Re: MD On Faith - Improbability ?

From: Ian Glendinning (
Date: Sat Oct 09 2004 - 20:47:20 BST

  • Next message: Ian Glendinning: "Re: MD On Faith"

    Why bother ?
    In order to have a means of understanding, explaining and predicting, and
    hopefully influencing outcomes.
    (I'm no defender of science or materialism, in the real world.)

    Obviously evolution is untestable in any general sense. (The monk had a fair
    crack at it with his peas, and drosophila has been tested to death, and
    we've had debates here before about the potential for controlled,
    repeatable, falsifiable, situations with simple organisms with rapid
    reproductive cycles and easy mutations - like antibiotic resistant bacterai,
    whatever) But that's only of interest if it's science you're interested in,
    and I'm not. Like the MoQ, "Darwinian" evolution is a handy pragmatic
    metaphor to understand what really goes on in the world - unlike science
    (outside the lab).

    (If we don't keep our voices down we'll wake up DMB and he'll argue with me
    about my dismissing science, but hey.)

    You saying I don't need Darwinism, is like me saying you don't need your
    god, to explain ... anything ...
    I know which I see as less supernatural, more credible.
    (I suspect that's the only thing on which we actually disagree BTW.)

    David Chalmers I'm already a big fan of - he's one of those people I
    mentioned in my earlier mail - one of many current consciousness "scientist"
    who are moving beyond objective materialist bounds - all roads are leading
    to quantum information there and the loss of objectivity that entails.

    Ian Glendinning

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Scott Roberts" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Saturday, October 09, 2004 7:51 PM
    Subject: Re: MD On Faith - Improbability ?

    > Ian,
    > 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
    > 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
    > 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,
    > 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
    > 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
    > > the probablity aspects in great detail concerning the wonders of
    > biological
    > > / physical / functional development, but the outcomes are not
    > > The "beat the odds" way of looking at it starts from the teleological
    > > fallacy that there is some purposeful entity trying "to beat" those
    > > 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
    > which
    > > are directed by biological and sociological drives of the players
    > involved.
    > >
    > > I'm confident Darwinism (in its widest sense) can and will explain the
    > rise
    > > 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
    > scientific
    > > objectivity.
    > >
    > > Despite being the person who coined memes, he misses the emergent
    > complexity
    > > of the involvement of consciousness in the web of evolution, which is
    > > surprising, since so far science has struggled to find a place for
    > > consciousness anywhere. Dawkins is explicitly paid to promote science as
    > the
    > > 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
    > ends
    > > 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
    > onto
    > > 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
    > brain
    > > physiology, consciousness research and Zen experience.
    > >
    > > Ian
    > >
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