Saturday, April 30, 2016

Materialism and Meaning

Philosophical Materialists continue to insist that if something exists, then it is material. This includes all mental activities, concepts, abstractions and their meanings. If something exists, then it has characteristics which describe it physically, including the physical laws which it necessarily obeys. So we would need to know some things about, say, "meaning", if we are to describe its material essence, using the tools of voluntarily materialist empirical science.

I need to know what the physical characteristics of "meaning" consist of, so that I can learn to recognize it when I stub my toe on it, or find a sliver of it jammed into the palm of my hand. Fortunately there are features which physical things have in common. Here are a few features that one would expect to be characteristics of a physical "thing", and must surely apply to "meaning":

Molecular structure: is "meaning" a single molecule, like DNA, or is it a molecular composite, like amino acids? Perhaps it is a less complex structure like hexane or even water? Is "meaning" carbon based, or silicon based, sulfur based, or uranium based?

Does "meaning" occur in a stable state? If it is always a compound, what is the state diagram of compound (melt point, vapor point, plasma characteristics)? Having an accurate state diagram would be necessary to distill the liquid "Truth" from vaporous "meaning", so a eutectic point would be necessary to know.

Is "meaning" a gas at 25 degC, or is it a solid? Does it crystallize? Is it an acid? Or a base? Or a precipitate like a salt?

How is a specific "meaning" filtered from the general substance called "meaning"? Is "meaning" conveyed by shape alone? Or is "meaning" found in the different melt points when "meaning" is compounded with "Truth", "Lies", "confusion", etc.? Or is "meaning" to be found in how many chlorine atoms bind to it, vs. how many oxygen and hydrogen atoms?

Perhaps, since "meaning" is a strictly physical entity, the specific "meaning" is found in the mass of the chunk of "meaning" being observed? So there must be a code for different specific meanings which come in different masses. For example, it might look like this:
Various lumps of morals;
chunks of justice;
puddles of Truth;
pots full of consciousness;
tanks full of intellect;
buckets of conscience.
Perhaps "meaning" is marketable by weight? "Deep meaning" naturally would be too expensive for the common man?

It likely is able to be mined, probably like diamonds? If this is the case, then there would be some nations more wealthy in "meaning" than other nations, and "meaning" would be a valuable national resource. There would be trading for "meaning" on the commodities markets, and possibly black markets would arise for stolen "meaning".

I need the answers to these issues, before I can accept with confidence that the physical existence of "meaning" is an objective fact.

Now it is possible that "meaning" does not even exist at all. That has many ramifications for knowledge and science which I won't go into here. But perhaps "meaning" is purely imaginary? Then all we have to do is to break open the great balls of imagination lying around to look inside for "meaning". It might take special micrography.

Perhaps "meaning" exists only when we manufacture it from its sub-elements and components. Then there must be a material list which exists that references these components and where they are to be obtained and at what price. Every person would have to manufacture his own "meaning", unless he purchases a bag full, or a case-lot of "meaning" from a "meaning" vendor.

And in fact, many Atheists such as Dawkins do make the claim that "meaning" doesn't exist in the universe, so we have to manufacture our own. Yet others such as Sagan claim there is meaning in observing the universe, which apparently does in fact contain "meaning". So maybe "meaning" is just a waveform in a specific field from which "meaning" and "anti-meaning" sometimes pop up, then cancel each other out unless they are on an event horizon, and some "meaning" escapes?

I'm certain that the materialists here can fill in the specific empirical facts regarding the physics of "meaning". I'm anxiously awaiting that. I could use a kilo of "meaning". I'll bury it out back for emergencies such as presidential elections and other Leftist riots.

51 comments:

Hugo Pelland said...

The very first sentence shows the issue:
"Philosophical Materialists continue to insist that if something exists, then it is material."
It's the other way around. We start with the assumption that material existence exists, objectively, and try to figure how where other things stand with respect to it. Meaning is what we, humans, talk about when analyzing the material world; it's non-material in the loose sense, which is that it's not something we can weigh, smell nor touch. But meaning exists because of the material things that have meaning. There might be a way to discuss purely non-material things and their meaning; it's simply incoherent for us, as there is nothing to talk about except what it isn't. Hence, because these theorical purely immaterial are just that, immaterial, not-material, we have no way to justify their existence. The conclusion is that there is thus most likely nothing else: all that exists is material. That's the tentative conclusion, the most likely truth of that real world we live in. Only by assuming the opposite, that there is some sort of non-material existence, can the immaterialist claim that materialism is false. But they do by discussing things they already labeled as non-material to start with, just because they feel like it, and thus have no basis in any kind of objective fact to support the claims.

Stan said...

The very first sentence shows the issue:
"Philosophical Materialists continue to insist that if something exists, then it is material."
It's the other way around. We start with the assumption that material existence exists, objectively, and try to figure how where other things stand with respect to it.


While you would like me to believe that, I don’t even for a planck time. You persist in trying to claim that non-material entities are material, when it is obvious that they are not. When you encounter the necessity to provide the physical characteristics, you make up the excuse that “they are related to physical objects” (therefore they are physical) and we “can’t talk about them because they don’t exist”, which is absolutely false.

If an entity, like “meaning”, has no weight, size, or any other physical characteristic, yet “meaning” still exists, then “meaning” is NOT a physical thing; yet we can talk about it (even using “meaning” in our sentences) because it does, in fact, exist. You are in the process of denying this, not for reasons of logic or pursuit of the truth of the matter.

So “meaning” exists, and it has no physical characteristics. If you do not accept that, then you are in a denial mode in which you have no case to present other than radical denialism.

”Meaning is what we, humans, talk about when analyzing the material world; it's non-material in the loose sense, which is that it's not something we can weigh, smell nor touch.”

That’s sufficient. But you won’t stop there because your worldview cannot withstand such a concept. So you will try to rub some materialism off of something else, and then claim that “meaning” is therefore a physical entity. But there is no argument which will imbue “meaning” with any molecular substance, field vibrations, or photonic energy capture (as in an open system).

”But meaning exists because of the material things that have meaning”

Epistemology has no physical existence or material correlate. It refers to concepts, which might be concepts of purely non-physical things – like the concept of “meaning”. Or justice. Or liberty. Etc.

Stan said...

”There might be a way to discuss purely non-material things and their meaning; it's simply incoherent for us, as there is nothing to talk about except what it isn't.

So… You are unable to discuss “meaning”? “Meaning” is incoherent to you? While I haven’t looked, I suspect that the term, “meaning”, has a dictionary entry.

”Hence, because these theorical purely immaterial are just that, immaterial, not-material, we have no way to justify their existence.”

Let’s make that a full statement (you quit too soon):

”… we have no way to justify their existence using purely material techniques, but ignoring logic deductions. “

There.

”The conclusion is that there is thus most likely nothing else: all that exists is material.”

So there actually is nothing which is “meaning”; “meaning” cannot exist because… well because you refuse to acknowledge that it exists, and that it exists without any physical characteristics.

So, since it does not, cannot, exist if it has no physical characteristics, then nothing you say has any meaning. This is just another form of Darwin’s Horrid Doubt, where your “proof” of materialism also proves the total absence of any possible rational activity of the mind. There is no meaning to any of the multitudes of synapse discharges, which all are predetermined and evolved from algae.

”That's the tentative conclusion, the most likely truth of that real world we live in.”

No. there is no “truth” in that sort of world. Truth has no physical characteristics or correlates. So it cannot exist in a purely material universe.

”Only by assuming the opposite, that there is some sort of non-material existence, can the immaterialist claim that materialism is false.”

Not so. It is only necessary to determine that the world we observe cannot be the “true” world if there is no non-physical “truth” or “meaning”. It merely takes observation cum open mind to the characteristics of what is observed.

”But they do by discussing things they already labeled as non-material to start with, just because they feel like it, and thus have no basis in any kind of objective fact to support the claims.”

Objective fact: “meaning” is not a material object because it has no material characteristics (inductively observable factoid); yet it necessarily exists because we can observe it in use and its contrary would be chaos (conclusion by induction and Reductio Ad Absurdum).

That is the Objective fact which you deny exists, and it is what you must disprove if you are to defend your materialist worldview.

So: Prove otherwise. It is false to claim that the answer is in the question. The answer is observable from human behaviors and logical necessity. Denial of this evidence is not a positive argument, it is merely dismissal with no presentation of contrary physical evidence or inductive observation leading to disciplined deduction which is contrary.

Hugo Pelland said...

Stan, it's fine to disagree, I know we do, but I am trying to make you understand what we actually disagree on and you just refuse to discuss it. I am not even reallt trying to say you're wrong; I am merely stating that yoyr objections are not relevant to the materialist position, whicg yoy ALWAYS misrepresent.

Take just that 1 sentence:
"You persist in trying to claim that non-material entities are material, when it is obvious that they are not."
Did I say that, did I even imply that? No! This is a, purposely or not, misrepresentation. The argument is that what we call "non-material" things, in our everyday lives, such as 'meaning', 'love', the number '3', etc., all have, without exception, a grounding in the material world. We define them using material things, they talk about material things and, most importantly, don't have any significance without the material world. They are 'non-material' in the loose sense, not philosophically, ad there existence cannot be accounted for without the materisl world. Unless you just assume there is such a non-material realm to start with, which is exactly what you're doing, and then demand that we play by your subjective rules, and prove that this non-material existence be disproved. But you assume it's existence! So of course we cannot tell you, under your preconceptions, that these things are dependant on the material world; you start with their existence being defined as purely non-material, as completely independant of the material.

But, if it were the case what are they? You can only say that they are 'not' something, not material, but you cannot say what they are. So your worldview fails the test you like to mention...

Nastika said...

I'd just like to focus on these two objections and then move on to discussing evolution with you. That's if you're up to it.

"Meaning is NOT material. Your computer does not look for meaning to process. Your computer processes binary bits which to the programmer are instructions, but to the computer they are merely states being processed deterministically by rote."

Bits can be stored on devices. How are we able to do that if they're not material?

"You obviously did not understand what I wrote. You can measure force, but not source. When the source is the mind, and the mind causes an arm to lift, you can measure electron flow and muscle contraction, but not the source of the volition. Your demand is counter to what I wrote, and is a demand that I satisfy Materialist requirements, which I assert cannot be satisfied. Because that is a purely Materialist requirement for the relationship of mind to brain, then it is up to the Materialist to do so. If the mind is material, then YOU write the equations and show the measurements of the lump of mind-material that exists in the cranium which is not merely neurons conducting electrochemical signals."

There are a great many mathematical models of how the brain works. Neural networks, artificial intelligence, Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism, chemical formulas, and the equations of physics that describe so much of how the brain works.

There is not now a comprehensive model of the entire brain in minute detail, any more than there is a comprehensive model of every star, planet, and bit of gas in our galaxy. We just don’t have that much modeling capacity.

Yet, I can give you a very great deal of detail as to how the various objects in the galaxy interact, and how the various objects in the brain interact, but you give me absolutely zero about how the immaterial mind interacts with the brain.

Stan said...

Hugo,
"...not relevant to the materialist position, whicg yoy ALWAYS misrepresent.

Take just that 1 sentence:
"You persist in trying to claim that non-material entities are material, when it is obvious that they are not.

Did I say that, did I even imply that? No! This is a, purposely or not, misrepresentation."


You contradict yourself. Here's another statement you made, among many of the same nature:

”The conclusion is that there is thus most likely nothing else: all that exists is material.

You made the following statements and/or admissions:
1. "meaning" is not a material substance.
2. "meaning" exists.
3. "all that exists is material."

So which is it? Don't blame me for misrepresenting. I did not. Your own claims are contradictory.

This is a familiar complaint from you, denying the position which you just took and claiming misrepresentation.

"The argument is that what we call "non-material" things, in our everyday lives, such as 'meaning', 'love', the number '3', etc., all have, without exception, a grounding in the material world."

So what? The actual qualia and the actual item, "meaning" is an undeniable existence on its own merits. AND it is not material. Further, epistemology, justice, Rights, are not grounded in material substances. Many things are not so grounded, despite your universal truth statement. Arguments can be made with no grounding at all, and frequently are. Those arguments exist and are not substances.

Stan said...

"We define them using material things, they talk about material things and, most importantly, don't have any significance without the material world."

Surely as an engineer you've had sufficient higher math to know better than that. Domain mapping, matrix theory, convolution, and many, many more mathematical concepts have no correlate in the physical world, do not rely on numbers but rather use symbols with no correlate in the physical world.

You are trying too hard. You are making universal truth statements which are just not the case. You seem desperate to find a path which limits existence to the sensory inputs of the human body, which are called "material".

"They are 'non-material' in the loose sense, not philosophically, ad there existence cannot be accounted for without the materisl world."

There is no such thing as "loose sense". Existence is binary: either it is material or it is not material. (Principle of Non-Contradiction; Principle of Excluded Middle).

You have made up a false relationship, to wit: "because it is 'grounded' in material existence, then it is material". And further, "it" is defined universally as "everything", including the "loosely defined" but obvious non-material items such as "meaning". So your all new definition resolves to this:

BECAUSE everything that is loosely defined as non-material because it has no physical substance is "grounded" in material substances, THEN those things either don't exist OR they are material OR they are incoherent.

First, the premise is not true, and you cannot prove that it is true, universally.
Second, none of the choices in the predicate are necessary conclusions drawn from the premise.

Stan said...

"Unless you just assume there is such a non-material realm to start with, which is exactly what you're doing, and then demand that we play by your subjective rules, and prove that this non-material existence be disproved."

Not my rules. If there are exceptions to your argument, then you must deal with the exceptions rationally with deductive logic or empirical evidence to demonstrate that either they are not exceptions, or that they really are exceptions and that your argument needs to change in order to accommodate them.

That is the rational process; it precedes me by several millennia. You don't like it because you are unwilling to change your position regardless of the evidence.

"But you assume it's existence! So of course we cannot tell you, under your preconceptions, that these things are dependant on the material world; you start with their existence being defined as purely non-material, as completely independant of the material."

Dependency is not the issue and it cannot be the issue unless the First Principles are violated; the composition of these specific items is the issue. But even if dependency were an issue in some other-worldly state, it would not change the composition of the items: these items are non-physical, composed of NO material substance. And "universal dependency" of non-material items on material items is not the case. So dependency is a Red Herring.

If it is the case that you, in particular, cannot speak about "meaning" without reference to some assortment of atoms, molecules, or fields, then that is your particular issue to deal with. I can speak of "meaning" in its general and non-specific sense. In fact, I can speak of past and future using non-specific, non-physical "meaning".

Again, either the items are composed of physical substances, elemental atoms, molecules, potentials, fields, etc., or they are not. If they are, then they can be commoditized, bought and sold; if not, then they are not material.

"But, if it were the case what are they? You can only say that they are 'not' something, not material, but you cannot say what they are. So your worldview fails the test you like to mention..."

That's just not the case. If "meaning" and all the other non-physical items were, in fact, physical, material substances, then the universe would be very different. That means that the non-material character of those items passes Reduction Ad Absurdum very handily. That's because they are what they are: existences which are not bounded as are material existences: open existences available to all, without discrimination by virtue of material limitations.

Stan said...

Nastika says,
"Meaning is NOT material. Your computer does not look for meaning to process. Your computer processes binary bits which to the programmer are instructions, but to the computer they are merely states being processed deterministically by rote."

Bits can be stored on devices. How are we able to do that if they're not material?


It should be obvious that a bit is not, itself, “meaning”. Your comment has no bearing on the statement I made.

"You obviously did not understand what I wrote. You can measure force, but not source. When the source is the mind, and the mind causes an arm to lift, you can measure electron flow and muscle contraction, but not the source of the volition. Your demand is counter to what I wrote, and is a demand that I satisfy Materialist requirements, which I assert cannot be satisfied. Because that is a purely Materialist requirement for the relationship of mind to brain, then it is up to the Materialist to do so. If the mind is material, then YOU write the equations and show the measurements of the lump of mind-material that exists in the cranium which is not merely neurons conducting electrochemical signals."

There are a great many mathematical models of how the brain works. Neural networks, artificial intelligence, Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism, chemical formulas, and the equations of physics that describe so much of how the brain works.


This is abject Scientism, and it does not address what I wrote. By naming off a bunch of physics principles you expect me to believe that you know how “meaning” is removed from physical carriers and “understood” as a Qualia? I don’t think you really expect that. I suspect that you have not thought through the implications and details of the necessities for the transmission of “meaning”, vs. the transmission of bits. Consider for example how creativity occurs as projected by Maxwell’s equations for electromagnetic relationships: there is no path to creativity from Maxwell’s equations to creativity, or from any other of your list. Again you have ignored the issues I raised, and answered with boiler plate statements of Scientism.

”There is not now a comprehensive model of the entire brain in minute detail, any more than there is a comprehensive model of every star, planet, and bit of gas in our galaxy. We just don’t have that much modeling capacity”.

The real question is why you think the human mind is algorithmic, with completely computable and deterministic output.

”Yet, I can give you a very great deal of detail as to how the various objects in the galaxy interact, and how the various objects in the brain interact, but you give me absolutely zero about how the immaterial mind interacts with the brain.”

But the issue is not how the parts of the brain interact. The issue is why they interact in creative or rational fashions when they are stimulated only by the volition of the mind, and no other source… and why is the volitional mind a source of stimulation for the brain, and ultimately why does the volition of the mind create motion in the body such as walking, forming the hand around an object in order to lift it toward the eye for viewing, and the countless other purely mind-driven actions that are enabled by human agency and driven by the mind?

And it is necessary for me to prove only that the physical-only concepts are false; that alone falsifies the materialist worldview and opens the subject to rational debate, instead of dealing with irrational closures over and over.

Phoenix said...

Stan,

Is there such a thing as a "mathematical model of the brain"? Searching Google, there seem to be a lot hinting at it but I'm not entirely sure if it's conclusive.

Steve 11 said...

Thoughts exist. I know this because I think.

When I think, I think on things, almost always in an abstract way. I can think on things that exist and things that do not exist.

Meanings in thought are abstractions. Meanings are examples of abstract targets of thought. We can be confident only that they exist as thoughts.

Meanings deal with subject matter. The subject matter may or may not exist, and should be assessed on an individual basis. You can build meanings on other meanings, making the ultimate subject matter tough to assess as to existence.

Stan said...

There is the Blue Brain project, but it is a decade old, and I don't know the progress, if any. I suspect that it will be futile (like the creation of DNA from enzymes in the lab) because they can't replicate what they don't understand. And what they don't understand will be that replicating the hardware doesn't make a computer. Ya gotta have the software, too. A computer that is a replica of the brain also would have to operate in thousands of parallel, simultaneous paths, and without a clock for synchronization. It's definitely not trivial. And the software will not "emerge" from the hardware, either.

Phoenix said...

Stan,

Have you seen this list of 700 darwin dissenters, all are scientists, mathematicians and engineers?

Hugo Pelland said...

Phoenix,

Have you seen this list of scientists called Steve who "support evolution"?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Steve

...you're very late to the party btw ;)

Stan said...

It's increasingly difficult to give credence to scientists named "Steve".

Nastika said...

Have you seen this list of 700 darwin dissenters, all are scientists, mathematicians and engineers?

http://www.discovery.org/a/2732
From that same link - "The question is what is that boundary? Does the information content in living things exceed that boundary? Darwinists have never faced those questions. They've never asked scientifically if random mutation and natural selection can generate the information content in living things."

Yes it does. ALL mutations that are selected for add information to the genome.

See these videos for more information.

How Evolution Causes an Increase in Information, Part I

AND

Part 2

The second half of the video presents a study by Dr. Thomas Schneider, which was published in 2000 in Nucleic Acids Research. This study simulates a small genome containing a gene that codes for a DNA binding protein and a stretch of DNA containing 16 sites that if that protein binds to any of them the organism will gain a fitness advantage. The result of this simulation clearly shows that natural selection coupled with random mutations will lead to a steady increase in information over generations.

This very strong evidence, there are thousands of peer reviewed scientific papers that confirm the evolution, you guys don’t have a clue what you are talking about.

Stan said...

When you think that computer simulations are evidence, in the face of the total failure of extensive laboratory experiments and the total lack of observational evidence, then you are a True Believer in the cult. The fact is that none of the "evidence" which is purported by the cult is empirical, observational, objective - replicable - falsifiable in nature. When you say that I don't know what I am talking about, after making the claim that a computer program is evidence, your credibility in the knowledge of the scientific method seriously craters.

Neither DNA nor RNA nor RNA-ase have been created in the lab, after decades of trying in pristine conditions. They weren't even trying for an information-bearing molecule, but only for a randomized molecule - and they gave up. So the computer program has no bearing on reality, just as computer-sim games do not have any bearing on reality.

Google Jack Szostak and his lab. Your feigned superiority in knowledge is rejected due to your obvious ignorance of the realities found in the laboratory.

Robert Coble said...

I always love "appeals to authority."

The science is "settled" (for those who have an agenda). Since when?!?

There is a consensus (among those who have an agenda). Who cares?!?

It's "peer reviewed" by "scientists" in the "best" journals (as selected by those with an agenda). Have you not read the previous posts on this blog (as well as in "peer reviewed" journals) about the rampant fraud in prestigious scientific journals, perpetrated by those with an agenda?!?

Anyone care to compare this approach of SIMULATING reality to GLOBAL CLIMATE COOLING/WARMING/CHANGING/WARBLING?

Oh, I'm sorry: there is a "study" SIMULATING the "science" - that is MUCH BETTER than REALITY!

I invoke GIGO, which is well known in circles with actual knowledge of how computers work (unfortunately, outside of the knowledge set of those with an agenda).

Not to worry: just serve yourself a helping of those physical bits running around inside the cage of your computer and you'll feel as brilliantly Anti-Rational as Nietzsche in the morning. (Just be careful you don't drink too much of THAT Kool-Aid, or you might end up where Nietzsche did - in an insane asylum).

Stan said...

Here's the reality: It takes at least eight simultaneous creations to create a single useful protein:

1. DNA
2. RNA
3. RNA-ase
4. Proper information in the DNA
5. Several specific proteins which split the DNA, decode the information, Double check the information, prepare it for transmission, transmission.

Further, this must occur in a pre-existing cell. So the cell must pre-exist the DNA/RNA complex, AND the DNA/RNA complex must pre-exist the cell.

It is not enough to have just an empty bubble membrane and call it a cell; the cell must be viable, with all mechanisms on board, including metabolic complexes, reproductive complexes, and operating under the undefinable complex called "life" as opposed to being a dead mass of molecules working under entropy and the four forces of physics.

The odds against this are of course infinite, because it is an existential lock-out.

The impossibility of having a pre-existing cell, for which there are concurrent accidental formations of DNA and RNA and RNA-ase with information necessary for that specific cell to exist, thrive and replicate - is fact: it cannot have happened.

That's why there are all these science-fiction stories about how it "could have happened" by ignoring the fact that it absolutely could not have happened.

And that is why Evolution specifically ignores the evolution of First Life from minerals. They know, but will not admit, that First Life evolving from minerals is FALSE. And that falsifies the Materialism requirement for evolution as a whole.

Stan said...

So, before you continue to assert my ignorance, you should provide actual empirical scientific falsifiable, replicable and replicated evolutionary experimental observations which provide contingent information regarding actual evolution (forget computer programs and science fiction story telling about how it coulda-mighta happened in imaginary space-time.

I keep asking for data that conforms to the empirical necessities for objective knowledge regarding evolution. All anyone provides is story-telling and computer-sims, never any empirical facts. I take this to mean that the True Believers are consumed with belief without fact: religious-type ideology, based on incorrect interpretations of the fossil record and DNA chains.

When one is truly ignorant, i.e., has no actual facts regarding a subject, then it is intellectually beholden for him to admit to complete ignorance of the subject beyond the lack of material facts for its material Truth claims.

Stan said...

One final observation: when one makes material Truth claims without material empirical facts, that constitutes intellectual fraud.

Phoenix said...

@Hugo

Have you seen this list of scientists called Steve who "support evolution"?
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Steve

...you're very late to the party btw ;)


Your link can serve only one purpose, i.e., to refute the claim that there are NO scientists supporting evolution. Since no one made that claim here, your link is thus completely useless.

My link on the other refutes a very common Atheist claim which is that "everyone who rejects evolution does not understand science."

Hugo Pelland said...

@Phoenix,
Your link, just like mine, is a joke... except that 'your' side takes it seriously. You know, we can pretty much always find someone, in any context, with any background, to support some conclusion that is not mainstream. If someone says that "everyone who rejects evolution does not understand science", they are thus necessarily mistaken, or simply exaggerating on purpose. I call that the "1% rule", which means that there is always at least 1% of people who take a completely unexpected position regarding some issues, or have some really unusual preferences regarding some personal choice.

Everybody wants to be rich! Everyone loves chocolate! Everyone thinks the Earth is round! Every scientifically inclined person accepts the theory of evolution as the best explanation for the diversity of life on Earth!

It's not an actual rule, obviously, and does not have anything to do with a literal "1%" but, when you think about it, it works all the time... or 99% of the time.

Stan said...

Yeah, Hugo.
That's the way to combat that list: call it a joke and make up statistics regarding the weirdos that always disagree. In fact that's what Dawkins does too: he declares anyone who points out the lack of actual science to be stupid, insane or evil. That's his version of your 1%. You can giggle at that.

What Dawkins and you can't do is provide any real objective material evidence that is sound, empirical, replicable, falsifiable, unfalisified, open data showing that the materialist restriction on evolution is rational, that First Life is NOT evolution, that massive information increases happen due to mutation, or genetic switching, or gene doubling, or any other manipulation of DNA by random inputs, or that genomes are linked to common ancestors throughout the "tree of life" which is filled with dotted lines which are false connections.

In other words, for all your belief in the dogma, you have still presented nothing of a legitimate empirical standing which qualifies as objective knowledge.

So that's where the joke is.

Hugo Pelland said...

(Now, going back a few comments up, to the actual topic of this thread.,.)

Yes Stan, I will continue to blame you for misrepresenting unfortunately, as you now confused, purposely or not, a shortcut for a contradiction; something that has already been explained regarding the primacy of material existence.

'Meaning' is an example of something that is non-material, in our everyday usage of the term, but merely stating that doesn't invalidate the philosophical question of whether material existence is all there is. That's why it's a misrepresentation; that's why the silly thing of 'here's a jar full of meaning I'd like to sell you' is showing nothing but ignorance on the part of... whoever said it or repeats it.

You say that many things are not grounded in the material but that is precisely what we disagree on. So just brushing over that item with examples, which 'you' think are obvious, does not address the issue at hand. And yes, it is 'almost' a universal claim. The only reason why it's not literally universal is because of the fact that we start with an assumption that material existence really does exist, and we are bound by it. Hence, it's still technically possible that some non-material existence also exists, on its own, but what would that be? That's what you cannot answer, being bound by the same material limits as the rest of us, yet you believe it does exist, because of the faulty assumption of the primacy of consciousness, which creates this realm of existence, a badly defined one, based on the fact that we can 'think'.

I am not sure where Steve was going with his comments on thoughts but what he wrote looked perfectly accurate to me, and does provide a sort of generalization of why everything we think about ends up being grounded in the material world. On the other hand, the flawed philosophy of immaterialism states that many things are 'not' grounded in material existence. And that's true, but only under the primacy of consciousness, which you implicitly assume.

Basically, Immaterialism states that there is some sort of existence, some realm where 'things' can exist without being material AND without needing the material world to have meaning, grounding, and a coherent definition. The 'AND' here is important; it's the key point where you saw a contradiction, instead of a simplification. Materialism starts with the assumption that material existence exists and accounts for what we 'loosely' call non-material in our everyday lives. Because yes, we can certainly have different approach to the same word 'material'. If I am talking about an idea I have, I would never pretend this is a 'material' idea that I can weigh, smell or touch, but this does not instantly disprove my idea that there is probably nothing besides the 'material' world, as the 2 usage of the word have different meaning in their respective context.

The Immaterialist position is a case of equivocation fallacy by attempting to do this:
1) Materialism claims that non-material things don't exist
2) Some non-material things exist
3) Hence, Materialism is false
But 'non-material' does not mean the same under '1' and '2'. Under the Materialism assumption of the primacy of existence, there are some non-material things such as thoughts, ideas, concepts, relationships between things, and so on... These are tools that we use as material human beings capable of abstract thinking. However, this is not, at all, the same kind of 'non-material' things that would disprove Materialism, as the Immaterialism claims are that there is a separate realm of existence, entirely or at least partially detached from the material realm, such that non-material things, whatever they 'could' be, exist without the need for material existence.

Hugo Pelland said...

With this framework in mind, let me try to address some of the specifics.

Stan said:
" Domain mapping, matrix theory, convolution, and many, many more mathematical concepts have no correlate in the physical world, do not rely on numbers but rather use symbols with no correlate in the physical world. "

This is probably the toughest example, so it's a great one. The key point here is 'correlate' because yes, in theory, we could have some mathematical framework completely detached from the material world, with nothing referencing the material world. However, are we, humans, able to even discuss that? I think not.

The cases you list here are all tools developed by people to work out problems in their fields, be it theory-only, or for practical applications. They are grounded in the material world because of the way humans talk about them, interact with them and designed them. It's possible that these things 'could' exist in a purely non-material world, but again, what would that be? We are talking about them using our language, based on our pre-existing definitions of mathematics, and combine these abstract ideas using tangible material representations: symbols.

Even if we argue that the symbol points to something that has no grounding in the material world, the mere fact that a human is using a symbol to talk to another human about that abstract idea represented by a symbol makes it fall squarely into the philosophical definition of materialism.

One example I am more familiar with is the symbol 'i' or 'j', which represents the square root of -1. There is no material representation for that number as it cannot even possibly map directly to a material quantity; it's incoherent. At the same time, that symbol is used to compute solutions to real-life problems involving complex electrical circuits. But what is one way of knowing that the result of a calculation is incorrect? When the 'j' remain in the answer... as it means that there is no tangible answer, only an abstract value that means nothing in reality. So, the next question becomes: does that quantity 'j' does exist independently of the material world? Again, I think not, because it is defined as the square root or a negative number, which is itself nothing more but an abstract representation of a number based on material objects.

Hugo Pelland said...

Stan said:
"You are trying too hard. You are making universal truth statements which are just not the case. [...]"

Prove the statement wrong then, but I already know how you are going to do it: by claiming that there is such a realm as non-material existence, without ever explaining what that would be. The argument is that 'thinking' is evidence of that realm, and things we think about that are not literally in the material world are also evidence. However, since 'thinking' can be accounted for under the assumption of material existence, i.e. material brains allow for abstract thinking, then the immaterialist argument fails at being the only valid explanation. We are left with 2 competing ideas, one which, in my opinion, is much more robust at explaining the nature of existence.

And by the way, saying that I am 'trying too hard' might reveal something interesting here: could it mean that you are not trying hard enough? As I discussed on another blog I linked to before, the Immaterialist position is arguably much simpler, but it does not make it right. Hence, to me, this claim that I am 'trying too hard' is actually an involuntary concession that you are taking the easy path, instead of the path that's based on reason and logic, despite its difficulty.

"You seem desperate to find a path which limits existence to the sensory inputs of the human body, which are called "material"."

Why would I be 'desperate' about any of this? This thread and anything related to Materialism is about trying to figure out what's most likely true about existence as a whole. If I am to be corrected in my reasoning, I would be thrilled, as it would mean learning something new.

Instead, what I get here is sometimes misrepresentation of the materialist position, or faulty arguments against it, and almost no argument in favor of immaterialism. This 1 sentence is again another example. There is no claim under materialism 'which limits existence to the sensory inputs of the human body'. We already know that the human body can directly perceive only a tiny fraction of what material existence is. We also already agree that there are existing abstract objects, which have no direct equivalent in the material world. Again, this has absolutely nothing to do with the actual limit of our human bodies: we cannot think of literally non-material things. We just can't. If you think otherwise, prove it! But after thinking about this for years I am more than ever convinced that there are such limits:

- We cannot literally think of '0', or 'nothing', or 'emptiness'; we only think of these as the absences of things.
- We cannot literally think of an 'infinite' thing, we can only try to imagine a finite thing that happens to be so long, or so big, that it 'would' be infinite.
- We cannot literally think of colors that we have never seen; we understand that birds can 'see' UV light or the Earth's magnetic field, but we can only try to picture what that might be by combining the colors we already see.
- We cannot literally think of impossible objects, such as a squared circle. We can describe it, in words, like I just did, but cannot picture it in our minds.
- We cannot think faster than a certain speed, being limited the circuitry in our physical brains.
- We cannot think of what it feels like to be someone else, to truly like something we don't like, to truly feel something we have never felt. We can try to imagine, again by just combining our pre-existing knowledge of what it feels like to do something we have done before. There was yet another thread I linked to that discussed this, with respect to the philosophical thought experiment of Mary's room.

Hugo Pelland said...

Stan said:
" BECAUSE everything that is loosely defined as non-material because it has no physical substance is "grounded" in material substances, THEN those things either don't exist OR they are material OR they are incoherent.

First, the premise is not true, and you cannot prove that it is true, universally.
Second, none of the choices in the predicate are necessary conclusions drawn from the premise.
"

This is actually a pretty good representation of Materialism this time. However, the objections are already addressed in my previous comments so I will be brief. The correct argument is that:
- What is loosely defined as non-material by thinking human beings is grounded in material existence.
- Loosely defined non-material things point to either existing material things, or other loosely defined non-material things.
- Hence, pure non-material existence cannot be accessed, nor actually discussed, by human beings.
- Hence, pure non-material existence may exist, but we have no way of knowing.
- Therefore, it is safe to conclude that material existence is probably all there is.

And, personally, I would add that considering the fact that we have billions of light-years of material stuff around us to look at, and that we know it has been around for billions of years, and that humans have just 'talked' about that mysterious non-material/spirit stuff forever without showing any evidence for it, the conclusion is almost certain: there is nothing else but the material world. It's a shortcut, but a reasonable one.

Hugo Pelland said...

Stan,

Regarding evolution, I am done trying to explain it to you. Sorry.

You refuse to try to understand, as it has been demonstrated on many threads before. You are at odds with the scientific world and think that your opinion is superior, for some reason. I prefer to side with the organizations I listed before, as they are way more qualified than any of us to comment on the topic, but I also stand by all my arguments, regardless of the authority behind the, as discussed on these threads:

http://atheism-analyzed.blogspot.com/2016/03/valerie-tarico-analyzes-evangelicals.html
http://atheism-analyzed.blogspot.com/2016/02/of-course-they-do-and-of-course-they.html
http://atheism-analyzed.blogspot.com/2016/02/judith-curry-and-real-issue-surrounding.html
http://atheism-analyzed.blogspot.com/2016/01/magical-evolution.html
... and probably many many more, I just stopped at the last 4...

Nastika,
you may want to take a look at these so that you know what you are getting into if you go down this road of discussion evolution here...

Hugo Pelland said...

Stan,

Regarding evolution, I am done trying to explain it to you. Sorry.

You refuse to try to understand, as it has been demonstrated on many threads before. You are at odds with the scientific world and think that your opinion is superior, for some reason. I prefer to side with the organizations I listed before, as they are way more qualified than any of us to comment on the topic, but I also stand by all my arguments, regardless of the authority behind the, as discussed on these threads:

http://atheism-analyzed.blogspot.com/2016/03/valerie-tarico-analyzes-evangelicals.html
http://atheism-analyzed.blogspot.com/2016/02/of-course-they-do-and-of-course-they.html
http://atheism-analyzed.blogspot.com/2016/02/judith-curry-and-real-issue-surrounding.html
http://atheism-analyzed.blogspot.com/2016/01/magical-evolution.html
... and probably many many more, I just stopped at the last 4...

Nastika,
you may want to take a look at these so that you know what you are getting into if you go down this road of discussion evolution here...

Nastika said...

See this link, which lists the mountain of evidence for common descent.

If it is observed then it is empirical. Here is the observed evidence taken from that link. What exactly are your reasons for rejecting observed evidence?

Observed evidence for organism’s acquiring new functions
“Many organisms have been observed to acquire various new functions which they did not have previously (Endler 1986). Bacteria have acquired resistance to viruses (Luria and Delbruck 1943) and to antibiotics (Lederberg and Lederberg 1952). Bacteria have also evolved the ability to synthesize new amino acids and DNA bases (Futuyma 1998, p. 274). Unicellular organisms have evolved the ability to use nylon and pentachlorophenol (which are both unnatural manmade chemicals) as their sole carbon sources (Okada et al. 1983; Orser and Lange 1994). The acquisition of this latter ability entailed the evolution of an entirely novel multienzyme metabolic pathway (Lee et al. 1998). Bacteria have evolved to grow at previously unviable temperatures (Bennett et al. 1992). In E. coli, we have seen the evolution (by artificial selection) of an entirely novel metabolic system including the ability to metabolize a new carbon source, the regulation of this ability by new regulatory genes, and the evolution of the ability to transport this new carbon source across the cell membrane (Hall 1982).”

Such evolutionary acquisition of new function is also common in metazoans. We have observed insects become resistant to insecticides (Ffrench-Constant et al. 2000), animals and plants acquire disease resistance (Carpenter and O’Brien 1995; Richter and Ronald 2000), crustaceans evolve new defenses to predators (Hairston 1990), amphibians evolve tolerance to habitat acidification (Andren et al. 1989), and mammals acquire immunity to poisons (Bishop 1981). Recent beneficial mutations are also known in humans, such as the famous apolipoprotein AI Milano mutation that confers lowered risk to cardiovascular disease in its carriers.”

Nastika said...

"So, before you continue to assert my ignorance, you should provide actual empirical scientific falsifiable, replicable and replicated evolutionary experimental observations which provide contingent information regarding actual evolution (forget computer programs and science fiction story telling about how it coulda-mighta happened in imaginary space-time."

Observed evidence of speciation
“Speciation of numerous plants, both angiosperms and ferns (such as hemp nettle, primrose, radish and cabbage, and various fern species) has been seen via hybridization and polyploidization since the early 20th century. Several speciation events in plants have been observed that did not involve hybridization or polyploidization (such as maize and S. malheurensis).

Some of the most studied organisms in all of genetics are the Drosophila species, which are commonly known as fruitflies. Many Drosophila speciation events have been extensively documented since the seventies. Speciation in Drosophila has occurred by spatial separation, by habitat specialization in the same location, by change in courtship behavior, by disruptive natural selection, and by bottlenecking populations (founder-flush experiments), among other mechanisms.

Several speciation events have also been seen in laboratory populations of houseflies, gall former flies, apple maggot flies, flour beetles, Nereis acuminata (a worm), mosquitoes, and various other insects. Green algae and bacteria have been classified as speciated due to change from unicellularity to multicellularity and due to morphological changes from short rods to long rods, all the result of selection pressures.

Speciation has also been observed in mammals. Six instances of speciation in house mice on Madeira within the past 500 years have been the consequence of only geographic isolation, genetic drift, and chromosomal fusions. A single chromosomal fusion is the sole major genomic difference between humans and chimps, and some of these Madeiran mice have survived nine fusions in the past 500 years (Britton-Davidian et al. 2000).”



“The worldwide scientific research community from over the past 150 years has discovered that no known hypothesis other than universal common descent can account scientifically for the unity, diversity, and patterns of terrestrial life. This hypothesis has been verified and corroborated so extensively that it is currently accepted as fact by the overwhelming majority of professional researchers in the biological and geological sciences (AAAS 1990; AAAS 2006; GSA 2009; NAS 2005; NCSE 2012; Working Group 2001). No alternate explanations compete scientifically with common descent, primarily for four main reasons: (1) so many of the predictions of common descent have been confirmed from independent areas of science, (2) no significant contradictory evidence has yet been found, (3) competing possibilities have been contradicted by enormous amounts of scientific data, and (4) many other explanations are untestable, though they may be trivially consistent with biological data.”

So common descent is the best theory, it’s predictions have been confirmed, other competing explanations are either contradicted by the enormous amounts of scientific data or else they are untestable (if they even make any predictions.) So no evolution is not science fiction it’s science fact.

Stan said...

This reply to Hugo will be very long, largely because his comment is long. So I'll summarize just a bit.

1. Hugo insists that Materialism has a variable definition, which changes in the middle of an argument.

2. Hugo's definition goes outside of the original definition of material as "mass/energy".

3. Hugo insists that I misrepresent and redefine Materialism due to his own personal definition.

4. Hugo's definition boils down to this (he'll likely claim this to be a misrepresentation too, so prepare yourself for that): Sure, there are entities which have no mass/energy, but there are other entities which do have mass/energy, and they which relate, always, universally, to those without; therefore those entities without mass/energy are material. "What else can they be", he asks, looking for a material connection to non-material existences.

Ergo material stuff is all that exists, and humans cannot talk abut anything that is not mass/energy, because if it is not material it is incoherent. QED.

5. I respond by illuminating the logical fallacies in this train of thought.

So here we go:
Hugo says,
” Yes Stan, I will continue to blame you for misrepresenting unfortunately, as you now confused, purposely or not, a shortcut for a contradiction; something that has already been explained regarding the primacy of material existence.”

After reading this three times, I conclude that I have no idea what you are trying to say. Moving on.

'Meaning' is an example of something that is non-material, in our everyday usage of the term, but merely stating that doesn't invalidate the philosophical question of whether material existence is all there is.

It’s not a philosophical question at all. It is purely a question of false limits to reality. I.e., it is an observable fact.

”That's why it's a misrepresentation; that's why the silly thing of 'here's a jar full of meaning I'd like to sell you' is showing nothing but ignorance on the part of... whoever said it or repeats it.”

The misrepresentation is on your part. Here are the facts: Meaning exists; Meaning has no substance of a mass/energy type. Claiming that existence does not include meaning and non-mass/energy items is false; therefore, Materialism – which claims the contrary – cannot be true; Therefore Materialism is false.

”You say that many things are not grounded in the material but that is precisely what we disagree on.

No, that’s a misrepresentation of my position. I claim that grounding is not an issue, it is a Red Herring. The fact is that there are existences which are essential, yet which have no physical existence. You admit to that. But you insist that it doesn’t matter, because of some other existence which is material. Therefore, according to you, the non-material existence is actually material, despite having no mass/energy. This obviously is in service of ideology, not logic nor observable reality.

The presence of non-material, essential existences renders Materialism false. And that kicks a support out from under your worldview, so you stretch credibility far beyond its limits in order to avoid that consequence.

Stan said...

” So just brushing over that item with examples, which 'you' think are obvious, does not address the issue at hand.”

Unless you can prove them false, it does in fact address the issue at hand, despite your obvious Red Herring Fallacy.

”And yes, it is 'almost' a universal claim. The only reason why it's not literally universal is because of the fact that we start with an assumption that material existence really does exist, and we are bound by it. Hence, it's still technically possible that some non-material existence also exists, on its own, but what would that be?”

It does no good to answer your question, because you already have rejected the answer which you have already been given without providing any material proof to support your rejection. That technique is a repeat of evolutionary claims, AGW claims, and all pseudo-science claims. Without material evidence, your claims for materialism mean nothing.

” That's what you cannot answer, being bound by the same material limits as the rest of us, yet you believe it does exist, because of the faulty assumption of the primacy of consciousness, which creates this realm of existence, a badly defined one, based on the fact that we can 'think'.”

This is pure denialism, including denialism of my actual position which is not based on the assumption of the primacy of consciousness, and which is the demonstrable existence of non-material, essential entities which have no mass/energy, and which you cannot prove otherwise.

And you don’t understand the primacy of consciousness, which is based on quantum reality under the Copenhagen understanding. I have posted this many times, and you and all materialists ignore or poo-poo this, because it is orthogonal to your worldview and you require the primacy of your worldview, regardless of any amount or type of evidence to the contrary. Your worldview includes the belief in fictional stories as fact, if the fictional stories support the primacy of your worldview. When your worldview is Truth Incarnate, then all of reality is subordinate to it. Therefore reality must be bent in order to conform to the worldview, rather than the worldview modified to accommodate actual reality.

Stan said...

” I am not sure where Steve was going with his comments on thoughts but what he wrote looked perfectly accurate to me, and does provide a sort of generalization of why everything we think about ends up being grounded in the material world. On the other hand, the flawed philosophy of immaterialism states that many things are 'not' grounded in material existence. And that's true, but only under the primacy of consciousness, which you implicitly assume.”

False for reasons already enumerated, above. Non-material existence is evidentiary, demonstrable, and incontrovertible using the standards of logic. You have not even attempted to refute it using the standards of disciplined deductive logic.

” Basically, Immaterialism states that there is some sort of existence, some realm where 'things' can exist without being material AND without needing the material world to have meaning, grounding, and a coherent definition. The 'AND' here is important; it's the key point where you saw a contradiction, instead of a simplification.

An “AND” is never, ever, ever a simplification; it is an additional constraint, ALWAYS. Sheesh. And your definition of Materialism cannot be proven, using material techniques, so it is internally contradictory, a fatal logic error. Further, it requires defining non-material entities as “material” (Category Error) and it does so by changing definitions of the entity to include other entities which are not necessary (blatant Equivocation Fallacy).

” Materialism starts with the assumption that material existence exists and accounts for what we 'loosely' call non-material in our everyday lives.”

This is false, as has been demonstrated above. To believe this requires denial of the existence of meaning itself, which never, ever is composed of mass/energy. Your “accounts for” ploy is pure desperation… and is totally unprovable, materially (unfalsifiable, and therefore a religious belief).

” Because yes, we can certainly have different approach to the same word 'material'. If I am talking about an idea I have, I would never pretend this is a 'material' idea that I can weigh, smell or touch, but this does not instantly disprove my idea that there is probably nothing besides the 'material' world, as the 2 usage of the word have different meaning in their respective context.”

Slippery definitions are another sign of desperation, the lack of actual logic regarding the common definition, and the lack of material evidence to support the argument against the actual subject at hand.

Steve 11 said...

I apologize for my repetition in advance.

I think thoughts are the focal point here. Science has no answer as to why we perceive ourselves and have the ability to construct abstractions. Thoughts are what prevent me from closing my mind as to the existence of the immaterial. However, while I do not doubt my ability to think, I have very good reason to doubt my ability to assess what is immaterially real, on a case by case basis.

We, including some of the most brilliant minds in history, have thought, with limited observation, on many topics, some of which involved subject matter that could eventually be empirically validated or invalidated. I think we can agree our record in thinking on these subjects, in advance of material, empirical corroboration, has been terrible. In other words, we have created abstractions that we assert with the potential to represent what is real, only to be subsequently falsified.

Why would we expect a better record as we think on abstractions that have no material means of confirmation at all?

The better explanation as to the basis for claims as to the reality of abstractions, such as meaning, which have no obvious material test, is sentiment. Where logic for multiple conclusions can be provided, all seemingly derived from valid formal systems, most people work backwards from sentiment. Logic used in this blog is world class, and the reason I read posts here.

Since we can literally imagine any meaning in anything, the default position should be that specific meanings that appear in our thoughts should not be given the attribute of reality, other than as a thought.

Stan said...

” The Immaterialist position is a case of equivocation fallacy by attempting to do this:
1) Materialism claims that non-material things don't exist
2) Some non-material things exist
3) Hence, Materialism is false
But 'non-material' does not mean the same under '1' and '2'. Under the Materialism assumption of the primacy of existence, there are some non-material things such as thoughts, ideas, concepts, relationships between things, and so on...”


Then you are not arguing for Philosophical Materialism, you arguing for “Hugo’s Slippery Sort-of-Materialism, in which not everything is material, but in the end actually is material, because “if it is not material, then what is it?” You cannot have both definitions and change when it is convenient for your position.

I will not argue your shape-shifting definitions. Either X is X or it is NOT X. There is no middle, somewhat truth. True = True; else NOT True. The principle of the Excluded Middle applies, even in Materialism.

” These are tools that we use as material human beings capable of abstract thinking. However, this is not, at all, the same kind of 'non-material' things that would disprove Materialism, as the Immaterialism claims are that there is a separate realm of existence, entirely or at least partially detached from the material realm, such that non-material things, whatever they 'could' be, exist without the need for material existence.”

The concept that “absolute truth” has a “meaning” which is without mass/energy, and refers to nothing which has mass/energy, and also is immutable throughout space and time, and even is consistent with pre-existence before mass/energy, space/time is an example which cannot be conflated with material existence.

But I’m certain that you will not accept that, and will find a new definition of one of the terms in order to claim primacy of your worldview.

” " Domain mapping, matrix theory, convolution, and many, many more mathematical concepts have no correlate in the physical world, do not rely on numbers but rather use symbols with no correlate in the physical world. "

This is probably the toughest example, so it's a great one. The key point here is 'correlate' because yes, in theory, we could have some mathematical framework completely detached from the material world, with nothing referencing the material world. However, are we, humans, able to even discuss that? I think not.”


You are kidding, right? Mathematicians discuss these non-material things all the time, and presumably they are humans. Boole proved all three of the First Principles by starting with non-material mathematics. Again, sheesh.

Stan said...

”The cases you list here are all tools developed by people to work out problems in their fields, be it theory-only, or for practical applications. They are grounded in the material world because of the way humans talk about them, interact with them and designed them.”

Good grief. I’m sorry, but that is truly a sad attempt to justify your worldview. Those items have no material qualities, no mass/energy, are independent of space/time, and are true in all universes which are rational. Mathematics is discovered, not “developed”. The non-material relationships exist whether they have been discovered or not. And yes, humans talk about them because they exist.

” It's possible that these things 'could' exist in a purely non-material world, but again, what would that be? We are talking about them using our language, based on our pre-existing definitions of mathematics, and combine these abstract ideas using tangible material representations: symbols.”

This statement is key: “what would that be”? Failure to comprehend is not an excuse to declare non-physical existence. Failure to apprehend the other 8 dimensions does not mean that they do not, cannot exist. And that is what Philosophical Materialism claims, despite your attempt to redefine it: there is no non-material existence because ALL existence is material.

” Even if we argue that the symbol points to something that has no grounding in the material world, the mere fact that a human is using a symbol to talk to another human about that abstract idea represented by a symbol makes it fall squarely into the philosophical definition of materialism.”

You are scratching well beyond your ability to prove anything with your words. Expressing Truth with a symbol, say T, or Theta, or a picture of a pig, whatever, absolutely does not make Truth a material entity. Truth is NOT T, it is NOT theta, it is not a pig, etc., etc. A picture which represents a rocket is not a rocket. The suggestion is absurd on its face – in fact, it is ridiculous.

” One example I am more familiar with is the symbol 'i' or 'j', which represents the square root of -1. There is no material representation for that number as it cannot even possibly map directly to a material quantity;”

As I recall, it maps pretty well onto the math of hypothetical phase angles. Yes that can be realized physically, but it is not necessary to do so in order for it to have meaning.

” it's incoherent.”

Not in all its possible uses.

” At the same time, that symbol is used to compute solutions to real-life problems involving complex electrical circuits. But what is one way of knowing that the result of a calculation is incorrect? When the 'j' remain in the answer... as it means that there is no tangible answer, only an abstract value that means nothing in reality. So, the next question becomes: does that quantity 'j' does exist independently of the material world? Again, I think not, because it is defined as the square root or a negative number, which is itself nothing more but an abstract representation of a number based on material objects.”

And that also is not the case. Minus one is not a material number. You cannot produce “minus one” elephant in the material way that you can produce one elephant. So “minus one” is an abstraction, not a material entity. And the square root of an abstraction is non-material, has meaning (phase angle, at a minimum) and as definitely not incoherent, unless all abstractions are incoherent under your modified form of materialism.

Stan said...


” "You are trying too hard. You are making universal truth statements which are just not the case. [...]"

Prove the statement wrong then, but I already know how you are going to do it: by claiming that there is such a realm as non-material existence, without ever explaining what that would be.”


Certainly. It would be :: not material. The examples are many and varied. Your attempts to make them material are without merit, because you cannot produce (you agree) any mass/energy which corresponds to the non-material entities which we discussed above.

” The argument is that 'thinking' is evidence of that realm, and things we think about that are not literally in the material world are also evidence. However, since 'thinking' can be accounted for under the assumption of material existence, i.e. material brains allow for abstract thinking, then the immaterialist argument fails at being the only valid explanation.”

If materialism is valid and true, then determinism is necessarily true also and thus the brain is a deterministic “meat machine”, the function of which is dependent upon the material initial conditions prior to each neuronic electrochemical discharge. This quasi-infinite regress of deterministic operation eliminates not only abstract thought of a logical nature, but all rational thought, period. It also eliminates free will, agency, and coordinated operation of the meat machine which is the body. So the materialist explanation is eliminated, forthwith. And that passes Reductio Ad Absurdum; try it, and if you disagree, then explain the details.

” We are left with 2 competing ideas, one which, in my opinion, is much more robust at explaining the nature of existence.”

If you think that it is Materialism, then you are wrong.

” And by the way, saying that I am 'trying too hard' might reveal something interesting here: could it mean that you are not trying hard enough? As I discussed on another blog I linked to before, the Immaterialist position is arguably much simpler, but it does not make it right. Hence, to me, this claim that I am 'trying too hard' is actually an involuntary concession that you are taking the easy path, instead of the path that's based on reason and logic, despite its difficulty.”

Take the Reductio Ad Absurdum challenge and get back to me. That is the test. (and it's non-material, too).

Stan said...

” "You seem desperate to find a path which limits existence to the sensory inputs of the human body, which are called "material"."

Why would I be 'desperate' about any of this? This thread and anything related to Materialism is about trying to figure out what's most likely true about existence as a whole. If I am to be corrected in my reasoning, I would be thrilled, as it would mean learning something new.”


You have gone to the extent of redefining the terms in order to preserve your worldview. That is desperation in my book. You admit to the existence of necessary entities which have no mass/energy, and which are independent of space/time, yet you try to attach material existence to them, as if anchoring a ship. That is desperation in my book.

” Instead, what I get here is sometimes misrepresentation of the materialist position, or faulty arguments against it, and almost no argument in favor of immaterialism.”

Since you have agreed to the non-material content of several necessary entities, that claim is entirely bogus and contrary to fact. And since it is you who changed definitions in the middle of an argument, that claim is doubly and egregiously bogus.

” This 1 sentence is again another example. There is no claim under materialism 'which limits existence to the sensory inputs of the human body'.”

That claim is the origin of Philosophical Materialism, regardless of your personal morphing of definitions. The necessity of all existence to exhibit mass/energy within space/time (i.e., sensory, objective detection) is the definition, with the caveat that human senses can be enhanced via material technology. Yet nothing can be understood except through the sensory apparatus which most humans possess and use to apprehend material “reality” which is the sole reality.

Any other definition is incorrect.

” We already know that the human body can directly perceive only a tiny fraction of what material existence is. We also already agree that there are existing abstract objects, which have no direct equivalent in the material world. Again, this has absolutely nothing to do with the actual limit of our human bodies: we cannot think of literally non-material things. We just can't. If you think otherwise, prove it! But after thinking about this for years I am more than ever convinced that there are such limits:”

Perhaps you cannot; that is perhaps a failure of perception. You have thus been discussing things with neither mass nor energy, things which are not affected by time or space or even limits of the universe, but you cannot conceive that you have done so. Interesting.

” We cannot literally think of… [ a list of imponderables and impossibles ]”

I find that I can think of most of those things, except for those internal contradictions which are logically non-coherent (square circle). What you insist must be thought of is this: material manifestations of those non-material entities. For you, if it is not physical, then you can’t think about it. (But actually you can). That is the logic fallacy of Category Error. And you want there to be a physical boundary between the physical and the non-physical: another logic fallacy of Category Error.

Stan said...

” The correct argument is that:
- What is loosely defined as non-material by thinking human beings is grounded in material existence.


False. Due to reasons given above.

”- Loosely defined non-material things point to either existing material things, or other loosely defined non-material things. ”

Loosely defined is incorrect; the definition is given several times above. Non-material means zero mass, zero energy, not affected by time or space or the limits of the universe.

”- Hence, pure non-material existence cannot be accessed, nor actually discussed, by human beings.

False, and absurd. Pure math does it all the time, as do other non-material existences.

”- Hence, pure non-material existence may exist, but we have no way of knowing.”

Non-material existence might be rejected and unknowable to Philosophical Materialists, but it is not unknowable. In fact most of the universe is not mass OR energy. It is dark matter, where the word “matter” does not imply mass or energy.

”- Therefore, it is safe to conclude that material existence is probably all there is.”

Only because that’s what you want it to be, and are willing to commit the errors listed above to secure that conclusion. However, it is not a rational conclusion, and it certainly is not based on empirical data, which is the currency of material knowledge.

”And, personally, I would add that considering the fact that we have billions of light-years of material stuff around us to look at, and that we know it has been around for billions of years, and that humans have just 'talked' about that mysterious non-material/spirit stuff forever without showing any evidence for it, the conclusion is almost certain: there is nothing else but the material world. It's a shortcut, but a reasonable one.”

Your talk of “evidence” shows your closed ideology. The Category Error is fixed in your very being: the demand for material evidence for a non-material existence is logically false. You cannot conceive of any evidence which is not mass/energy, because of your insistence that another, separate existence proves that it is, in fact, material – despite having zero mass/energy. Highly irrational, yet necessary for one reason: protection of ideology. So the evidence which does exist for non-materiality, you try to pervert into material existence with word games and redefinitions. There are non-material entities; they cannot be tested with physical extensions of human senses because they have no mass/energy, BUT they are necessary existences. Further, Philosophical Materialism is internally contradictory, and thus cannot be the case.

So, your conclusion is, again, desperate.

Stan said...

It is interesting to note that the universe has no meaning when considered in its materialist form. It is only in the context of life that “meaning” has any… meaning. Atheists claim that even life has no attached, endemic meaning but that humans can attach meaning to their lives. The reason that is interesting is that “life” has no essence within the materialist view. Massimo Pigliucci said that he could see no essence in life, unless it is DNA (material essence). Yet there is an observable difference between life and death, between living, self-contained entities and non-living, atomic-granuled minerals. The differential between alive and dead has no material component, and no mass/energy is lost at death. Life is an essence which is not material.

So giving “meaning” to non-material “life” does not in any manner reference a direct relationship between non-material “meaning”, non-material “life” and material existence, specifically because at death the material body no longer has any meaning. It never did. It is only the life which had meaning, not the atoms and molecules of the body. For some lives the meaning lives on due to its influence on other lives, current and future.

”Regarding evolution, I am done trying to explain it to you. Sorry.”

Chuck the arrogance, and produce some actual science. Otherwise admit that you cannot.

”You refuse to try to understand, as it has been demonstrated on many threads before. You are at odds with the scientific world and think that your opinion is superior, for some reason. I prefer to side with the organizations I listed before, as they are way more qualified than any of us to comment on the topic, but I also stand by all my arguments, regardless of the authority behind the, as discussed on these threads:

http://atheism-analyzed.blogspot.com/2016/03/valerie-tarico-analyzes-evangelicals.html
http://atheism-analyzed.blogspot.com/2016/02/of-course-they-do-and-of-course-they.html
http://atheism-analyzed.blogspot.com/2016/02/judith-curry-and-real-issue-surrounding.html
http://atheism-analyzed.blogspot.com/2016/01/magical-evolution.html
... and probably many many more, I just stopped at the last 4...”


Here is what the “Science of Evolutionary Theory” requires: Actual science. There is none. So it is not a science, and it does not produce objective knowledge; it produces science fiction in the form of Just So Stories.

Show otherwise by producing actual science demonstrating real, actual evolution.

Your approval of the cult of consensus does not impress. Where O where is the empirical science?? Evolution proves that Atheism comes first, and science proves Atheism by force of Stories. Don’t agree? Then produce some actual disciplined science, as has been requested for what seems millennia. And yet never is forthcoming. Never has been, and likely never will be.

So your promise to stop explaining why story-telling produces Truth is welcome.

Stan said...

Nastika,
Perhaps you should read and take Hugo’s advice. What is done at this site is to protect science from science fraud. This is uncomfortable for true believer in certain pervasive science frauds.

”See this link, which lists the mountain of evidence for common descent.

If it is observed then it is empirical.


First, that link provides zero empirical evidence. It provides inferential connections which are not observed, but which are inferentially extrapolated between two actual observations. It is certainly possible to generate mountains of stories in the form of inferential extrapolations and other opinions. That is in no sense, mountains of empirical evidence suitable for claiming objective knowledge.

Second, observation is not empirical. Observation is purely Inductive, and subject to the Inductive Fallacy (black swan). Empiricism (and objective knowledge) require that the observations produce an inductive hypothesis for cause regarding a set of effects, which can be tested deductively by deducing a materially implementable cause for the inductively observed set of effects (required by the rule of determinism) and then inventing a disciplined experimental test that forces a cause and observes the hypothetical effect of the cause. The requirements of the empirical process are that it be replicable, falsifiable, disciplined and unbiased data open to everyone, repeated independently and non-falsified. This is the only process of empiricism, it produces only contingent knowledge of cause and effect, and it is the historical definition and basis for empirical science.

Everything else cannot produce even contingent knowledge: it is pure speculation, and without any truth value and certainly not objective, immutable knowledge.

Next you are producing the common arguments for “evolution”, which are not actually attributable to evolution.

The assertion of new functions in bacteria fails to prove evolution for the following reason: if the bacteria are usually killed by process A, then none would survive in order to be said to have evolved to accommodate process A. So the ability to survive process A must inhere within a subpopulation of the bacteria. If process A is gradually introduced, the same argument applies: the ability to survive process A cannot be said to have developed, because it is already there. This has been confirmed multiple times by findings which show that the “new” capability was actually there, but in much of the population it was shut off. This prior capacity to survive process A was already there, and merely was enabled in a portion of the population.

Stan said...

” Here is the observed evidence taken from that link. What exactly are your reasons for rejecting observed evidence?

Observed evidence for organism’s acquiring new functions
“Many organisms have been observed to acquire various new functions which they did not have previously (Endler 1986). Bacteria have acquired resistance to viruses (Luria and Delbruck 1943) and to antibiotics (Lederberg and Lederberg 1952). Bacteria have also evolved the ability to synthesize new amino acids and DNA bases (Futuyma 1998, p. 274). Unicellular organisms have evolved the ability to use nylon and pentachlorophenol (which are both unnatural manmade chemicals) as their sole carbon sources (Okada et al. 1983; Orser and Lange 1994). The acquisition of this latter ability entailed the evolution of an entirely novel multienzyme metabolic pathway (Lee et al. 1998). Bacteria have evolved to grow at previously unviable temperatures (Bennett et al. 1992). In E. coli, we have seen the evolution (by artificial selection) of an entirely novel metabolic system including the ability to metabolize a new carbon source, the regulation of this ability by new regulatory genes, and the evolution of the ability to transport this new carbon source across the cell membrane (Hall 1982).”


It is false to call pre-existing capabilities which were disabled, “new”. When each of these proves that these “new” functions are NOT the result of pre-existing capabilities in part of the population, then we have something to discuss. I’m not aware of any such findings.

Stan said...

”Such evolutionary acquisition of new function is also common in metazoans. We have observed insects become resistant to insecticides (Ffrench-Constant et al. 2000), animals and plants acquire disease resistance (Carpenter and O’Brien 1995; Richter and Ronald 2000), crustaceans evolve new defenses to predators (Hairston 1990), amphibians evolve tolerance to habitat acidification (Andren et al. 1989), and mammals acquire immunity to poisons (Bishop 1981). Recent beneficial mutations are also known in humans, such as the famous apolipoprotein AI Milano mutation that confers lowered risk to cardiovascular disease in its carriers.””

The same argument applies here. Revealing previous capabilities which were disused is not evidence of evolution. Just claiming “evolution” does not prove evolution. The mechanism must be fully understood before making claims for “evolving tolerance”. Doing otherwise is indicative of sloppy and false science which presupposes the conclusion.

”So, before you continue to assert my ignorance, you should provide actual empirical scientific falsifiable, replicable and replicated evolutionary experimental observations which provide contingent information regarding actual evolution (forget computer programs and science fiction story telling about how it coulda-mighta happened in imaginary space-time."

Observed evidence of speciation
“Speciation of numerous plants, both angiosperms and ferns (such as hemp nettle, primrose, radish and cabbage, and various fern species) has been seen via hybridization and polyploidization since the early 20th century. Several speciation events in plants have been observed that did not involve hybridization or polyploidization (such as maize and S. malheurensis).”


Alloploidal Hybrids are sterile; sterile plants are not evidence of an evolved species. Even Darwin’s Finches produce sterile offspring when they are hybrids. Polyploidy produce combined morphology of both parents, not new features. The supposed new species is in fact just recombinations of features of the parent species. While this is called speciation, it has produced nothing new.

”Some of the most studied organisms in all of genetics are the Drosophila species, which are commonly known as fruitflies. Many Drosophila speciation events have been extensively documented since the seventies. Speciation in Drosophila has occurred by spatial separation, by habitat specialization in the same location, by change in courtship behavior, by disruptive natural selection, and by bottlenecking populations (founder-flush experiments), among other mechanisms.”

This is contrary to any information I have seen. All Drosophilia mutations have created disasters such as legs on the head, multiple wings with the inability to fly, etc., as far as I know. The above are merely assertions without content; if actual science is provided, then it will be scrutinized.

Stan said...

”Several speciation events have also been seen in laboratory populations of houseflies, gall former flies, apple maggot flies, flour beetles, Nereis acuminata (a worm), mosquitoes, and various other insects. Green algae and bacteria have been classified as speciated due to change from unicellularity to multicellularity and due to morphological changes from short rods to long rods, all the result of selection pressures.”

And again, unsubstantiated assertions without actual content attached. Merely claims, not facts.

”Speciation has also been observed in mammals. Six instances of speciation in house mice on Madeira within the past 500 years have been the consequence of only geographic isolation, genetic drift, and chromosomal fusions. A single chromosomal fusion is the sole major genomic difference between humans and chimps, and some of these Madeiran mice have survived nine fusions in the past 500 years (Britton-Davidian et al. 2000).””

Full attribution to source study is required; otherwise it is merely empty claims.

”“The worldwide scientific research community from over the past 150 years has discovered that no known hypothesis other than universal common descent can account scientifically for the unity, diversity, and patterns of terrestrial life.”

And yet the trees of life all have dotted line links which indicate unknown intermediate sources and unknown common ancestors between separate lineages (e.g., between chimps and humans – historically recent and should be easy-peasy to find, if it ever existed).

”This hypothesis has been verified and corroborated so extensively that it is currently accepted as fact by the overwhelming majority of professional researchers in the biological and geological sciences (AAAS 1990; AAAS 2006; GSA 2009; NAS 2005; NCSE 2012; Working Group 2001). No alternate explanations compete scientifically with common descent, primarily for four main reasons: (1) so many of the predictions of common descent have been confirmed from independent areas of science,

False. The ability to generate “stories” has been confirmed; nothing more.

”(2) no significant contradictory evidence has yet been found,

Nor has NON-contradictory evidence been found. But the story-telling is now accepted as “evidence”.

Stan said...

”(3) competing possibilities have been contradicted by enormous amounts of scientific data,

Actually false. The evolution of all the phyla from a common uni-cell at the Cambrian explosion has precisely no confirmation and no physical competing contradiction. What has been eliminated is ideological, not physical.

” and (4) many other explanations are untestable, though they may be trivially consistent with biological data.”

Actually, all physical explanations are untestable, because evolution and common descent are historical issues which cannot be either observed, nor produced for empirical examination.

”So common descent is the best theory, it’s predictions have been confirmed, other competing explanations are either contradicted by the enormous amounts of scientific data or else they are untestable (if they even make any predictions.) So no evolution is not science fiction it’s science fact.

There is actually a contrary position which is obvious: because empiricism requires cause and effect testing, evolution, being historical in nature, cannot be an empirical science, nor can it produce objective truth. Everything regarding evolution, from First Life, to the Cambrian Explosion, to the common ancestor between humans and chimps, cannot be empirically investigated, nor can it be said to be Truth, nor can it qualify as objective knowledge. It is not “fact”. It is purely inference which is ideologically necessary to hold a job.

The declaration that evolution is “fact” is an egregious lie and an insult to real science. Further it is an equivocation of the meaning of the term "fact". All of the above is merely rhetoric, without any supporting data, study references, or other validation. So it is an Appeal to Authority" and without any logical validity.

Steve 11 said...

Re: Here are the facts: Meaning exists

Stan, what would be the test for meaning existing outside of our thoughts? We all seem to come up with our own thoughts as to meaning, many of which contradict one another. Surely not all thoughts as to meaning become reality outside of our thoughts?

You described how absurd it would be if materialism were the basis for the (asserted) reality of meaning, but I don't have any insight into the immaterial nature of meaning, which you must have had in mind as you wrote the post.

Thanks.







Stan said...

It's sad that so many materialists cannot come to grips with the existence of something which exists without mass/energy, which is valid across space/time and also valid across the entire universe and even beyond (and before).

I read today that humans either define their core self as purely material or as not purely material (spiritual). Those whose core is self-defined as purely material apparently cannot conceive of things like meaning, which is non-physical, and is transmitted by many carriers, from paper to digital codes. The meaning is absent if all that exists is the scribbles on paper or the electromagnetic states of circuits. Yet these materialists conflate the encoded, modulated and transmitted meaning with the hardware used to provide the carrier for the meaning which is impressed upon it. For them, the carrier is the meaning. The black ink on the paper is the meaning, rather than conveys the meaning via the code of language.

Material-only existence is totally without meaning. Atheists agree with that: the universe has no meaning and conveys no meaning to any configuration of the atoms and molecules and particles and fields and waveforms. Paper has no meaning. Ink has no meaning. Electrons and fields have no meaning.

Yet Atheists also have claimed that meaning is conveyed to one's own life by the person who possesses the life; we all give our own lives meaning - it doesn't come from anything else. This idea has consequences.

Since life and living things are the only items with meaning, then it is the life which is given meaning, not the molecules of the body. So non-material, massless and energyless meaning comes to refer to the massless and energyless life, and never to entities with mass/energy. I.e., a life can have meaning; molecules cannot.

A life can have meaning by doing things with the body which the mind finds satisfying and productive. However, both satisfaction and productivity are not physical things with mass/energy. So the entire issue of "meaning" remains in the realm of non-material, just as Atheists claim: it does not refer to mass/energy, and the material universe itself has no meaning.

Now, if you cannot relate to that example, and you truly think that all of those entities - meaning, life, satisfaction, productivity - are actual, physical, material lumps of mass/energy, then I invite you to find some chunks of each, and send them to me. I will be happy to measure weight, temperature, radiation decay rate, composition and any other indicators of mass and energy, and publish that data.

Conversely, if none of those items can be found as material chunks, and if you think that they cannot exist as non-material items, then we must conclude that none of them exist at all, period.

So when you investigate these things and report back, then we can decide what the most likely conclusion must be.

Stan said...

Let's transfer this conversation to the upper left side bar conversation zones, please.

Hugo Pelland said...

You're the one who started this new thread... but I will reply back over there then.