Re: MD On Faith - Improbability ?

From: Scott Roberts (
Date: Sat Oct 09 2004 - 19:51:48 BST

  • Next message: David Morey: "Re: MD On Faith"


    The point is that there is an argument, and it is philosophical. I am a
    non-materialist for reasons other than the improbability of Darwinism, so
    when I see materialists proposing Darwinism as an explanation of evolution,
    I think, why bother, if not to maintain a belief in materialism. There are
    other theories if one allows non-materialist theories. But why is Darwinism
    treated as scientific? The theory is untestable, as far as I can see. One
    doesn't need it to do biology, including investigating evolution. Thus I
    can't see any reason to promote it as scientific except to attempt to
    falsely wrap it in an authoritative aura ("it's science"), and that in
    order to promote materialism.

    You mention the "teleological fallacy". Dennett says (in Brainstorms) that
    because Darwinism gives a non-question-begging explanation of purpose, that
    is reason to accept materialism. But note (and more blatantly in his title
    "Consciousness Explained") that he is presupposing that purpose and
    consciousness (or as he would put it, why we think in terms of purpose and
    consciousness) are the things that need explaining, and that explanations
    consist of describing things in terms of what our senses provide. In other
    words, he is assuming materialism before he has "accepted" it.

    My reason, in brief, for thinking that science can never show the emergence
    of consciousness from non-conscious material is that consciousness
    routinely resolves the paradox of the many and the one, and science can't
    deal with that. If one assumes that the spatio-temporal world is the basis
    in which consciousness comes to be, then an ordinary act of perception,
    which transcends space and time, is impossible. (For a more elaborate
    discussion -- not of this argument, but of someone else who denies the
    possibility of a materialist explanation of consciousness, see David
    Chalmers ("The Conscious Mind"), someone who really, really wanted to keep
    a materialist outlook but decided it was impossible.)

    - Scott

    > [Original Message]
    > From: Ian Glendinning <>
    > To: <>
    > Date: 10/9/2004 6:06:19 AM
    > Subject: Re: MD On Faith - Improbability ?
    > Yes Scot,
    > that's what I meant ...
    > Dawkins (Mount Improbable) and others have spent millions of words arguing
    > the probablity aspects in great detail concerning the wonders of
    > / physical / functional development, but the outcomes are not incredible.
    > The "beat the odds" way of looking at it starts from the teleological
    > fallacy that there is some purposeful entity trying "to beat" those odds.
    > The probablities are simply that - actual outcomes amongst many
    > possibilities. We're dealing with complex systems. The "random" chance
    > aspects apply only to a certain small proportion of those events (eg
    > mutations and environment) in these huge webs of events, many more of
    > are directed by biological and sociological drives of the players
    > I'm confident Darwinism (in its widest sense) can and will explain the
    > of consciousness too, at least I see no reason yet to say it will be
    > impossible.
    > My big problem with Dawkins is his (exclusive) tunnel vision for
    > objectivity.
    > Despite being the person who coined memes, he misses the emergent
    > of the involvement of consciousness in the web of evolution, which is not
    > surprising, since so far science has struggled to find a place for
    > consciousness anywhere. Dawkins is explicitly paid to promote science as
    > Simonyi Professor for the public advancement of science, or whatever.
    > But we're getting there - eventually science will learn that objectivity
    > isn't everything. (In fact huge tracts of science already have at both
    > of the scale - fundamental physics and the science of consciousness
    itself -
    > together, Holochory maybe ?). It's just social and political collective
    > consciousness of science - the memes - political correctness - you know,
    > funding, budgets, winning (binary) arguments, etc - that seems to hang
    > simple, discredited objective scientific rationale for its syllogistic
    > justifications.
    > BTW, I'm currently reading Dr James Austin's "Zen and the Brain".
    > I've only just started, but it's an amazing (800 page) mix of detailed
    > physiology, consciousness research and Zen experience.
    > Ian

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