It would be utterly counter-productive to legislate against religion. Top-down change seems to me infinitely preferable than seeking to re-educate the masses in order to effect change in government - but ultimately, it's not my call. I'm a philosopher. I've discovered something true and important. I take every reasonable opportunity to communicate this idea. That's my job, my vocation, my calling. I do my duty. What you do, or what anyone else does..."

What's vague about that? I don't... 'agree this scientific view of the world is mostly the concern of the ruling class.' Show me where I say anything of the sort. I write, you misinterpret what I've written, and then blame me for the result.

You continue like this. For example you say: 'You say we're special, and that our survival is somehow important, but you can't say why. Well that doesn't surprise me...' Of course it doesn't suprise you. These are your own thoughts. Show me where I've used the word special. And this inbetween one insult after another after another.

In the last post you call me surly, ignorant, arrogant, fundamentalist, narcissistic, uptight, irrelevent, a conspiracy theorist and a scientologist. Is this really any way to conduct a discourse? Is this because I closed with a joke about mental illness not being a laughing matter? You do realize I said that because it's mad to believe in things that aren't real - like God, nation states and money, all equally fictional. Is that why you have your panties in a twist? The mental illness I accuse you of is ideological psychosis - so it's you and about six billion other people. It was a joke. I even put a smiley face after it.

You say: 'You laughingly call yourself a philosopher, and unashamedly remain rooted in empirical science, that's not what I understand as philosophical, I moved past and into deeper levels of understanding many years ago, writing off any body of knowledge as you do is pure ignorance, and believing in your own intellectual superiority is pure arrogance.

I think this abuse is related to the nihilistic despair that's evident in eveything you say. I suffered from that 20 years ago, after realizing the whole religious, political and economic ideological architecture of society is just made up, and it left me without anything to believe in. I cured it by seeking to understand what's true - and rather than the empty, meaningless mechanical universe you seem to think is implied by a scientific understanding of reality, found...

For instance, where you say: '...we're not special, or even significantly important to the survival of life in the universe, in fact, if you get all purely scientific we're probably more of a danger to life, any intelligent species is....tell me the benefit of intelligent, as opposed to unintelligent life? Why does it matter?'

So, you laugh at my philosophical efforts from a perpective that leads you to conclude that human existence and your own life are something between irrelevent and toxic. I suspect you took what Agent Smith said to Morpheus in the Matrix a little too literally. I could venture some delicate speculations that ground meaning and pupose in empirical reality - but it would be to cast pearls before swine. There are patterns from which certain inferrences might be made, and while they're compelling - I cannot prove them. Knowing this, I'm not prepared to have such tentative speculations chewed up and regurjitated as vomit by someone like you. While all this may seem wildly outside the box to you - clinging psychotically to the shreds of your ideological identity, I've been developing these ideas for twenty years, and discussing them for the past eight or nine years now, so it's unlikely there's anything you can argue I haven't argued here before...and won out. These ideas hold up. It is the right answer. It's what should have happened, but didn't - and what, consequently - people are blind to. If you knew how I became able to see the truth you wouldn't call me arorrgant. I had a terrible start in life and suffered horribly. I needed truth in order to make sense of it. I found that truth makes sense of so much else as well. Try it. You don't need an in depth scientific understanding in order to distinguish between what is and is not grounded in fact. Look reality in the eye, and see.

hg.


jermaine,

Darwin's theory of evolution is accepted by scientistists as true. There are details still to be worked out, but overall - it's solid. Because evolution is true, it follows that the Bible was written by men as humankind developed from animal ignorance into human knowledge over a long, long time. The Bible was written 1600 years ago and respresents what people knew back then. But it's only now - in the past fifty years, and for the first time ever - science comes close to knowing what's true about people, diseases, the world, plants and animals, the stars in space, and so on. So the Bible isn't true. Religion isn't true. Government and money are not true. Only science is true. That's why we should take notice of science - because what's true for me, is true for you, and true for everyone else the same - so it's fair, and that's what counts. Religions and governments tell lies about everything, to make you think they know better than you do, to make it right to treat some people better than other people, and to get control of everything. If everyone said I don't believe religion, in nation states, or in money - I believe the whole world is all the same place and people are people, all the same, so I want government based on science, that knows what's true and does what's right - not makes things up and lies to me, then everything would work out fine in future. And why? Because it's true. Sceince is really true. If not, then the future looks very bad for us. We will cut down all the trees, catch all the fish in the sea, pollute the rivers and lakes, cloud the sky with smoke, use up all the oil and then kill eachother with nuclear bombs - and die, praying to a God - that if He is up there somewhere, does not want to know us because we do not know what truth is.

hg.

Immanuel Can,

If all the animal species that there had ever been were still alive - you'd have your bridge. Speciation of the kind apparent in the world at large; moths, birds and dogs, results from all the forms in between dying out - leaving huge differences you argue cannot be bridged by evolutionary change, so therefore you assume evolution is false. You're right, insofar as the differences between existing forms cannot be bridged by evolutionary change, but that's not how evolution works, and it's not how such widely diverse forms come to co-exist. They may all have a common ancestor a billion years back - and each diverged from that point by incremental change, and then all the forms in between died out - leaving moths, birds and dogs as distinct species, but they don't change one into another.

hg.
homegrown
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Re: Am I doing the right thing?

Post by homegrown »

Hobbes Choice,

Thanks for your reply. Good point. That's something to think about. I will get back to you shortly.

hg.
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