Reality (General)

by dhw, Thursday, November 07, 2019, 11:26 (12 days ago) @ David Turell

Transferred from "Dawkins' new book":

GEORGE: I agree with most of DHWs comments here (though not having read either the book or the review). Where I differ slightly is in the nature of "objective reality". The evidence from modern quantum science appears to be that on the smallest scales reality becomes rather "fuzzy". So any objectivity can only be of a probabilistic or statistical kind.

dhw: My argument is that we have no way of knowing what is “objective reality”, but that does not mean there is no such thing. Consequently, it is absurd to suggest that the reality we think we know is actually unreal – and that is my quarrel with some quantum theorists, whom I always invite to test their theory by stepping in front of a moving bus.

DAVID: I think quantum mechanics is the basis of reality. We need to understand it better than we do.

Let us know when you find out.

GEORGE: The quantum fuzziness of buses and of humans is not sufficient to annul the reality of a collision between them. It's something to do with the De Broglie frequency or wavelength I seem to recall.

DAVID: I agree.

A strange combination of Davidian beliefs. Firstly, if you agree that a collision between buses and humans is a genuine form of reality, with all its dire consequences, why do you think that “quantum fuzziness”, a wonderful description of the current state of quantum mechanics, is the basis of reality? Secondly, you cannot escape the fact that quanta are material, and yet you believe that the basis of reality is an immaterial God made of “pure energy”, and our consciousness is an immaterial blob of his consciousness. I find this bewildering.

Under “consciousness

dhw: We are discussing the origin of consciousness and your proposal that “everything is material at the basis of the universe”, whereas in fact you believe that the basis of the universe and of consciousness is immaterial, in the form of “pure energy”. I went on to say I found both concepts equally difficult to believe in as the source of life, consciousness and the ability to reproduce and evolve. You asked if there was a third option, and I said this was panpsychism, but this can be used to support atheism as well as theism. I do not support or “look to” any of these three options as credible solutions to life’s mysteries, which is why I remain agnostic, while acknowledging that at least one of them must be nearer the truth than the others.

DAVID: I think my supposition of an eternal pure energy as the source of everything is a reasonable possibility. we don't know what is on the other side of quantum uncertainty.

I suspect that George will find it even more reasonable to argue that the source of everything is material, but I eagerly await his own comment. I will stick to the fact that material reality is the only reality we would all agree on (bus smashes into quantum theorist and splatters him all over the road), and since we don’t know what is on the other side of all the things we are uncertain about, the most “reasonable” approach is that of the agnostic, who candidly admits that he doesn’t know and therefore can’t choose between the different theories.

GEORGE: I don't think I've heard of this theory that "intelligent cells or cell communities" have "their own special form of consciousness" that guides their evolution before, but it sounds rather like reviving elan vital or a form of pan-psychism. It seems to me that postulating such things without proof is unnecessary, since natural selection is adequate.

Answered under "David's theory of evolution".

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