General Question

mattbrowne's avatar

A theological parable - Does Mr. Ford exist?

Asked by mattbrowne (31588points) May 21st, 2009

Take a Ford motor car. It is conceivable that someone from a remote part of the world, who was seeing one for the first time and who knew nothing about modern engineering, might imagine that there is a god (Mr. Ford) inside the engine, making it go. He might further imagine that when the engine ran sweetly it was because Mr. Ford inside the engine liked him, and when it refused to go it was because Mr. Ford did not like him. Of course, if he were subsequently to study engineering and take the engine to pieces, he would discover that there is no Mr. Ford inside it. Neither would it take much intelligence for him to see that he did not need to introduce Mr. Ford as an explanation for its working. His grasp of the impersonal principles of internal combustion would be altogether enough to explain how the engine works. So far, so good. But if he then decided that his understanding of the principles of how the engine works made it impossible to believe in the existence of a Mr. Ford who designed the engine in the first place—in philosophical terminology he would be committing a category mistake. Had there never been a Mr. Ford to design the mechanisms, none would exist for him to understand.

Source: John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science

What does this tell us about the so-called rational arguments of some atheists who think faith is the same as blind faith?

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127 Answers

Darwin's avatar

Sounds like an off-shoot of the cargo cults of the South Pacific.

nikipedia's avatar

By assuming those atheists are making this category error, aren’t you making a category error about their reasoning?

And come on, haven’t we had enough conversations about faith vs. reason around here?

PupnTaco's avatar

This argument supposed a false correlary. A Cambridge man wouldn’t make such an error.

mattbrowne's avatar

@nikipedia – I said some atheists. Negative examples would include Peter Atkins or Richard Dawkins. But I know that there are many more tolerant and open-minded atheists out there. Like the ones here on Fluther.

cwilbur's avatar

This is just a prettified version of the watchmaker argument—“If you found a watch on a beach, wouldn’t you assume there was a watchmaker somewhere who designed such a complex thing?”

nikipedia's avatar

Then I don’t understand what your question is. By definition, the atheists making the category error you described are making the category you described, and the ones who aren’t, aren’t.

dynamicduo's avatar

I agree with nikipedia. On both counts.

mattbrowne's avatar

@nikipedia – Well, that’s my point exactly. There are many atheists who subscribe to Richard Dawkins narrow-minded ideas and support his argument that “there’s strong scientific evidence for atheism”. There isn’t in my opinion. Neither is there strong scientific evidence for theism.

PupnTaco's avatar

I can prove Mr Ford exists and furthermore, I can prove his Mom and Dad didn’t. He just appeared one day out of nothing. It says so in his biography (a long out-of-print book written by someone who didn’t know him 50 years after he died).

Jeez.

Next?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@cwilbur

Dawkins opened up a real can of worms with his “Apparent Design” dissertation. He left out a very important ingredient… that being Information.

If the watch is just gears and springs, then he has a valid position. If the Ford is just rubber, metal, plastic and glass, Dawkins stance is firm. But the moment that we also find a code within the corporeal elements, Dawkins must be abandoned.

The word TAG Heuer or Ford is a code that designates a designer. Every code in existence designates the required author to accompany it… including the Genetic code.

nikipedia's avatar

You didn’t ask the question “what scientific evidence for atheism exists?” and I’m not sure how someone would extract that from the lengthy question you did ask. It didn’t seem like you were asking a question at all and instead wanted to make a point about one faulty argument used by one group of atheists.

PupnTaco's avatar

It’s only a code because you think of it that way. It’s entirely possible, even plausible, that to nature it’s “just a thing,” a means to an end.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@PupnTaco

For anything to be anything “to nature”, you must be suggesting that nature itself is a sentient entity. How is nature a sentient entity?

dynamicduo's avatar

Once again I agree with nikipedia.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@nikipedia @dynamicduo

Is there an issue with that?... Questioning a faulty atheist argument…

PupnTaco's avatar

I never suggested nature was an entity. Ever.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@PupnTaco

Then how can it be “just a thing” to nature?

dynamicduo's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Of course there’s not an issue. It’s simply that there is no real question here. All there is is someone else’s thoughts wrapped up in wrapping paper.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@dynamicduo

That’s all we humans can ever share with one another… our thoughts.

dynamicduo's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I bet you I could share a disease with you… or a parfait… or a life lesson… thus I disagree with whatever point you were attempting to make.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@dynamicduo

If you thought of sharing a disease with me, then yes. But no one shares a disease, as if I could offer it to anyone. Diseases are acquired through actions of their own. Parfait and lessons are offered, and that offering is rooted in the notion of sharing. That notion begins and is embodied within a thought.

PupnTaco's avatar

Nature, as I understand it, is a system of processes. What you interpret as “code” could be just another one of those processes.

Just because we don’t understand something doesn’t mean it has a supernatural explanation.

Ivan's avatar

@mattbrowne

Did you really just use the argument from design? Really? Really? I am honestly quite disappointed. I have always believed that otherwise rational people suspend their logic in favor of maintaining a belief that they see as favorable. You appear to be no different.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@PupnTaco

I never mentioned supernatural. In fact I don’t believe in the supernatural. If something is a certain way, no matter how outlandish it may seem, then it is perfectly natural for it to be that way.

If there really is a God… then it’s perfectly natural for there to be a God.

As well, there is no known mechanism other than sentient authorship that can produce code. It is proven billions of times every day in the real world. I make no claims about the nature of the required author for DNA… only that there must be one.

mattbrowne's avatar

@nikipedia: Okay, here’s my answer to the question:

Yes, Mr. Ford exists.

Yes, the purpose of the parable was to start a discussion about the various streams of atheism and theism. Some people obviously think it’s worthy of serious debate. If you don’t agree with this, fine with me. I like the debate so far.

Here are two other interesting observations by John Lennox:

1) “Faith is inseparable from the scientific endeavor. You cannot do math without faith in its consistency because the consistency of math cannot be proved.”

2) “There’s the fatal flaw of self-contradiction in scientism i.e. that science can at least in principle explain everything.

The statement that only science can lead to truth is not itself deduced from science. It’s not a scientific statement but rather a statement about science, a so-called metascientific statement. Therefore , if scientism’s basic principle is true, the statement expressing scientism must be false.” Do you see the contradiction?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@PupnTaco

BTW… I didn’t interpret the Genetic code as a code. Hubert Yockey did, and it is accepted by every reputable biologist alive. Find me a biologist that disagrees with Yockey’s assessment.

It’s just science.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ivan – I don’t get your point. Why are you disappointed?

Ivan's avatar

@mattbrowne

If I drop an apple 100 times and observe that it falls each time. Is it faith if I assume it will fall if I drop it again?

I’m disappointed because no one has taken the argument from design seriously in about 20 years. Entire novels have been written in an effort to educate the public as to it’s errors (The most famous being The Blind Watchmaker). Many people who still try to salvage the idea do so by invoking some sort of vague, “information” argument (see for example: RealEyesRealizeRealLies).

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Ivan

If I read a billion codes and each one of them has an author, is it faith if I assume that all codes require authors?

Ivan's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

Obviously not analogous… One is a repeated event, and the other is an attempt to establish a law. That law, by the way, would rest upon the arbitrary definition of the word ‘code.’

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ivan – Goedel’s second incompleteness theorem was proved in 1931 and to this date I’m not aware that anyone doubts the correctness of the proof. Again: you cannot do math without faith in its consistency because the consistency of math cannot be proved.

Now, once we enter a mathematical system based on axioms and rules we can deduct a great deal. We can talk about true and false statements. Physics heavily relies on math.

If we take the orderly universe as a given (and I do) within this system we can deduce that the apple will fall the 101st time. This does not require faith. There are no meta-statements involved.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Ivan

The apple dropping 100x helped to author the Law of Gravity. How many authored codes do we need to author a Law of Authorship?

I do not use arbitrary definitions for code either. I strictly adhere to Hubert Yockey protocols which were mapped exactly from Claude Shannon. Your argument is with them, not me.

CMaz's avatar

If you worship Mr. Ford to find it it was an engine, which brings you back to the designers, that brings you back to the “Idea Man”. That brings you back to the Mother and Father. And so on. Is the question really where did it all begin? How does something come from nothing?
That great religious atheionic debate?

Ivan's avatar

@mattbrowne

Faith is not belief without proof; faith is belief without evidence.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ivan – Do you understand the concept of proof by contradiction (see the meta-scientific statement above) and Goedel’s two incompleteness theorems?

Ivan's avatar

Jesus Christ. Let me just answer the question.

Cars are not universes. The situation is not analogous. There is no mechanism by which cars form naturally. There is no known mechanism by which universes form naturally. The difference between cars and universes is that we are ignorant of universes. It is illogical to draw conclusions based on our own ignorance.

“What does this tell us about the so-called rational arguments of some atheists who think faith is the same as blind faith?”

Faith, by the very definition of the word, is blind. Faith is belief without evidence. Without evidence.

Without Evidence

fireside's avatar

@Ivan – What do you use as a definition of “Evidence”?

Many people see improvements in their life when they have faith. Just as many people see improvements in their life when they approach situations with a positive attitude and openness. Those changes are enough evidence for that person.

Evidence in court cases is often dependant on personal testimonies.
So where lies the difference?

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ivan – You’re sounding a bit desperate, but maybe I’m wrong. I don’t want to ruin your day my friend ;-)

I never said that cars are universes. The parable is not evidence that a God exists or a God doesn’t exist. Nor is there any other empirical evidence either way. All we can do is wonder and believe either way. The parable is just a little food for thought.

Ivan's avatar

@fireside

Empirical evidence

@mattbrowne

“All we can do is wonder and believe either way.”

No, we can reason and not let ourselves draw convenient conclusions.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ivan – We can create useful mathematical systems and apply reason. We won’t find empirical evidence for the ultimate questions. And we can draw the reasonable conclusion that there’s an atheistic and theistic interpretation of the universe.

Ivan's avatar

“We won’t find empirical evidence for the ultimate questions”

I hate using a cliche, but…

Not with that attitude.

fireside's avatar

@Ivan – How do you propose we devise a testing plan to produce empirical evidence for something that is beyond our reach? I think you’re confusing religion and science.

Do court cases rely on only empirical evidence?
Should the legal system be disregarded do to a lack of testability and the reliance on people’s opinions?

Ivan's avatar

@fireside

“How do you propose we devise a testing plan to produce empirical evidence for something that is beyond our reach?”

The first step is to make that something within our reach.

“Do court cases rely on only empirical evidence?”

I wish they did. Although the trend, thankfully, has been to put less and less credibility in eye-witness testimony.

mattbrowne's avatar

There are interesting and inspiring answers for the ultimate questions if our attitude is to look outside of the scientific realm and free ourselves from its limitations. Thinking outside the box so to speak.

Yet some people have a funny attitude and are still designing the perpetual motion machine. They are buying one science book after another. Keep trying we might tell them. We love your enthusiasm.

fireside's avatar

@Ivan – Judges provide opinions to base their rulings on, so it would not just be eye-witnesses that are interpreting events.

I’ll send God a message about your need for closer connection so that you can start testing.

Ivan's avatar

@mattbrowne

“There are interesting and inspiring answers for the ultimate questions if our attitude is to look outside of the scientific realm”

Sure, they are interesting and perhaps even inspiring. They are also unfounded and usually wrong.

“free ourselves from its limitations”

Heh, you mean like the requirement of evidence, testability, repeatability, the requirement of predictions, consistency, peer review, and constant scrutiny? Yes, you do in fact get some interesting results when you abandon those limitations.

mattbrowne's avatar

Come on, man. You know I’m a fully committed scientist. You know how I use the power of my words to deal with superstition and dark ages belief systems and virgin cures and other hocus pocus. We had many discussions around that on wis.dm, remember? I’m an avid supporter of fundamental research. Let’s repeat creating a universe. Yes, let’s build the LHC. Sure, an approximation, but still very valuable. Worth the money. But will the LHC answer the question why the universe was created? Can it answer the question why the universe is orderly? The LHC is a subset of our universe. Does it tell us something why you are you and why I am me? What problem do you have to look beyond science? I’m puzzled.

Ivan's avatar

@mattbrowne

My argument is this: What may appear to be an unanswerable, philosophical, “why” question today is merely a regular, natural, “how” question that we just don’t understand yet. If we “look beyond” science and just jump to unfounded supernatural conclusions, we will be less likely to find out what the real, natural conclusion is.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ivan – Just to understand you better: Are you a follower of scientism? I’m referring to this concept:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientism

We’re having dinner now and I need to get up early tomorrow morning. Talk to you later!

Ivan's avatar

@mattbrowne

I am not a “follower” of anything. I believe that the universe is natural and that science is the method we use to explain natural things. I believe that, for something to be accepted, it should require positive, empirical evidence.

Sakata's avatar

Dear People-Who-Use-Words-Bigger-Than-Subjective,

This is the funniest thread I’ve read in quite a while. Man, you guys definitely know how to throw a party. Keep up the good work.

Thanks,

Sakata

P.S. The gift bags were great idea.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@mattbrowne just writing in to say I enjoyed reading the question

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

It tells us nothing at all. The universe is not like an internal combustion engine. What we consider to be ‘working’ in terms of the universe does not have intention or purpose, and simply happens to be in a fashion that is advantageous for us. An internal combustion engine exists with the purpose to provide the car with power. The universe came about by natural processes, with no apparent purpose. Look around us – we haven’t yet found an extra-solar planet capable of sustaining life. The universe is a harsh place, and is hostile to life – we just managed to beat the odds.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh

Aside from your opinion, what is the distinguishing factor of evidence that allows you to determine that the Universe has no purpose, but that the Ford Engine does have a purpose?

What empirical mechanism is used to determine if a thing has purpose or not?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies The Ford engine obviously has a purpose, to propel the car. Otherwise, there is no reason for the engineers to place such a heavy, complex, expensive lump of mass in the car.

On the other hand, the universe carries a lot of excess baggage. If it was created by a deity, it was likely created to support life. The Bible says that all things are created for God’s pleasure, as was the human race, so you would expect that the universe would be designed for optimal conditions for humans. This is far from the case. As I mentioned above, we are yet to find an extrasolar planet capable of supporting life. If we leave Earth, we quickly lose bone mass and develop osteopaenia. You have doubtless heard all the statistics of how the Earth’s position in space is precarious. We are in one of very few places in our galaxy that is relatively free of exploding stars, strong gravitational fluctuations and thick debris. We live on the edge of a knife’s blade. The universe is, on the whole, hostile to life. This is very different to the expected religious view that the universe is created for us and for God.

As well as this, we have a completely natural (as opposed to supernatural) mechanism by which the universe came to exist, which is one of the most successful scientific theories we have. There is no required ‘god factor’ in this process, and any attempts to reconcile the Big Bang with religion are just superfluous insertions so we can maintain our comfortable idea of a loving God who wants the best for us.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh

There are lots of engines that don’t propel cars. How do you know the Ford engine didn’t just come about by natural processes and it just so happens to propel a car.

And if it was designed, how do you know that it wasn’t designed to produce pollution, and as a bi-product, it just so happens to propel a car as well?

How do you know the bi-products of the universe aren’t just as necessary as the bi-products of everything else.

You can’t just say it’s obvious. What is the empirical mechanism that allows you to make your determinations with confidence?

The point of this question speaks of one who had never seen a car before. They think Mr. Ford lives inside the engine and that he makes it go. What evidence will you provide them to prove this is not so?

What evidence or lack of will you provide them to prove that Mr. Ford does not also live in the cosmos, and that he makes the stars twinkle?

What is the tool for determining if a thing is designed or not?

SeventhSense's avatar

@cwilbur
—“If you found a watch on a beach, wouldn’t you assume there was a watchmaker somewhere who designed such a complex thing?”
Ummm ya…

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@SeventhSense

Volcanoes are complex, and the watch is only a reference item. The one who finds it in the woods doesn’t know it is a watch. It is just a mysterious object that he finds is complex.

What is the mechanism used to determine if a thing is designed or not. We cannot rely on “common sense” because many disagree on this. There is a tool that we can use. Do you know what it is?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
1. What is the empirical mechanism that allows you to make your determinations with confidence?

As I said, the Big Bang does not require a god/gods, and therefore such assertions are superfluous.

2. What evidence will you provide them to prove this is not so?

The engineering lesson they received later in the question.

3. What evidence or lack of will you provide them to prove that Mr. Ford does not also live in the cosmos, and that he makes the stars twinkle?

A physics lesson. Physics has no ‘god factors’. It does not require a god/gods, so they are superfluous to our interpretation of our surroundings.

4. What is the tool for determining if a thing is designed or not?

We must try to understand the purpose for a thing existing, and how well it fulfils that purpose. A modern engine fulfils the purpose or propulsion exceedingly well. The universe does not fulfil the assumed purpose of supporting life very well at all.

SeventhSense's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh
…a loving God who wants the best for us
Oh my we can’t have that.

The fact of the matter is that the world we inhabit is most amazingly beneficient towards the continuation of life. The fact that we reside her and have thrived here is testament to nature’s benevolence. There is a balance and flow and life and “death” occur. This does not mean the universe is hostile. There is an order and intelligence beyond complexity which fits perfectly. The chance occurence of quadrillions and septillions perfectly meshing events takes more faith than any religion.

Ivan's avatar

@SeventhSense

“The fact of the matter is that the world we inhabit is most amazingly beneficient towards the continuation of life.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_nqySMvkcw

SeventhSense's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
Yes consciousness is the only thing that can not be subjective. Empirical evidence is dependent upon consensus

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh

I haven’t mentioned God friend. The Big Bang does require one free miracle though. Science calls it “Singularity” (read WTF).

2. –
What is it about the engineering lesson that proves Mr. Ford is not inside the engine. We can take apart one of their idolic statues too, and their Goddess will not be found in there either. But they will still believe in their Goddess nonetheless.

3. –
Physics has not explained everything in the cosmos. So you get them to understand what we do know, but for what we don’t know, they still believe in the Goddess.

4. –
But how do you “try to understand” the purpose of things? What is the tool? A volcano is excellent for the purpose of spewing lava. I’ve determined a purpose, so volcanoes must have been designed… Right?

SeventhSense's avatar

@Ivan
But we live on Earth.

Ivan's avatar

@SeventhSense

Watch more than the first 10 seconds.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@SeventhSense

But what is the tool that we can use every time to determine if something was designed or not? Come on, you can get this and you are racing with @FireMadeFlesh to give me the answer.

You can get this man it’s so easy!

SeventhSense's avatar

@Ivan
Oh so volcanoes tsunamis etcetera are evidence of the earth being less than benevolent? This only shows that it is a self sustaing organism and things live, things die, things decompose and the earth recycles itself. It’s perfect and there’s an elegance even in its “violence”.
@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
I agree there does appear to be code within everything. The similarities are endless within all of life.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@SeventhSense

Almost there friend. Almost there…

There is definitely NOT code in everything. But where there is code, there is an encoder.

There is no code in a volcano. There is no code in the cosmos (SETI will confirm). But there is definitely code… in the Genetic Code. Who wrote it?

wundayatta's avatar

Are any of the ideas in this discussion going to help us cope with life any better? Who cares if some people believe code must be designed, and others think that is unlikely. If we could find code that came into existence through processes that occur throughout the universe, would that stop people from hypothesizing a designer?

The answer, my friends, is not going to be in any logical argument. The answer, I suspect, lies in psychology. Some people feel such a need for an ultimate explanation, that they will believe a hypothesis in absence of evidence simply because they need it to be true.

Is there any reason to try to take this comfort away from a person who needs it? I think that if the person is educated enough, there probably isn’t a reason. They are not going to let it get in the way of using the scientific method to create more “knowledge.”

Why can’t we leave the lack of knowledge and understanding be? Why do we have to pretend to know things we don’t know? Why say science can or can not develop understanding of everything? None of us are going to live long enough to see knowledge of everything appear. That won’t happen for millions of years, if ever.

People argue that the scientific method isn’t the only way to gain knowledge. I have to wonder what knowledge has been gained any other way? It’s more of the same-old, same-old: people saying they know things because they know them. They try to sell the knowledge by appealing to a magical authority. We all have played this game or a similar one.

Once I was helping an engineer who was classifying various kinds of outcomes for a game. The game was one of those kinds where there were generations, and the subsequent generation depended upon the configuration of the previous. We’re talking colored stones on a grid. The color flips back and forth between iterations, depending on how many stones of various colors surround it.

So there are two kinds of ways the game plays out. There are games that you can reverse engineer, and figure out how you got there. There are also games that are impossible to reverse engineer. My client was trying to see if there was a way to quickly tell what kind of pattern we have. He was therefore cataloguing various attributes of the different games together with their original conditions.

Chaos happens. There are situations where it is impossible to know how we got here. We will never figure it out. We can look at our current situation all we want, and use all the logic we can muster, and we’re still just guessing, scientists and theists alike. It is possible that no matter how much evidence we gather, we’ll still be guessing.

Accept it. You don’t know. Maybe you can’t know.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

I care. And determining if there is a designer or not will definitely change the way people approach their day to day existence. Not to mention how they cope with notions of death and the afterlife.

If there is a mechanism shown that can produce code without an author, then that will shoot down my entire rant. But until there is, we must go with what we do know based upon the trillions and trillions examples of authored code that are made manifest every single day.

This proves that code requiring authorship is perfectly natural. I’m not asking for anything supernatural. It is perfectly natural for our DNA to have been encoded.

To believe there is another explanation for code other than sentient authorship… THAT IS SUPERNATURAL

SeventhSense's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh
This is very different to the expected religious view that the universe is created for us and for God.

There is an assumption that our “essence” is flesh. I disagree and purport that mind is our essence and there is nothing hostile to that anywhere in the universe. But of course being that this is not an awareness that is available to the five senses of the human being you will say this lacks “empirical” evidence. The same senses which are in fact entirely subjective but hold the highest position in the pantheon of science. The only thing which can not be broken down further is consciousness or mind. Nothing ever ceases to exist but transmutes into various other substances. Yet mind or consciousness is believed by atheists to just cease at the end of a biological life form. Of course this would lead to countless errors which would ground man’s understanding to a lump of flesh and bones.

SeventhSense's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
The truth of the matter is that there is the nature of everything within everything else because it’s all inseparable and all designed.

ratboy's avatar

@mattbrowne: “You cannot do math without faith in its consistency because the consistency of math cannot be proved.”

One can do math without faith in its consistency; perhaps one simply doesn’t care.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@SeventhSense It may be a nice fable, but it is a fallacious one. Our world happens to be appropriate for life, but it is possible to conceive of a better one, and the rest of the universe exists in glaring opposition to life.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
1. Sorry, I’m still getting used to these strange philosophies that imply reason and purpose without a deity dictating it. I don’t yet understand them. I assumed God because you were defending John Lennox, who is a Christian.

2. The engineering lesson proves that the engine functions perfectly well without the constant expenditure of Mr. Ford’s energy.

3. They would understand what we know, which leads to the recognition that the role of the Goddess has rapidly diminished, and there is no reason why what remains a mystery requires a Goddess rather than further research leading to naturalistic interpretations.

4. The volcano can be replicated by a deep mineshaft to weaken the Earth’s crust, which may result in eruption. We can observe volcanoes forming, and we know they are the result of the fragility of the Earth’s crust in comparison to the immense forces of the core.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh

Damn you are so close to this you can’t even see it. You are almost there… check this out.

The way we tell if a thing is designed or not… THE ONLY WAY… is through the discovery of a pre-existing code.

The only way to prove that the Ford was designed is to discover the plans that made it possible. It began with a set of blueprints. Everything that is designed has a blueprint which preceded the actual construction of the item.

If we find a thing (we say watch only for reference) we cannot assume that it was designed. But upon inspecting that thing, we discover a label that says TAG Heuer. Upon dissecting the thing we find items within (we say gears and springs for reference). But on those (gears & springs) we find numbers and foundry imprints… code.

We can then go to the original factory an look up plans that predetermined the existence of the Thing.

Where there is code, there is an author. Volcanoes have no code. Neither do Snowflakes. All code is sentient authored. Any data produced about the volcano or the snowflake is code that is written by human observers to describe a phenomenon. But we don’t find any code within those items.

We do find code withing our DNA. It is a pre-existing code that we read. We do not describe it (like with the snowflake)... We read it. Who wrote it?

SeventhSense's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh
It may be a nice fable, but it is a fallacious one.

I guess it must make you feel quite secure to have such certainty especially when they fly in the face of the wisdom of people like Siddartha and others who science is continually proving correct.

P.S.- What exactly is the fable you refer to anyway?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies That is a very good point, but DNA is in my opinion an exception that makes the idea of a code not entirely indicative of design. DNA has been shown to be self-regulating, self-modifying (see transposons), and self-replicating. Many theories have proposed possible evolutionary mechanisms for DNA to arise. Who wrote it? Our best guess right now is RNA, which in turn was ‘written’ by natural selection of not-yet-living oil complexes.

@SeventhSense It has nothing to do with security. Does it make you secure to believe in your religion? Aristotle was thought great until Newton showed him to be wrong in many areas. Newton was thought to be great until Einstein showed his formulae to be of limited accuracy. Science is continually lessening the room in which a deity may exist, and before long the only scientifically plausible deity will be that of the deists – a god who got things going and then left. I don’t know much about Siddartha in particular, so I cannot comment on his relationship with scientific knowledge.

SeventhSense's avatar

Science is continually lessening the room in which a deity may exist, and before long the only scientifically plausible deity will be that of the deists – a god who got things going and then left.
Science is continually rewriting the past and showing the previous information to be often completely erroneous but you somehow know that the future will show a particular view towards deism or theism? That’s insecurity defined. A view so tenuous as to demand that the future events which are unclear at present be ruled towards a more “convenient” form to suit one’s liking. What if there is proof that there is an ordered universe and a Higher Intelligence? Will you ignore this? Perhaps Aristotle had the same arrogance looking forward to the age of Newton. Which is what most people find so detestable about purely cerebral science types. They lack humility and humanity.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@SeventhSense There’s no need to get upset. I am confident about the future direction of science, because it shows a consistent pattern over the course of history. First the stars were fixed in space. Then someone noticed that they appeared to move, and presumed that the gods moved them. Then we found that the heliocentric model better reflects observation, and that gravity is largely stable without need for constant input of energy to keep things moving. It is the progression of science. And where would we be without some vision of the future? I am open to be proven wrong, but that does not negate my ability to state my current views.

It is unfair of you to write me off as a “purely cerebral science type”. This site is simply my outlet for scientific and philosophical discussion, so you may not see what else I am. Do not make assumptions about what I am unless you know me. And since I’ve only been part of the collective for a few days, I think it safe to assume that you don’t know me yet.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh

Sure, and let’s not forget that Barbara McClintock was demonized for her discovery of the self regulating transposition process. She had to take her work underground for two decades but was ultimately awarded the Nobel prize. Biology is downright mean to those who propose new ideas and it takes a very long time for evidence to be accepted sometimes.

Self regulating? Many codes are self regulating, but only when they have an operating system (read RNA) to regulate themselves upon.

Self replicating? Many codes are self replicating. And in every instance they are designed to be so. Robotics, AI, Cybernetics confirms this in spades. Also, codes are the only thing that can be replicated exactly and upon a myriad number of mediums. Volcanoes and Tornadoes cannot be copied because there is no code within them.

DNA is just as much a code as any other code. An extremely advanced one at that. Just ask Hubert Yockey… It shares all the elements necessary for code to exist. What reason is there to remove the necessity of the author? There is absolutely no precedent to even begin to think such a thing. All evidence points to the contrary.

RNA wrote DNA? But DNA makes RNA… how is this supported? Some of the processes can be lab “created” but only with a synthetic ribosome. A synthetic ribosome will never do for supporting RNA creation of DNA.

And one thing you overlook about the intricacy of code, and what is required for it to form…

You need the sender, receiver, alphabet A, alphabet B, error correction, redundancy, noise reduction to all appear at the exact same time. THE EXACT SAME TIME… This throws a heap a mess on anyone who thinks transposition “just happened”...

It takes an awful lot of faith to believe that. Especially when we do know a great deal about codes, communication protocols, linguistics, information processing… Why doesn’t biology accept the proven facts presented to us every single day for the past 4000 years?

Biology can’t even get a handle on the pre RNA world much less describe how it makes DNA beyond a very “Hypothical Pathway”. That paper fully admits the “formidable conceptual leap” and that it is “not intended to represent reality”.

It also ominously states at the end that if any support can be found to support these notions that a final resort to the designer model might be avoided. They know the stakes and just can’t bring themselves to admit it.

As well, what biology once thought of as “junk”, we now praise as psuedogene (read legacy files). It is the designer model to keep the legacy files. The Darwinian model says use it or loose it. Why would our tails fall off but our psuedogene’s remain?

I can visit the Ford factory and pull up the designs for every Lincoln MK series from its inception as a two seater convertible, to the large sedan, to the final pick up truck that it evolved into… Intelligently evolved… guided by the natural selection of what the public wanted.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLiesEspecially when we do know a great deal about codes, communication protocols, linguistics, information processing…

Unfortunately I don’t understand codes all too well, and you seem to have read the primary sources that I refer to, while I have only read commentaries on them, so I think I will have to leave this discussion here. Meanwhile, we can both point and laugh at some of the ridiculous ideas in biology like Panspermia! I have lost the link, but a friend once showed me a video that gave a very good, albeit simplified means by which oil bubbles replicated and formed a semi-permeable membrane.

One thought though, all codes apart from genetic codes are written by people (that alone makes it an exception), and many human ideas are to be found in nature whether they originated from nature or not. Do you think it possible for humans to have invented the idea of code, not realising its existence in nature?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh

Humans are not the only creatures to author code. The bee waggle, the whale song, the dog bark/howl, apparently cats have 14 or more distinct meows to get their intentions across with.

Humans set themselves apart by their ability to develop new alphabets and languages at the drop of a hat. Animals are stuck with their one and very limited vocabulary.

I do not claim that God wrote DNA. I only accept what science says about the Genetic code, and note the requirement for all codes to have sentient authorship. I make no claims as to the nature of the author of DNA.

But if we can ever accept the plain facts that are right in front of our face, then we may have the inspiration to pursue discovering more about the nature of this mysterious author.

Your last question puzzles me. There is no code in nature, so humans could not possibly recognized it in nature.

Dawkins dissertation about apparent design is valid, until we introduce the notion of code. By his same standards, I present the notion of apparent information. There may be “apparent” info in nature, but that is a mistake.

The Laws of the Universe were not transmitted to us by the cosmos. We simply observed them and wrote our own code to describe them.

Tree Rings DO NOT tell us about the Growing Seasons. Tree Rings don’t speak. To think that they do supports ancient myth and folklore.

We observe and describe Tree Rings with code.

We observe and describe the Growing Seasons with code.

We infer a relationship between the two sets of human authored data… and that is all.

Nobody speaks Dogwood.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Thank you for your patient explanations. You have given me much to ponder.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh

Hey… you are the one to thank. I usually get called all sorts of names in these discussions. It’s fun to watch the Atheist become a parody of the Religious fanatic that they mock.

But it’s much more fun, and enlightening, to have an intelligent discussion with an open minded person who is more concerned with pursuing knowledge and Truth, than with protecting their fragile ego with scientific dogma.

Welcome aboard friend!

ratboy's avatar

My personal atheism is a direct consequence of divine revelation.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ivan – You said ‘I believe that the universe is natural and that science is the method we use to explain natural things.’

We totally agree. What is the universe? We can call it natural, yes. It’s what we perceive as nature and we, humans, are part of it. Science and scientific method is a great way to explain natural things. We’ve already got a great deal of explanations and more are to be expected. Is there a Higgs boson? I think we will soon know. How did life get started on Earth (or in space)? We will find the missing links. Are there Earth-like extrasolar planets? We will eventually figure this out. What is dark energy? The same. Science is a magnificent tool. I love science.

My point is: science cannot answer all questions. Not now. Not in a million years. The conclusion of science is not atheism. The conclusion of science is not theism. Again, ‘why is there a universe (or multiverse)’ is one of the many ultimate questions and there are others. Why is this fact so difficult to accept? What is so bad about the limitations of science? We can still value science. We can still love it be curious about new findings. Here’s another example to prove my point:

What are all the ultimate questions about existence and all the ultimate answers?

Can science answer this? What about:

What are all the questions that deal with questions like ‘What are all the ultimate questions about existence and all the ultimate answers’?

What are all the questions that deal with questions like ‘What are all the questions that deal with questions like ‘What are all the ultimate questions about existence and all the ultimate answers’’?

What are all the questions that deal with questions like ‘What are all the questions that deal with questions like ‘What are all the questions that deal with questions like ‘What are all the ultimate questions about existence and all the ultimate answers’’’?

In short: When will science be able explain everything? Answer: Never. Period.

mattbrowne's avatar

@daloon – Thanks for taking the time to share your insights. Interesting points and good questions you’re asking:

‘Are any of the ideas in this discussion going to help us cope with life any better?’

I think it’s comforting to know that science has limitations. People are sometimes bugged by the realization they know too little. Well, even the greatest scientific minds are only slightly better off. Humility is a great lesson in life. It will help us cope with our lives better.

‘Who cares if some people believe code must be designed, and others think that is unlikely?’

People who like this kind of debate.

‘If we could find code that came into existence through processes that occur throughout the universe, would that stop people from hypothesizing a designer?’

Who created the meta-code that created the existence of processes throughout the universe leading to code?

‘The answer, I suspect, lies in psychology. Some people feel such a need for an ultimate explanation, that they will believe a hypothesis in absence of evidence simply because they need it to be true.’

Probably true for some people, including atheists who believe in the hypothesis that God doesn’t exist. Ironically they also believe in statements like “there’s strong scientific evidence for atheism”.

‘Is there any reason to try to take this comfort away from a person who needs it? I think that if the person is educated enough, there probably isn’t a reason.’

I see no correlation between education and the number of theists or atheists.

‘They are not going to let it get in the way of using the scientific method to create more “knowledge.”’

Yes, scientific method will create more knowledge. But we cannot apply it to questions and concepts which are out of scope, i.e. outside the realm of science.

‘Why can’t we leave the lack of knowledge and understanding be?’

Yes, this is why both theism and atheism are beliefs. Both are valid interpretations of the universe, but not a proven theory.

‘Why do we have to pretend to know things we don’t know?’

We don’t have to. I believe in God, but I don’t know for sure. At least not in a sense that hydrogen is the most frequent element in the universe.

‘Why say science can or can not develop understanding of everything?’

Now this is very important. We can prove the contradictions when dealing with statements about the understanding of everything. Even math has its limitations. Do you understand what Goedel said?

‘None of us are going to live long enough to see knowledge of everything appear. That won’t happen for millions of years, if ever.’

Creating near immortality is actually a valid scientific goal. The only limit is entropy (at least in our universe). But in principle there could be humans who live 100 billion years. It’ll get a bit rough when the first red dwarfs cease nuclear fusion. Knowledge of everything as such is impossible, see above.

‘People argue that the scientific method isn’t the only way to gain knowledge. I have to wonder what knowledge has been gained any other way?’

Knowledge about the ultimate questions which doesn’t mean that answers are definite answers or answers based on empirical evidence. Just the process of contemplating about the ultimate questions with all the uncertainty related to them will increase our knowledge. Fluther among other things is a tool to increase our knowledge.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@mattbrowne

You answered of of daloon’s statements with a very interesting prospect…

You:
“Who created the meta-code that created the existence of processes throughout the universe leading to code?”

Boy that is a deeper question. It’s difficult just to get people to understand those processes that are necessary for any code to even exist. We take language for granted in so many ways, never realizing the intricacies required to author and communicate any form of Information.

As much as I would love to jump into your query, I must refrain, preferring to go one step at a time. It’s been five years looking for any source of unauthored code… I can’t find one that’s even close.

Stochastic Resonance may increase the energy levels of an existing code, making transmission more effective, but it cannot author. And it still boosts the energy at the expense of degradation. If it were not for redundancy it would never work.

People confuse signal boosting with adding Information. They are different things altogether. We would do well to separate the medium from the message when discussing these matters.

It’s another example of “apparent Information”.

At this point I’ll settle for promoting the obvious requirement for all codes to have been authored. It will take a greater mind than mine to accept that evidence, and then use it as a stable springboard for inspecting the nature of that author.

I don’t know who or what assembled the meta-code. But I do know that code A, code B, error correction, redundancy, syntax, semantics, word structure, sentence structure, paragraph and chapter structures, sender and receiver mechanisms, replication, regulation, and noise reduction… these things do not randomly assemble all at once by chance. We haven’t even addressed the closed loop protocols or the operating system of RNA…

It’s a much bigger issue than “where did the Information come from”. And Atheists still do not address that one notion.

I must admit though, finding an unintelligent mechanism for all of these required processes would be flat out amazing. Quite miraculous…

Oh! And the legacy files… psuedogenes fit the designer model perfectly.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

Look daloon, I really respect you. As I’ve said before, you have a mind for these things and I very much appreciate our discussions.

But please consider refraining from promoting apathy on this subject. I would never say “who cares” in respect to your comments about game theory, or anything you had to say.

In fact, your comments reveal a common misconception about what Information actually is. Your comments allow further discussion, increased awareness and the promotion of knowledge. Please give some thoughtful consideration to those who read and address your comments.

You said:
“My client was trying to see if there was a way to quickly tell what kind of pattern we have.”

That is the crux of misconception. Patterns are not Information. Patterns can be produced from chaotic processes and no authorship is required. The universe is filled with patterns. Fractals are everywhere.

But among many differences, patterns are irreducible. Codes are always reducible.

Here is where the Information began… right here
You said:
“He was therefore cataloguing various attributes of the different games together with their original conditions.”

Cataloguing… that’s it! A sentient observer describes a particular phenomenon (cataloguing)… and presto! Information has been authored. But the pattern itself is encapable of communicating to humans. It does not have the required mechanisms to follow the necessary protocols.

To believe otherwise would give support to divination of bloody entrails. Yes my friend, I’m actually on the side of science. I see a trend where “apparent Information” is considered as “genuine Information”. This trend deeply concerns me. I cannot let science go down that path. That is why I care.

Ivan's avatar

@mattbrowne

Science, of course, will never be able to answer every single question simply because there are an infinite number of questions. My view is that science has the potential to answer any question.

The conclusion of science may in fact be theism; it may in fact be atheism. If we ask the question, “Does a god exist?,” that question has a specific answer: Yes or No. We will never be able to definitively say “no,” but we can come to rational conclusions, and science can help us do that.

wundayatta's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

Far be it from me to promote apathy. It wasn’t a rhetorical question. In my experience, discussing these things does exercise the mind, but it never gets us to a resolution. It is fun to have these discussions, except that, for me, they quickly get overwhelming. Between you and @mattbrowne, I have enough stuff to respond to that I could write my longest comment ever. Anyway, I didn’t intend the “who cares” to be a personal comment, and I’m sorry if it hurt you.

As to incompleteness (@mattbrowne), it seems to me that for every theory, there are an infinite number of things that can not be proved or disproved within that theory. All hypotheses about what cannot be explained in the theory, then, are utterly wild, and none of them is any better than any other. Why then do people privilege one theory over all others?

As to codes, I see it expressed all over the place that codes do not occur without a designer. I’m not sure what definition of code is being used here, but I don’t see why this is axiomatic. Secondly, without a definition of code, we can’t tell whether DNA or anything else is code.

If code is that which creates rules for another thing to happen, then the laws of the universe are code—telling planets and galaxies how to behave under various conditions. There is a code for everything, simply because things happen and they happen because of something else. If we had no causality, we might not have code. If everything is code, then you have to go back to the instant of the birth of the universe to see how the rules became what they are. It seems to me that all issues with respect to a “designer” go back to that initial moment. Either there was a designer, or there wasn’t, and either that designer is sentient, or it isn’t.

If it is sentient, then there is or isn’t a way to tell what it wants, if, indeed, it wants anything. Again (apologies @RealEyesRealizeRealLies), I don’t see how these questions can be answered, so that leads me to believe that discussing them is more entertainment than a serious search for answers. We are not spending all our money trying to build a craft that can carry us to another star because we are so not even close to being able to do that that it is an utter waste of time. However, science fiction is a wonderful read, and we can go places in our imaginations we cannot go in reality. It is important to remember, though, that all this is happening in imagination. If we don’t realize that, and we mistake imagination for reality, we can get into a lot of trouble, as I have documented elsewhere (regarding the reality of relationships on the internet).

C’est tout pour maintenant.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

I’m not sure you are reading beyond the first sentence or two of my comments. But I’m glad you find this meaningless topic entertaining. It’s just nice to have smart people to talk with…

I’m still confused how you come to the idea that there is codified information just floating around out and about everywhere in the universe… Shannon/Yockey protocols are very specific, and nothing but code will satisfy the protocols. DNA satisfies the protocols and that’s why we call it the Genetic “Code”.

There is no “Code” of the Universe. There is no “Code” of Gravity. There is no 2nd “Code” of Thermodynamics. Why do you insist upon saying there is such a thing?

a bientot

wundayatta's avatar

It’s possible that there’s a designer of the code. It’s a nice hypothesis. No hard evidence for it. Just inference. It’s also possible that there are other explanations. Even if you don’t know of any code that came into existence without a designer doesn’t mean it is impossible. As always, a scientist remains skeptical until the evidence becomes available.

Have you read the Shannon/Yockey notions about information theory? I see that Yockey became convinced that a designer was necessary after figuring out whatever it was he figured out about information theory. I’m not a computer engineer, nor am I a geneticist, so I really don’t have the background to evaluate these things.

However, I do think people are leaping to conclusions about this designer thing, and that there is a failure of reasoning. You are seduced by analogy. This is only inference, not evidence.

I see that people make jokes about god the coder. What project would this god be working on now? I mean, coders don’t stop, do they? They always have to be tinkering and fixing. Where is Universe 2.0? Do you let the previous code run after you’ve improved it? And what does he have for lunch? If he breaks for lunch.

Ah well. Interesting. Very not conclusive.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

That is very interesting. I’ve never heard anything about Yockey’s Theism. In fact I distinctly remember the opposite. I’ll have to look for that… it has me wondering.

The only Theist in the bunch that I can recall is Warren Weaver, (Claude Shanon’s co-author in “The Mathematical Theory of Communication”).

Jokes about the Coder… Heh, the funniest part is that jokes depend on code and coders to even exist… We do so take language for granted. What a shame, for it is one of the very few traits that define our humanity… Hopefully those jokes are a genesis to actually begin inquiring about the True nature of the mysterious Coder. I cannot make any claims… yet.

It will definitely be one of the many questions that keep ME up late at night for the next few decades. Don’t worry, I’ll share the gold with you… if I ever find it. I’m sure I can count on you to do the same… ;)

As always, it’s been my pleasure daloon.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ivan – Your view that science has the potential to answer any question is wrong. There is hard evidence that it’s wrong. So let me repeat (for some strange reason it’s hard to get this message across): We can prove that science has limitations and that it does not have the potential to answer any question and I’m talking about a final set of questions.

I’m feeding a program a series of mathematical systems.

Here’s the question: Is the mathematical system consistent? Each one is different.

The program created by scientists must answer YES or NO. You said science has the potential to answer any question. Well, here’s the first question and science does already not live up to its potential, at least the potential you had in mind for it. The program cannot find an answer to ‘Is the mathematical system consistent?’ as we keep feeding it. That’s impossible according to Goedel’s second incompleteness theorem. Hard evidence. Accepted evidence. Science does have limitations. This is not a speculation. Again it’s hard evidence. Accepted evidence. Ask your math professor.

Bottom line: science can answer many questions and has the potential to answer more questions but not any question.

Agreed?

mattbrowne's avatar

@daloon – You said: all hypotheses about what cannot be explained in the theory, then, are utterly wild, and none of them is any better than any other. Why then do people privilege one over all others?

I don’t. I said this before. From a theoretical point of view both the atheistic and theistic interpretation of the universe are valid. This won’t change in the future. We have to accept that picking one of them over the other is a belief. It requires faith. There’s no hard evidence. And science itself has limitations. Therefore we have to challenge notions like: science has the potential to answer any question, so let’s just take one baby step at a time and we’ll get there. Eventually we’ll find the last nail in God’s coffin.

We should not get deluded by narrow-minded views like there’s strong scientific evidence for atheism. Neither should we fall into the trap of the opposite proposition. There’s no need for polemics. But there’s a need for respect.

mattbrowne's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies – Great insights. Thanks for sharing this!

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@mattbrowne

Great Topic. Be sure to invite me to your next slug fest. Though I must say it went pretty easy this go around. Back on Wiz everybody would have been reaching for their guns… ;)

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

This entire discussion hinges around the refusal to see or accept one single proven notion. That being the acceptance that Information is a separate entity from Energy and Matter.

Beyond faith, the Atheist mocks the Theist for claiming antiquated science as their salvation… and rightfully so. Likewise I now challenge the Atheist to question their own obsolete notions.

Information is a real entity and there are very specific protocols for testing everything about it. It is PROOF of an immaterial realm. Don’t whine to me about “hard evidence” please. Inference is a widely accepted tool for science. And by every standard that science “infers” the existence of a force called gravity, through repeatable, testable, falsifiable procedures… I will confidently “infer” the necessity for ALL codes to have ultimately been initiated by a sentient author.

We cannot PROVE gravity. We only infer the existence of an invisible force because of the predictable affects it produces upon the visible world around us. No other hypothesis can stand against it, but we are free to falsify the inference at any time… if we can.

I challenge anyone to falsify the inference of required authorship for code. Please do that or accept the testable, repeatable, consistent evidence that is right in front of your face every single day of your life.

Biology is the most truant in these matters, setting progress back for two decades upon the unwarranted demonization of Barbara McClintock’s discoveries of transposition. But Truth has a way of bubbling to the top no matter how hard we attempt to cover it, thankfully awarding her with the notoriety she deserves. Biology is not friendly to notions of the Information Sciences. What a shameful attitude. Scientific dogma is the worst enemy to advancement. Take heed not to allow your own predilections be the undoing for everyone else.

Alas, this knowledge is relatively new with only fifty or so years under its belt. It generally takes seventy or more years for new knowledge to be universally accepted. But I have every faith in the coming Petabyte age. The Information Cloud will expose those who refuse to accept its existence with great vigor. Don’t let Biology get caught in that storm.

As well, please refrain from believing upon the unsupportable “faith” that Information exists everywhere. Fractals are NOT Information. Patterns are NOT Information. The only mechanism to determine the existence/creation of Information is Code.

Don’t let Biology become a dogmatic parody of Religion… PLEASE!

Code is a material lens that allows us to view the immaterial realm of Information.

THIS IS FACT

“Information is Information. Not energy and not matter. Any materialism that does not allow for this cannot survive in the present”.
Norbert Weiner, Cybernetics p147 (from Betrayal to Betrothal)

ATTENTION ALL BIOLOGY STUDENTS!!!

Do not confuse the medium with the message. The Genome is pure immaterial Information. ATCG is the code we use to view it.

Information does not arise by chance folks… and neither do the language mechanics that we use to view it with. You are free to falsify that claim at any time. You can test and repeat it consistently and predictably with every single word that crosses your path.

It is not shameful to “infer” that all codes have authors. It is shameful to deny it. In fact, I propose the first “Law of Information” is to acknowledge the requirement for sentient authorship. We have been testing this hypothesis in the human laboratory of society for ten thousand years and the modern Information Sciences of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Communication Theory, Computer Sciences and Information Theory confirms this in spades.

Get this in your head… it is REAL! And the knowledge of it will be upon us all in a few short years. You think Religion is ugly when it holds on to bad teaching? Watch how Science starts to squirm and bear it’s teeth when old dogma is confronted. It’s going to get very ugly…

Ivan's avatar

@mattbrowne

I don’t think you understand what I’m saying.

All phenomena are ultimately natural, and natural phenomena can be explained. Science is the tool we use to explain natural phenomena. When you say that science does not have the potential to answer all questions, you are saying that either there are some phenomena that are supernatural, or you are saying that there are natural phenomena which cannot be explained. Let me address both possibilities.

A phenomenon can not be supernatural. If it exists in the natural world, if it impacts the natural world, it is natural. You may say that it might have a supernatural cause, but any being which impacts the natural world must also, by definition, be natural. The only way in which something could be purely supernatural is if it has no influence on the natural universe, in which case it would be irrelevant.

All natural phenomena have explanations, either because they have a cause, or because there is some reason why they don’t have a cause. We either have to determine what the cause is, or determine what the reason for it not needing a cause is. In either case, there is something definitive for us to discover.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

Your entire argument is this: Scientific theories don’t require positive, specific evidence.

This is, by definition, simply false. If you want to advocate your conclusion, go ahead, but don’t paint it as scientific.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Ivan

I have hard conclusive evidence that codes are authored. You have hard conclusive evidence that shit falls. When I see a code, I assume it is authored. When you see shit, you assume it will fall.

We both infer the existence of an invisible agent at work to cause such things. To assume otherwise requires unsupportable faith in unwarranted miracles.

Ivan's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

That’s cool. Until you have evidence, you have no science.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, all natural phenomena have explanations. Some we already know, others we still have to find. But why are there natural phenomena in the first place? What is the meta-explanation for the meta-phenomenon that there are natural phenomena which have natural explanations?

It all boils down to this. So basically we agree about almost everything – which is good. A tsunami has a natural explanation. It’s not the result of sin, as some infantile religious leaders would argue. They try to explain natural phenomena with magic which is downright foolish. Even dangerous. They blame people for the tsunami, instead of blaming politicians for not having installed warning systems in the Indian Ocean.

Unlike a tsunami, existence as such is a paradox. It’s a puzzle. And the explanation is not straightforward. There won’t be someone in the year 2200, not even a smart guy from Vulcan and come of with something like E=mc^2 – Expecting this is wishful thinking. Trying to find the Higgs boson or explain the nature of dark energy is not. So let’s focus our energy on this. There’s plenty of stuff we need explanations for.

Ivan's avatar

@mattbrowne

All of these “why” questions are really just “how” questions cloaked within our own ignorance.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Ivan

Why… do you think that is?

Ivan's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

There is no ultimate, grand reason for why things happen. The universe is natural. Natural phenomena happen for natural reasons.

wundayatta's avatar

Well, suppose there were a coder. At least for the human genome. That coder need not be omnipotent. After all, humans code. We are no omnipotent, even though we’ve given “life” to many successful codes. Some, maybe, that can even replicate themselves and modify themselves in response to their environment.

Anyway, if you infer the Coder, that doesn’t seem to give you any information about the character of the Coder. Could be a giant pink interstellar elephant, for all we know.

It seems to me that every beginning implies another beginning back and back infinitely. Did the Big Bang come out of nothing? Could it instigate itself? Did something have to cause it to happen?

I also wanted to say something about binary thinking. I can’t figure out who sparked this thought. In any case, I think we live in a probabilistic universe. We can not be sure of the outcome, given the (apparent) same input each time. There are always unmeasured factors in the input, and some are obviously relevant to the outcome. No matter how much information we have, we will never be able to predict all outcomes with perfect success. We can only predict the probability of various outcomes.

Hard scientists tend to demean social scientists for our reliance on probability. We can never say things for sure. Well, I’m not sure the hard scientists can say things for sure either.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Regarding your rant about information. It seems to me that is a philosophical issue. It’s like the tree in the forest issue. If it falls, and no one hears it, does it make a sound? If information is in the universe, but there is no sentience to apprehend it, is it information?

I recently read (in Discover Magazine) that there are some physicists who use this idea to say that the universe could not exist without us. It is in our sentience apprehending things that the universe comes to exist. It’s in quantum flux until it is observed, and can not necessarily be said to exist until then. Food for thought.

I am inclined to believe that there is no information until there is some entity capable of making meaning out of it. This kind of gets back to this question, in that I think the ability to make meaning is what defines humanity. Or a human being.

We make meaning out of information, but do we all have to make the same meaning? If not, is there one true meaning, or can multiple meanings be gleaned from the same information? Qualitative research methods result in multiple meanings from the same information, and there is no one meaning until enough people consense (is that a word?) around it. Even then, the meaning can change if, later on, someone can convince enough people to look at it a different way.

In a sense, the discussion between theists and atheists is one of these efforts to sway others. The consensus had been towards theism, but atheism/no religion is growing, and perhaps may be the fastest growing sector of humanity. This doesn’t make any particular view of the world right, but it certainly is in flux, and it may be that God lives or dies based on the outcome of this competition between alternate views of the universe.

A few other thoughts: we perceive so little of what is there. For example, we experience our eyes as taking in everything, but in fact it is our brains that takes in samples of visual information, and infers the rest. How much are we inferring incorrectly because of this process? We use inference because it works much of the time, but when information gets spotty, inference becomes much more problematic. Humans have a tendency of making patterns (we make meaning). This is what we do. We will make patterns where none exist because we have to interpret information. It’s a survival skill, but it can lead us to activities such as reading tea leaves, or looking at omens, and other apparantly random stuff and finding data there.

Back to making meaning. A favorite question people have is “what is the meaning of life?” Well, my answer is that it is to make meaning. This is unsatisfying to many people, because they want there to be a single true meaning. Maybe mine is a single true meaning, and maybe my meaning allows for there to be an infinite number of true meanings. If information is probabilistic, then I think there are an infinite number of true meanings. If information is binary, then there’s only one true meaning. Coders, I believe, tend to forget that binary is not the only coding language. There are many other code bases (somehow, my intuition says they have to be based on prime numbers, but that’s probably wrong), and they might give rise to very different ways of deriving meaning from information.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

I’m hoping for a light to go on in your mind any moment now.

You said :
“If information is in the universe, but there is no sentience to apprehend it, is it information?”

Daloon, Information must be created by sentience in the first place. You still seem to think that it’s just floating around out there waiting for someone to apprehend it. That is not so at all.

Information is not the same thing as Energy and Matter.

You said:
“I am inclined to believe that there is no information until there is some entity capable of making meaning out of it.”

That is completely backwards. When a sentient entity authors Information, they put the meaning into it at the beginning. We don’t put meaning into Information when we read it (at least we’re not supposed to)… We’re supposed to receive Information when we read it.

When you speak, you are transmitting meaningful Information that you have authored. This satisfies the first Shannon/Yockey protocol… transmission.

When I listen, I have received the meaningful Information that you have transmitted. This satisfies the last Shannon/Yockey protocol… receiver.

If I “make” meaning upon the receiver end, then I have altered the original transmission, and changed your message entirely. Would you want me to alter the meaning of your message? No one could communicate in that way.

You said:
“We make meaning out of information, but do we all have to make the same meaning?”

See above… we’re not supposed to make meaning on the receiver end. No communication is possible in this manner. Meaning is expressed during transmission only.

You said:
“Qualitative research methods result in multiple meanings from the same information,…”

Not at all. This is an example of “apparent Information”. It is nothing more than multiple observers describing a phenomenon in different ways. But the phenomenon did not transmit a message to the observers. If it did, then every observer would receive the same exact data.

That’s because there is no Information in a rock, a snowflake, or a gaseous cloud. We describe those things and create Information about them. But they did not speak to anyone. They can’t.

Like so many others, you are having great difficulty in separating Information from the material medium of Energy and Matter that expresses it.

Information is not Energy or Matter. My thoughts are not the letters on your screen. My thoughts are not the pixels. My thoughts are not the printout. My thoughts are an immaterial quantity of Information that is being represented by these things. One thought represented as color code, drum beats, pig latin, or scratches in the sand. Many mediums, one message.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Ivan

Funny… I’ve been studying them recently in order to determine just that very notion. Currently, I don’t believe they do think. Every suspect of thought seems traceable back to a simple set of triggers. Much of the answer to this question depends on if you are speaking of the individual ant, or the entire colony as a whole.

The individual ant seems quite robotic, destined to run a program that is designed to protect the colony, with no regard for the self.

Similar to slime molds, ant colonies as a whole agent do appear to be thinking entities. I’m not convinced one that yet though.

Ivan's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

I think you see where I’m going with this. There is no definite line that separates “thinking” from “non-thinking.” Agree?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Ivan

Hhmmmm…

I see where you are going now… and you won’t like my answer any more than Crisw liked my answer about when a human being forms. I know this is getting really old for you, but I can’t help it… I am completely infatuated with my passion for Information… as if you didn’t know that.

I believe thinking occurs at the point where an organism is capable of authoring code to express a desire. Wolf howls, whale song, and possibly even bee waggles.

I believe a human life is completely human when it has a full human genome in place.

Sorry man… that’s just what I believe. And I try to base my beliefs on scientific evidence.

wundayatta's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

Perhaps we are not speaking the same language. You clearly have not understood a word I’ve said. Why do you insist on making a different meaning to my words than I mean? ;-)

Hermeneutics ain’t easy, you know. Surely you must have played “telephone” some time in your life! If there is an error in communication, you have no idea if it occurred on the coding end or the decoding end, or somewhere in between. We have no way of being certain that we are using the same coding or decoding protocols. The greater the number of decoding/coding steps, the more difficulty there is in determining what the original message was. Of course, if you don’t know there were a lot of stops in between, you may assume the message you have is straight from the horse’s mouth. Enough steps in between, and the message is completely garbled. The telomeres are forever shortening.

Throughout history, people have discerned messages where no message exists. I suppose that from that we can infer that we’ve also not recognized messages where they do exist. How can you possibly have the hubris to believe you perceive and understand a message that no one else knows about?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

You said,
“How can you…perceive…a message…?”

Where there is code, there is a message. No code, and there cannot be a message.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ivan – “why” or “how” questions, it doesn’t matter, some can’t be answered by science (or math) and never will be. This has nothing to do with ignorance but with limitations. Not accepting the hard evidence of the limitations that exist and for which there’s a proof (as shown above) would fall into the category of ignorance. Enlightenment also means accepting the limits. I’m not saying that there’s proof outside the limits. Our knowledge is incomplete.

Ron_C's avatar

After scanning answer to the question, I notice that many people don’t understand the connection between evolution and natural selection. I also see people demonizing Dr. Dawkins as some sort of fundamentalist atheist.

Evolution is the slow process when changes in copying the genetic makeup of the predecessor succeed or fail depending on survival advantage or disadvantage of the change.

Natural selection is the process where successful changes breed true and displace their unchanged brethren. Natural selection is faster and gives the illusion of design because the particular organism has a tendency to change from a simple to more complex form.

Dawkins condemns, rather undiplomaticly, the people that abandon research when the problem or process seems to difficult to understand, then say it was designed by God. I think the thing that Dawkins hates most is laziness.

People that believe in Mr. Ford are not analogous to the believers in Intelligent Design. Mechanical processes may be designed by other machines (the new autocad software has some amazing capabilities) but the materials with which they are made are manufactured by other sources. There is nothing like that in nature.

Disbelieving in Mr. Ford doesn’t cause harm or loss of function to the car. Praying to Mr. Ford won’t help you drive down the road. Besides if you believe that Mr. Ford is the creator, how do you explain Chevys?

Ron_C's avatar

@mattbrowne By the way, this is a very good question.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ron_C – Wow, I’m surprise that old questions still get new responses many months later.

I think the current issue is about the design of the natural laws and fundamental constants. Is there a universe-generating mechanism and so forth.

I think that evolution is a consequence of the nature of our universe, the way galaxies form, and above all the abundance of carbon and oxygen during nucleosynthesis coinciding with the chemical flexibility of carbon and the importance of water. Interstellar space is full of complex molecules.

Ron_C's avatar

@mattbrowne some questions are timeless. Answers come when people are receptive to them. I found this one at just the right time. How would you explain chevy’s if god is Mr. Ford?

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ron_C – God is the author of the universe’s blueprint.

Ron_C's avatar

@mattbrowne “God is the author of the universe’s blueprint.” what exactly does that mean? Does it mean that god is involved in the everyday lives of all of us or that he is an experimenter that invented this anthill to see what would happen? I suspect that there are multiple universes and some are successful and spring to life while others are dead because significant constants didn’t settle in the correct range.

Does an entity create them or are they a result of different levels of quantum physics that have always and will always exist. I suspect that Hawkings is correct and that there are multiple universes, time is not really linear, and that there are more dimensions that we can perceive. Do you need a god to run all of this or will things chug along well enough on their own?

I suspect the latter and find the search interesting. The problem with the god hypothesis is that it ends the search.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ron_C – No, I don’t believe so. Once the blueprint was implemented the universe started running by itself (belief of deism). If we live in a multiverse the blueprint involves a design of a universe-generating mechanism. One turns out to be friendly to life as we know it.

The belief in God doesn’t end the search. On the contrary. It can inspire people to keep searching and unravel God’s blueprint. There is an infinite amount of unanswered questions of physical reality. Just take the multiverse question. And remember it was religious people who gave birth to modern science (Galileo, Kepler, Newton…).

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”—Albert Einstein

Ron_C's avatar

@mattbrowne funny you should mention Galileo, I am currently reading a book about him. He was almost burned at the stake because he proposed that the earth revolved around the sun instead of vice versa. The only reason he was saved is because he recanted and had former students in high places. That is why I don’t like to use the word god as a description of the First Source or whatever may have initiated this universe. When you use god as reason, you license religious opinions in science.

You can believe in proven facts, you can believe in the scientific method, you can even believe that you will eventually find proof for your theories. The religious are free to believe anything without proof, or any tangible reason to hold that belief. In fact simple belief is a religious virtue and questioning the orthodox belief system can draw dangerous criticism or even torture and death to the questioner.

For the deeply religious, too much knowledge is a sin.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Ron_C – I think the superstitious are free to believe anything without proof. I’m not superstitious. Galileo was a victim of the church, but he did not give up his belief in God.

For the deeply religious, too much knowledge is a sin? Here’s a quote from the Bible:

It is not good to have zeal without knowledge – Proverbs 19:2

Ron_C's avatar

St. Augustine said, “Intellectual knowledge is not the result of the acquisitive operation of the intellect, but a participation or grant of God.” In my opinion, he is saying that the only way we get real knowledge is by revelation from god.” I believe that we learn despite the church’s teachings. Biblical scholars and the religious chose those professions to avoid strenuous mental exercise.

Galileo was a product of his times and even to a genius like him, failure to believe in god was unthinkable. In fact I believe he was so busy in other projects, family obligations, and fending off attacks from Jesuits, and other church groups, he didn’t have time to question the existance of god.

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