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I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 02 August 2008 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Callan S., Auditor

I wonder if this will be overly revealing of my mental make up and show some great gulf between myself and everyone else (though on looking at what I typed, worrying about that stuff is pretty damn common, so ironically perhaps I shouldn't worry?).

But I don't quite get the usage of free will in the book, and with that, I don't quite get the identification of it being an illusion.

When I was a kid I, probably alot of kids at some point have tried to 'not think'. I couldn't bloody do it - I would try and then some thought about trying or how the last time failed, would show up - not in words at first, but more like a blip on a radar. Then after a fraction of a section I could turn it into words and reflect on the thought I'd had (it was past tense, even if only by a fraction of a second or so) and kick myself for having thought. I actually wanted the feeling of tranquility I imagined I'd get if I could do it. The bastards would always get through before I could stop them - indeed if it wasn't one random thought that got through, ironically it was the thought of stopping thoughts. That's as I recall from a long time ago - I don't want to try again, it's bloody frustrating.

Anyway, I could sense it as a blip, then it'd become words and crap after. I suppose there could be a time where I wasn't even aware of it as a blip, but then again I didn't attach any big understanding or feeling of personal control knowing it was a blip either. Also, since the brain is electrical, it was some electric blip somewhere even if I didn't see it as a blip yet, so there, ha ha! <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) --> I didn't have any shock revelation from it then, but I thought it a good example of my understanding to work from here.

As far as I can tell, memory, impulse or input stirs a thought, it shows up as a blip, then after a short bit, you can observe your own thought as words. Yeah, I'm not really aware of the whole process - is that the illusion? I'm not sure how to describe this - when a magician asks you which hand he's holding a coin in, and you say &quot;No thanks, not right now - I can see I don't know and it's a mystery to work on at some point, but I've got dinner to cook right now&quot; are you under an illusion of 'knowing' how it works? Surely you can only be under an illusion if you come to a conclusion - if you leave it as a mystery, uncertain, then your just in the world of uncertainty (as usual, one might say).

I certainly don't feel enlightened or free of a bunch of stuff, so that'd make me inclined to think I fit the bill for the illusion of free will described. But I can see that input sets off thoughts - usually passions first, then these filter through and at some point I can see a translation of what's going on. I would say that inputs or passions can set off structures of thought, and two thought structures can interact and the passions kind of communicate in a way that can set off other passions and more thoughts, in a wonderful cascade. But those starting passions still need to be set off from the outside, or from something inside but who's source can be considered outside (the outside source for the inner source, if you go back far enough, is a certain big bang. More in the short term it's from our evolutionary history). I can't grasp where the illusion lies, except yeah, I don't know the processes involved. But as I noted above, I don't always care, I've got dinner to cook or whatever. Or I do reflect on it bit, like now. But it's always a stab in a certain direction rather than any presumption of a full grasp.

I do feel I have a strong understanding of structures - like a good chess player might feel he understands the game. But I'm aware things all to easily 'go sideways', so that I feel that IF the structure is the one I know about, then I feel I have a strong understanding. The game I know isn't nessersarily anything to do with this world. But the game I know, I know well and feel pride about that, even if it isn't applicable. It'd be like taking pride in your chess knowledge, even though that's not about to feed and shelter you.

Technically I think I get the idea that the subject thinks when he experiences the thought, that's when it occured. And the thought he experienced at the point, he thinks he willed it at that very time - thus ignoring the many previous contraptions that came before that. I can sort of imagine the distortion that'd provoke, simply out of that impulse/recogntion lag fluctuating and sometimes, ironically, willed fluctuation of that time (getting drunk would be an easy example, simulationism in roleplay might be another).

Eh, too weird a post? Well, you all might find some use in comparison and contrast, anyway. view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 30 October 2008 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Tilberian, Commoner

Free will is an illusion in one sense and not in another.

1. Free will as defined by Western philosophy is an illusion. The traditional view is that the soul guides the actions of the body and that the only thing that guides the soul is the basic nature that was breathed into it by God. Later thought added the idea of Mind, and the idea that the mind could corrupt the soul or at least prevent its perfect expression in the actions of an individual. Thence came the idea of a good soul struggling in the body of a weak, evil person - the whole angel on one shoulder, demon on the other thing. Anyway, the whole idea is that the soul operates independently, in accordance with its nature, and that its action is free of interference from God or the world. Thus, a person's actions ultimately point to the quality of his soul and he can be held accountable for them.

We know, today, that there is no such thing as a soul, as defined by the traditional religions. We can account for all the energy and matter in a body, and a dead body (with the soul presumably gone) has just as much energy and matter as a live one (though the energy quickly bleeds off into the environment as cellular processes shut down). There is nowhere for an immortal soul to be and no coherent description of how such a thing might communicate with a brain. We have good models of how the brain can work the way it does using only the substance of this universe. References to the supernatural quickly devolve into incoherence. There is simply no evidence for the existence of souls, and smart people don't believe in things for which there are no evidence.

With only material processes to guide the action of the brain, it is at least theoretically possible to perfectly chart the course of action any brain will take while thinking before it happens. Thoughts are contingent because the universe is contingent. Nothing happens independently of what has happened before. If you think carefully, you can chart in your memory how every thought grows out of a thought before. Thoughts that spring unbidden into our heads are impulses from lower functions or the subconscious, which is always running and processing in the background like an operating system. These processes are following neurological pathways set down by evolution and brain development. We cannot feel or think anything without a long chain of complex causality leading to the event of the thought or feeling. In a very real sense, we are not acting independently at all. It just seems like we are because the factors contributing to our behaviour are too complex for us to analyze. However, a theoretical computer with enough processing power could process all the inputs leading to our behaviour and chart the full history of everything we have done and everything we will do from Big Bang to heat death.

As material beings, our actions are completely deterministic (yes, yes, random at the quantum level but that is irrelevant). There is no free will, everything is proceeding according to the laws of nature as set in motion at the beginning of time.

2. Free will is quite real, as it relates to a person having internal control over his actions in a specific circumstance. We do have feelings and thoughts and they are influenced by, but not controlled by external inputs. Our preexisting mental state has a big role to play. We don't have control over that mental state, maybe, but the point is that we do not simply react to our environments in predictable, programmed ways. A person who has seen a dog before is going to react differently in the presence of a dog than someone who has not. Same input, different output, because of the nature of the person involved. Some people call that free will, but I think the moniker is misplaced. view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 31 October 2008 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Thorsten, Candidate

Tilberian, I disagree with a lot of what you claim here.

We know, today, that there is no such thing as a soul, as defined by the traditional religions.


No, we don't really know that. Some people believe it, because they haven't seen it. But then, neuroscientists or psychologists do not even have a viable definition of what soul is (neither is there any real concept of how to precisely define consciousness by the way) - so how do you look for something in an experiment when you can't even define it?

We can account for all the energy and matter in a body, and a dead body (with the soul presumably gone) has just as much energy and matter as a live one (though the energy quickly bleeds off into the environment as cellular processes shut down).


As you notice yourself, the dead body loses energy. There is an amount of energy stored in neuroelectrical processes which is not there any more after death - so the dead body has less energy than the life one. This does neither prove nor disprove the notion of a soul leaving the body. Quite obviously, consciousness leaves the body after death, so if your point were true, would the fact that we account for all matter and energy disprove consciousness? I think rather not. Consciousness seems to be a pattern rather than an energy form - and the soul may be as well.

There is nowhere for an immortal soul to be and no coherent description of how such a thing might communicate with a brain.


Then again, we have no coherent description of how consciousness ties with brain activity. Just because we don't understand something, it doesn't mean it isn't there.

We have good models of how the brain can work the way it does using only the substance of this universe. References to the supernatural quickly devolve into incoherence.


I have yet to see one good model which explains how the brain can generate consciousness. I have read arguments from philosophers, neuroscientists, psychologists, AI researchers - the only one who came close to giving a definition which seemed to be on the right track happened to be a mathematician. We do have models how neurons and neuron networks work - but they don't explain anything relevant. They don't explain why I am a conscious, individual person. So if you are aware of a good model, please tell me where to look. I have been looking for the best part of 10 years, and I haven't found it anywhere.

With only material processes to guide the action of the brain, it is at least theoretically possible to perfectly chart the course of action any brain will take while thinking before it happens.


Given the actual experimental evidence, you state a belief here, not a fact.

As material beings, our actions are completely deterministic (yes, yes, random at the quantum level but that is irrelevant). There is no free will, everything is proceeding according to the laws of nature as set in motion at the beginning of time.


The interesting thing is that you would dismiss the quantum level as irrelevant. Why? The large scale structure of the universe is driven by quantum fluctuations in the early state after the big bang for starters - so how can you possibly claim that everything since the beginning of time is deterministic? In what sense? The quantum state certainly follows deterministic evolution - but the observable state doesn't. So in essence, what you claim to know here is how quantum physics ties with the phenomenon that generates conscious observation - and you don't actually know that. No one does.

So, you believe the world is deterministic, and there is no soul. But you have zero actual evidence for that really being so. So it's interesting that you'd make a claim such as:

There is simply no evidence for the existence of souls, and smart people don't believe in things for which there are no evidence.


That's rather snobbish. The very notion of belief implies that there is not necessarily evidence. If I have evidence, I don't have to believe, I know. So - Einstein believed in god, but he didn't have any evidence. Does that mean Einstein was not a smart person? You believe in a deterministic universe, although there is plenty of evidence to the contrary (as far as the observable universe is concerned, as I said, not on the level of quantum states) - does that mean you are not a smart person? view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 03 November 2008 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Tilberian, Commoner

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:n4dihajb

No, we don't really know that. Some people believe it, because they haven't seen it. But then, neuroscientists or psychologists do not even have a viable definition of what soul is (neither is there any real concept of how to precisely define consciousness by the way) - so how do you look for something in an experiment when you can't even define it?[/quote:n4dihajb]

Actually, souls are quite well defined in dictionaries and reams of religious text. That is, the idea of a soul is quite well defined. What is missing from all those definitions is any description of the soul as a real, natural entity. All definitions of the soul make reference to the supernatural, which is not testable nor even a coherent concept. So you are right in saying that natural science will never even be able to start looking for a soul. I interpret that fact to indicate that souls are imaginary and do not exist in any meaningful sense of the word.

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:n4dihajb

As you notice yourself, the dead body loses energy. There is an amount of energy stored in neuroelectrical processes which is not there any more after death - so the dead body has less energy than the life one. This does neither prove nor disprove the notion of a soul leaving the body. Quite obviously, consciousness leaves the body after death, so if your point were true, would the fact that we account for all matter and energy disprove consciousness? I think rather not. Consciousness seems to be a pattern rather than an energy form - and the soul may be as well.[/quote:n4dihajb]

My point was that the energy does not disappear into some extradimensional realm. It is still there, in the environment. If a person died in a perfectly insulated, non-conductive room, the amount of energy in the room would not change after his death. This is not consistent with the idea of a soul leaving the body and flying up to heaven. If it is your claim that the soul is made of an energy pattern in the body, then I guess it is also your belief that souls die after the body does, since all the energy in the brain becomes disorganized and returns to the environment. This would not actually fit any of the traditional definitions of a soul, since souls are supposed to be immortal. I think it is quite plausible that consciousness is best described as an energy pattern in the brain, and that the dissolution of that pattern after death is the death of consciousness. In fact, this is what I believe happens to us after we die.

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:n4dihajb

Then again, we have no coherent description of how consciousness ties with brain activity. Just because we don't understand something, it doesn't mean it isn't there.[/quote:n4dihajb]

This complaint only arises when we insist that consciousness must be more than just the brain activity itself. People get hung up on this because they are fixated on the idea of a soul. There is no soul and there is no consciousness outside of the electrochemical activity in a brain. You might just as well marvel at the fact that a computer is able to perform calculations.

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:n4dihajb

I have yet to see one good model which explains how the brain can generate consciousness. I have read arguments from philosophers, neuroscientists, psychologists, AI researchers - the only one who came close to giving a definition which seemed to be on the right track happened to be a mathematician. We do have models how neurons and neuron networks work - but they don't explain anything relevant. They don't explain why I am a conscious, individual person. So if you are aware of a good model, please tell me where to look. I have been looking for the best part of 10 years, and I haven't found it anywhere.[/quote:n4dihajb]

Look up a picture of a CAT scan. Your search is over: that is consciousness.

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:n4dihajb

Given the actual experimental evidence, you state a belief here, not a fact. [/quote:n4dihajb]

The only way in which it would not be theoretically possible to chart the action of the brain would be if the brain were not a macroscopic part of this universe. Since it demonstrably is, my statement is fact.

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:n4dihajb

The interesting thing is that you would dismiss the quantum level as irrelevant. Why? The large scale structure of the universe is driven by quantum fluctuations in the early state after the big bang for starters - so how can you possibly claim that everything since the beginning of time is deterministic? In what sense? The quantum state certainly follows deterministic evolution - but the observable state doesn't. So in essence, what you claim to know here is how quantum physics ties with the phenomenon that generates conscious observation - and you don't actually know that. No one does.[/quote:n4dihajb]

At the time that quantum fluctuations might have had some effect on the universe, the universe was compressed to a point smaller than the diameter of an atom. Time was not even really in existence then, as space lacked dimension. Things are a little different now.

Everything since then is deterministic in the sense that effect follows cause, invariably, and in perfectly predictable ways. Quantum effects do not count at the macroscopic level. We can ignore them for the sake of this discussion.

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:n4dihajb

That's rather snobbish. The very notion of belief implies that there is not necessarily evidence. If I have evidence, I don't have to believe, I know. So - Einstein believed in god, but he didn't have any evidence. Does that mean Einstein was not a smart person? You believe in a deterministic universe, although there is plenty of evidence to the contrary (as far as the observable universe is concerned, as I said, not on the level of quantum states) - does that mean you are not a smart person?[/quote:n4dihajb]

Not that old lie. Einstein stated over and over that he did not believe in God. He made use of the term God from time to time as a rhetorical device to illustrate points to people who were not as smart as him. Many scientists refer to God when they are trying to talk about the larger structure of the cosmos. This almost never means they believe in one of the traditional, personal Gods of religion.

It is certainly not snobbish to insist that people have evidence before they believe something and nothing about the phenomenon of belief implies in any way that it should take place in the absence of evidence. You are confusing belief with faith, and they are two very different things.

Please point to one particle of evidence that shows that the universe is non-deterministic above the quantum level. Good luck. For my evidence that the universe is deterministic, I'll point to the entire edifice of science as it exists today and its ability to make useful predictions. view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 03 November 2008 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Thorsten, Candidate

Actually, souls are quite well defined in dictionaries and reams of religious text. That is, the idea of a soul is quite well defined. What is missing from all those definitions is any description of the soul as a real, natural entity. All definitions of the soul make reference to the supernatural, which is not testable nor even a coherent concept. So you are right in saying that natural science will never even be able to start looking for a soul.


Yes. I think we can safely dismiss the notion that religious texts are true in the same sense as scientific texts, i.e. as a sequence of exact definitions tied to observations of nature. Quite obviously, for this reason of terminology alone, before we go looking for a soul, the definition would have to be formulated in scientific terms somehow. So, you may ask, is there an invariant piece of mind which is not lost after death. Which of course would require you to define mind - a task in which science is rather bad, given the amount of suggested definitions.

My point was that the energy does not disappear into some extradimensional realm.


Strangely enough, the upcoming physics program at the CERN Large Hadron Collider is (among other things) looking for energy which 'disappears into some extradimensional realm' (see [url=http&#58;//en&#46;wikipedia&#46;org/wiki/Large_extra_dimension:a6aw9hsr]here[/url:a6aw9hsr] for one of the suggested models). So present day particle theorists think it quite possible that the very thing you rule out actually happens.

It is still there, in the environment. If a person died in a perfectly insulated, non-conductive room, the amount of energy in the room would not change after his death.


Again, that presupposes there is any such thing as a perfectly insulated, non-conductive room. But as soon as you say 'room', you need spacetime. As soon as you have spacetime, you have gravitational waves which go right through your room because the only way to shield spacetime from vibrating is to create an event horizon - but that's a black hole, not a room. And even those radiate energy.

This is not consistent with the idea of a soul leaving the body and flying up to heaven. If it is your claim that the soul is made of an energy pattern in the body, then I guess it is also your belief that souls die after the body does, since all the energy in the brain becomes disorganized and returns to the environment.


Certainly, taking 'up to heaven' literally makes it inconsistent. The pattern being preserved somehow in the fabric of spacetime via gravitational waves, or the pattern leaking into extra dimensions and being stored in the underlying brane reality is a possibility. I don't claim I know what happens to souls or if there is one - I just know enough ways how an invariant core of mind may be preserved after death.

There is no soul and there is no consciousness outside of the electrochemical activity in a brain.


Well, that's just your claim. But unless you prove it, it remains your opinion, no? Just repeating it doesn't make it true.

You might just as well marvel at the fact that a computer is able to perform calculations.


That illustrates a very good point. While in the brain you insist that everything is electrochemical activity, for a computer you'd distinguish between hardware and software. But you wouldn't in any way insist that the software needs to run on a particular CPU - instead of an electronic CPU, it may as well be processed optically. It actually doesn't have a real CPU at all - it can be a virtual CPU simulated by another machine. So the (non-conscious) software is in fact a concept that 'transcends' the running in a particular environment (you'd probably agree that copying a program and running it on a different computer gives me the same software running on a different computer) - whereas you think it flatly impossible that the (conscious) 'software' of the brain can be realized in any way except neuroelectricity. Interesting - but not really plausible.

Look up a picture of a CAT scan. Your search is over: that is consciousness.


No, that's a picture of brain activity. That's not the same thing. That's like taking a snapshot of memory activity in a computer and claiming you understand what the algorithms are. That's confusing hardware and software. There is no way of telling from even the most colorful picture if the mind which is depicted is conscious or not. Try to think about it!

Incidentially, just last week I read an interview with Wolf Singer, a leading German neuroscientist - he wasn't prepared to take the position you are advocating here that brain activity scans answer any fundamental questions. In fact, he called the notion misleading.

The only way in which it would not be theoretically possible to chart the action of the brain would be if the brain were not a macroscopic part of this universe. Since it demonstrably is, my statement is fact.


Define 'this universe'. String theory has plenty of hidden ones which couple only by gravity to 'this one'. In the end, it's a meaningless question, because in any scientific formulation of soul, the religious 'heaven' would in some sense have to be a part of 'this universe' - maybe a hidden one, but certainly not disconnected - how else would the soul go there?

Everything since then is deterministic in the sense that effect follows cause, invariably, and in perfectly predictable ways. Quantum effects do not count at the macroscopic level. We can ignore them for the sake of this discussion.


No, sorry, the DVD drive in the computer in front of you is based on a quantum effect playing out macroscopically. The sun works because of quantum effects playing out macroscopically. Neither of these works in a deterministic way - it's just that randomness in large numbers allows statistics to say something about the most probable outcome, but that's not deterministic, because you can always have a different outcome.

But the actual problem is more fundamental. It has to do with the transition from quantum state to the observed state. You can read up a bit on [url=http&#58;//en&#46;wikipedia&#46;org/wiki/Decoherence:a6aw9hsr]Quantum Decoherence[/url:a6aw9hsr]. To quote the main message:

Decoherence does not provide a mechanism for the actual wave function collapse; rather it provides a mechanism for the appearance of wavefunction collapse. The quantum nature of the system is simply &quot;leaked&quot; into the environment so that a total superposition of the wavefunction still exists, but exists — at least for all practical purposes — beyond the realm of measurement. Thus decoherence, as a philosophical interpretation, amounts to something similar to the many-worlds approach.

Funnily enough, here's the second way how present-day physics understanding generates worlds beyond our own... They are rather plentiful to find I must say.

Well, in short you are completely wrong about the universe being deterministic - but I can't give you a complete lecture in quantum field theory here.

Many scientists refer to God when they are trying to talk about the larger structure of the cosmos. This almost never means they believe in one of the traditional, personal Gods of religion.


I do know many scientists. In fact, I am one (in case you haven't guessed, I'm making my money doing theoretical physics, applications of quantum field theory). And when they talk about God, they usually mean the traditional, personal God of religion.

Please point to one particle of evidence that shows that the universe is non-deterministic above the quantum level.


Your question is ill-posed. Anything 'above the quantum level' is an effective concept how we try to cast the universe into a shape we can perceive. In nature, there is nothing 'above the quantum level' (and probably, even the quantum level is a gross approximation of reality). In its very nature, in its foundation, the universe is quantum. Regardless of how your perception creates the illusion of determinism. view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 03 November 2008 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Cnaiür, Peralogue

How do you explain near-death experiences, where people speak of seeing themselves leave their body, such as those who die on the operating table and see their body being operated on and watch doctors electrocute them back to life, which causes them to jerk back into their own body. Are these people deluded? Dreaming? Or, is that their soul that temporarily left their physical body?

Topics of consciousness and the soul has been around for thousands of years. Modern science is still playing catch up with their gadgets and math.

And black holes are just a theory, nothing more. Its amusing to witness people believe in these and not believe in a soul. Perhaps, they are just caught in the event horizon of the black hole in their conditioned brain.

Free Will is real, and one of the greatest gifts we have. Test this reality out by making a decision right now. Choose to reply or not. Choose to get up from that chair or not. Choose to recall a happy memory or a sad one or no memory. Even God made the decision to create, and made the decision to pass on free will to his creations. To think free will is an illusion is to delude yourself into being powerless, and to wipe away responsibility from your own actions. Stand up and be a man. You have the free will to decide.

You also have the free will to nullify free will as merely an illusion. The irony is amazing, isn't it. You decide. view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 03 November 2008 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Tilberian, Commoner

Quote: &quot;Cnaiür&quot;:3g8q7k9f
How do you explain near-death experiences, where people speak of seeing themselves leave their body, such as those who die on the operating table and see their body being operated on and watch doctors electrocute them back to life, which causes them to jerk back into their own body. Are these people deluded? Dreaming? Or, is that their soul that temporarily left their physical body? [/quote:3g8q7k9f]

Yes, these people are hallucinating. It has even been defined as a particular type of hallucination that occurs when the brain is starved for oxygen (resulting in the tunnel of light etc). The wilder claims that people have seen and heard things that they could not have sensed from where their bodies were lying have been debunked or suffer from chronic lack of evidence.

Quote: &quot;Cnaiür&quot;:3g8q7k9f

Topics of consciousness and the soul has been around for thousands of years. Modern science is still playing catch up with their gadgets and math.[/quote:3g8q7k9f]

We have made more progress in understanding brain function and consciousness with the &quot;gadgets and math&quot; of the last fifty years than in the entire history of humanity prior. Modern science is not playing catch-up; it is giving us real understanding where before there was only superstition, speculation and faith. And it is worth noting that the idea of a soul dates from the old methodology, not the new one.

Quote: &quot;Cnaiür&quot;:3g8q7k9f

And black holes are just a theory, nothing more. Its amusing to witness people believe in these and not believe in a soul. Perhaps, they are just caught in the event horizon of the black hole in their conditioned brain.[/quote:3g8q7k9f]

OK, then, YOU tell me what the object is in Cygnus X-1 that is blasting out x-rays at a rate that cannot be explained any other way. As you answer, keep in mind that black hole theory predicted this discovery BEFORE it occurred. You might also want to reference the observations of black holes at the centre of galaxies eating the stars around them.

Then you will want to show me equivalent empirical evidence for the existence of souls. And present a fully fleshed-out theory, with accompanying math, describing just what a soul is.

Bottom line: there is reams of evidence, theoretical and otherwise for the existence of black holes. There is none for souls. That is why I believe the former exists and not the latter.

Quote: &quot;Cnaiür&quot;:3g8q7k9f

Free Will is real, and one of the greatest gifts we have. Test this reality out by making a decision right now. Choose to reply or not. Choose to get up from that chair or not. Choose to recall a happy memory or a sad one or no memory.[/quote:3g8q7k9f]

But the decision was not even before me until you just put it there. The only reason I am facing a question of free will right now is because of outside input from you. Without your statement, there IS no decision. Further, you would not have placed the decision before me if we were not having this conversation. You see? Everything is contingent on what has gone before. How can free will exist in a universe of total contingency?

Even in making the decision, I am using brain states and mental tools that are only in place because of a cascade of previous causes. I might get up if I feel restless, but the feeling of restlessness comes from some unconscious place. I might decide to resist restlessness and sit still, but I will have reasons for that as well that will lie beyond my control.

Quote: &quot;Cnaiür&quot;:3g8q7k9f

Even God made the decision to create, and made the decision to pass on free will to his creations. [/quote:3g8q7k9f]

Spare me your medieval fantasies. There is no God.

Quote: &quot;Cnaiür&quot;:3g8q7k9f

To think free will is an illusion is to delude yourself into being powerless, and to wipe away responsibility from your own actions. Stand up and be a man. You have the free will to decide.[/quote:3g8q7k9f]

If you had read my original post to Callan you would see that I acknowledge that free will does not exist on one level, but must be deemed to exist on another. While we can see that all human actions are contingent on uncontrolled factors, and therefore not free in the absolute sense required for theological notions of good and evil, we can also see that the inputs into the human decision-making process are so numerous and so complex that we simply have no hope of ever figuring them all out. The behaviour of complex systems appears chaotic, and so it is with the human mind. Given that pre-existing mental states can resist outside input and guide human behaviour, it is a social necessity for us to create a mental state in people that will resist outside impulses to do wrong. One way in which we do this is to inculcate in children the idea that they are in control of their actions and that they must use that control to make appropriate choices between established standards of right and wrong. The idea that we are in control is a fiction, but a useful one that allows us to live together according to rules. However, once we grow up, we can look the fiction in the face and decide to follow rules because we understand the greater need for an orderly society, not because we are still slaves to a childish myth.

Quote: &quot;Cnaiür&quot;:3g8q7k9f

You also have the free will to nullify free will as merely an illusion. The irony is amazing, isn't it. You decide.[/quote:3g8q7k9f]

I think I have shown that we can understand free will as an illusion but still see the need to treat ourselves and others as independent entities that have responsibilities. view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 03 November 2008 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Tilberian, Commoner

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:31rkdc4m

Yes. I think we can safely dismiss the notion that religious texts are true in the same sense as scientific texts, i.e. as a sequence of exact definitions tied to observations of nature. Quite obviously, for this reason of terminology alone, before we go looking for a soul, the definition would have to be formulated in scientific terms somehow. So, you may ask, is there an invariant piece of mind which is not lost after death. Which of course would require you to define mind - a task in which science is rather bad, given the amount of suggested definitions.[/quote:31rkdc4m]

I'd define the mind as the software that is running on a brain.

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:31rkdc4m

Strangely enough, the upcoming physics program at the CERN Large Hadron Collider is (among other things) looking for energy which 'disappears into some extradimensional realm' (see [url=http&#58;//en&#46;wikipedia&#46;org/wiki/Large_extra_dimension:31rkdc4m]here[/url:31rkdc4m] for one of the suggested models). So present day particle theorists think it quite possible that the very thing you rule out actually happens.[/quote:31rkdc4m]

You are being mischevious, my friend. You know as well as I do that energy disappearing into extra dimensions is only one possible outcome of the LHC experiments, and that at least as many physicists expect it not to happen as there are those who do. If you want to use highly theoretical extra dimensions as a hiding place for souls, be my guest, but first do me the favour of explaining how they are going to get there without accessing the incredible energies that will be unleashed at CERN. Personally, I think all this extra dimensions nonsense has been a desperate gambit to get the math to work and that the real explanation for where the extra mass of the universe is will be in a weakly interacting particle that we haven't seen yet.

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:31rkdc4m

Again, that presupposes there is any such thing as a perfectly insulated, non-conductive room. But as soon as you say 'room', you need spacetime. As soon as you have spacetime, you have gravitational waves which go right through your room because the only way to shield spacetime from vibrating is to create an event horizon - but that's a black hole, not a room. And even those radiate energy.[/quote:31rkdc4m]

Now you are just being argumentative. Either take my point or argue against it: the energy in a human body dissipates into the environment in the same way as a teapot cools off when it is taken off the stove. No energy &quot;disappears,&quot; and the energy in a human brain is immortal in exactly the same way as the energy in a light bulb is immortal.

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:31rkdc4m

Certainly, taking 'up to heaven' literally makes it inconsistent. The pattern being preserved somehow in the fabric of spacetime via gravitational waves, or the pattern leaking into extra dimensions and being stored in the underlying brane reality is a possibility. I don't claim I know what happens to souls or if there is one - I just know enough ways how an invariant core of mind may be preserved after death.[/quote:31rkdc4m]

Let me ask you this: is it your contention that we should admit the possible existence of anything that we can imagine unless we have proof positive that it does not exist? Perhaps you are familiar with Bertrand Russel's teapot analogy. Should I hold a belief that there is a china teapot in orbit between Mars and Jupiter? Certainly such a thing is at least theoretically possible, if astoundingly improbable.

I prefer to establish a threshold of improbability, below which I deem a thing to not exist for all practical purposes. No one has ever observed energy patterns from brains or elsewhere being preserved in gravity waves or branes. The very existence of branes is controversial. No one can even postulate how such a thing might happen. Why, for the love of Pete, would I accept, at all, the assertion that such a thing is happening? Maybe I'm terribly stogey, but I like to observe a rather strict boundary between fantasy and reality.

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:31rkdc4m

Well, that's just your claim. But unless you prove it, it remains your opinion, no? Just repeating it doesn't make it true.[/quote:31rkdc4m]

My claim followed my presentation of the facts, which show that souls lie in the realm of the speculative and brains generating consciousness lie in the realm of empirical proof. You can repeat your refusal to accept these facts, but that does not make you right.

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:31rkdc4m

That illustrates a very good point. While in the brain you insist that everything is electrochemical activity, for a computer you'd distinguish between hardware and software. But you wouldn't in any way insist that the software needs to run on a particular CPU - instead of an electronic CPU, it may as well be processed optically. It actually doesn't have a real CPU at all - it can be a virtual CPU simulated by another machine. So the (non-conscious) software is in fact a concept that 'transcends' the running in a particular environment (you'd probably agree that copying a program and running it on a different computer gives me the same software running on a different computer) - whereas you think it flatly impossible that the (conscious) 'software' of the brain can be realized in any way except neuroelectricity. Interesting - but not really plausible.[/quote:31rkdc4m]

You are attempting to put words in my mouth. I have never taken the position that consciousness can only be realized through neuroelectricity. In fact, my position is the exact opposite. I think the mind is perfectly analogous to software that is running on the brain. Given sufficient technology and the appropriate system architecture, I see no reason why a mind could not be created on some other substrate. I see no reason why another mind could not be &quot;written&quot; onto the hardware of someone else's brain (well, with errors due to differences between the originating brain and the target brain). I said the functions of consciousness are down to electrochemical activity only. It is obviously wrong to say the brain is conscious by itself; dead brains are hardly conscious.

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:31rkdc4m

No, that's a picture of brain activity. That's not the same thing. That's like taking a snapshot of memory activity in a computer and claiming you understand what the algorithms are. That's confusing hardware and software. There is no way of telling from even the most colorful picture if the mind which is depicted is conscious or not. Try to think about it![/quote:31rkdc4m]

You try to think about it. Of course a still picture of a CAT scan is a snapshot. That is why it is called a still picture. A movie of a CAT scan would show the brain activity shifting and changing with time as different processes occur. That would be a movie of consciousness. When we look at a CAT scan we are getting a low-resolution picture of the play of energies in the brain. That is consciousness. That is all it is. BTW you are wrong: you can tell if a person is conscious or not from a CAT scan. There is no confusion between hardware and software. A photo of an exposed brain without a depiction of the energies at work in it would be a photo of the hardware. A CAT scan is a photo of the energies, a photo of the software running. What is missing from the picture? Why CAN'T that picture be a depiction of consciousness (and unconsciousness, too)?

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:31rkdc4m

Incidentially, just last week I read an interview with Wolf Singer, a leading German neuroscientist - he wasn't prepared to take the position you are advocating here that brain activity scans answer any fundamental questions. In fact, he called the notion misleading.[/quote:31rkdc4m]

Yawn. Look hard enough and you will find someone who will say anything. The Intelligent Design creationists have been able to find biologists that claim evolution can't explain biodiversity.

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:31rkdc4m

Define 'this universe'. String theory has plenty of hidden ones which couple only by gravity to 'this one'. In the end, it's a meaningless question, because in any scientific formulation of soul, the religious 'heaven' would in some sense have to be a part of 'this universe' - maybe a hidden one, but certainly not disconnected - how else would the soul go there?[/quote:31rkdc4m]

Are you seriously taking this to the level of asking me to define what the universe is? Are we going to debate the meaning of the word &quot;is&quot; next?

String theory, yay. I have another idea: let's say there's a magical box where anything we can't find goes to hide. Doesn't that sound like fun? That way, whenever we want to make something up and pretend it is real, we can just say it is in the magical box and that is why we can't find it!

Heaven was invented by goat herders in the Middle East 6,000 years ago who thought the earth was flat and disease was caused by bad thoughts. Are you trying to tell me that they knew something about string theory?

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:31rkdc4m

No, sorry, the DVD drive in the computer in front of you is based on a quantum effect playing out macroscopically. The sun works because of quantum effects playing out macroscopically. Neither of these works in a deterministic way - it's just that randomness in large numbers allows statistics to say something about the most probable outcome, but that's not deterministic, because you can always have a different outcome.[/quote:31rkdc4m]

No, you can't. There you go again, forgetting to treat events that are sufficiently improbable as impossible and forgetting to treat entities that are sufficiently improbable as nonexistent. What does it gain us to note that, on paper, there is some chance that all the particles in the sun will spontaneously wink out of existence? Has such an event ever happened in the history of the universe? It is the sound of a tree falling in the forest: technically there, but practically nonexistent. You will have to do better than that to convince me that quantum randomness has any effect on real-world events.

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:31rkdc4m

But the actual problem is more fundamental. It has to do with the transition from quantum state to the observed state. You can read up a bit on [url=http&#58;//en&#46;wikipedia&#46;org/wiki/Decoherence:31rkdc4m]Quantum Decoherence[/url:31rkdc4m]. To quote the main message:

Decoherence does not provide a mechanism for the actual wave function collapse; rather it provides a mechanism for the appearance of wavefunction collapse. The quantum nature of the system is simply &quot;leaked&quot; into the environment so that a total superposition of the wavefunction still exists, but exists — at least for all practical purposes — beyond the realm of measurement. Thus decoherence, as a philosophical interpretation, amounts to something similar to the many-worlds approach.

Funnily enough, here's the second way how present-day physics understanding generates worlds beyond our own... They are rather plentiful to find I must say.

Well, in short you are completely wrong about the universe being deterministic - but I can't give you a complete lecture in quantum field theory here.[/quote:31rkdc4m]

Take a look at the passage you just quoted: &quot;...the waveform exists, but exists - at least for all practical purposes - BEYOND THE REALM OF MEASUREMENT.&quot; Do you understand what that means? It means the unobserved position of the waveform does not exist, for any purposes that we can possibly have. When charting the total history of the universe, we will never be able to measure the effect of the alternate position AT ALL. It exists in math, nowhere else.

To reiterate, in order for you to show that quantum theory has some relevance for the determinism/nondeterminism of the universe, you will have to show examples of quantum randomness occurring in a measurable, real way at a level that can be said to affect events. At the level we all operate on, we know that when we drop something, it falls. That, my friend, is deterministic.

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:31rkdc4m

I do know many scientists. In fact, I am one (in case you haven't guessed, I'm making my money doing theoretical physics, applications of quantum field theory). And when they talk about God, they usually mean the traditional, personal God of religion.[/quote:31rkdc4m]

Richard Dawkins knows a lot more scientists than you do. And he says they don't mean that.

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:31rkdc4m

Your question is ill-posed. Anything 'above the quantum level' is an effective concept how we try to cast the universe into a shape we can perceive. In nature, there is nothing 'above the quantum level' (and probably, even the quantum level is a gross approximation of reality). In its very nature, in its foundation, the universe is quantum. Regardless of how your perception creates the illusion of determinism.[/quote:31rkdc4m]

Why ignore the effects of statistics? Why focus on the irrelevant, invisible actions of things that are almost too small to be real when the topic of discussion is the nature of the whole universe and everything in it? I am saying that cars have wheels and you are pointing to the engine block and saying that it doesn't have wheels and it is part of the car therefore cars don't have wheels. I am quite aware that everything that happens in the universe is because of the mass movements of atoms, which are individually governed by quantum theory. The critical point is that I am talking about mass movements and you keep taking it back to the level of the individual particle. Why? If we were subatomic particles, I would take quite a different position on the nature of the universe. However, we are only MADE of subatomic particles, we are not actually subatomic particles ourselves. view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 04 November 2008 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Thorsten, Candidate

You see, the core of this issue is about here:

Let me ask you this: is it your contention that we should admit the possible existence of anything that we can imagine unless we have proof positive that it does not exist?
(...) I prefer to establish a threshold of improbability, below which I deem a thing to not exist for all practical purposes. No one has ever observed energy patterns from brains or elsewhere being preserved in gravity waves or branes. The very existence of branes is controversial. No one can even postulate how such a thing might happen. Why, for the love of Pete, would I accept, at all, the assertion that such a thing is happening? Maybe I'm terribly stogey, but I like to observe a rather strict boundary between fantasy and reality.


You did not write that based on the available evidence, you'd consider the existence of a soul unlikely. You claimed it does not exist. You did not write that energy leaking into an extra dimension is a possibility considered by some. You claimed it doesn't happen. You wrote with an air of absolute certainty - and to that I object. Because moden physics is a strange place with the universe not being what it seems to be.

So, is there any evidence of a soul? Well, one may cite some accounts people have given of memories of a prior life. Admittedly most of them are rubbish, day-dreams to increase self-importance. But some give an astounding amount of detail. You'd claim of course that they have debunked - but that depends on what you read. I have tried to go through accounts from both sides, I have spoken with people who claim to remember previous lifes - and I simply don't know. That's the whole point here - I don't know. I think a lot of experiences, accounts, a lot of the similarity of core religious beliefs could fit into one overarching theory if there was some way mind would be directly connected to the environment, via quantum entanglement, gravitational waves, brane reality, whatever. You mentioned the fact that Cygnus X-1 was predicted before it was seen as good evidence for black hole theory. (Incidentially, there is currently no direct really strong field test of gravitation - Cygnus X-1 could be a compact object stabilized by unknown means, it doesn't have to have an event horizon - the 'evidence' for it actually being a black hole is that we have no other explanation - which isn't quite the same thing). So, what if I tell you that Jewish mysticism pretty much predicted wave-particle dualism? Of course, you'd argue that given enough text, you can predict anything. But then, gravitation had competitors, there were a number of predictions from different theories, and one of them happened to be confirmed by Cygnus X-1 - so why is that different? In looking at successful predictions, we tend to forget the 20 other predictions from different theories which are no longer around because they failed to predict, although they were equally considered before a measurement.

I'd be entirely fine with the notion that a 'soul' currently hasn't any hard evidence going for it - it's rather soft circumstantial evidence, given scientific standards. But that isn't likely to change - you can't actually do research in mind-matter entanglement or anything like that - you get your funding cut. Look at [url=http&#58;//en&#46;wikipedia&#46;org/wiki/Brian_David_Josephson:2uk4aw51]Brian Josephson[/url:2uk4aw51] - he is a Nobel price winner, and he lost funding. Society doesn't even offer physicists to do that kind of research. So how the hell is anyone to accumulate hard evidence?

A soul may even not be there at all, I'm not claiming a know it is. Neither may free will be. But I think your view is too narrow. There is too much stuff, too many open ends to tell, and that's what I am trying to argue here. It's nowhere near a case as clear-cut as you'd want it to be.

So, some technical details:

If you want to use highly theoretical extra dimensions as a hiding place for souls, be my guest, but first do me the favour of explaining how they are going to get there without accessing the incredible energies that will be unleashed at CERN.


You need the energies at CERN to create gravitons which you can actually observe - you can create gravitons with much lower energy, you just can't see those in a detector. You see, in any accelerator experiment there is missing energy. Part of it just goes down the beampipe, part of it is neutrinos which you usually don't get to see, so if there is a low-energy graviton produced somewhere, it just doesn't register. In fact, there should be gravity coupling to any process which involves energy (the particles you consist of are pulled to earth).

No energy &quot;disappears,&quot; and the energy in a human brain is immortal in exactly the same way as the energy in a light bulb is immortal.


*shrugs* To be strict, energy is the time-component of a 4-vector, as such it's not an invariant (the mass is...) and thus you can change its value to anything above the value of the invariant mass. Well - that's special relativity for you. In general relativity, energy only has a meaningful definition if you have a flat space somewhere - then you can define energy-momentum as a flux across that surface. Otherwise, energy doesn't have a meaningful definition at all.

But we're not talking about energy disappearing - I was suggesting the notion that a pattern is preserved which does not cost much energy.

A movie of a CAT scan would show the brain activity shifting and changing with time as different processes occur. That would be a movie of consciousness.


Look, if I try to understand software, a look at the source code would be meaningful. Not a look at a movie how the memory occupation shifts in time while the software runs. So why should a look at 'the play of energies' (I guess it's actually blood flow and blood suger consumption which you're seeing - X-rays don't actually scatter off electricity) in the brain reveal how its software works?

you can tell if a person is conscious or not from a CAT scan


No, you can tell that there is brain activity - how does that necessarily imply self-awareness? I can't even by talking to you verify that you are conscious (well, yes, in the medical sense I can, but that's not what I mean) - you could give the same responses without being aware of it in any way.

Yawn. Look hard enough and you will find someone who will say anything


Mind if I apply that quote to Richard Dawkins? <!-- s8) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_cool.gif" alt="8)" title="Cool" /><!-- s8) --> I mean, yeah, if I declare everyone you quote as irrelevant, then of course I am always right, that's for sure.

Are you seriously taking this to the level of asking me to define what the universe is?


Yes, actually I am. If there would be a 'parallel brane' that somehow would only exchange gravitational waves with this one and you wouldn't normally observe those (see above) - would this be one universe in your terminology or two (tenuously connected) ones? I'm not after something profound - I just wish to clear terminology.

There you go again, forgetting to treat events that are sufficiently improbable as impossible and forgetting to treat entities that are sufficiently improbable as nonexistent.


Well, that's what a probabilistic world is:

Suppose we have a dice and it produces random numbers from 1-6 with equal probability. That's as probabilistic as it gets. So I throw it 10.000 times. Of course I can predict that if I sum all the rolls, I get close to 35.000. The chance to get exactly 35.000 is rather small, but I'll be close. That is precisely how a probabilistic world works. But of course, as opposed to a deterministic one, I can't know the result of the next throw. In a deterministic world, I would know the next result, as well as exactly the sum after 10.000. In a probabilistic world, I deal with fluctuations around that most probable. So are you telling me throwing dice is deterministic because I will most likely be close to 35.000?

A probabilistic world doesn't equal complete loss of predictivity. That's non-linearities which do that - and they do it in equal measure for the probabilistic and for the deterministic world (except when you have perfect knowledge of the initial state). Different thing. So in any strongly non-linear system, quantum randomness will eventually govern the long-term dynamics. So, question is - is the brain a non-linear system. And yes, it seems to be.

So, a deterministic sun doesn't shine. The reason is that the fusion reaction doesn't happen - the nuclei don't get through the charge repulsion. But in a probabilistic world, there is a small chance of tunneling. It's tiny (the energy output per volume of the sun is less than the nergy output of the human body per volume) - but there are many particles throwing dice. The sun shines, because if you throw a dice in sequences of 20 throws, it is actually possible to get them all being 1 once in a while. And if you have enough people throwing dice, then it's fine.


Take a look at the passage you just quoted: &quot;...the waveform exists, but exists - at least for all practical purposes - BEYOND THE REALM OF MEASUREMENT.&quot; Do you understand what that means? It means the unobserved position of the waveform does not exist, for any purposes that we can possibly have.


I understand perfectly well what 'measurement' means - it's a well defined term in quantum physics. I just wonder if you do. In particular, it doesn't equal 'has no influence' or 'does not exist' - there could still be quantum entanglement between the states/different worlds and they would influence each other. The problem is that you can't measure that influence because you can't set up a non-entangled reference point. But that doesn't mean you are not influenced by the other state.

The critical point is that I am talking about mass movements and you keep taking it back to the level of the individual particle. Why?


I'd guess because I understand the problem of the transition from microscopic to macroscopic. You don't, you insist it's just 'gone'. I know that this 'gone' is nothing but a convenient fiction. You argue that it's 'just math'. Well, souls are 'just religion', Wolf Singer is 'just a guy saying stuff', physics is 'just math' - yes, sure, if you dismiss anything which contradicts you, then your belief in determinism will not shake. It's just not smart to do that. <!-- s8) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_cool.gif" alt="8)" title="Cool" /><!-- s8) --> view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 05 November 2008 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Cnaiür, Peralogue

Quote: &quot;Tilberian&quot;:y6vi5ie6
Spare me your medieval fantasies. There is no God.[/quote:y6vi5ie6]

You're right. Black holes are real.



The two of you are in a league beyond me. I just want to steer this train back onto the free will track by saying ... science has proved numerous times that free will is very real, by creating technologies and perfecting various techniques that can influence and suppress the free will of an individual. view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 06 November 2008 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Harrol, Moderator

Cnaiür wrote:
Even God made the decision to create, and made the decision to pass on free will to his creations.


Spare me your medieval fantasies. There is no God.


Lets avoid personal attacks here. The discussion is great and I do not want to see it get bogged down. view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 21 April 2009 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Thorsten, Candidate

Finally I found out who this Richard Dawkins actually is (admittedly, I didn't really try) and where Tilberian's arguments come from. So, I got myself Dawkins' book 'The God Delusion' and went over Dawkins' arguments in some detail. To cut a long story short, I agree with Dawkins on all trivial counts, but I disagree with him on all the non-trivial things. He starts with the assumption that what he does works in establishing truth, then applies vastly different standards in judging evidence which confirms what he thinks is true as compared to evidence that contradicts what he thinks is true, and as a result he gets out what he puts in. So, I am not really impressed.

If anyone should be interested in the long story, I have written up most ideas in an essay [url=http&#58;//www&#46;phy&#46;duke&#46;edu/~trenk/various/science_and_god&#46;html:27tlbcoc]here[/url:27tlbcoc]. This is a tour through the roots of rationality, Goedel's incompleteness theorem, quantum physics, the consistency principle in the conscious mind, Zen Buddhism, evolution as played out at the quantum scale, non-rational paradigms for decisionmaking and game theory and a few more things, so I am afraid it is not quite easy reading. But then, Mr. Bakker's novels are not really that easy either... view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 29 April 2009 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Nauticus, Auditor

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:4nt3gwfq
Finally I found out who this Richard Dawkins actually is (admittedly, I didn't really try) and where Tilberian's arguments come from. So, I got myself Dawkins' book 'The God Delusion' and went over Dawkins' arguments in some detail. To cut a long story short, I agree with Dawkins on all trivial counts, but I disagree with him on all the non-trivial things. He starts with the assumption that what he does works in establishing truth, then applies vastly different standards in judging evidence which confirms what he thinks is true as compared to evidence that contradicts what he thinks is true, and as a result he gets out what he puts in. So, I am not really impressed.

If anyone should be interested in the long story, I have written up most ideas in an essay [url=http&#58;//www&#46;phy&#46;duke&#46;edu/~trenk/various/science_and_god&#46;html:4nt3gwfq]here[/url:4nt3gwfq]. This is a tour through the roots of rationality, Goedel's incompleteness theorem, quantum physics, the consistency principle in the conscious mind, Zen Buddhism, evolution as played out at the quantum scale, non-rational paradigms for decisionmaking and game theory and a few more things, so I am afraid it is not quite easy reading. But then, Mr. Bakker's novels are not really that easy either...[/quote:4nt3gwfq]
Whether or not you agree with Richard Dawkins is pretty irrelevant to this discussion, because his arguments are just as valid as are yours. In fact, I would suggest his arguments are more valid, because he actually has a large collection of work to his name.

You've read one book, and you think you have an argument against his. Please read more, and you'll understand his &quot;full version&quot; better. The God Delusion simply covers his anti-theism, and you miss out on all of his science. view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 30 April 2009 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Thorsten, Candidate

Whether or not you agree with Richard Dawkins is pretty irrelevant to this discussion, because his arguments are just as valid as are yours.


This appears to be a misunderstanding of the term 'agree'. I was not stating an agreement based on personal preference or taste - in which case you would be right and what he says would be just as valid as what I say - what I mean with 'agree' or 'disagree' is that I have convinced myself that what he states is wrong and that I can give (and have given) the reasons for this, and in this case his arguments are certainly not as valid as mine. One of us is likely wrong, the other is right, and a look at the evidence is needed for making up your mind which. The scientific method is about sorting out wrong views based on evidence, not about some idea that everyones views are somehow equally valid.

In fact, I would suggest his arguments are more valid, because he actually has a large collection of work to his name.


So have I - I am a scientist myself. But that's beside the point, as truth is never established by counting the number of publications. What a strange criterion this should be.

If you wish to argue that my arguments are not valid, please go into the evidence of any particular argument, and I'll be happy to discuss on this basis. But 'he is right because he has written more books' is not a criterion I accept for further discussion.

You've read one book, and you think you have an argument against his. Please read more, and you'll understand his &quot;full version&quot; better. The God Delusion simply covers his anti-theism, and you miss out on all of his science.


I happen to be married to a Biologist, and naturally I have a few friends from study days in various fields of Biology and we do talk science, so I have no lack of insight into evolution, cell biology and genetics. Dawkins is not really special in the field, he's just popular outside biology. I read a great deal on consciousness, neurophysiology, evolutionary psychology and such things from other authors (and I try not to go for the popular science books but rather have a look into the research papers if I can - in fact, you will find that I mention raw data on evolutionary psychology in my essay). So I don't quite see how I would miss out on any science.

Oh, and there can be no such thing as 'his science' - science should certainly be independent from the person who does it. So I should not have to read Dawkins in order to understand Darwinian evolution or any other aspect of Biology - any other author should do.

But let me be more precise - I disagree with Dawkins as far as his statements in 'The God Delusion' are concerned on all trivial counts, but I disagree with him on all non-trivial things. (I thought that much would be apparent from the context, but hey...). It so happens that I disagree with his main argument presented in 'The Selfish Gene', and I can elaborate my reasons for that, but that's beside the point here.

I understand perfectly well where Dawkins comes from, namely science, because I come from the same corner, I work in science, I apply the same techniques and the same type of reasoning as Dawkins does - and that's precisely where my criticism of 'The God Delusion' comes from: He pushes reasoning into regions where it is known not to work, he uses biased criteria to look at evidence and he puts conjecture in the place of fact - so he gets the result he wants to get rather than what is true. I don't claim to know what is true, but I do recognize flaws in science and reasoning when I see them. view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 18 May 2009 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Callan S., Auditor

Quote: &quot;Thorsten&quot;:1nlkryyk
He starts with the assumption that what he does works in establishing truth, then applies vastly different standards in judging evidence which confirms what he thinks is true as compared to evidence that contradicts what he thinks is true, and as a result he gets out what he puts in.[/quote:1nlkryyk]
What did he say as being true?

I can't really remember him saying anything to be true - sure, lots of hinting as to stuff like hell houses being bad for children, or maybe stuff like saying the solid part of an atom is like a fly in a football field. Perhaps darwininsm? But your probably not refering to that stuff?

What things did he say are true? view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 18 May 2009 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Thorsten, Candidate

I have written a lengthy essay on the issue where I pretty much quote what Dawkins states where before discussing it. It is linked in the thread. Please just read it instead of asking me to type it here again. It is quite irrelevant what you remember Dawkins saying when we can just read it up in his book. view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 03 July 2009 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Callan S., Auditor

I'm rather skeptical that the question requires lengthy essays to answer it. I'll keep it in mind that it might, but for now I'll treat it as if it doesn't and the whole lengthy essay thing as just a distraction. view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 07 July 2009 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Thorsten, Candidate

I'm rather skeptical that the question requires lengthy essays to answer it.


What question?

What Dawkins thinks or says is true? - That requires to read his book.
If Dawkins' arguments are sound? - That requires a lengthy essay unless you consider his arguments a priori valid or invalid, otherwise you'll not be spared the trouble of investigating them.
If there is free will or a soul? - That requires more than a lengthy essay - philosophers have been working a while on that one. view post


I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 30 September 2009 in NeuropathI don't understand how the word 'will' is being used by Thorsten, Candidate

A while ago Tilberian wrote:

Look up a picture of a CAT scan. Your search is over: that is consciousness.


Just to illustrate why I am and continue to be skeptical about looking for fundamental answers in brain scans: [url=http&#58;//prefrontal&#46;org/files/posters/Bennett-Salmon-2009&#46;pdf:10a9r3g6]A dead salmon demonstrates emotional response in brain scans[/url:10a9r3g6] (the link is to a conference poster). view post


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