More "miscellany" (General)

by dhw, Saturday, May 14, 2022, 07:34 (15 days ago) @ David Turell

Denton

DAVID: Denton is a Ph.D. & M.D. Like Adler and Schroeder he is one of the authorities who shapes my views.

dhw: They are no more “authorities” than Dawkins and Dennett.

DAVID: Do you accept any authority but yourself?

dhw: As an agnostic who admits that he does not know any of the answers, but who considers (and also concocts) a variety of possible theories, I would consider myself to be the least “authoritative” commentator. But in my view, no one can be called an authority on questions to which there is no known objective answer. To be precise, anyone who claims to be an authority on God’s purpose, methods and nature is self-delusional. The only possible authority is God himself, if he exists.

DAVID: I am no authority, but I have specific, carefully reasoned theories, which satisfy me, but certainly not you.

I wish you would differentiate. Your theory of design is indeed carefully reasoned, whereas your theory of evolution is so irrational that you are forced to admit you cannot explain it and it makes sense only to God.

Free will

dhw: This is all very much in line with the conclusions I tried to draw in earlier discussions. However, I do wish writers would actually provide a definition of what they mean by “free will” before embarking on such discussions. I can’t remember my own exact definition, but it was along the lines of: an entity’s conscious ability to control its decision-making process within given constraints. These were 1) outside constraints imposed by the situation or by Nature (you can’t “free-will” yourself to fly), and 2) constraints affecting the decision-making process itself, such as heredity, upbringing, education, illness, accidents, chance encounters. On the one hand, as this writer argues, we can’t escape the chain of cause and effect, so you can argue that free will is a fiction. On the other hand, you can argue that all the above influences have contributed to my identity, and my identity is mine alone. Therefore decisions are mine and mine alone (i.e. as above, no one outside of “me” made me do it), and this denotes freedom. Another all-important factor would be the source of consciousness, but since this is unknown, I would suggest that the question of whether we do or don’t have free will – as I have defined it - remains open.

DAVID: Your approach is quite thorough. Our decision making is freely done from moment to moment, but all of the influences you describe must be in play. It comes down to the question: free of what?

dhw: Yes, that is why I insist that such discussions should begin with a definition of the term. We seem to be in agreement, but I wonder if you accept my definition or have one of your own.

DAVID: I general accept your definition. I accept God as the source of consciousness. However, our biochemistry follows strict instructions; cells have no free will. Our consciousness allows us to make constant choices, so we are not mental automatons, and in that sense God allowed us free will.

Again I would ask for differentiation. You believe God is the source and cells have no free will. My definition specifies that the decision-making is conscious, but that does not remove the problem of influences beyond our control. However, I didn’t mean to embark on yet another discussion – I only wanted to know if you approved of my definition or had one of your own!

Octopuses self-destruct

DAVID: There is no clear reason for this happening. The oceans are huge, so a danger of overpopulation isn't present. Did God plan this? I view everything created is God's doing, but I cannot find a reason for God's actions here. I simply accept it.

Just as you can’t find a reason why your God would design all the life forms that had no connection with his one and only goal (H. sapiens), or why he designed his only goal in stages rather than directly. Your theory is that he deliberately designs everything (as part of the goal of designing humans plus food), and what you “accept” is your theory. Maybe all these inexplicable actions with no apparent connection to your idea of your God’s goal might one day cause you to question your theory instead of telling us that it makes sense only to God.

New cell

DAVID: using lesser animals in research we find hints of what might exist in humans. That is the proper way to view evolution, as early developments can be used in the future.

Yes, the idea that cells and their communities use their perhaps God-given intelligence to gradually complexify, thereby advancing evolution, seems far more convincing to me than the idea that an all-powerful God with a single purpose (humans plus food) keeps dabbling away at “lesser animals” in order to prepare himself to design the only life form he really wants to design. Alternatively, of course, these “early developments” could be the consequence of experimentation as he slowly works out how to produce his one and only goal. Or he could be learning and getting new ideas as he continues to create. Just a few alternatives for you to ponder.:-)


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