Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Can science tell us why matter exists?



We have theories about why nonliving matter became living, and how simple life-forms evolved into more complex ones. What science can’t tell us is why there is any matter at all, as opposed to no matter. 

Or can it?

45 comments:

im-skeptical said...

I don't think science can answer a question like that. I also don't think religion can, at least not without making assumptions that have no epistemic justification. You can assume that there is a final cause for everything, for example, but how could you know that?

LadyAtheist said...

Religion can't answer that question either, even though it's a question only a religionist would ask.

Could you really worship a god who created an entire universe just to populate one small planet with a species to worship him, that would last only 100,000 years or so (at the present rate!) out of infinity, and of whom you could only get roughly 1/7 to believe in him despite being all-powerful?

Perhaps the answer to "why" there is matter is "Why not?"

Karl Grant said...

LadyAtheist,

Could you really worship a god who created an entire universe just to populate one small planet with a species to worship him, that would last only 100,000 years or so (at the present rate!) out of infinity, and of whom you could only get roughly 1/7 to believe in him despite being all-powerful?

The implicit assumption in that statement is size is the only measure of importance. Say you are walking your baby on a stroller through a busy intersection and the baby gets hit by a tractor-trailer truck. Now the baby isn't even one-seventh the size, or even one-twentieth the weight, of a Peterbilt hauling a load of iPads to Best-Buy. The truck's paint job gets a little ruined and the bumper gets a scratch in it; your baby gets pancaked. Can we really hold the truck driver responsible for crushing something that is less than two-feet long and weighs less then ten pounds when he is driving a truck that is sixty-feet long and weighs upwards of forty tons anymore than we can worship a God who created an entire universe just to populate one small planet with a species to worship him?

Of course, if you say anything other than No, we can not hold the truck driver responsible you are admitting there are other criteria besides size to judge the worth of something and your above statement becomes meaningless.

Papalinton said...

"Say you are walking your baby on a stroller through a busy intersection and the baby gets hit by a tractor-trailer truck. Now the baby isn't even ....."

It is so difficult to engage in debate with those bent on racing fast to the bottom. But I am happy to elicit and read others continuing to elicit similar responses that are simply unhelpful is advancing the superstitious supernaturalist cause. In the stark glare of reasoned scrutiny it becomes increasingly evident that the religionist POV is palpably untenable as an explanatory tool. The response to LadyAtheist's most reasonable query is the archetypal pattern, a recourse to murky obfuscation, a ubiquitous characteristic of apologetics..

Karl Grant said...

The response to LadyAtheist's most reasonable query is the archetypal pattern, a recourse to murky obfuscation, a ubiquitous characteristic of apologetics.

Let's see, I point out that LadyAtheist's "most reasonable query" is predicated on the assumption that size is the only measure of worth / importance / value (i.e., it is such a big universe and we are so small, therefore we are of no cosmic importance and God does not exist). I give an example illustrating the fact that size is not the only measure of worth / importance / value; maybe not even the most important one. Your response? Insults and self-congratulatory back-patting; but let's see you put your money where your mouth is. Tell me Paps, do you agree with the implicit assumption of LadyAtheist's "most reasonable query" that size is the only measure of importance and value?

im-skeptical said...

"do you agree with the implicit assumption of LadyAtheist's "most reasonable query" that size is the only measure of importance and value?"

I don't think that is at all what her assumption was. This is an age-old question: Why should God create the whole vast universe so that we can occupy such a tiny piece of it? It has nothing to do with how big we are in relation to some other object. It is about why there should be so much of creation that goes unseen and apparently serves no purpose. What's the point? You might choose to give a reasoned response to the question, or you might fail to understand what is being asked.

Papalinton said...

Karl
Implicit and explicit in LadyAtheist's observation is a most reasonable query, whether size is the criterion or not. And I would suggest that her query has far greater a ring of credibility and insightfulness than the oft religious claim that God is everywhere, anywhere, 'greater than that for which no greater can be conceived', whatever the rather silly Anselmian claim to which you subscribe.

You are two-faced and fork-tongued in your response to LadyAtheist. If size wasn't important why do you gladly invoke Anselm's unsubstantiated drivel to justify the all-pervasive enormity of the Christian god on other occasions? LadyAtheist has asked a reasonable question consistent with what we know and understand. She makes no spurious large-scale claims as Christians are want to do, claiming the gargantuan size and nature of their spectral numen, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, whose size of which infuses and suffuses all and everything and dwarfs even the known universe.

Reasoned, measured and perfectly logical is LadyAtheist's question, I say. Not the least fanciful as that which the religiose declare.







Karl Grant said...

Skeppy,

Why should God create the whole vast universe so that we can occupy such a tiny piece of it? It has nothing to do with how big we are in relation to some other object.

Oh this is rich. When you ask why God should create such a vast universe and why we occupy such a small chunk of it you are comparing how big we are in relation to another object. Specifically how much territory we occupy (which is one way of measuring how big humanity is as a whole) to the universe (which is an object). Also, vast and tiny descriptors of size (i.e., how big something is). So you are asking why the difference in size between humanity on Earth and the rest of the universe is like it is; using not one but two adjectives used to describe size in said sentence; and then you turn around and say this has nothing to with how big we are in relation to something else.

Now I know your reading comprehension and critical thinking skills ain't exactly the best but you just put two fucking contradictory sentences back-to-fucking-back.

It is about why there should be so much of creation that goes unseen and apparently serves no purpose.

Unseen by who? You? It definitely wouldn't go unseen by it's creator. And how do you know it serves no purpose? NASA recently announced that there are probably millions of planets supporting life out there. So how exactly do you know it serves no purpose?

Karl Grant said...

Paps,

And I would suggest that her query has far greater a ring of credibility and insightfulness than the oft religious claim that God is everywhere, anywhere, 'greater than that for which no greater can be conceived', whatever the rather silly Anselmian claim to which you subscribe.

Argument from personal incredulity? That it is a logical fallacy and does nothing to my point.

If size wasn't important why do you gladly invoke Anselm's unsubstantiated drivel to justify the all-pervasive enormity of the Christian god on other occasions?

1. Is this a pathetic attempt at appeal to hypocrisy? Another logical fallacy; surprise, surprise. Not.

2. The person bringing Anselm into this conversation is you, not I. I said nothing about Anselm or the pervasiveness of God. I merely pointed out that her statement depended on size being the main determination of value and pointed out that is not always the case.

3. Since you are not denying LadyAtheist's argument is predicated on size being the most important standard to measure value and instead trying to pull a Well, so do you! defense my example with the baby and the semi-truck stands. Thank you for admitting its valid.

She makes no spurious large-scale claims

Bullshit. She making a statement about the size of humanity in relationship to the universe as a whole. Pretty hard to get more large scale than that.

Papalinton said...

As I explained earlier, "But I am happy to elicit and read others continuing to elicit similar responses that are simply unhelpful in advancing the superstitious supernaturalist cause. In the stark glare of reasoned scrutiny it becomes increasingly evident that the religionist POV is palpably untenable as an explanatory tool."

And in such predictable fashion without any hint or self-perceived notion his chain is being pulled Grant accordingly and effortlessly obliges us all.

Ya gotta love his innocence.

Karl Grant said...

And in such predictable fashion without any hint or self-perceived notion his chain is being pulled Grant accordingly and effortlessly obliges us all.

Ya gotta love his innocence.


Oh please Paps, everybody here has known for years you are a troll who comes here mainly to boost his own frail ego. Actually arguing effectively against your opponents' positions would require competence and intelligence which you demonstratively do not have.

im-skeptical said...

Karl,

"And how do you know it serves no purpose? NASA recently announced that there are probably millions of planets supporting life out there."

The traditional Christian view is that the universe was created for us humans. Jesus lived for us humans. If we can't see most of it, or even know what's out there, then what purpose does it serve? To give us a means of navigation? Perhaps to give God a reason to pat himself on the back?

http://christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-c012.html

Karl Grant said...

The traditional Christian view is that the universe was created for us humans. Jesus lived for us humans. If we can't see most of it, or even know what's out there, then what purpose does it serve? To give us a means of navigation? Perhaps to give God a reason to pat himself on the back?

That is your answer? One, you are assuming that because we can't see most of it now means we are never gonna see most of it. This is like saying in 1800 the ocean served no purpose because the vast majority of what it contained was hidden from human view until the development of submarines over the next two hundred years. Or we couldn't see what the Moon was really like until we actually set foot on it 1969.

Two, just because you can't discern a purpose doesn't mean it doesn't have one. We didn't know the tides were governed by the moon's gravity until the 1600s. Did the moon serve no purpose before then?

So your extrapolating that our present situation in regards to being able to view and explore the universe is gonna remain the same throughout the rest of human history when you make this statement (so much for scientific progress). Also, I notice you are no longer trying to deny that this line of "questioning" is based on relationship in size being the sole determination of value so thank you for capitulating there.

im-skeptical said...

" I notice you are no longer trying to deny that this line of "questioning" is based on relationship in size being the sole determination of value so thank you for capitulating there."

I deny that you have even an elementary schoolboy's level of comprehension. Give it up.

Karl Grant said...

I deny that you have even an elementary schoolboy's level of comprehension. Give it up.

Still copying other people's insults? Tsk, tsk.

By the way, your statements such as If we can't see most of it , or even know what's out there, then what purpose does it serve? is based on the idea, if I even wanted to call it that, that being able to see something automatically assigns it more worth or meaning then something you are not able to see. I have never seen your face. Does that make you worth less than the dog shit I stepped in this morning?

Papalinton said...

Skep
"I deny that you have even an elementary schoolboy's level of comprehension. Give it up."

Sometimes we have to allow them the last word because that is all they have left given the verbiage that flows as if an endless stream of consciousness right off the top of their heads, akin to a snowstorm of dandruff.

Karl Grant said...

Sometimes we have to allow them the last word because that is all they have left given the verbiage that flows as if an endless stream of consciousness right off the top of their heads, akin to a snowstorm of dandruff.

Oh like that ain't a blatantly obvious attempt at trying to get one last put down in. Still nice first grade attempt at prose. Plagiarize it from your granddaughter?

Dan Gillson said...

Science can't tell us why there is matter. A proper appreciation for science realizes that science disenchants nature, making such questions as the existential why? meaningless in the face of it.

im-skeptical said...

Dan,

Your point is well taken. But why should nature be 'enchanted' in the first place? Isn't that just a reflection of our human desire to understand what has been beyond our grasp?

Dan Gillson said...

What? Your questions don't engage with my point.

im-skeptical said...

"What? Your questions don't engage with my point."

Sorry. I thought I was engaging your point, lame as the attempt might have been. I realize that I don't always use terminology in the proper philosophical sense that you have been trained with. But I view the need to see meaning in everything as a reflection of our desire to understand what we don't.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

"Science can't tell us why there is matter. A proper appreciation for science realizes that science disenchants nature, making such questions as the existential why? meaningless in the face of it."

A couple of things:
1. A why question is meaningless in science and is equally meaningless in the existential sense because a why? question is all about looking for motive, a reason for doing something. In the case of supernaturalism it implies that, at its best guess, some uberhuman [and it has to be humanoid because we are endlessly informed we are made in his image] had to have fashioned the universe because only a uberperson would be sufficiently sized, certainly larger by orders of magnitude than the size of the known universe, to apparently accomplish such a feat. But through asking the question why? it seems to me that once we project motive [teleology] we enter Disneyworld.

2. Philosophy, likeso, only responds to the existential why? question in order to provide imagery to fill the gap of our ignorance. That is why [motive again?] there are as many different responses or answers to the existential why? question as there are philosophers. Many fit into one camp or another but in the main there are the supernaturalists and the naturalists.

3. There is far greater congruency between the perspective of naturalists and science than there is between supernaturalists and science. I have no idea why [motive? reason?] you say 'science disenchants nature' apart from perhaps feeling a little disappointed? despondent? that science seems unable to address such a question. For me science celebrates the enchantment of nature. Science is the celebration of exploration of us, our environment, our world, our universe.

4. The existential why? question is both elliptical and paradoxical and it seems, from the small window just beginning to open on a neuroscientific perspective, we have been evolutionarily slowly wired to relate and respond to our world in a manner engendering inquisitiveness and curiosity as a function of learning, intellectual growth, expanding our understanding of the environment, all with optimizing our survival prospects. It is elliptical because it always returns to improving survival. It is paradoxical because it allows our imagination to project ourselves beyond ourselves, a third person perspective in effect, a most valuable POV that allows us to look back at ourselves from the position of the gods no less.

5. I think there is sufficient knowledge and understanding for us to transit from a largely scientifically-uniformed philosophical worldview to a scientifically-informed philosophy. The degree of discomfort in making this transition will largely depend on the willingness of those of us to forego old, frayed, trite and clichéd philosophical musings and readings of a by-gone era and begin to read them afresh in the context of today's burgeoning scientific knowledge and understanding, rather than obdurately pegging today to yesteryear's mindset.

im-skeptical said...

Many people feel that science strips us of humanity - cold, hard facts only, lacking creativity, aesthetics, morality, purpose. So they turn to some teleological source, typically a deity, to seek fulfillment of their need to find meaning. I think it's just a wrong-headed understanding of science. Our humanity comes from being human, and science doesn't take that away from us. It only alleviates the need to turn to the supernatural to understand our world. To say that we need something else to answer the question of why is simply a comforting delusion. It doesn't lead to any kind of true understanding. So God is the answer to the existential question? Why does God exist? Only because we feel we need an answer to the question.

Karl Grant said...

So God is the answer to the existential question? Why does God exist? Only because we feel we need an answer to the question.

Do you even have a clue of what question begging is despite it being explained to you, more than once and by more than one person?

Dan Gillson said...

Skep,

I can see the sense in which you are speaking, but thought of in another sense, we can't help but to see meaning in everything because meaning is literally everywhere. Minds don't operate at the level at which science investigates the world, call it the framework of science. They operate at the level at which objects appear, call it the framework of physical objects. (If anyone has done their homework, they'll know that I'm borrowing the notion of the distinction between frameworks from Wilfrid Sellars.) Speaking in this sense of meaning, seeing meaning in everything is a reflection of our capacity to understand the world which we inhabit.

im-skeptical said...

Dan,

Meaning comes form our own mind and nothing else. Sure, meaning is everywhere - everywhere we look, that is. The assignment of meaning to cognitive objects is a mental process - a function of the mind. Without the mind, there is no meaning at all.

I reject the notion that scientific investigation must always be separate from the level at which minds operate. This is a romantic notion, perhaps comforting to those who want to believe that there must be more to the world or to human nature than what we observe empirically. Cognitive science has shed much light on how the mind works, and it's a field that continues to produce new insight about how we think.

We don't have to be afraid of learning the truth. We can still experience awe, and marvel at the wonderful things that nature has produced. And we can still be human.

Dan Gillson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan Gillson said...

Skep,

Do phenomena appear before us as groupings of meaningless particles, or as fully formed objects?

Dan Gillson said...

Linton,

A couple of responses:

1. I don't know if you've ever attended an event in which graduate students of the sciences present their research on huge, colorful posters, but if you did, you'd see that many of them are answering scientific why? questions. (This evidence is anecdotal, but I frequently host these sorts of events for the University of Minnesota's Colleges of Biological Sciences, of Science and Engineering, of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Science, and the Medical School, so I know what I'm talking about.) Motives have nothing to do with the answers to such questions, but reasons do. Things do things for reasons; effects have causes. Our explanations for reasons, causes, and effects aren't final, but we already knew that.

2. You haven't read enough philosophy to make the sort of judgement you just made. Remember your brief fascination with Dunning-Krueger and how you constantly misapplied it? Your confident ignorance in the matters of philosophy is an example par excellence of the Dunning-Krueger effect.

3. Thanks for the psychoanalysis, but you're way off base. The terms enchantment and disenchantment are superficial, historical constructs which help us to make sense of the development and rise of modern science, to describe the way in which moderns see the world from the way in which pre-moderns did. You wear your ignorance on your sleeve.

4. Translated: Neuroscience has discovered that, in order to survive, our brains can learn stuff and adapt to our environment. Tell me Linton: why did we need neuroscience to tell us what we already know? Also, you've misused the word elliptical, which refers to an ellipsis, and an ellipsis refers to an omission. You meant circular.

5. You are exemplar of Frankfurt's bullshitter, a person who only cares to try to impress the reader. Contemporary philosophy is largely "scientifically informed". If you bothered to read it--beyond, I mean, the sort of shit meant for popular consumption--you'd know that.

im-skeptical said...

Dan,

"Do phenomena appear before us as groupings of meaningless particles, or as fully formed objects?"

I'm not sure of the point of the question, but of course, we perceive things as complete objects, not as their constituent pieces. The reason for that is that we construct mental models of the things in our environment.

A pile of fur on the ground presented no threat to our ancestor, but if it had eyes and teeth, it represented something more than simply fur and eyes and teeth. The eyes see those things individually. The brain naturally composes object models from all the pieces of information that come in, and assigns some kind of meaning to them. That's how we understand our world.

Papalinton said...

Dan
Oops! It was remiss of me not to recall you are perhaps, maybe, possibly don't imagine yourself a god-botherer. A read of the my commentary ought to have alerted you to that omission.
Is your hosting, as you say you perform, of these science proceedings at the university of a catering nature, or as MC or in some other official capacity? Just curious. It's not of any consequence as you would have been an active observer of the proceedings either way. It just sounded very official and scientifically inclusive in the way you describe your participation.

Notwithstanding there are some points you make that do demand a response.
I think I do appreciate the problematic nature the why? question poses/presents in discourse. And I do enjoy philosophy sufficient to read it. But let's be clear about this. You stated as fact that science cannot tell us why there is matter, did you not? I took that for a philosophical statement and addressed it accordingly. So your conflating the myriad of why? responses at a science ceremony is both misleading and scurrilous. Look at the context in which my #1 and #2 is offered. It links both science and philosophy to that very statement you make and in both cases I clearly address the why? question from that perspective.

Your Point 2 .......... says Gillson the expert. 'Nuff said.

Your remark, " proper appreciation for science realizes that science disenchants nature, ...." I can take then to deem it nothing more than a "superficial, historical construct which helps you to make sense of the development and rise of modern science ....". It fits. Your comment is entirely subjective topped with a dash of personal dissatisfaction. My psychological observation seems a reasonable assessment given your wistfulness.

Re: neuroscience. I sense a dislike, antipathy towards science. I sense an aversion to neuroscience that might, just might be considered anathema to your proclivity (that is, an inclination or predisposition toward a particular ...) for philosophy, of the scientifically-uninformed variety. I take as my guide the totality of your sentiment, "Science can't tell us why there is matter. A proper appreciation for science realizes that science disenchants nature, making such questions as the existential why? meaningless in the face of it."

Cont.

Papalinton said...

Cont
Now the matter of ellipses. No doubt, you will have taken note the number of ellipses utilized throughout this commentary. My use of the word 'elliptical' has significance. If I wanted to mean circular, 'circular' I would have used. Read the context for goodness sake. My comment: "It is elliptical because it always returns to improving survival." The 'It' refers specifically to the 'existential why? question'. Have we not been actually discussing and rueing [well, you have] the missing information that ubiquitously follows the 'existential Why? question'. Have we not been discussing how science cannot answer why? there is matter. I have offered some insight which hopefully contributes to understanding why that might be so. I have said to the effect that philosophy alone cannot help us answer that question definitively. There are as many philosophical answers to the why? question as there are philosophers, the sum of whom very broadly flattens into two diametric camps, naturalists and supernaturalists. Personal choice inevitably becomes the criterion for selection, not the truth of the matter. So you have two explanatory tools, philosophy and science. It is my suggestion that the explanatory power of scientifically-informed philosophy is orders of magnitude greater than scientifically-uninformed philosophy. It is in this context that I use the word 'elliptical' to describe the missing or unacknowledged element of the highly problematic 'why? question'. The missing bit of the enigmatic why? question that you seem to fail to appreciate is that for us to continue as thinking, breathing, creative, loving, entities/organisms has pretty much to do with the centrality of improving our survival prospects [in which science has played a sterling role in keeping us alive longer. Philosophy? not so much, probably none]. I say again, The existential why? question is elliptical because it always returns to improving survival.

Your Point 5 ..... you're the internet ex-spurt. 'Nuff said.

You are a turgid little sod, aren't you? You also repeatedly demonstrate a preponderance for nitpickiness in my use of language. Allow me the courtesy to do likewise. No, "Things [do NOT] do things for reasons; effects have causes." That is inadvertent teleology, territory that should not be engaged in science language unless the cause is intentional. To 'do' something is intentional, to which one can infer motive or intention. To be clearer, 'Things occur/happen/take place for reasons; effects have causes' [take your pick]. Indeed inanimate things can also impact upon other inanimate things in this universe for reasons other than doing. An example, they may already be in motion and some physical circumstance can alter the objects' status with no intention of doing.

Try to keep your rage in check, that's a good boy.

Dan Gillson said...

Will someone finally write Linton a citation for publicly displaying his stupidity? Geez …

1. Congrats. You found out my occupation by clicking on my profile: event manager for D'Amico Catering. You can find me on LinkedIn.

2. I did look at the context of your previous points 1 and 2. In your first point you stated that why? questions are as equally meaningless in science as they are in philosophy, in the existential sense. Your reason was that why? questions are about looking for motives, which you conflated with reasons for doing something. My response was that why? questions are asked and answered by science all the time, as is proved by my example of hosting sessions in which graduate students present their research. (I admitted the anecdotal nature of the evidence.) I then pointed out that motives aren't reasons. As for your previous point 2, you're bullshitting, and you're mad that I called you out on it.

3. My comment that a proper appreciation for science realizes that science disenchants nature is entirely subjective, eh? Funny that. I always thought that that idea was rather Weberian. What do I know? Certainly not the contents of my own mind; I'll leave that up to Linton's amateurish efforts.

4. "I sense a dislike, antipathy towards science. I sense an aversion to neuroscience that might, just might be considered anathema to your proclivity (that is, an inclination or predisposition toward a particular ...) for philosophy, of the scientifically-uninformed variety."

WHOA! You're a mindreader too!?! Do you, like, work 1-800-PSYCHIC?

cont.

Dan Gillson said...

5. Linton is pissed that I caught him misusing a word again. Elliptical questions are questions in which the context is taken for granted. They usually occur in casually conversation. Circular questions are questions which have a certain problem as their focal point. Linton said, "It is elliptical because it always returns to improving survival," meaning that why? questions revolve around a certain problematic, which means that Linton meant circular, not elliptical. YOUR GRAMMAR IS FAIL.

6. I nitpick your language because you use it as a screen to hide your stupidity, your ignorance. You may nitpick mine if you feel like it evens the playing field. The difference between you and me is that you, however, are a poseur, a fake, a phony, a guy who will plagiarize from websites to make other readers think he knows what he is talking about. You're intellectually repugnant.

Papalinton said...

Dan
No, no. I've nothing but respect for caterers. My son is in the hospitality industry and I know how hard he works organizing and hosting venues. It just seemed the way you phrased your hosting, as you say you did, of such a prestigious event as a university science presentation was a particular responsibility that gave you specific imprimatur to instruct me about the whys and wherefores of the 'existential why? question in science.
I was just curios.

The balance of your commentary? Well, what can I say? Giving yourself permission to indulge in the art of a little self-serving censure and disparagement. Catty, is a word that comes to mind. And again, it fits with the theme reflected in your dispirited outlook and somewhat unhappy net result from your philosophical outlook, vis-a-vis philosophy and science.

Don't worry, lad. I'm sure you will gain from the experience.

Papalinton said...

I was just curios.
-might even be-
I was just curious.

im-skeptical said...

Papalinton,,

I've been trying to understand Dan's point of view for some time, without much success. It's a little perplexing.

He appears to be quite intelligent and well trained in philosophy, but he isn't open in discussing what his beliefs and positions are.

Does he believe in God? He hasn't said clearly, that I can recall. He has dropped a few hints that he might not be. But on the other hand, whenever the discussion gets heated, he has always taken the side of the theists. He disparages the supposed intellectual shortcomings of certain individuals, but I can't remember a single case where he called out the obvious stupidity that is sometimes exhibited by theists. (Yes, believe it or not, it does happen.) He is much more willing to find fault with atheists, than with theists, it seems. It seems fairly clear that his sympathies and biases lie with them.

I was very interested in learning more about his conception of mind, which appears to be something of a departure from the standard theistic claptrap. He would never discuss it in any detail. Is he a dualist or a materialist? He won't say, but some of his comments indicate that he has little regard for materialist/scientific perspectives. In our last exchange, he seemed to be driving at a dualist conception, but it never went far enough for me to get a firm understanding that that's what he believes. The discussion always ends before it gets too interesting. Maybe he just doesn't care to discuss these matters with someone who is not a fellow member of the philosophical elite.

I think he likes to be mysterious. You can't really agree with, criticize, or argue for or against someone's ideas if you don't know what they are. So any comments he makes are from a relatively safe perch. That's a shame.

Dan Gillson said...

Let's disabuse skep of some things:

1. I'm more than willing to talk about my beliefs and positions, but this is Victor Reppert's blog, not mine. I will reserve the topics pertaining to my beliefs and positions for my own blog.

2. I don't believe in God, but I've learned to forgive him of his sins, so I neither bear Him nor his followers any ill will.

3. I've actually disparaged the intelligence of the following people: Lindsay Wheeler, Papalinton, and Ilíon. Both Wheeler and Ilíon are Christians. I may have said something in haste to someone else, but I probably didn't mean it.

4. Ah! The crux of it: "He is much more willing to find fault with atheists, than with theists, it seems. It seems fairly clear that his sympathies and biases lie with them." I consider arguing a sport, and I'd rather play against friends than enemies. If I "find fault" with other atheists, it's because they are ruining my fun. If it appears that I "sympathize" more with theists, it's because I'm trying to create friends out of opponents, not because my sympathies lie with theism.

5. I'm neither a materialist nor a dualist. I'm a quietist.

6. I have no philosophical gold stars, nor is having them required for discussing interesting stuff with me. To you I leave before the discussion gets interesting. To me I leave before I get annoyed with the futility of the discussion.

7. I don't like to be mysterious, I like to be understood, or to have my ideas understood. You clearly just want to pigeonhole ideas, not understand them. I don't have the patience nor the desire to talk with someone like that.

Papalinton said...

Skep
"In our last exchange, he seemed to be driving at a dualist conception, ..."

I imagine if he [Gillson] thinks Searle is the ants-pants [at one stage anyway] then in all likelihood he could be a property dualist. And we know that Searle and Dennett [a monist] differed on the existence of consciousness on this count. Drs E Feser, E Honderich and others seem pretty clear that Searle was a property dualist althpough Searle sought to deny this characterisation. Indeed of the 13 points raised by Searle that conscious events in themselves are more than simply neural, with two different orders of functioning, failed to substantiate the claim and his continued adherence to such demarcation suggest he remains a property dualist or at best a neural functionalist. SEE HERE. Dr Ed Feser seems to be in little doubt.

But then, Dan has probably read on and may no longer subscribe to this notion. As you say, it's hard to tell from his intermittent potshot commentary style.

im-skeptical said...

Dan,

I have been disabused. That was helpful.

You want to be understood. I want to understand. That should be grounds communication. Please don't be so dismissive of others without at least making an honest attempt. People have different ways of expressing themselves. We don't all speak in the manner of a philosopher. In my book, the real mark of intelligence is to be able to express your thoughts in plain, understandable language, not the obscure, impenetrable parlance that so many philosophers are fond of.

Dan Gillson said...

Skep,

It's a fair cop. I'll be less of an elitist prick from now on.

Papalinton said...

Dan
I too am delighted to read your actual stance on the points you outlined. And I am also somewhat surprised and nonplussed at the benignity of your professed outlook. This is not a pejorative reflection in any shape or form but a genuine and sincerely-held appraisal. It certainly reflects a polar difference in attitude to the Gillson avatar, the one that wrote of the great desire to stand toe-to-toe with me and apoplectically scream right down into my face, with arms and fist muscles flexing, the one I was convinced I was engaging with at the other end of the endless and constant bagging of my commentary. And I responded accordingly, rightly or wrongly. I was not prepared to be impugned or intimidated by anyone let alone retreat without defending myself.

To understand the position of your interlocutor goes a long way to determining how one responds. You clearly know where I stand on issues. And now I have the benefit, as does Skep, of understanding your position. I cannot speak for Skep, but I am relieved and grateful that you have opened yourself out and I too, thank you for it.

I cannot say whether my approach will change. That will depend on the tenor and circumstance of commentary I wish to engage with going forward. But this insight will guide my future contributions.

Dan Gillson said...

Linton,

I have nothing to say but thanks. I will cease bagging on your comments, and I will be much more friendly and civil toward you from here on.

Papalinton said...

Dan
Bag my comments if there're crap. Don't stop that. It's the way I learn.
As I have mentioned on previous occasions, I'm not here to be friendly or to make friends, something I now know is your stock modus operandi. Rigour and conviction are important mainstays for me, elements that I respect and value, as quietism is for you. But for me that conviction must ultimately be founded on evidence, proofs, and facts. Probability, measured by the ratio of the favorable cases to the whole number of cases possible, is the corner stone for determining what constitutes evidence, proofs and facts. That is the minimum test that should be applied. Everything else is speculation.

That is not to say speculation, subjectivity, first-person experiences etc etc are not vitally important aspects of the human condition. They are. They are indeed foundational in the mix that makes us individual, unique, and who we are as persons with personalities, likes and dislikes, and all the foibles and differences, needs and wants, along the continuum. But these experiences should not be conflated as fact, or proofs or evidence as many on this site would have us believe. At its most basic level theism/supernaturalism, with its nonnegotiable reliance on the perceived agglomerative effect of these aspects of the human condition, along with prophesying, divine revelation, weaned as it is on convention, tradition and conservatism, all rolled in the swaddling comfort of 'faith', has never substantiated its case as a universally acknowledged and recognised explanatory tool. To put substance to this argument, a billion+ muslims, a billion Hindus, a half-billion Buddhists plus 2.5 billion 'others' on the planet have never considered the imagined universality of the christian narrative as the indispensable explanatory mechanism as Christian believers conceptually envision it to be. Christianity is a bit player, a sizable bit to be sure, but a bit player nonetheless in the explanation stakes.

So at bottom, what do we have left that is a viable, testable, formative framework for explaining about us, our environment, the world, the universe? Science. And until something better comes along, or better still, a visit from the 'Big Cheese in the Sky' himself, or herself, or some other indeterminate androgynous entity, science is the best methodological approach available in explaining us, our relationships and our world in realtime. Supernaturalism is not an explanation. It is an ancient repository for all the things we don't know. The strength of belief and commitment to supernaturalism is a measure of the degree of humanity's ignorance and unlearning yet to be properly and fully addressed, both individually and collectively.

It is important [to me] that I question and challenge those advocates and supporters of institutionalized paranormality in our community and hopefully contribute to mitigating the undue influence and demands they impose on the practice of governance, the formulation of public policy, and on matters of fairness and social justice. It is regrettable but an accommodationist approach is neither an effective nor useful strategy in this endeavour. Change pretty much occasions some degree of discomfort. Change is also an outcome of learning.