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  • The God Debate: A Children's Merry-Go-Round
    Recapturing Our Lost Bond With Reality

    In the last post we tried to understand the human need that created the God debate, with the goal of meeting that need so as to resolve the God question. Not answer the God question, make it unnecessary, resolve it. Or at least move in that direction.

    PLEASE NOTE: Nothing written here is intended to argue for or against the existence of a God. I assure you that I don't know the answer to that. The point instead is to try to convert the God debate in to something more useful than debate.

    It was proposed that the source of the God debate is that we lost the primal bond with reality experienced by animals and primitive humans as thought became dominant in the human experience. This development shifted our focus from the real world to mental abstractions, symbols which point to the real world.


    Doing The Homework

    It will prove useful for the reader to carefully observe how much of the time they are focusing their attention not on the real world so much as on their thoughts about the real world.

    As example, as you're driving to work on a road you've traveled many times, observe how much of your attention is on the real world going by outside of your car, and how much of your attention is thinking about the day ahead.

    You're driving along, mostly lost in thought about something or another. And then all of sudden a kid on a bike shoots out in to traffic, and the focus of your attention is immediately shifted out of the symbolic realm between your ears back in to the real world. Once the kid is gone, you return to being lost in thought. This shift of focus back and forth from the real world to the symbolic world is a routine part of our daily human life.

    All the philosophy in the world will not be as helpful as just a few minutes a day observing what our minds are focused on.

    With that in mind...


    An Experiment

    Here's an experiment which may prove helpful.

    Let's observe something, anything, it doesn't matter what. Let's observe our subject as carefully as we can.

    Our goal is not to gather information, understand our subject, or come to any theory or opinion about it. Instead we will just observe, look closely, and take it in. We're observing, just observing, that's all.

    observation.jpeg

    If this experiment is pursued with even a bit of seriousness it should soon become clear that the primary obstacle to close observation is that our attention keeps getting hijacked by our thoughts.

    This is what has happened to the primal bond with reality which earlier humans once enjoyed. The direct relationship with reality was hijacked by thoughts, abstractions which point to reality. As humans evolved we began trading in the real for the symbolic.


    The Second Hand Experience

    So as example, instead of fully taking in a sunrise to the point that it brings tears to our eyes, we think "that's a beautiful sunrise". We experience that thought, instead of experiencing the sunrise directly.

    And because experiencing a thought is a diluted second hand symbolic experience of reality, it doesn't have the power to bring us to tears. Instead, we think "that's nice" and then maybe check our phone to see if we have any new text messages.

    sunrise.jpg

    So many times, so many, I've gone to the trouble of showing up on a Florida beach before sunrise to witness the show, only to realize later that I missed most of it because instead of paying attention to the real world, I chose to write some article like this in my head.

    Let's see, which is more glorious? A massive nuclear powered fireball of a star shooting rays of photons across 93 million miles in just 8 minutes? Or Phil's big ideas?

    You can probably answer this one without my help.


    A Plan Of Action

    If you've understood the above, or much more importantly if you've done the homework and experienced it, the plan of action I will propose is probably becoming clear.

    If the God debate is a symptom of our degraded relationship with reality, and if thought is the primary degrading agent...

    It's time to move beyond philosophy.

    But how to do that? I won't be offering "the answer" because there are a million ways to go about this. I'll share some of the ways I move beyond philosophy, and you can share your strategies too if you want by replying to this post.

    In the next post we'll start moving beyond theory and get down to practical business.
  • The God Debate: A Children's Merry-Go-Round
    An Alternative To The God Debate

    In the first article of this thread it was proposed that an alternative to the God debate could be to try to understand the human need that gave rise to that debate, and look for ways to meet that need. To the degree we were to succeed in meeting that need the God question would not be answered, but it could to some degree perhaps be resolved.

    The logic of such a process is that there is no evidence that the God question can be credibly answered, given that all theories for and against the existence of God arise from reference to authorities (reason and holy books) whose qualifications for this particular investigation have not been proven.

    If one sees the endlessly repetitive bankruptcy of the God debate, but still wishes to continue an investigation of some kind, this article proposes a path one might take.


    Where Did The God Idea Come From?

    It seems helpful to reflect that animals, and then primitive humans, had an intimate primal relationship with nature which is beyond the reach of most, or perhaps all, modern humans.

    As one example, the religions of the native peoples of North America seem to be heavily invested in reverence for the natural world.

    release-eagle.jpg

    In another example, my wife is an avid wildlife rehabber, so I live in a wildlife hospital of sorts. The hundreds of orphaned baby animals she has raised always prefer to be released in to the wild when they're ready, even though they aren't old enough for sex yet, and their accommodations in our house exceed the standards of a five star hotel. When they are strong enough they always choose sleeping out in the rain and running from predators over the pampering protected care my wife provides them. We might ask why these creatures universally choose an option which would seem so counterproductive to their survival.


    The Emergence Of Thought

    In the case of human beings, what undermined and diluted our own primal relationship with reality was the emergence of thought.

    As thought became increasingly dominant in the human experience our focus of attention progressively shifted from the natural world to the realm of abstractions between our ears. What had once been a relationship with nature became ever more a relationship with our thoughts about nature. We traded the real for the symbolic.

    thoughts.jpg

    A simple experiment can make the compelling appeal of thought obvious. Find a beautiful quiet spot, make yourself comfortable, and count your breaths. Most of us won't make it to a count of ten before some train of thought or another distracts us and causes us to lose our place in the count.

    It's hard to have an intimate primal relationship with anything that we can't really keep our attention on.


    The Divisive Nature Of Thought

    Once we humans began to increasingly direct our attention at the thoughts in our heads, we became ever more subject to the properties of that medium.

    Let us observe that thought operates by dividing a single unified reality in to conceptual parts. The noun is the easiest example of this. Our identity as "me" is one of those conceptual objects, a dominant one in the modern human experience.

    So while we had once experienced ourselves as one with nature, as thought emerged we were not only distracted from reality, but looking through the lens of thought created the experience of being divided from nature. Nature became one thing, and "me" became another.

    Evidence for the divisive nature of thought can be seen in the way that every philosophy, ideology and religion etc that has ever been invented inevitably subdivides in to competing internal factions. The universality of this subdivision process reveals to us that the source of this division lies deeper than in the content of particular philosophies, but instead in the inherently divisive nature of what we're all made of psychologically, thought.


    Religion To The Rescue?

    As the emergence of thought broke the unity we had once experienced with reality, religions began to emerge in an attempt to restore the lost union. Phrases like "get back to God" can be seen as expressions of this agenda.

    The God concept arose as a method of personalizing reality so as to make it easier for thought distracted humanity to reestablish an emotional connection with nature. We were told that God loves us, and we should love God in return. Various stories were written with the goal of engaging us in this experience of love, of connection, or reestablishing the lost bond with nature which had once come so naturally.

    The primary problem for the well intentioned efforts of religion has been that they typically attempt to heal the divide with reality using the very same medium that caused the divide. Thought.

    doctrines.jpg

    Religious thoughts began to proliferate in the form of teachings, doctrines, rules, and interpretations. And then of course we all began arguing about these teachings, a process which further distracted us from the natural world.


    Exploring Beyond The God Debate

    One way to engage the God debate is to continue the competing answers game for many more centuries and in the end wind up where we already are, nowhere.

    Another way to engage the God debate is to investigate the human need which caused us to start the debate in the first place, and attempt to meet that need.

    Let's talk about that next.
  • Is Reality "Intelligent"?
    I'm just pointing out that there's something of an infinite regress in calling for scientific study of science before we do science because science might reveal dangerous information.Nick

    I mean something simpler, and may not be expressing it well.

    Could you agree that human beings are not gods, and that there must be some limit to the degree of power we can successfully manage? It seems sensible, and in the spirit of science, to apply a reasoned analysis to the question of where that limit is.

    To me, to blindly assume there is no limit to human ability as a matter of faith, because that is what we would like to believe, smells more like religion than science.
  • Is Reality "Intelligent"?
    However, it's not a hard and fast distinction because life isn't a substance, it's a phenomenon that arises from purely mechanical (here I'm using this as a catch-all that includes mechanics, chemistry, electromagnetism etc) processes.Nick

    I see this as a theory. A reasonable theory for sure. But of course I want to ask, what do the purely mechanical processes arise from? Ok, the laws of physics. What do those laws arise from? I obviously don't have the answers here, I just find the questions interesting.
  • Toward a cautious CRISPR future
    Hi again Nick, thanks for keeping this discussion alive.

    Jennifer Doudna has been an uncommonly strong voice for the regulation and education of a new, powerful technology.Nick

    Best I can tell, this is true. I don't doubt her good intentions.

    I just think the concept of regulation is on the edge of becoming outdated thinking. It seems a reasonable plan so long as the technology is limited to the professional class. These folks have a lot to lose, and thus are susceptible to being regulated.

    I think we should assume that bad and stupid people will use this technology too, as I think Doudna does assume. Then the question becomes, how much trouble can bad actors create with this technology? What is the scale of the power involved here? That question can be divided in to the current moment, and reasonable projections of where this is headed.

    Honestly, I'm less concerned with CRISPR specifically than I am with the larger question of the knowledge explosion as a whole.
  • Is Reality "Intelligent"?
    Hi again Nick,

    In your view, should we discard the concept of "intelligence" altogether? If all behavior is fundamentally mechanical, does intelligence exist?

    Do you see all behavior, that of bacteria and of humans for example, to be of the same type, fundamentally mechanical?

    You call for a scientific examination of our relationship with science that would itself be performing experiments that risk the negative outcomes of science, the fear of which were the motivation for the "metascientific" endeavor itself.Nick

    Apologies, I don't understand your point here. Try again? Still listening.

    Perhaps I should rephrase too. What I was suggesting was a scientific examination of human behavior with the goal of trying to assess what degree of power human beings can successfully manage. This might explore questions like, what role does the rate of knowledge accumulation have?

    Perhaps we might explore such questions in Our Relationship With Knowledge?
  • The God Debate: A Children's Merry-Go-Round
    Sorry, Luis, it was me that was unclear. Yes, of course humans prefer life. I just meant there's no proof that life is actually better than death, because we have no proof of what death is. We prefer what we know, and have no way of comparing it to what we don't know.

    The following is perhaps another subject, not sure. As I understand it, just as there is a will to live, there is a corresponding will to die. Not die physically, but psychologically. Many of the activities we most enjoy in life involve a temporary obliteration of the "me". As just one example, when I was young I was an avid surfer. When we're racing down a wave with tons of water arching over our head, there's no room in our mind for all the usual "all about me" thoughts which we are so prone to. "Me" is gone. All that exists psychologically is the real world in that moment. There is a sense in which we are most alive in such moments, and also in a way dead. Life and death are one, so to speak.

    The point here is that if physical death is the end of "me", our experience in life could possibly suggest that outcome is not something to run from, given that we tend to run towards it while living.
  • The God Debate: A Children's Merry-Go-Round
    Welcome Luis, happy to have you here. For the historical record :-) you are the site's second member, a pioneer. The first fellow to join was Nick who just received his doctorate in molecular biology.

    Yes, I'm sure many or most atheists would dispute my description of that perspective. They've been doing so for years, as is their right of course. Those who are sincere about reason can be receptive, those seeking a superior ideology, not so much.

    In other words, it's built into our very nature to want to be as long as possible.Luis Razo Bravo

    Ok, that makes sense. Thanks for introducing that concept. As it happens, just yesterday they posted a great video about our relationship with death on BigThink which you may find interesting.



    If this is the case, then it stands to reason that one common ground on which we might build a case for or against God and address the underlying need is to figure out how we can refrain from dying, both individually and as a species.Luis Razo Bravo

    I'm not sure. A search for some form of immortality would seem to be built upon the belief that life is better than death. I don't see any proof of that, or proof for any death theory. Given that, I wouldn't try to advise anyone else on the subject, but my personal inclination is to trust the system as it is.

    I don't have time to engage more here but would be happy to arrange some time to talk via Zoom in the future.Luis Razo Bravo

    I understand. We aren't on a schedule so happy to hear from you whenever your time permits. It's going to take some time to build this community, but over time I think we'll wind up with an environment more satisfying than Facebook.

    Believe it or not, as incredible at this may seem, :-) I've never zoomed. I'll look in to that. And honestly, I'm a print person, so I'm rather less interesting in person.

    There may be an opportunity for us to work together, given you are working in video and I'm in print. Should it ever interest you, I'd be happy to create a section of this forum dedicated to your YouTube channel and give you control over it. This would seem to create a better place to discuss your videos than YouTube comments. YouTube is great at hosting videos, but the comment sections tend to be far less than great.

    In any case, thanks for stopping by, and I look forward to staying connected by some method or another.
  • Are Academic Philosophers Rational?
    So what am I asking academic philosophers to do?

    As a place to start, let's get this out of the way. It's not politics.

    ACTIVISM?: Sure, if we were a rational species we'd all be down in front of the White House protesting nuclear weapons every weekend. But this is a responsibility of all citizens, and not academic philosophers in particular. So no, I'm not asking academics to wave signs and shout slogans.

    PARTISAN POLITICS?: Here in the United States at least, the Democrat and Republican parties typically ignore the biggest threat to the republic with equal measure. So even if a philosopher wished to fight nuclear weapons through political partisanship it's not at all clear what party they should support. So again, this is challenge for all citizens, and not a burden it would be reasonable to place on philosophers alone.


    What Am I Demanding?

    So if not politics, what then? What am I asking, or um, demanding that academic philosophers do??

    I'm asking academic philosophers to be philosophers. I'm asking them to be rational. I'm asking them to be relevant. Here's how.

    The threat to human welfare presented by nuclear weapons arises from a source more fundamental than global politics. This threat, like others such as climate change, arises from our relationship with knowledge.

    How can fundamental causes not be relevant to philosophy?

    How can our relationship with knowledge not be a topic suitable for professional philosophers to investigate?

    Our relationship with knowledge is a fundamental factor which will determine the course of the 21st century, and probably the rest of human history as well. How we manage this relationship will determine whether our future is full of glorious miracles, or a descent in to dystopian horrors. How our culture thinks about our relationship with knowledge will decide whether we are handing our children a garden of eden, or sending them in to an unbearable hell on Earth.

    To the degree professional philosophers ignore this all important relationship with knowledge, they are irrelevant to what matters most, the advancement of human welfare. And to the degree that is true, they will be forever condemned to continue writing obscure papers on arcane topics, papers that almost nobody reads. There's a price tag for being irrelevant.


    Who Else Can Do This Job?

    Who do we expect is supposed to examine our culture's relationship with knowledge?

    POLITICIANS?: In a democracy our political leaders are basically highly skilled sales people. They have a valid role in representing the will of the people, but surely we don't expect sales people who are always running for the next election to provide deep reflection on fundamental issues like our relationship with knowledge. I mean, c'mon, even our highest ranking national politicians can't focus on the nuclear weapons which could erase our society in less than an hour. They can't really do the job they already have, it would irrational to expect even more of them.

    SCIENTISTS?: Scientists are highly skilled at developing new knowledge. This is the job we hire them to perform, and they deliver. But knowing how to develop knowledge, and having an ability to reflect deeply on our relationship with knowledge are not automatically the same thing. In fact, because scientists were born to develop knowledge, and get paid to do that job, it seems reasonable to claim that, as a group, they have a built in bias which will make it difficult to impossible for them to observe our relationship with knowledge in a truly holistic and fully objective manner. Scientists are really good at what they're really good at. It would be irrational to expect them to be really good at everything.

    So who is it that should examine our relationship with knowledge? Oprah? Talk show hosts? Novelists? TV programming executives? Comedians? Internet blowhards such as myself? Who is it that is best qualified to inspect the relationship which lies at the heart of our modern science driven civilization?

    Philosophers.

    They're intelligent. They're highly educated. They're articulate. They've studied the history of Western thought in considerable detail. They have Phd's, cultural authority. They have offices in the ivory tower and funding from major universities. They have access to tomorrow's leaders, today's young people.

    Philosophers are the most qualified people for examining our relationship with knowledge. It's a very important job. It's their job. Now we just need to persuade them to do it.
  • Are Academic Philosophers Rational?
    As is so often the case, this question of whether academic philosophy is rational seems to boil down to how one defines philosophy. I would agree from the start that nobody including me owns that word, so each of us are free to define it through our own lens.

    If we were to define philosophy as a thorough study of the history of Western thought, as an intellectual business, or as the carefully crafted expression of a thinker's favorite ideas, then I would agree that by that definition academic philosophy is rational in that it clearly meets such goals. And I would agree that such definitions are widely accepted, and thus a reasonable use of the term "philosophy".

    For myself, I prefer a definition of philosophy along the lines of...

    Philosophy: The application of disciplined thought to the advancement of human welfare.

    It's from this definition that I'm questioning whether academic philosophy is rational.

    Attention to nuclear weapons is of course not the only yardstick by which we might measure how well academic philosophers are addressing the advancement of human welfare. Nuclear weapons are just a simple, well known, and very dramatic example of a threat to human welfare which is easy to point to as an example.

    If a philosopher's focus is squarely on the advancement of human welfare, then it would be rational to focus one's work on one of the largest and most imminent threats to that welfare. Nuclear weapons can destroy everything, in just a few minutes, and that could happen at any time without warning. Large. Imminent. Threat.

    Focusing squarely on the advancement of human welfare would also be a rational pursuit of the academic philosopher's own self interest because serving the public, in a manner the public can access, is the most logical path to the field of academic philosophy earning the professional respect which it so often seems to be in search of.

    There is a very important role that professional philosophers can play in our society. Academics wish to inhabit such an important role, and we in the public who typically fund their enterprise would like them to as well. If hard working waitresses and plumbers are going to be required to take money out of their paychecks and send it to academic philosophers, they would of course like to be able to see a return on that investment.

    As we proceed below, we'll look at how such a mutually beneficial state of affairs might be brought in to existence, through the lens of nuclear weapons. Let's also demonstrate how mentioning the phrase "nuclear weapons" doesn't automatically take us out of the realm of philosophy.
  • Our Relationship With Knowledge
    Given how many millions of times I am likely to reference this issue in threads, it seemed it might be helpful to summarize my obsession with this question.

    Is the knowledge explosion sustainable?

    To address this question, let's examine some key components of the knowledge explosion.

    REALITY: First, the scale of reality seems vast beyond comprehension, and the more we dig in to our study of reality the more complexity and detail we seem to find. Thus, it seems we don't need to worry about running out of things to learn. We'll cross this off the list of obstacles for now, for a long time, perhaps forever.

    KNOWLEDGE: Second, the knowledge explosion feeds back on itself, leading to an ever accelerating development of new knowledge. The classic example here is the invention of computers, which has greatly facilitated research across almost every field. And now artificial intelligence is coming, which will further accelerate our learning. Given how the knowledge explosion feeds back upon itself, it seems reasonable to assume that for the foreseeable future there is no practical limit to how fast we might learn.

    So far we see: 1) a seemingly limitless amount of things available to learn, and 2) no known speed limit on how fast we might learn. Thus, when looking only at the nature of reality and the nature of knowledge, it seems we could reasonably answer yes, the knowledge explosion is sustainable.

    HUMAN BEINGS: Here's the part of the knowledge explosion equation I don't see being adequately addressed, if it's even considered.

    How much knowledge can human beings successfully manage? Put another way, how much power to edit our environment can we handle?

    We can explore this question in more depth as we continue. For now I ask, pretty much everyone I meet everywhere, only that this question be put on the table for examination.

    As an aspiring person of reason I decline to do what seems so common, blindly assume that human beings can handle ANY number of new powers of ANY scale delivered at ANY rate. That is, I decline to join the "science clergy" and their many followers in assuming that we are gods.

    All of the above can be very reasonably debated, and one of my goals for this site is that we do just that.
  • Is Reality "Intelligent"?
    In general, I would challenge you to hold your own viewpoint that the unending pursuit of knowledge will lead to the end of civilization to the same standard of proof you are demanding of what you call science culture.Nick

    Fair challenge of course. I can't provide proof, but I can provide evidence.

    - A single human being can now bring modern civilization to an end in just minutes by pushing a button.

    - We are typically too bored by this ever present existential threat to bother discussing it, even
    in presidential campaigns.

    To me, these well established real world facts are not evidence of a species which is ready for ever more knowledge and power at an ever accelerating rate without limit.

    Not proof for sure. But pretty strong evidence.

    PS: I'm hijacking my own thread. I may not be ready for editing even two members. :-)
  • Is Reality "Intelligent"?
    Yes. I won't claim to understand the mechanics fully, but we can remote control mice with electrodes in their brains and it's clear that things like the amount of beer or sleep I have affects my behavior in pretty predictable ways. We understand how individual neurons work.Nick

    Ok, but understanding how a mechanism works doesn't really tell us whether there is some source of intelligence beyond the creature in question. I could take a car completely apart and come to understand how all the parts work, but doing so wouldn't rule out there being some unseen source of intelligence that created the car and guides it's operation.

    I'm not really arguing that such a "Global Intelligence" exists, for of course I don't know. I'm just stating that I don't see a compelling reason to rule the possibility out.

    You are conflating the practice of science as a knowledge-generating process and the decision of when and how much to use that process.Nick

    It's true, science is just a tool which does what we ask of it. I agree that science is a neutral, neither good nor bad in itself. So I'm really referring to science culture, which includes pretty much all of modern civilization. Or if you prefer, I'm referring to our relationship with science. It's true that I could express such things more precisely than I sometimes do.

    You seem to be making a value assessment on how much we should engage in science which is a social/political question, not a scientific one.Nick

    Why isn't it a scientific question? That is, why can't our relationship with science, the degree to which it is safe to seek new knowledge etc, be studied in a scientific manner? And perhaps it already is, and I just don't know about it. That would be good.

    No faith required, just the way science works.Nick

    The faith I'm referring to is not in regards to scientific theories, which I agree are reason based, and not faith based. I'm referring to what seems to be a largely blind and unexamined faith in the ability of humans to successfully manage ANY amount of power which may emerge from an ever accelerating knowledge explosion.

    I don't have faith that we will be able to manage anything we could possibly discover, I think it's possible we could destroy ourselves. I think you could ask almost any scientist and they would say the same.Nick

    Can you point us to any scientist who is arguing at conferences that we should do less science? Or that we should slow the pace etc? What I see are physicists who learned how to split the atom earnestly digging ever deeper in to the fundamental nature of matter.

    There are many, many research projects that don't get funded (something like 5% of NIH grants are funded), so the decision of whether more is better when it comes to every science project the answer is no.Nick

    Right, funding is limited, and only the most promising projects make the cut. But if funding was unlimited, then those involved with all these projects would push them forward, yes?

    Science moves slowly, experiments and funding decisions are planned carefully, and there are institutions in place to govern the implementation of technology that have done a pretty good job so far.Nick

    Seriously? We have thousands of massive hydrogen bombs aimed down our own throats. Isn't that evidence that governance of technology is largely an illusion? You know, we could decide to out law nuclear weapons, but if the North Koreans see a competitive advantage in having nukes, the technology pushes forward.

    There are some cases where global bans of a technology may have been effective, but such rules survive only until it's in somebody's interest to break them.

    but I think what you're suggesting is that we stop learning based on the faith that we will discover something that will be our ruin.Nick

    I'm not suggesting that we stop learning, but that we are now required to develop a more sophisticated relationship with knowledge than "more is better". I'll put up an article tomorrow which makes this more clear.

    Please keep in mind that obviously I'm not a scientist. I am instead a, um, wannabe philosopher typoholic. I see my job as testing any group consensus which may not have been subjected to sufficient scrutiny. Given the central importance of our relationship with knowledge, that seems an appropriate target.

    Finally I'm SO GLAD I created this forum, and that you've been willing to participate. I've spent twenty five years searching for conversations of this quality, and they are not so easy to find.
  • Are Plants Intelligent?
    I came across a great article on BigThink called The Secret Social Life Of Trees which provides a brief review of a book by Peter Wohlleben called The Hidden Life Of Trees.

    The article on BigThink reports that trees are continually communicating and examining their environment through a relationship with tiny fungi that combine with the tree's roots. Using this method the trees can determine whether the trees around them are of the same species.

    Trees will assist other trees of the same species when a tree is in trouble by feeding it nutrients. Some trees can identify and assist their own offspring. According to The Hidden Life Of Trees trees even have memories which they can share with their offspring.

    Are trees intelligent? Well, that brings us back to the question of what we mean by intelligence. It does seem clear that there's considerably more going on with trees than we typically think.

    ents.jpg
  • Is Reality "Intelligent"?
    You're leaving out humanity's tendency so far to use new technology to make life better for most peopleNick

    Not leaving it out, just asking....

    Is more always better? Without limit?
  • Is Reality "Intelligent"?
    Science is an invention that allows for self-correction and revision which is fundamentally different than religion.Nick

    Do you have faith that human beings will be able to successfully manage ANY power which may arise from the knowledge explosion? Isn't modern science built upon such a faith? If you share that faith, have you examined and challenged that faith? Do you have any proof that human beings can manage any power you might unleash as a scientist?

    I'm making this too personal, sorry, my bad.

    What I really mean to do is challenge science culture as a whole. To me, the whole thing is basically built on faith. As example, medical science spends trillions on trying to keep people alive as long as possible. Where is the proof that life is better than death? There is none. Faith, belief without proof.
  • Is Reality "Intelligent"?
    but I have never seen any evidence to suggest there is something more required.Nick

    Fair enough. That's surely a reasonable position. I'm not really debating it, just exploring beyond it. I don't have evidence either, and surely not proof.

    Do you consider your own very intelligent behavior to be purely mechanical?
  • Is Reality "Intelligent"?
    Of course, there is no way to know this without knowing everything we could discover.Nick

    My theory is that we don't actually need to know what every emerging power will be, which of course is impossible. What we need to know is the nature of we who will possess these powers. This seems knowable to me.

    Here's a possible example. 3,000 years ago someone wrote the first book of the Bible which discusses eating an apple from the tree of knowledge, resulting in expulsion from the Garden of Eden. One way to read this story is as a pretty accurate description of what is underway right now. climate change etc.

    Assuming no gods are involved in authorship, how would a human being living 3,000 years make such a prediction? By understanding the human condition.

    As example, as you get to know me you'll be ever able to predict that my next thread is likely to be some grand big picture theory built of wild speculation. You won't be able to predict the details, but you'll be able to see generally where my posts are headed, by knowing my nature.

    This Genesis story is just a theory which interests me. I'm not religious, and no, we won't be singing weepy hymns to Baby Jesus on the forum. :-) At least I won't be.
  • Is Reality "Intelligent"?
    It makes more sense to me to think of the laws of physics (here I'm including those we understand and those we don't) are reality itself.Nick

    Yes, well put. That's what I'm shooting for as well, though I may be struggling to express it. I often put it this way....

    We are observing a single unified reality, broken in to conceptual parts by the inherently divisive nature of thought. More on this to come...

    The question "is reality intelligent?" demands we define what intelligence is, which I'm finding increasingly difficult to do. Until recently I just blindly assumed to know what intelligence is, and it's now becoming clear such an assumption isn't that intelligent. Perhaps this will help....

    I'm typing this post. This can be explained in purely mechanical terms such as blood flowing, neurons firing, muscles moving etc. But is a purely mechanical explanation really adequate to the experience of thinking, writing, communicating, rethinking, creating, crafting ideas etc? Isn't there something more going on?

    Whatever such a something else may be, whether we call it intelligence or apply some other label, maybe it too is reality itself.
  • Is Reality "Intelligent"?
    Just want to pop in and point out that CRISPR isn't an imitation of what bacteria do, it is literally the exact machinery that bacteria use taken out of their genomes and put into other species.Nick

    Thanks for the clarification Nick. It's clear that I don't understand this yet. It's going to be a writing challenge for you to translate such understandings in to a general public level.

    Moral of the story: keep funding basic science that seeks to understand the weird obscure parts of biology even if there isn't a clear practical application.Nick

    But first, let us be one of the many intelligent species, and ask this question. Can human beings successfully manage whatever may arise from basic science research, no matter what that turns out to be?