General Question

Harold's avatar

Do you think atheists believe as they do because they are scared to hand over ultimate authority to Someone else?

Asked by Harold (4112points) June 1st, 2009

I don’t know, but I wonder whether many atheists are scared to hand over their judgment to a higher power. Or is there some other reason?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

162 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

I do not believe in a god because all I have read and seen and heard about it do not make sense to me. It has nothing to do with ultimate authority, whatever that is supposed to mean.

3or4monsters's avatar

“Their judgment” in the way that you mean those words doesn’t even really exist in the lexicon of an atheist. Atheists do not believe in being judged by anyone but themselves and other human beings, and have no control over who judges them, therefor there is no fear of “handing it over”.

So in other words, no.

Judi's avatar

I think it has more to do with needing evidence and the scientific method. I would never judge the heart of a non-believer. Each of us have our own journey, for different reasons. Atheist’s, like people of faith, come in all different types and have an array of reasons for their belief or non belief.

jackfright's avatar

i suspect there are a myriad of other reasons, but i wont pretend to know what all of them are.

however, you could also turn that question around and ask if the religious are scared of facing the idea that there is no god, and no existence after death. to be honest, this is more disturbing than thinking there is one.

i suppose in the end though it doesn’t matter;
– if an atheist dies and finds that there is a god and existence (in whatever form) after death, it would be a pleasant surprise.
– if he’s right and there is literally only Nothing after death, he wouldn’t be there to mourn it.

- if a religious person dies and finds there is a god and existence (in whatever form) after death, great, he was right the whole time.
– if he’s right and there is literally only Nothing after death, he wouldn’t be there to mourn it either.

jrpowell's avatar

I am agnostic. And I would consider my self a scientist. Religion isn’t logical. Dude, people have just logically concluded that the “higher power doesn’t exist. ”

nayeight's avatar

Atheists don’t believe anything. And we KNOW there is no one to hand ultimate authority over to. It’s not about believing, it’s about non-believing. I think what you are describing is a religious person who experiences doubt or is scared.

Critter38's avatar

No. As an atheist I don’t believe in any gods because there is no evidence for their existence and I find it nonsensical to base any important worldview on faith.

I also find it strange to even posit an explanation based on fear for atheists when I would suggest it takes more courage to:

1) think differently than the tide of humanity
2) acknowledge that this is the only life we and our loved ones have
3) ignore the all to frequent threat of hell from some believers

Perhaps by suggesting emotional shortcomings as a motivational basis for atheism, the religious can distract themselves from considering the rational shortcomings of their own philosophical position.

augustlan's avatar

It is far scarier to think there is no God than to believe there is. I’m agnostic, and honestly I’d be thrilled to believe in a supreme being and an afterlife. I just can’t… the logical side of my mind just won’t permit it. Someday, I hope to discover that I’m wrong.

dynamicduo's avatar

No. I don’t believe there is a god because I see no proof for it, and believing in something without proof is not scientific nor logical or rational. That’s really all it boils down to – I don’t believe in Santa or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy for the same reason. Similarly, I don’t believe in Zeus, Ra, Mars, etc.

Everyone seems to forget that every religious person is atheist towards any other god than they believe in, and with the number of religions and most of the saying they are right and the others are wrong, it seems pretty logical to observe that ALL of them are exactly the same, NONE of them have answers of any kind, and ALL of them are wrong.

How any religious person can disqualify every other religion but their own is one hell of a mental gymnastic that I as a rational logical person find hilariously ironic.

psyla's avatar

I’m an atheist for the sole reason that it scares the willies out of me to think that God might be pissed off at me. If I give in to my urge to believe in God, then I’m a nervous wreck because I know God hates me and wants to kill me and send me to where I belong in hell. So I force myself to not believe in God.

Judi's avatar

@dynamicduo ; You don’t believe in Mars? I thought I saw his red glow just the other night! ~ just being silly

psyla's avatar

I recommend trying not to believe in God, because it’s so scary to let God control everything.

MrItty's avatar

Do you not believe in Santa Clause because you’re afraid to hand over your year’s worth of being a good boy or girl to Him, to let Him judge you and determine whether you’ll get a gift or coal?

Non-belief in God is no different than non-belief in Santa Clause.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I am an atheist, because my intellectual side has led me to a great deal of thought on the topic of religion, and atheism appears to be the most logical option.

I am not scared to hand over ultimate authority, but I will not do it unless it is due.

I will briefly attempt to explain some reasons why I am an atheist. It is a noticeable trend throughout history, that religion has largely been invoked either to explain what people of the time cannot explain with logic, or as a standard by which tyrants can gain unquestioned control over their people. The Catholic Church and some ‘Reformers’ practised thought control through religion all through the Middle Ages. All the Mesopotamian religions, Islam, and Christianity were spread through war and violence. There are clear evolutionary principles that explain the spread of religion – the religion of the weak died, and the religion of the strong grew. However such thought control is designed to bring about a certain end, and is not an intellectual pursuit of truth.

Throughout history, the advancement of science has steadily diminished the role of gods to the point where only the deists’ god is able to be squeezed in to science – a god of the gaps. Creationists centuries behind with Aristotle in their understanding of science.

Morality is one of the major claims of religions. They claim that morality by their standards leads to some form of reward, ranging from greater personal contentment to avoiding eternal torture. However moral principles are easy to derive from evolutionary principles—killing is not advantageous as it weakens the species, respect for others’ property is advantageous because it helps society function as a whole and avoids infighting. There is no need for a deity to prescribe morals, as what is to be considered moral is readily obvious to the wise.

I also believe that Christianity in particular is potentially psychologically damaging. Although this is no reason to disbelieve, I think it is relevant. The basis of Christianity is that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, and therefore need saving. I find it disturbing that parents can teach their children that if it weren’t for some sky fairy, they would deserve no more than death as a result of what an ancestor did ~6000 years ago. This is just one example, but many religions on the whole are dysfunctional.

The basis of my arguments then, is that there are naturalistic explanations for everything, and religion no longer serves a useful purpose. Do theists believe such because they are insecure, and feel the need to give control to someone else? Maybe some do, probably most don’t. Do atheists fear giving control to someone else? Maybe some do, probably most don’t. I for one, am perfectly capable of living a moral, just life while remaining in control of it.

ragingloli's avatar

Being scared of an “ultimate authority” requires that one already believes in said “ultimate authority”. Since atheists do not believe in an “ultimate authority”, there is nothing to be scared of.
No, the reasons atheists are atheists is simply the utter lack of evidence for the existence of any deity, the illogical nature of the concept and the fact that many of the claims made by religion have been refuted by science.

DarkScribe's avatar

There question itself misses a major point. Atheists don’t “believe”, what they do is refuse to believe in something completely improbable, implausible and something that if real would basically make you want to attack it.

Atheism is not belief, it is disbelief.

whatthefluther's avatar

Hell? No!.....wtf

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@DarkScribe Great point. How did I miss it? Maybe I’m just getting used to such assertions.

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

Do you think theists believe as they do because they’re scared to take responsibility for themselves? Because it’s easier to pass on the blame and responsibility to someone else?

@DarkScribe, I disagree. I am an atheist, and I believe that there is no supernatural deity that controls life in our world. It’s not that I lack the belief in something, it’s that I believe the opposite.

@ragingloli, Well said!

DarkScribe's avatar

@omfgTALIjustIMDu

I disagree. I am an atheist, and I believe that there is no supernatural deity that controls life in our world. It’s not that I lack the belief in something, it’s that I believe the opposite.
Hmmm.

Let’s see. I don’t believe that Paris Hilton is virgin, but in your world what I actually have is a belief in Paris Hilton’s “non-virginity”.

Have you ever heard of semantics?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@omfgTALIjustIMDu As an atheist, I do not believe that gods exist. I do have a belief system (although not based on faith), but the lack of a deity is not a belief. A belief is the “acceptance of the truth of something”. If we reject the truth of something, it is not a belief. I do not “believe” that there is no Zeus, but I do “not believe” that there is a Zeus.

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh, What if the truth that I believe in is that there is no god? That’s a truth to me, as it is to many others—not the lack of a truth.

@DarkScribe, I never said God was an impossibility, and I don’t “believe in an impossibility.” I believe god doesn’t exist, but that’s a belief, and by nature of the word belief I’m imagining that it is true, and trusting that it is so—not proving as such. Therefore, yes, I believe that god does not exist.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@omfgTALIjustIMDu Maybe part of your belief system is that there is no god, but that doesn’t make it a belief in and of itself. Part of my belief system is that I exist – but that is not a belief, it is the one verifiable fact that exists.

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Then we disagree about what atheism is, fundamentally. You must think that atheism is a fact (that, for a fact, god does not exist), whereas I think of it as a belief system (I personally believe at this point in my life that god does not exist, but it is not an impossibility).

Harold's avatar

I am overawed by the number of responses!! I cannot possibly answer all the points raised, but I will comment on some.
1. Whether atheism is belief in nothing or a lack of belief in anything is really semantics. I see it as lack of belief in a higher power, whatever you call that power.
2. In the question, by “judgment” I meant decision making on a personal level, not judging others. Forgive me if that was not clear.
3.To say that Christianity was sperad by violence is just plain wrong. Catholicism was spread by violence, but it is a poor shadow of true Christianity, and makes a mockery of it. Just look at Jesus Himself and what He preached- it was non-violence. He even refused to defend Himself. The great reformers spread their message in the face of violence from the Catholic church.
4. I really wonder how many people who claim that the claims of Christianity are refuted by science have done the research themselves, or whether they are just repeating what they are taught. How do we know that anybody, creationist or evolutionist, is being completely honest about what they have studied? The only way to be sure is to study it for yourself. Personally, I believe that there is a great deal of dishonesty in so-called science.
5. I accept that being scared of ultimate authority involves believing in that authority. However, do people not believe in it because the thought of believing in it scares them??
6. I do not believe in hell, and the bible does not teach it. No one should spread a supposed Christian message based on fear. It is a message based on love.
7. True Christianity is not based on faith- it is based on evidence. I have overwhelming evidence in my life that God does exist. There is also strong scientific evidence for His existence, and for creation.
8. The Christianity I believe in is not based on reward, but I feel rewarded because of the peace it brings to me, despite various trials. I probably wouldn’t be here without it.
9. There is no evidence for the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy, but there is evidence for God. Of that I have no doubt.

Please feel free to disagree with me, as I am sure many will. I am not closed minded on the topic, but it would take a great leap of faith for me to believe in the “research” of people I have never met, and use it to reject the God I HAVE met!!

spresto's avatar

I think atheists are just as scared and lost as believers. They just puff themselves up on science instead of God. Ultimately, we are all a bunch of cowards and none of us who are alive today will ever know any real truth until we are dead. When absolutely nothing happens or when God puts us in our place. Either way we all will die. So instead of worrying so much about convincing the world to think like you try loving them.

DarkScribe's avatar

@spresto . So instead of worrying so much about convincing the world to think like you try loving them.

Love the whole world? You’d go bankrupt buying condoms.

Harold's avatar

Good answer Spresto- I agree that it is better to love than to make everyone like yourself.

oratio's avatar

@spresto Science and god are not opposites. You can look at science as a way to describe what and how god did it, and the world and cosmos as your bible. Many christians do.

@DarkScribe lol

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Harold You raise some good points. I agree that Catholocism was the form of Christianity was spread by violence, and I only used that as a major reason why Christianity is more prevalent that other religions today. Jesus taught some very good ideals, and he was peaceful in nature. However it took less than 300 years for Christianity (the organisation was not yet known as Catholicism) to become a political movement and be spread by military might. Some Reformers also used violence to their own ends, such as the followers of Martin Luther who rioted (notably without his support), and the Protestant governing body of Geneva who burned Michel Servetus under the direction of Calvin.

My comment on creationism also needs clarification. Most forms of creationism are back with Aristotle (for example, old-earth creationists who jam their ideas uneasily into the Bible), although there are some that try to argue in a sophisticated, educated manner. This I have some respect for, as they are encouraging an intellectual attitude to religion. I just disagree with their results. I do not think there is much dishonesty in peer reviewed journals though, it would be too open to researchers discrediting each other to further their own careers.

Edit: Very few “Christians” make a serious attempt to follow the teachings of Christ. I refer to Christianity as a body, not to the set of teachings of Jesus.

oratio's avatar

@Harold
Your evidence of the divine can’t possibly be other than subjective, and the scientific method not only includes empiric evidence but also being confirmed by other scientists before being accepted as truth.

You are right. Science is wrong now and then, but the biggest difference between science and faith, is that science admits when it’s wrong.

Harold's avatar

@ Fire Made Flesh- Christianity became corrupt when it combined with the state. Religion in any form and politics should always be kept separate. Governments should always be secular and neutral on matters of faith. Not so sure about the journals. There are peer reviewed creationist journals too.
@ oratio- no, my evidence is FAR from subjective. I am new to this forum, and am not yet ready to put it on here, as it is personal. I might one day….

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Harold The same goes for the creationist journals. They are less likely to be direct deception, and more likely just a different result from the same evidence.

oratio's avatar

@Harold Put the @ together with the nick without space between.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

There’s no reason to hand over the ‘ultimate authority’
if you do, as many do, then you don’t take complete responsibility for yourself and your actions
and that’s just plain cowardly

wundayatta's avatar

Of all these answers, I think @spresto has gotten the closest to the real thrust of the question. The question is about fear and lack of control. He says, “I think atheists are just as scared and lost as believers.”

As I’ve said before, and I’ll probably say again, I think humans have evolved to have an overwhelming hunger for knowledge. Knowledge helps keep us alive. The problem, then, is what do we do when we don’t know answers to big questions? This demand for knowledge is there, and it will give us no rest (creates fear and uncertainty and anxiety) until we have an answer.

God was invented as one kind of answer. By giving the idea of God the power to be everything; to create the universe, it seems as if you have an answer to the ultimate question. Of course, since people anthropomorphize everything, the image of God is a human image, and the God is tailored for human needs. Well, all Gods were tailored in this fashion.

I know I’ve felt an acute sense of anxiety about dieing. It’s not about being dead, which, I suspect, will be the end of my consciousness forever and ever. It’s about not being alive, which is the end of such a precious gift to me (except when I am really depressed, and even then, it’s still a gift, just a really painful one).

I’ve found that my feelings about life and love and the preciousness of both seems to mirror that of religious people, just without the deity. How do I get along without an answer to life’s biggest questions (I feel like I’m on A Prairie Home Companien)? I figure it’s because I’m patient. I can wait. I figure the answers will come eventually. Maybe not before I die, but some time. Meanwhile, I have life to enjoy.

oratio's avatar

@daloon True. Why bother with what happens after we die, when we are alive now. What is important is how we live, and how we live with others. Death comes when it comes. It is not really that important. The answer to Why seems less important than How, Who, When and What.

Critter38's avatar

@Harold I like your sentiments with regards to Christianity. That said:

“I do not believe in hell, and the bible does not teach it.”
Are you saying that there is not one verse in the bible that mentions hell?

Be careful with the “no true Scotsmen fallacies.” If you redefine a “true” Christian as someone who does not fit the accusation then you can dismiss anything. Check out this logical fallacy here.

http://www.logicalfallacies.info/presumption/no-true-scotsman/

“I believe that there is a great deal of dishonesty in so-called science.”

There is dishonesty in any pursuit involving humans. But to suggest that dishonesty is rampant in science is highly dubious to put it mildly. What’s your evidence?

You claim to have evidence for god, but that evidence is highly personal. Fair enough. But this sounds highly anecdotal, and therefore doesn’t strike me as the kind of evidence that I find the least bit convincing. I don’t expect that to matter to you. But when I use the word “evidence” I don’t mean something that is impossible for others to verify.

Harold's avatar

I agree that the creationist journals are getting a different conclusion from the same evidence. My questions is why do we call one conclusion scientific, and the other based on faith? Doesn’t make sense to me!!
@critter38— There are verses in the bible that mention “hell”, but looking into the original meaning, and reading them in the context of all of scripture, it is quite clear that God does not use eternal punishment as taught in the majority of churches. I am not redefining Christianity in the context of what I perceive to be true- I am simply saying that a true Christian is one who follows the ways of the founder of the movement, not one who is the antithesis of Him. I agree that others cannot verify my own experience, except for my wife, as she was there with me. Maybe if I were to share my experience with you, you might find it convincing, but you would be taking my word for it, I acknowledge. However, why is that different to taking the word of a scientist or writer whom you also don’t know? I believe that there is dishonesty in science because their “conclusions” are illogical and counter-intuitive to say the least. However, I work in academic circles and see what goes on, and it is not the bed of roses some might think.

Please don’t get me wrong- I don’t disrespect atheists, I just can’t agree!!

Fyrius's avatar

(ignores rest of the thread, leaves own reply, buggers off again)

I for one don’t. In fact I’ve always found it very appealing to be able to hand responsibility to someone else and just follow. I’m an atheist against my less reasonable instincts.

Most atheists I know believe what they believe for sound rational reasons. Many of those have been given already in this thread.

I have reason believe it’s usually the religious world view that scared people end up at, what with all the loving and caring god-parents who watch over you and tell you it’s okay and they’re going to make everything all right for you. That kind of wishful thinking can be a very effective source of comfort if the real world intimidates you.
As opposed to a view of the world as a vast, uncaring cosmos in which we are one speck of dust that nobody else cares about. If anything, it takes courage to face such a world and not run back to whoever will tell you you’re special.

Fyrius's avatar

@Harold: “I agree that the creationist journals are getting a different conclusion from the same evidence. My questions is why do we call one conclusion scientific, and the other based on faith? Doesn’t make sense to me!!”
One conclusion is based on scientifically valid considerations and directly implied by the evidence, the other is based on wishful thinking and on selectively ignoring facts to support a world view that fundamentally defies the scientific method. Does that answer your question?

dynamicduo's avatar

We are the thinking apes. It’s in our natures to use our brains. Sometimes that leads us to realize how primitive we’ve been previously, and sometimes it takes awhile for this to sink in and for our culture to change.

Science is evidence. There is no quality evidence supporting religion, there is only heresay, and there are plenty of holes in every religion enough to realize that it’s nonsense to believe any one source is THE complete true source. There is plenty of evidence supporting scientific thoughts, and science is refined when we find new evidence, this is the scientific process and the value of repeated experiments.

I don’t mean to be so blunt here, but if you do not believe in evolution, then I am afraid I have no interest in continuing to discuss atheism with you.

We’ve had this and similar discussion many times before and I have expressed myself there to my satisfaction, so I may pop in once later on tonight but not really more than that. Harold, do some searches and read the archives if you’d like to, but I have to go live my life instead of talking about it to others :)

Critter38's avatar

@Harold No worries with not agreeing. Atheists are used to it. :)

“However, why is that different to taking the word of a scientist or writer whom you also don’t know? ”

It depends entirely on the context of the claim in relation to the state of other verified knowledge. Science is like a a patch of light with an irregular inconsistent and shifting edge. Nature is revealed in the centre of the light, but it is hard to see what is or is not truly there at the light’s edge.

At the centre of that beam is knowledge which fits well with other knowledge, and has been verified by multiple independent lines of inquiry. This is the point of consilience. In other words, it is as likely to be as true as human perceptions of truth can be.

However, at the edge of the beam is that which is not claimed to be understood…this is the realm of seeking, of hypothesis testing and of multiple failed hypotheses that help us to rule out explanations that aren’t matching current or subsequent observations.

If someone makes a claim which disagrees with our current understanding of scientific truth, then that claim will be challenged on all fronts. BUT, if the evidence is strong, and the claims can be supported by further investigations, then it can start to be accepted and our knowledge as a species then changes and grows.

So the answer is not that I take the word of a scientist, but I understand the scientific process and which claims I should wait and see to form an opinion, and which claims are justifiably accepted. I also can go back to the peer-reviewed published literature and assess the basis for the claim and see other people’s supportive or contradictory evidence. At the heart of all of this is evidence.

However, if someone claims something anecdotally which is perfectly mundane, I am also very likely to accept it. But if you claim something that defies every aspect of the nature of the known universe without anything but anecdotal evidence, I have every justification in dismissing that claim as more than likely to be false.

I believe it was Hume or d’Holbach who stated this principle as “that no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavors to establish”

“I believe that there is dishonesty in science because their “conclusions” are illogical and counter-intuitive to say the least.”

Science is the best system we have for taking us outside of our own wishful thinking, subjective desires and personal biases to enable us to approximate how nature really is, and then challenge, cross check and repeat this process to make sure we aren’t mistaken..before starting all over again.

If you find the conclusions of science are counter-intuitive and illogical then perhaps there’s a gap between how you think the world should be and how the world actually is.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Harold, As for Christianity not being a violent religion, you need to study some history. Since Jesus and Jehovah and the Holy Spirit are all the same god, the entire faith-based system represented by the Old and New Testament is the same system.

Too often, Christians cherry pick what they want to believe, and ignore what they disagree with. Here’s an eye opener for you. Catholic, Lutheran, Proestant, etc, are ALL different sects of the same religion, like it or not.

The Christian Holocaust
Below is something I found some years ago, it is not the best organized account of what I would term the “Christian Holocaust” but it certainly tells the story better than anything else that I have seen. For those serious about knowing the history of the Christian religion I would suggest copying and printing this out to study and research.
VICTIMS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH “WONDERFUL EVENTS THAT TESTIFY TO GOD’S DIVINE GLORY”

Listed are only events that solely occurred on command of church authorities or were committed in the name of Christianity. (List incomplete)

Ancient Pagans

As soon as Christianity was legal (315), more and more pagan temples were destroyed by Christian mob. Pagan priests were killed.

Between 315 and 6th century thousands of pagan believers were slain.

Examples of destroyed Temples: the Sanctuary of Aesculap in Aegaea, the Temple of Aphrodite in Golgatha, Aphaka in Lebanon, the Heliopolis.

Christian priests such as Mark of Arethusa or Cyrill of Heliopolis were famous as “temple destroyer.” [DA468]

Pagan services became punishable by death in 356. [DA468]

Christian Emperor Theodosius (408–450) even had children executed, because they had been playing with remains of pagan statues. [DA469]

According to Christian chroniclers he “followed meticulously all Christian teachings…”

In 6th century pagans were declared void of all rights.

In the early fourth century the philosopher Sopatros was executed on demand of Christian authorities. [DA466]

The world famous female philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria was torn to pieces with glass fragments by a hysterical Christian mob led by a Christian minister named Peter, in a church, in 415
Missions

Emperor Karl (Charlemagne) in 782 had 4500 Saxons, unwilling to convert to Christianity, beheaded. [DO30]

Peasants of Steding (Germany) unwilling to pay suffocating church taxes: between 5,000 and 11,000 men, women and children slain 5/27/1234 near Altenesch/Germany. [WW223] =

Battle of Belgrad 1456: 80,000 Turks slaughtered. [DO235]

15th century Poland: 1,019 churches and 17,987 villages plundered by Knights of the Order. Victims unknown. [DO30]

16th and 17th century Ireland. English troops “pacified and civilized” Ireland, where only Gaelic “wild Irish”, “unreasonable beasts lived without any knowledge of God or good manners, in common of their goods, cattle, women, children and every other thing.” One of the more successful soldiers, a certain Humphrey Gilbert, half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh, ordered that “the heddes of all those (of what sort soever thei were) which were killed in the daie, should be cutte off from their bodies… and should bee laied on the ground by eche side of the waie”, which effort to civilize the Irion command of pope Urban II.
Crusades (1095–1291)
First Crusade: 1095 on command of pope Urban II. [WW11–41]
Semlin/Hungary 6/24/96 thousands slain. Wieselburg/Hungary 6/12/96 thousands. [WW23] •9/9/96–9/26/96 Nikaia, Xerigordon (then turkish), thousands respectively. [WW25–27]

Until Jan 1098 a total of 40 capital cities and 200 castles conquered (number of slain unknown) [WW30] after 6/3/98 Antiochia (then turkish) conquered, between 10,000 and 60,000 slain. 6/28/98 100,000 Turks (incl. women & children) killed. [WW32–35]

Here the Christians “did no other harm to the women found in [the enemy’s] tents – save that they ran their lances through their bellies,” according to Christian chronicler Fulcher of Chartres. [EC60]

Marra (Maraat an-numan) 12/11/98 thousands killed. Because of the subsequent famine “the already stinking corpses of the enemies were eaten by the Christians” said chronicler Albert Aquensis. [WW36]

Jerusalem conquered 7/15/1099 more than 60,000 victims (jewish, muslim, men, women, children).

”(In the words of one witness: “there [in front of Solomon’s temple] was such a carnage that our people were wading ankle-deep in the blood of our foes”, and after that “happily and crying for joy our people marched to our Saviour’s tomb, to honour it and to pay off our debt of gratitude”)

The Archbishop of Tyre, eye-witness, wrote: “It was impossible to look upon the vast numbers of the slain without horror; everywhere lay fragments of human bodies, and the very ground was covered with the blood of the slain. It was not alone the spectacle of headless bodies and mutilated limbs strewn in all directions that roused the horror of all who looked upon them. Still more dreadful was it to gaze upon the victors themselves, dripping with blood from head to foot, an ominous sight which brought terror to all who met them. It is reported that within the Temple enclosure alone about ten thousand infidels perished.” [TG79]

Fourth crusade: 4/12/1204 Constantinople sacked, number of victims unknown, numerous thousands, many of them Christian. [WW141–148]

Rest of Crusades in less detail: until the fall of Akkon 1291 probably 20 million victims (in the Holy land and Arab/Turkish areas alone). [WW224] All figures according to contemporary (Christian) chroniclers.
Heretics

Already in 385 C.E. the first Christians, the Spanish Priscillianus and six followers, were beheaded for heresy in Trier/Germany [DO26]

Manichaean heresy: a crypto-Christian sect decent enough to practice birth control (and thus not as irresponsible as faithful Catholics) was exterminated in huge campaigns all over the Roman empire between 372 C.E. and 444 C.E. Numerous thousands of victims. [NC]

Albigensians: the first Crusade intended to slay other Christians. [DO29]

The Albigensians (cathars = Christians allegedly that have all rarely sucked) viewed themselves as good Christians, but would not accept roman Catholic rule, and taxes, and prohibition of birth control.

Begin of violence: on command of pope Innocent III (greatest single pre-nazi mass murderer) in 1209. Beziérs (today France) 7/22/1209 destroyed, all the inhabitants were slaughtered. Victims (including Catholics refusing to turn over their heretic neighbours and friends) 20,000–70,000. [WW179–181]

Carcassonne 8/15/1209, thousands slain. Other cities followed. [WW181

Subsequent 20 years of war until nearly all Cathars (probably half the population of the Languedoc, today southern France) were exterminated. [WW183

After the war ended (1229) the Inquisition was founded 1232 to search and destroy surviving/hiding heretics. Last Cathars burned at the stake 1324. [WW183] Estimated one million victims (cathar heresy alone), [WW183] Other heresies: Waldensians, Paulikians, Runcarians, Josephites, and many others. Most of these sects exterminated, (I believe some Waldensians live today, yet they had to endure 600 years of persecution) I estimate at least hundred thousand victims (including the Spanish inquisition but excluding victims in the New World).

Spanish Inquisitor Torquemada alone allegedly responsible for 10,220 burnings. [DO28]

John Huss, a critic of papal infallibility and indulgences, was burned at the stake in 1415. [LI475–522]

University professor B. Hubmaier burned at the stake 1538 in Vienna. [DO59]

Giordano Bruno, Dominican monk, after having been incarcerated for seven years, was burned at the stake for heresy on the Campo dei Fiori (Rome) on 2/17/1600 in the era of witch hunting (1484–1750) according to modern scholars several hundred thousand (about 80% female) burned at the stake or hanged. [WV] incomplete list of documented cases
Witches
from the beginning of Christianity to 1484 probably more than several thousand.
in the era of witch hunting (1484–1750) according to modern scholars several hundred thousand (about 80% female) burned at the stake or hanged. [WV]
incomplete list of documented cases: http://www.primenet.com/~ioseph/burnwitc.htm
Religious Wars

1538 pope Paul III declared Crusade against apostate England and all English as slaves of Church (fortunately had not power to go into action). [DO31]

1568 Spanish Inquisition Tribunal ordered extermination of 3 million rebels in (then Spanish) Netherlands. Thousands were actually slain. [DO31]

1572 In France about 20,000 Huguenots were killed on command of pope Pius V. Until 17th century 200,000 flee. [DO31]

17th century: Catholics slay Gaspard de Coligny, a Protestant leader. After murdering him, the Catholic mob mutilated his body, “cutting off his head, his hands, and his genitals… and then dumped him into the river [...but] then, deciding that it was not worthy of being food for the fish, they hauled it out again [... and] dragged what was left… to the gallows of Montfaulcon, ‘to be meat and carrion for maggots and crows’.” [SH191]

17th century: Catholics sack the city of Magdeburg/Germany: roughly 30,000 Protestants were slain. “In a single church fifty women were found beheaded,” reported poet Friedrich Schiller, “and infants still sucking the breasts of their lifeless mothers.” [SH191]

17th century 30 years’ war (Catholic vs. Protestant): at least 40% of population decimated, mostly in Germany. [DO31–32

Jews

Already in the 4th and 5th centuries synagogues were burned by Christians. Number of Jews slain unknown.
In the middle of the fourth century the first synagogue was destroyed on command of bishop Innocentius of Dertona in Northern Italy. The first synagogue known to have been burned down was near the river Euphrat, on command of the bishop of Kallinikon in the year 388. [DA450]

17. Council of Toledo 694: Jews were enslaved, their property confiscated, and their children forcibly baptized. [DA454]

The Bishop of Limoges (France) in 1010 had the cities’ Jews, who would not convert to Christianity, expelled or killed. [DA453]

First Crusade: Thousands of Jews slaughtered 1096, maybe 12,000 total. Places: Worms 5/18/1096, Mainz 5/27/1096 (1100 persons), Cologne, Neuss, Altenahr, Wevelinghoven, Xanten, Moers, Dortmund, Kerpen, Trier, Metz, Regensburg, Prag and others (All locations Germany except Metz/France, Prag/Czech) [EJ]

Second Crusade: 1147. Several hundred Jews were slain in Ham, Sully, Carentan, and Rameru (all locations in France). [WW57]

Third Crusade: English Jewish communities sacked 1189/90. [DO40] •Fulda/Germany 1235: 34 Jewish men and women slain. [DO41]

1257, 1267: Jewish communities of London, Canterbury, Northampton, Lincoln, Cambridge, and others exterminated. [DO41]

1290 in Bohemian (Poland) allegedly 10,000 Jews killed. [DO41]

1337 Starting in Deggendorf/Germany a Jew-killing craze reaches 51 towns in Bavaria, Austria, Poland. [DO41]

1348 All Jews of Basel/Switzerland and Strasbourg/France (two thousand) burned. [DO41]

1349 In more than 350 towns in Germany all Jews murdered, mostly burned alive (in this one year more Jews were killed than Christians in 200 years of ancient Roman persecution of Christians). [DO42]

1389 In Prag 3,000 Jews were slaughtered. [DO42]

1391 Seville’s Jews killed (Archbishop Martinez leading). 4,000 were slain, 25,000 sold as slaves. [DA454] Their identification was made easy by the brightly colored “badges of shame” that all jews above the age of ten had been forced to wear.

1492: In the year Columbus set sail to conquer a New World, more than 150,000 Jews were expelled from Spain, many died on their way: 6/30/1492. [MM470–476]

1648 Chmielnitzki massacres: In Poland about 200,000 Jews were slain. [DO43

“The New World”

Beginning with Columbus (a former slave trader and would-be Holy Crusader) the conquest of the New World began, as usual understood as a means to propagate Christianity.

Within hours of landfall on the first inhabited island he encountered in the Caribbean, Columbus seized and carried off six native people who, he said, “ought to be good servants… [and] would easily be made Christians, because it seemed to me that they belonged to no religion.” [SH200

While Columbus described the Indians as “idolators” and “slaves, as many as [the Crown] shall order,” his pal Michele de Cuneo, Italian nobleman, referred to the natives as “beasts” because “they eat when they are hungry,” and made love “openly whenever they feel like it.” [SH204–205]

On every island he set foot on, Columbus planted a cross, “making the declarations that are required” – the requerimiento – to claim the ownership for his Catholic patrons in Spain. And “nobody objected.” If the Indians refused or delayed their acceptance (or understanding), the requerimiento continued:
“I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter in your country and shall make war against you… and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church… and shall do you all mischief that we can, as to vassals who do not obey and refuse to receive their lord and resist and contradict him.” [SH66

On average two thirds of the native population were killed by colonist-imported smallpox before violence began. This was a great sign of “the marvelous goodness and providence of God” to the Christians of course, e.g. the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony wrote in 1634, as “for the natives, they are near all dead of the smallpox, so as the Lord hath cleared our title to what we possess.” [SH109,238]

On Hispaniola alone, on Columbus visits, the native population (Arawak), a rather harmless and happy people living on an island of abundant natural resources, a literal paradise, soon mourned 50,000 dead. [SH204]

The surviving Indians fell victim to rape, murder, enslavement and spanish raids.

As one of the culprits wrote: “So many Indians died that they could not be counted, all through the land the Indians lay dead everywhere. The stench was very great and pestiferous.” [SH69

The indian chief Hatuey fled with his people but was captured and burned alive. As “they were tying him to the stake a Franciscan friar urged him to take Jesus to his heart so that his soul might go to heaven, rather than descend into hell. Hatuey replied that if heaven was where the Christians went, he would rather go to hell.” [SH70]

“The Spaniards cut off the arm of one, the leg or hip of another, and from some their heads at one stroke, like butchers cutting up beef and mutton for market. Six hundred, including the cacique, were thus slain like brute beasts…Vasco [de Balboa] ordered forty of them to be torn to pieces by dogs.” [SH83]

The “island’s population of about eight million people at the time of Columbus’s arrival in 1492 already had declined by a third to a half before the year 1496 was out.” Eventually all the island’s natives were exterminated, so the Spaniards were “forced” to import slaves from other caribbean islands, who soon suffered the same fate. Thus “the Caribbean’s millions of native people [were] thereby effectively liquidated in barely a quarter of a century”. [SH72–73]

“In less than the normal lifetime of a single human being, an entire culture of millions of people, thousands of years resident in their homeland, had been exterminated.” [SH75]

And then the Spanish turned their attention to the mainland of Mexico and Central America. The slaughter had barely begun. The exquisite city of Tenochtitln [Mexico city] was next.” [SH75]

Cortez, Pizarro, De Soto and hundreds of other spanish conquistadors likewise sacked southern and mesoamerican civilizations in the name of Christ (De Soto also sacked Florida).

“When the 16th century ended, some 200,000 Spaniards had moved to the Americas. By that time probably more than 60,000,000 natives were dead.” [SH95]

Although none of the settlers would have survived winter without native help, they soon set out to expel and exterminate the Indians. Warfare among (north American) Indians was rather harmless, in comparison to European standards, and was meant to avenge insults rather than conquer land. In the words of some of the pilgrim fathers: “Their Warres are farre less bloudy…”, so that there usually was “no great slawter of nether side”. Indeed, “they fight fight seven yeares and not kill seven men.” What is more, the Indians usually spared women and children. [SH111]

In the spring of 1612 some English colonists found life among the (generally friendly and generous) natives attractive enough to leave Jamestown – “being idell… did runne away unto the Indyans,” – to live among them (that probably solved a sex problem
Governor Thomas Dale had them hunted down and executed: ‘Some he apointed (sic) to be hanged Some burned Some to be broken upon wheles, others to be staked and some shott to deathe’.” [SH105]

Of course these elegant measures were restricted for fellow englishmen: “This was the treatment for those who wished to act like Indians. For those who had no choice in the matter, because they were the native people of Virginia” methods were different: “when an Indian was accused by an Englishman of stealing a cup and failing to return it, the English response was to attack the natives in force, burning the entire community” down. [SH105]

On the territory that is now Massachusetts the founding fathers of the colonies were committing genocide, in what has become known as the “Peqout War”. The killers were New England Puritan Christians, refugees from persecution in their own home country England.

When however, a dead colonist was found, apparently killed by Narragansett Indians, the Puritan colonists wanted revenge. Despite the Indian chief’s pledge they attacked. Somehow they seem to have lost the idea of what they were after, because when they were greeted by Pequot Indians (long-time foes of the Narragansetts) the troops nevertheless made war on the Pequots and burned their villages.

The puritan commander-in-charge John Mason after one massacre wrote: “And indeed such a dreadful Terror did the Almighty let fall upon their Spirits, that they would fly from us and run into the very Flames, where many of them perished… God was above them, who laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to Scorn, making them as a fiery Oven… Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling the Place with dead Bodies”: men, women, children. [SH113–114]

So “the Lord was pleased to smite our Enemies in the hinder Parts, and to give us their land for an inheritance”. [SH111].

Because of his readers’ assumed knowledge of Deuteronomy, there was no need for Mason to quote the words that immediately follow:

“Thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth. But thou shalt utterly destroy them…” (Deut 20)
Mason’s comrade Underhill recalled how “great and doleful was the bloody sight to the view of the young soldiers” yet reassured his readers that “sometimes the Scripture declareth women and children must perish with their parents”. [SH114]

Other Indians were killed in successful plots of poisoning. The colonists even had dogs especially trained to kill Indians and to devour children from their mothers breasts, in the colonists’ own words: “blood Hounds to draw after them, and Mastives to seaze them.” (This was inspired by spanish methods of the time In this way they continued until the extermination of the Pequots was near. [SH107–119]

The surviving handful of Indians “were parceled out to live in servitude. John Endicott and his pastor wrote to the governor asking for ‘a share’ of the captives, specifically ‘a young woman or girle and a boy if you thinke good’.” [SH115]

Other tribes were to follow the same path.

Comment the Christian exterminators: “God’s Will, which will at last give us cause to say: How Great is His Goodness! and How Great is his Beauty. Thus doth the Lord Jesus make them to bow before him, and to lick the Dust!” [TA]

Like today, lying was OK to Christians then. “Peace treaties were signed with every intention to violate them: when the Indians ‘grow secure uppon (sic) the treatie’, advised the Council of State in Virginia, ‘we shall have the better Advantage both to surprise them, & cutt downe theire Corne’.” [SH106]

In 1624 sixty heavily armed Englishmen cut down 800 defenseless Indian men, women and children. [SH107]

In a single massacre in “King Philip’s War” of 1675 and 1676 some “600 Indians were destroyed. A delighted Cotton Mather, revered pastor of the Second Church in Boston, later referred to the slaughter as a ‘barbeque’.” [SH115]

To summarize: Before the arrival of the English, the western Abenaki people in New Hampshire and Vermont had numbered 12,000. Less than half a century later about 250 remained alive – a destruction rate of 98%. The Pocumtuck people had numbered more than 18,000, fifty years later they were down to 920 – 95% destroyed. The Quiripi-Unquachog people had numbered about 30,000, fifty years later they were down to 1500 – 95% destroyed. The Massachusetts people had numbered at least 44,000, fifty years later barely 6000 were alive – 81% destroyed. [SH118]

These are only a few examples of the multitude of tribes living before Christian colonists set their foot on the New World. All this was before the smallpox epidemics of 1677 and 1678 had occurred. And the carnage was not over then.

All the above was only the beginning of the European colonization, it was before the frontier age actually had begun. A total of maybe more than 150 million Indians (of both Americas) were destroyed in the period of 1500 to 1900, as an average two thirds by smallpox and other epidemics, that leaves some 50 million killed directly by violence, bad treatment and slavery.

In many countries, such as Brazil, and Guatemala, this continues even today.

More Glorious events in US history

Reverend Solomon Stoddard, one of New England’s most esteemed religious leaders, in “1703 formally proposed to the Massachusetts Governor that the colonists be given the financial wherewithal to purchase and train large packs of dogs ‘to hunt Indians as they do bears’.” [SH241

Massacre of Sand Creek, Colorado 11/29/1864. Colonel John Chivington, a former Methodist minister and still elder in the church (“I long to be wading in gore”) had a Cheyenne village of about 600, mostly women and children, gunned down despite the chiefs’ waving with a white flag: 400–500 killed

From an eye-witness account: “There were some thirty or forty squaws collected in a hole for protection; they sent out a little girl about six years old with a white flag on a stick; she had not proceeded but a few steps when she was shot and killed. All the squaws in that hole were afterwards killed…” [SH131]

By the 1860s, “in Hawai’i the Reverend Rufus Anderson surveyed the carnage that by then had reduced those islands’ native population by 90 percent or more, and he declined to see it as tragedy; the expected total die-off of the Hawaiian population was only natural, this missionary said, somewhat equivalent to ‘the amputation of diseased members of the body’.”

20th Century Church Atrocities – Catholic Extermination Camps

Surpisingly few know that Nazi extermination camps in World War II were by no means the only ones in Europe at the time. In the years 1942–1943 also in Croatia existed numerous extermination camps, run by Catholic Ustasha under their dictator Ante Paveliç, a practising Catholic and regular visitor to the then pope. There were even concentrates in kilns, alive (the Nazis were decent enough to have their victims gassed first). But most of the victims were simply stabbed, slain or shot to death, the number of them being estimated between 300,000 and 600,000, in a rather tiny country. Many of the killers were Franciscan friars. The atrocities were appalling enough to induce bystanders of the Nazi “Sicherheitsdient der SS”, watching, to complain about them to Hitler (who did not listen). The pope knew about these events and did nothing to prevent them. [MV

Catholic terror in Vietnam

In 1954 Vietnamese freedom fighters – the Viet Minh – had finally defeated the French colonial government in North Vietnam, which by then had been supported by U.S. funds amounting to more than $2 billion. Although the victorious assured religious freedom to all (most non-buddhist Vietnamese were Catholics), due to huge anticommunist propaganda campaigns many Catholics fled to the South. With the help of Catholic lobbies in Washington and Cardinal Spellman, the Vatican’s spokesman in U.S. politics, who later on would call the U.S. forces in Vietnam “Soldiers of Christ”, a scheme was concocted to prevent democratic elections which could have brought the communist Viet Minh to power in the South as well, and the fanatic Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem was made president of South Vietnam. [MW16ff Diem saw to it that U.S. aid, food, technical and general assistance was given to Catholics alone, Buddhist individuals and villages were ignored or had to pay for the food aids which were given to Catholics for free. The only religious denomination to be supported was Roman Catholicism.

The Vietnamese McCarthyism turned even more vicious than its American counterpart. By 1956 Diem promulgated a presidential order which read:
Individuals considered dangerous to the national defense and common security may be confined by executive order, to a concentration camp

Supposedly to fight communism, thousands of buddhist protesters and monks were imprisoned in “detention camps.” Out of protest dozens of buddhist teachers – male and female – and monks poured gasoline over themselves and burned themselves. (Note that Buddhists burned themselves: in comparison Christians tend to burn others). Meanwhile some of the prison camps, which in the meantime were filled with Protestant and even Catholic protesters as well, had turned into no-nonsense death camps. It is estimated that during this period of terror (1955–1960) at least 24,000 were wounded – mostly in street riots – 80,000 people were executed, 275,000 had been detained or tortured, and about 500,000 were sent to concentration or detention camps. [MW76–89]

To support this kind of government in the next decade thousands of American GI’s lost their life”

On July 1, 1976, Anneliese Michel, a 23-year-old student of a teachers college in Germany, died: she starved herself to death. For months she had been haunted by demonic visions and apparitions, and for months two Catholic priests – with explicit approval of the Catholic bishop of Würzburg – additionally pestered and tormented the wretched girl with their exorcist rituals. After her death in Klingenberg hospital – her body was littered with wounds – her parents, both of them fanatical Catholics, were sentenced to six months for not having called for medical help. None of the priests was punished: on the contrary, Miss Michel’s grave today is a place of pilgrimage and worship for a number of similarly faithful Catholics (in the seventeenth century Würzburg was notorious for it’s extensive witch burnings)
This case is only the tip of an iceberg of such evil superstition and has become known only because of its lethal outcome. [SP80]

Rwanda Massacres

In 1994 in the small african country of Rwanda in just a few months several hundred thousand civilians were butchered, apparently a conflict of the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups.

For quite some time I heard only rumours about Catholic clergy actively involved in the 1994 Rwanda massacres. Odd denials of involvement were printed in Catholic church journals, before even anybody had openly accused members of the church.
Then, 10/10/96, in the newscast of S2 Aktuell, Germany – a station not at all critical to Christianity – the following was stated:
Anglican as well as Catholic priests and nuns are suspect of having actively participated in murders. Especially the conduct of a certain Catholic priest has been occupying the public mind in Rwanda’s capital Kigali for months. He was minister of the church of the Holy Family and allegedly murdered Tutsis in the most brutal manner. He is reported to have accompanied marauding Hutu militia with a gun in his cowl. In fact there has been a bloody slaughter of Tutsis seeking shelter in his parish. Even two years after the massacres many Catholics refuse to set foot on the threshold of their church, because to them the participation of a certain part of the clergy in the slaughter is well established. There is almost no church in Rwanda that has not seen refugees – women, children, old – being brutally butchered facing the crucifix.

According to eyewitnesses clergymen gave away hiding Tutsis and turned them over to the machetes of the Hutu militia. In connection with these events again and again two Benedictine nuns are mentioned, both of whom have fled into a Belgian monastery in the meantime to avoid prosecution. According to survivors one of them called the Hutu killers and led them to several thousand people who had sought shelter in her monastery. By force the doomed were driven out of the churchyard and were murdered in the presence of the nun right in front of the gate. The other one is also reported to have directly cooperated with the murderers of the Hutu militia. In her case again witnesses report that she watched the slaughtering of people in cold blood and without showing response. She is even accused of having procured some petrol used by the killers to set on fire and burn their victims alive…” [S2]

As can be seen from these events, to Christianity the Dark Ages never came to an end
=================================================
References:
[DA]
K.Deschner, Abermals krhte der Hahn, Stuttgart 1962.
[DO]
K.Deschner, Opus Diaboli, Reinbek 1987.
[EC]
P.W.Edbury, Crusade and Settlement, Cardiff Univ. Press 1985.
[EJ]
S.Eidelberg, The Jews and the Crusaders, Madison 1977.
[LI]
H.C.Lea, The Inquisition of the Middle Ages, New York 1961.
[MM]
M.Margolis, A.Marx, A History of the Jewish People.
[MV]
A.Manhattan, The Vatican’s Holocaust, Springfield 1986.
See also V.Dedijer, The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican, Buffalo NY, 1992.
[NC]
J.T.Noonan, Contraception: A History of its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists, Cambridge/Mass., 1992.
[S2]
Newscast of S2 Aktuell, Germany, 10/10/96, 12:00.
[SH]
D.Stannard, American Holocaust, Oxford University Press 1992.
[SP]
German news magazine Der Spiegel, no.49, 12/2/1996.
[TA]
A True Account of the Most Considerable Occurrences that have Hapned in the Warre Between the English and the Indians in New England, London 1676.
[TG]
F.Turner, Beyond Geography, New York 1980.
[WW]
H.Wollschlger: Die bewaffneten Wallfahrten gen Jerusalem, Zrich 1973.
(This is in german and what is worse, it is out of print. But it is the best I ever read about crusades and includes a full list of original medieval Christian chroniclers’ writings).
[WV]
Estimates on the number of executed witches:
• N.Cohn, Europe’s Inner Demons: An Enquiry Inspired by the Great Witch Hunt, Frogmore 1976, 253.
• R.H.Robbins, The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology, New York 1959, 180.
• J.B.Russell, Witchcraft in the Middle Ages, Ithaca/NY 1972, 39.
• H.Zwetsloot, Friedrich Spee und die Hexenprozesse, Trier 1954, 56.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

After reading that, do you really need to ask why atheists reject religion?

Jeruba's avatar

No, I don’t. But I do I think that many believers believe as they do because they are scared not to hand over the authority to somebody else.

ubersiren's avatar

I am personally not scared to hand over authority to God. Being an non-believer, it’s scarier for me to not have that comfort of an afterlife or a behind the scenes guardian. Who doesn’t want ever-lasting life? Nobody wants to just stop existing… but if at your core that’s what you believe happens, there’s little you can do to help it. I invested most of my life trying to give myself to Christ, but I just could believe it was real. It’s very difficult to fool yourself into believing something when you truly don’t. You can fool a lot of people- your pastor, your friends, your fellowship- but not yourself. One thing I wish people would realize is that we don’t “reject” religion because it is religion, but more that we just don’t see it as logical. For most of us, being atheist is not to spite the church; we simply don’t have a choice. You can’t just choose to be a Christian if you don’t believe. It doesn’t work that way.

mattbrowne's avatar

I’m not an atheists, but I don’t think that’s the reason. I think some of the major reasons are related to bad forms of organized religions in particular those attempting social control and showing blatant disregard for scientific method.

Facade's avatar

That’s a possible reason. I don’t try to figure them out.

cyn's avatar

It’s not because they are afraid to hand authority to someone else, but no religion seems to fit what they consider understandable. I’m catholic, but then, i have a feeling i’m turning atheist! :) i’m happy i’m turning atheist!

Ivan's avatar

Atheists do not make up a homogeneous group. They all believe different things and they all arrive at their beliefs for different reasons. I, personally, am an atheist for two primary reasons.

1) There is no positive, empirical evidence for the existence of a god.
2) A god is not necessary to explain the universe.

Those reasons are my own, not those of atheists in general.

As for the role of science. It is unfair to say that we simply accept what “scientists” tell us, and that it is better to “research” yourself. The method of science actively works to remove bias, subjectivity, and error. A scientific explanation must be the result of evidence, it must make predictions, it must endure experiments, it must endure scrutiny from the scientific community and peer review, it must be reproducible, and it must remain continually consistent with all known evidence. This is not the same as simply taking what some “scientist” says on faith.

Facade's avatar

@Ivan People love to lump Christians together, why not atheists?

cyn's avatar

What’s it called when someone doesn’t believe such religions are true but believes in that there is a God?

ubersiren's avatar

@Facade :You’re lumping “people” together by saying that.

Facade's avatar

@ubersiren Fantastic observation.

Ivan's avatar

@Facade

So you should be able to generalize all atheists because Christians are often generalized? How about we don’t generalize anyone?

Fyrius's avatar

@Facade: Christians at least belong to the same tradition, albeit perhaps different flavours of it. It’s sensible enough to expect them to have beliefs in common.
The only thing atheists have in common is not belonging to any religious group. They’re no more inherently alike than everyone who does not support any football team.

crisw's avatar

@cyndihugs
Most such people would probably call themselves deists.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Atheists are not afraid to hand over “ultimate authority” because they don’t necessarily believe that they had it in the first place. Atheists are not control freaks, they simply accept existence for what it is and don’t read anything extra into it beyond what has been discovered. It’s not about control for the Atheist at all… not even a consideration.

Theists on the other hand are the biggest bunch of control freaks that have ever existed, claiming either “believe or die” or “believe or burn”. Can’t get much more controlling than that. Besides, to the Theist, God is not a cosmic puppet master. God has given control to us and that is according to Gods plan. Plans and Control are different things. An architect may plan and build a house, but then gives control of it to someone else.

As well, the Theistic life is not supposed to be one of giving up anything at all. It’s about receiving from God… not being controlled by God.

As a Theist myself, I honestly believe with all my heart that there will be many many more Atheists in heaven than Theists. It’s not about belief, and we would do well to get past that immature notion. It is about how one lives their life and treats others.

The Atheist who can forgive is much better off than the Theist who judges.

cyn's avatar

@crisw
i changed my mind i’m a deists.

oratio's avatar

@cyndihugs Too late, Cyndi. Once you are bitten by an atheist, you will turn by the first full moon.

whatthefluther's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies…Thank you, thank you for a great answer…very well put.

cyn's avatar

@oratio
oh crap….what a sinner I am!

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@whatthefluther

It seems so obvious doesn’t it? If there really is anything to Christianity…

The modern day Christian will miss the second coming of Christ every bit as much as they accuse the Jews of missing the first coming.

They will not recognize him.

My Atheist and Homosexual friends are the least judgmental of any people that I know. Very few Christians can be in the same room with us… but there are a few.

whatthefluther's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies….I suspect there is a great number of people who feel fortunate to count you as a friend. See you around…wtf

YARNLADY's avatar

Or to put it another way, there is no “Someone” else.

Harold's avatar

My oh my- there are some essays here! Basically, you can tell me that there is a history of violence in Christianity, and you may well be right. But, it is obvious to anyone who studies the basics tenets of Christianity, that those who are violent are not following its teachings, therefore are Christians in name only.

I totally agree with the contributor above who said that the atheist who does not judge is better off than the Christian who does. I certainly do not ostracise atheists- heaven knows, my son is one, and we still live under the same roof. I think we still get on as well as we ever did. I’d like to think so, anyway.

I, too, have homosexual friends, and am not ashamed to say so. I do not claim that Christianity is the only way. I just get annoyed at those who denigrate it by looking at the evil and stupid who call themselves Christians, and label us all the same.

There are scientific journals who follow the scientific method, and come with strong evidence for creation. Don’t tell me that I don’t know what scientific method is. As I have said previously, I work in academic circles, and am embarking on a PhD in health science at the moment.

I agree with the contributor above who stated that bad religious organisations help make people into atheists. If I believed that the bible taught eternal punishment, I’d throw it away in a heartbeat. I wouldn’t want to worship a God like that.

Particularly @evelyns pet zebra, thankyou for your scholarly research. However, your idea is based on a false premise in your 1st paragraph, and that is that all Christianity is lumped together based on purporting to serve the same God. A claim to serve Him does not make it so in reality. I cannot deny what you have written, but those who did those terrible things denied the God they claimed to serve. That much is obvious.

I hope you all will accept me as a worthwhile contributor to this site. I welcome people disagreeing with me, and fiercely defend people’s rights to their opinions, even if I disagree.

Critter38's avatar

@Harold

“There are scientific journals who follow the scientific method, and come with strong evidence for creation. ”

Fascinating. Please provide the relevant citations.

Thanks

Also wouldn’t hurt if you defined what you mean by “creation”..eg. the Earth is less than 10000 years old, or all species were put here around the same time by God, or species don’t evolve, or god started the whole thing off, etc…

must say it seems rather remarkable that the relevant scientists haven’t received the nobel prize for their discovery, not to mention that it hasn’t reached the global news networks

DarkScribe's avatar

The God of the past couple of Millenia cannot meet modern standards in that he is bigoted, vengeful, angry, biased, greedy, not open to conflicting ideologies, chauvinistic, uncaring, spiteful, and basically an euphemism for an anus. If he existed in the flesh he would be despised by those who would be most inclined to give him any form of acknowledgment and totally ignored by the rest of society.

Critter38's avatar

”...and basically an euphemism for an anus.”

LOL I’m crying on my keyboard…thanks for that…:)

augustlan's avatar

@Harold While I do not agree with your views, I am impressed by your level of civility in disagreeing with others. Thanks for that, and welcome to Fluther!

Harold's avatar

Thanks Augustian, I appreciate the welcome. Happy to disagree.

@Critter38- Please see Journal of Creation published by Answers in Genesis. I believe that God created the world in seven literal days. The best estimate of when is approx 6,000 years ago. (He waits with baited breath for the chorus of “what about the evidence of carbon dating, etc.”....)

Obviously, the nobel prize decision makers and news networks have either (a) never heard of these things or (b) are scared of the howls of derision from those who would dispute creation as science.

@darkscribe- we are obviously talking about a different God- C’est la vie

Fyrius's avatar

@Harold: “Basically, you can tell me that there is a history of violence in Christianity, and you may well be right. But, it is obvious to anyone who studies the basics tenets of Christianity, that those who are violent are not following its teachings, therefore are Christians in name only.”

@Critter38 already pointed out that this is a logical fallacy. It’s meaningless to say that true Christians are nice if all the Christians who are total dicks are excluded by your definition of “true Christian”.

Critter38's avatar

@Harold

From the Journal of Creation author guidelines

“Journal of Creation is dedicated to upholding the authority of the 66 books of the Bible, especially in the area of origins. All our editors adhere to the Creation Ministries International (CMI) Statement of Faith and most papers will be designed to support this.”

The journal of creation is not a scientific journal. Science journals don’t start with a conclusion that a given view of the world is the truth, and then backcast in an attempt to find evidence to support that conclusion. That is the antithesis of science.

The whole foundation of science is doubt, curiosity and evidence, not dogma.

If you wish to believe that the Earth is younger than beer, be my guest. But why bother pretending that this is anything other than an faith based stance (i.e. you believe this account simply because you confer your critical faculties to whatever is written in the bible)?

Harold's avatar

Sorry Fyrius, not a logical fallacy at all. A violent Christian is as much an oxymoron as an atheist who believes in God. The two concepts are totally opposed. There is an obvious difference between someone who calls themself a Christian, without following its fundamental principles, and someone who exemplifies them.

Harold's avatar

@Critter38- Most scientific journals or articles have a statement in the beginning asserting the stance they have taken based on their research. Even Richard Dawkins states the aim of “The God Delusion” in its preface. (Yes, I have read it). Have you actually read any articles in the Journal of Creation, and weighed up the evidence for yourself? Surely this is what someone who bases their ideas on evidence would do!!

I believe what the bible says because the evidence I have seen supports it. To me, evidence breeds faith, not the other way around. This may not sound believable to you, and I accept that. However, I am not someone who believes in blind faith.

ragingloli's avatar

@Harold there is a difference in asserting a stance based on research and asserting a stance based on religious dogma and then pressing and corrupting the research into that preset dogmatic mold.

Harold's avatar

@ragingloli I agree with you that there is a difference. I however don’t agree that that is what AIG are doing. Have you read the journal of Creation?

Critter38's avatar

You fundamentally missed the point.

It is not a scientific journal. It is a journal which was established to give creationism the aura of scientific credibility. So pretending that not reading this is somehow relevant,is like me challenging the basis for your views that the Earth is spherical because you haven’t read a publication from the flat earth society. If we are talking about evidence for our respective beliefs, citing that journal doesn’t cut it.

At the heart of your views must be a grand conspiracy theory. If the Earth was 6000 years old the same scientific process which brought us our current understanding of medicine, space exploration, and flight, would find time after time that the Earth was approximately 6000 years old.

It doesn’t. Not even close.

Two questions:
What scientific evidence is currently lacking which if provided would convince you that the Earth was billions of years old rather than a few thousand years old?

What scientific evidence is currently lacking which if provided would convince you that the biodiversity of this planet is the product of evolution?

Harold's avatar

Well, obviously I disagree with your interpretation of my response. The Journal of Creation was started after many independent researchers came to similar conclusions, and decided to publish a journal that would include the evidence all the others chose to ignore. If you have made up your mind not to read the evidence, then that is your right, and I respect that.

Many of the great sceintists who contributed to our current understanding of the fields you mention were in fact believers in creation (and no, I’m not talking about Einstein. Remember I have read Dawkins, and have no reason to disbelieve him on this point). Current understandings in these fields have little to do with the age of the earth, actually.

To answer your questions:
1. Someone who was there to see it, and who could prove that the dating techniques used are linear and not exponential or logarithmic, or some other mathematical relationship
2. Someone who could convince me that evolution as commonly taught is not a mathematical improbability, if not impossibility. They would also have to convince me that my personal evidence of the God of the universe was incorrect.

Sorry, it’s 1130pm here in Aus, and I need sleep. Goodnight, and thanks for the open discussion.

ragingloli's avatar

I just read one of the articles.
I can forgive that they tried to debunk the entire theory of evolution with a questionable and convoluted analysis of one single gene across some species, but what I find unforgiveable for a supposedly scientifc journal is that they actually claimed that similar genes were intentionally deployed into different species by the “designer”.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Harold

God created the world in six days, not seven. Those days are representative of six stages of creation form the beginning of time. They should be properly interpreted as six “ages” of creation. We are currently in the seventh “age”. It is supposed to be an age of rest. Unfortunately humanity is preventing that.

Hugh Ross explains it nicely. Take an hour to consider your eternity.
http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/audio/newevidence.htm

As for scientific evidence of a God…? Perry Marshall will get you started.
http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/ifyoucanreadthis.htm

Those who speak on this without offering consideration to these presentations are cheating themselves. There is a lot of knowledge here by respected scientists. To answer back quickly without hearing them would be erroneous. Try to see past the usage of the word God and Jesus Christ and just consider the presentation from the perspective of science. You may be surprised at what you find.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ragingloli

If the word “designer” is inappropriate, then consider the word “author”. If it is a gene, then it is part of the genetic code. All codes have authors. Consider the Perry Marshall presentation above.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Hugh Ross is yet another pseudo-scientist who is trying to force an awkward union between modern science and his religion. Unfortunately for him, it just doesn’t work.
Why would an omniscient, omnipotent deity need multiple revisions to correct his work? Why would he say that death is the result of sin, when death pre-dates humans? If no one ever thought that the Bible meant anything other than literal days of creation, then why is there any reason to now, except to force an awkward hybrid theory with secular science?

ragingloli's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
Comparing DNA to machine code seems pretty fallacious. The big, and i mean BIG difference between DNA and machine code is the fact that machine code is not subjective to any natural mechanisms that would allow it to assemble and alter itself. It also has no mechanism to express any real world effects on its own. It must be run on machines.
DNA is subjective to chemistry and natural selection. And it uses chemistry to express itself in the real world.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Harold – When the Bible speaks of sunrise, does this mean the sun moves i.e. rises? Do you question the common Copernican model? When the Bible speaks of 6 days, does this mean 6 times 24 hours like from January 1 at 2 am till January 7 at 2 am EST? Do you question the common astrophysical and geological model?

@DarkScribe – The God of the past couple of millennia? You mean he changes over time? What is your definition of God? Can any fool come up with a weird definition of God that you take for granted? Or are you talking about various religious interpretation of the past couple of millennia? There’s a difference.

I also know bigoted, vengeful, angry, biased, greedy, uncaring, spiteful forms of atheism and I’m glad most Flutherite atheists don’t support those forms.

oratio's avatar

@ragingloli Though code is subject to selection too, which make it evolve. The digital data has an active selector. You can claim that dna has a selector too, in your choice of mate. The control over Natural Selection has drifted from the molecules to the consciousness it hosts. I see a connection to digital data, but none that includes the divine.

But you are right in that machine code needs to be coded to reproduce, in order to be able to discard parts of itself. Then we talk A.I.‘s. We are not there yet. We are walking backwards compared to the evolution of life. It seems creationism is trying to push the human system of creation onto the universe. It shows more a lack of understanding of the universe than an explanation.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh

I qualified my statement earlier by encouraging the listener to look past the words “God” and “Jesus”. I do not suppose to know the mind of omnipotence any more than you do, and so we share the same “why” questions together. But the Ross presentation does put things into perspective for the hard six day creationist.

The bible they claim is filled with allegory, and allusion, poetry and metaphor, proverbs and parables. The hard creationist would do well to acknowledge that and not hold the Genesis account of creation to a literal interpretation. The Atheist should not suffer the same affliction by doing likewise.

ragingloli's avatar

@oratio This active selector happens to be an intelligent, sapient entity, which is awfully distinct from nature (the universe and its laws) and its natural selection and survival of the fittest.
There is also no natural mechanism for code that would cause two code entities 0100010101 and 110101101 to fuse or interact with each other. there are no forces between them. It takes again an intelligent entity or a program made by an intelligent entity do combine them.
DNA does not need such an entity, as it uses basic natural laws to do this, e.g. physics and chemistry.

oratio's avatar

@ragingloli I do see your point, but you are comparing lines of code with genes of dna, and I am comparing the principles of evolving data.

You are right, the mechanisms of the biological evolution of the cell, doesn’t need a conscious selector. But the laws of evolution are the same for code as for dna. Your cells and your dna in your body is not in control of your natural selection anymore. You are the selector. Not the same as the selector of code but in principle, connected.

It is not exactly the same, but I see a connection.

Critter38's avatar

My point with mentioning the other scientific fields was this…For some reason, the whole scientific process hums along just fine and works wonders for advancing society and our understanding of the natural world…but it just so happens to fall over and become completely muddled in conspiracy or incompetence when it challenges anything biblical. How convenient.

With regards to your answers:

1) “Someone who was there to see it…
2) “They would also have to convince me that my personal evidence of the God of the universe was incorrect…

Someone there to see it? I’m losing interest in this…I said scientific evidence, not come up with an impossible scenario that is outside the realm of science.

Anyways, I too must go. One small contribution to your future.

As you are embarking on a PhD in health science, I think I should inform you that science relies on repeated observations, not repeated events. We do not have to see an event to formulate hypotheses with testable predictions, make relevant observations etc. to gain an understanding of that event. So we don’t need to see the Earth formed to determine its age.

We also tend not to talk about “proving” things in science, in part because it assumes that no new information can come to light that would upset an established view…and we can never assume that.

All the best

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ragingloli @oratio

What do you mean by “machine code”? Machines are always encoded by sentient authors. It is human code, like every other human code of English, color charts, drum beats, smoke rings…

Code can program to rewrite itself to react to external stimuli, yet it is designed to do that from the beginning by a sentient author. DNA may not need a sentient author to rewrite itself, but that does not account for the quantity of information that got it all started. Nor does it account for the closed loop communication protocols, the alphabet A to B code mapping, error correction, syntax, semantics, noise reduction… All this must arise at the same exact time… and we still can’t account for the original information.

The chemistry is just another medium that carries the information, like smoke rings. The medium is separate from the message, and it does not matter if it is photons, electrons, chemistry, or dead dung gnats arranged in the sand.

Information always comes from a mind regardless of how it is expressed or what medium is used to transmit and receive it. The genome is pure Information. The double helix is the medium used to express it.

oratio's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Information always comes from a mind? That seems to rest on questionable preconceptions. Everything in the universe holds information, and definite data. From the proposed strings, the tail of a comet to the dna in your cells. This doesn’t show that there is a mind present. It shows your perception of how you experience the universe.

Let’s not go into the creationists misunderstandings where they claim biological evolutionists claim that life developed from random events. They don’t.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@oratio

What in the world makes you think that Information is everywhere? I suppose you believe that tree rings tell us about the growing seasons…yes?

I cannot speak for the hard creationist, I am not one of them. I believe in intelligent evolution.

oratio's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies What in the world makes you think that Information is everywhere?
I didn’t understand that. Could you develop that?

You mean this? Everything in the universe holds information, and definite data.

ragingloli's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
“All this must arise at the same exact time” No, it does not have to arise at the same time. It can be achieved in small, successive, cumulative steps.

Chemistry is not a medium, it is a mechanism, a process, a framework of rules defining how particles interact with each other.
In the case of DNA, the medium is not as separate from the information as you would like to believe. In fact, if you physically change the medium, the information changes.
And this is also the process how the information in DNA comes about: By changing the medium. This can happen because of changes in the DNA by radiation, by replacing components of the DNA with other components, rearranging the components, doubling the DNA, etc. All in accordance with the laws of physics and chemistry. If the result doesn’t work, it is discarded. If it is neutral (e.g. doesn’t do anything), it will be carried on. If it is beneficial, it will be carried on too.
DNA doesn’t have to start as DNA. It can start with basic amino acids or other organic molecules and proceed from there, with the mechanisms I wrote above.
In the natural world, it is entirely feasible for information to arise on its own.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6QYDdgP9eg&feature=PlayList&p=0696457CAFD6D7C9&index=0
3:46 onwards

oratio's avatar

@ragingloli is right. The very basis of molecules is that they are self assembling. That cannot be disputed. And there are molecules assembling other molecular structures. This doesn’t need dna, but dna is a more complex result of mechanisms already in place, driven by the laws of physics.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@oratio

Yes, what leads you to believe that “Everything…holds information”?

oratio's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Everything does, and everything is information. The programmed fall of an object in a game, mathematics and the laws of physics are tools of describing this information. A stone on the ground hold many levels of varying complexity of information, from the smallest properties of it’s atoms nucleus to where is situate, have come to rest there and how it reflects sun light. From a cosmic perspective, you are no different from this rock, a fish, or the frost on the window. The main difference is, the complexity of the information you consist of compared to that of the stone.

The whole universe can in theory be mathematically described. This is just one way to describe the information that everything consist of. This information can’t be destroyed, only transferred.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Anything can be used as a medium… a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g… any “thing”.

“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)

The medium is always separate from the information it expresses. The medium must be utilized to form a code. Code is a material lens that allows us to view the immaterial realm of information. Without a code, we cannot possibly be aware of any information.

The ink that flows from your pen is chemistry being used as a medium to carry a message. Chemistry may not inherently “be” a medium, but chemistry can be used as a medium.

It can be used to fulfill a “mechanism” (language) “a process” (communication), “a framework” (alphabet), “of rules” (linguistics), “defining how” (semantics), “particles” (letters), “interact with one another” (forming words).

Yes, chemistry has everything required for a sentient author to use as a medium for expressing a thought. Chemistry has officially achieved equal status with electrons, photons, rocks, vibrations, wind and temperature. And yes, these material “things” of energy and matter can form over time through processes of change in the natural world. They provide the necessary physical elements to build an architecture of code upon. But the architecture does not build a code, and never in history has it been show to do so. The Architect builds the code, and there are trillions of examples of this every single day for the past 20,000 years.

All things of energy and matter, including code, are subject to degenerate from the forces of the natural world. The physical medium of DNA is not immune from the effects of radiation any more than rocks are immune to wind, or metals are immune to rust. They are comprised of the simplest corporeal elements of energy and matter. Energy and matter are subject to change, and no author is required to change them.

Look at any ancient manuscript that has been ravaged by the effects of time. The code has been altered to such a degree that it cannot always be deciphered. Such is the same for the effects of radiation upon DNA. But linguistics does not attempt to promote such an errant view upon the ancient manuscript that it was meant to be interpreted in its current form. Linguistics attempts to glean the original information to the best of their ability, and not read into missing or altered fragments of the parchment. DNA is no different and we should not supposed to underestimate its ability for error correction and redundancy. Redundancy is the best hope for any linguist to decipher an ancient manuscripts original intent. Linguists hope to find copies to confirm the original intent, which speaks well to the multiple ancient scribes who filled the rooms to write the very same message from the one who was dictating it.

Multiple mediums all carrying the very same quantity of information. Much like the cells in your body that all carry the same 600mb of information to describe you. Redundancy is key to any language. English has a 50% redundancy feature. German has a 30% redundancy. If you removed half of the words on this page, you would still be able to understand the original intent of the message presented. You could not do that with German, the message would be too garbled to understand. But to its credit, German would have gotten the message across faster with less words. Redundancy is one of many mechanism used to overcome the degenerating factors of Information Entropy.

@ragingloli
You said:
“In the case of DNA, the medium is not as separate from the information as you would like to believe. In fact, if you physically change the medium, the information changes.”

It would appear as such, but Information Entropy is well accounted for in DNA, and as long as the message remains “True Enough” then the essence of the original intent remains intact and life can go on.

But I use the word “appear” very carefully, as not to reject the findings of Barbara McClintock and her discoveries about transposition. Her work is widely accepted by every notable biologist. She does not see radiation as an author, instead she correctly presents that genes “respond”. That response is the author, not the radiation. Genes respond to all sorts of environmental pressures, and they re-author themselves accordingly to promote life. But the environment was not the author any more than a robot is authored by a ball in its path. The robot reacts to stimuli and rewrites its code accordingly. The ball does not write code, and neither does radiation.

Radiation can either destroy the medium of DNA, or give it cause to respond accordingly. But radiation, along with everything else from the material world of energy and matter has never been proven to author anything at all. Apparent Information is not Genuine Information.

I agree that DNA doesn’t have to start as DNA. But amino acids have never once been shown to author Information. They may provide the elements to build a code upon, but they don’t account for where the Information came from. Metal, plastic and glass can be used to form a computer. And although history has never shown us a naturally occurring computer structure, I’ll give you that faint possibility that it could have happened by pure chance. But that computer is still dead until a sentient author infuses it with codified information (DNA expressing genome) riding upon an operating system (RNA).

Besides, there are many things that we can “create” in the lab that are not possible in the natural world. A synthetic ribosome will never due.

Your youtube video link shows a lacking knowledge of what information actually is. It still presents the notion that Information is the same thing as Energy and Matter. They are not, and I will remind you that “any materialism that does not allow for that cannot survive in the present”.

This leads me to the notion of “Apparent Information” and I will address @oratio concerns. Dawkins opened up a real can of worms with his thesis on “Apparent Design”. By his same standards, I present you with “Apparent Information”

@oratio
You said:
“From a cosmic perspective, you are no different from this rock, a fish, or the frost on the window. The main difference is, the complexity of the information you consist of compared to that of the stone.”

That is incorrect. I am not the same as a rock and neither are you or anything that is alive. I have a code, just like you. The rock has no code. Code is the only mechanism that can be used to determine if there is any information present or not. No code, no information.

You said:
“The whole universe can in theory be mathematically described.”

Key term “described”. Description always takes place upon a code. Description is a fundamental property of sentience. Code is always the product of an author… in this case, a mathematician.

Rocks have no “theories” and they have no minds to author a code to “describe” anything with. Here’s the big big fallacy to that notion. If you think they do, then you have just given support to ancient myth and folklore of talking trees and burning bushes that can communicate messages to human beings. Trees don’t talk and neither do the cosmos. They cannot, because they are not sentient.

The “Laws of the Universe” were not somehow mystically laid down upon us by an unseen force. That speaks of God smack. It always takes a human observer… and that observer is not “reading” anything. We cannot read the cosmos because there is no transmitter, no code, no alphabet, no mapping mechanism from A to B, no error correction, no syntax, no redundancy mechanism.

The “Laws of the Universe” were written by human beings to “describe” observable phenomenon. If you think otherwise, then you have become victim of believing in “Apparent Information”.

Tree Rings DO NOT tell us about the Growing Seasons. Trees cannot talk, and they don’t get their jollies by spreading rumors about the Growing Seasons.

A sentient observer notices a particular phenomenon… She identifies the phenomenon with a name… In this case “Tree Rings”. She then proceeds to “describe” the phenomenon.

47 rings
#1 = 2cm
#2 = 4cm
#3 = 1cm… and so on

Every bit of that information was sentient authored with a code. Code ALWAYS represents something other than itself. Her code represents Information about a phenomenon. But the phenomenon did not speak to her… she “described” it.

There cannot be a code in the tree rings because it would only have described itself. Code always represents something other than itself. Trees cannot describe themselves and neither can clouds, volcanoes, tornadoes, stars, or growing seasons.

Another sentient observer notices a different phenomenon. He identifies the phenomenon with a name… In this case “Growing Season”.

1947 crop production, precipitation, storm, sunlight
150 bushel’s of corn
13 inches rainfall
1 tornado
97 active summer days

1948
132 bushels of corn
4 inches rainfall
0 storms
94 active summer days… and so on

The data from the Tree Rings is then compared with the data from the Growing Seasons and a relationship is “inferred” from the two sets of data.

Believing in “Apparent Information” occurs when someone thinks that Energy and Matter alone are equal to Information. They are three separate entities and should not be confused. Upon your request I would be happy to go into much much greater detail.

Fractals produced by Chaos are everywhere and no sentient authorship is required for it to form. Patterns are everywhere, but patterns are NOT Information. Snowflakes are described, not read. Lava flows are described, not read. Gravity is unseen, but inferred, and then described, not read.

Nothing from the material world predefines for a specific outcome or describes anything. Code always predefines for a specific outcome or describes something.

To believe otherwise is mysticism.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

SETI would quickly be out of business if Information was everywhere. They fully understand that Information is not the same thing as a pattern. That’s why they look for a codified signal. They’re not even looking for water.

They understand that where there is code, there is also an author who must have written it. That’s why we put the message into Voyager. Dawkins rap about “Apparent Design” is very popular, and if the aliens have read his materials, they might mistake our little spaceship for a rock pretending to be a watch. I’m glad we put the code in there with it.

ragingloli's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
The information in DNA is a direct result of the structure of DNA, and the structural evolution of DNA is perfectly explainable by purely natural means.
The informaton in DNA does not have an author and it does not need one.

oratio's avatar

I have a code, just like you. The rock has no code.
Sure it does, just not as complex. Code is a matter of pattern.

The medium is always separate from the information it expresses No, the medium also hold information about itself, none the least by it’s own existence.

Yes, mathematics need sentience. It is a tool for describing the universe.
I appreciate that you put in some work in your reply. Though, Norbert Weiner’s was a matematician, not a physicist, and the quote is his world view. From what the little I can tell, he doesn’t seem to have supported quantum mechanics.

Trees don’t talk and neither do the cosmos.
Information transfer doesn’t need sentience. No, trees don’t talk like humans do, they don’t communicate with cats either. Information transfer and communication are two different things. I don’t get why you are so hung up on talking. That’s an aspect of information transfer, but that is our human one.

You seem to think in the ways of dogma. If you go down to the smallest basics of matter, everything in the universe that can be experienced consists of the exact same things. If you zoom out from the micro, you see how things are just ordered in different levels of complexity. Life is just the most complex collection of patterned information that we know of.

What I sense is that your problem with this thinking is that it seems you consider consciousness something that is not physical, something apart from your mechanical body. The dualist world view cannot be contested, since there are no proof in one direction or the other to my knowledge.

If you want to believe in a dualistic world view, it is your choice. But you are right. For information to be perceived, it needs an observer.

What I have said is true, but it is also a matter of interpretation. The knowledge, the memories you possess, is stored physically in your brain. Your brain changes every time you learn something. It is not apart from your body, not apart from the physical.

I can not prove that what you call sentience, is an effect of the physical world, which is destroyed with our body. I can only tell show you my conclusions. As I am not a dualist, I can’t support that sentience is anything else than part of the physical.

Upon your request I would be happy to go into much much greater detail. Please do. I would like to see why Energy, Matter and Information is separate, other than by matter of aspects and personal wishes. If I am convinced, I have learned something new.

I see separating sentience from the physical as direct support of the mystical. I am not guilty of supporting mysticism.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ragingloli

The information in your latest reply is NOT a direct result of the “structure” of English, and the “structure” of English is NOT perfectly explainable by natural means.

Neither is the Information in DNA, and neither are the communication protocols of DNA.

The medium is not the message. We could communicate in pig latin or Chinese, it does not matter because the message is independent from the medium used to express it. DNA is not a message, it only expresses one. All messages contain Information.

Please support the hypothesis (with examples) that Information, Linguistics, and Shannon/Yockey communication protocols can arise by chance, and the mechanism that allows it to do so.

ragingloli's avatar

Another question to you: Who programmed your consciousness, your mind, your soul or whatever you call it?
Since DNA is a chemical blueprint only, it can not store any information about pure software, like instincts, behaviours or the mind itself. It only stores information about the underlying physical structure, in this particular case, the brain. Since now apparently the DNA does not contain code samples for the human Operating System, where does it come from? Does it mean, according to your line of thinking that every code must have an author, that this author programs each single human/animal one by one?
Or, what is much more realistic, does it mean that the consciousness, the most complex Operating System known to humans, is an emergent function of the underlying hardware in action?

ragingloli's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
“The information in your latest reply is NOT a direct result of the “structure” of English, and the “structure” of English is NOT perfectly explainable by natural means.”
But it would be if :
1. I had no part in making it
2. The components of it (letters/numbers/other characters) were self assembling molecules the operate within a framework of natural laws.

ragingloli's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
“Please support the hypothesis (with examples) that Information, Linguistics, and Shannon/Yockey communication protocols can arise by chance, and the mechanism that allows it to do so.”
I don’t see the point in that, because human language is dependent on manufactured media or humans themselves and is completely different from information emerging from the interlocking structure of many self assembling molecules after billions of years of natural selection.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ragingloli

If you had no part in making it (your message), then it would never have been made. To believe otherwise is mystical and a very circular argument until you can describe a proven and tested mechanism that produces Information by chance. I can provide infinite examples of codified Information requiring sentient authorship. You may as well be trying to disprove gravity.

Self assembling molecules are only self assembling molecules until sentience decides to use them to form a message with. Energy and Matter are only Energy and Matter until sentience decides to use them to form a message with.

Energy and Matter are not equal to Language or Information. Energy and Matter can naturally form to become greater than the sum of their parts. But Sentience, Observation, Code, Identification and Information are all required elements to make that assessment. A rock is not a rock until someone calls it a rock. Without Sentience to apply Information it is only the stuffwork essence of materialism.

Time plus chance (billions of years + ?) has never once produced a meaningful message. Give me one proven example to support that statement please. There is nothing in the cosmos to support it except your faith in a misunderstood notion.

The Billion Monkey Theorum has been trumped in spades. We know the age of the universe and there is not enough time or matter present to allow for a mathematical resolve. And it still doesn’t account for the typewriters or linguistic properties, or the living monkey entities that are overlooked as an automatic given.

Sure, the matter can be used to form an alphabet, but the intricate nature of language and communication are far beyond the notion of thinking that a rock or molecule can intentionally or accidentally spell something on their own, much less communicate it to a receiver that was just sitting around for millennia waiting on something to speak.

Who programmed my consciousness…? I did, by responding to external stimuli.

No, every code does not require an author. But every code is ultimately traced back to an author who designed it to rewrite itself in the first place. Cybernetics, robotics, AI, and the Computer Sciences confirm this over and over again.

Consciousness appears when an entity is capable of identifying the physical world around them with language. We become consciously aware when we can name a thing. Even more so when we can describe a thing. Even more so when we can interact and make a thing submit to our will through the process of “codified planning” that predetermines that this hunk of stone will become a bridge by the power of my will alone.

ragingloli's avatar

The information in DNA, or species as we know them, did not arrive in this world by chance. That is a common fallacy of most, if not all, creationists.
The only thing that happens by chance is the mutation of components, the process that is primarily responsible for the emergence of species is natural selection, and natural selection is not random. By accumulating successive changes you can arrive at any desired state alot (and i mean really a lot) faster than by jumbling up everything after one try.

“Time plus chance (billions of years + ?) has never once produced a meaningful message.”

Time + random change + non-random Natural selection = South Park Character

“Sure, the matter can be used to form an alphabet, but the intricate nature of language and communication are far beyond the notion of thinking that a rock or molecule can intentionally or accidentally spell something on their own,”
They don’t “accidentally” spell something on their own. The information is the result of billions of years of accumulated changes filtered by natural selection.
In the realm of DNA/RNA/any other biological system, any change in information bears direct real world results, influencing the survivability of of the system containing the information. Those DNA molecules that do not result in sufficiently survivable organisms, perish with their hosts, those that do, persist.
Step by step you will arrive at incredibly complex outcomes, such as a Klingon.

This video demonstrates evolution by natural selection without a preset end goal

Fyrius's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies: “and the “structure” of English is NOT perfectly explainable by natural means.”

As a linguistics student, I’m going to have to disagree. In fact, the English language is itself a natural phenomenon.
The basic grammatical principles of every natural language are a result of an innate language faculty known as the Universal Grammar, or UG, which offers a number of invariable principles and a finite amount of variable options. This is why all natural languages have nouns and verbs, and many of them have subject-verb-object word order. Thus, these aspects of English do directly follow from natural principles.

And then there’s vocabulary, which is mostly a product of and subject to the vagaries of time. It’s debatable to what extent words and expressions can be considered to have arisen by natural means, and that debate would hinge on the issue of whether the opposite of “natural” is “man-made”; after all, the human mind is a natural phenomenon too.
Furthermore, one can of course consciously create neologisms, but the laws of cultural development regulate whether it will catch on, laws that could very well be argued to be a natural phenomenon following from the way our brains work. When chimpanzees would show the exact same behaviour, we would not hesitate to call it natural.

ragingloli's avatar

@Fyrius Your input is very much appreciated, mein Fyrius.

Fyrius's avatar

Any time.

Ivan's avatar

@Harold

The God Delusion is not a scientific journal.

The very essence of science is deriving conclusions from evidence. AIG’s journal does the exact opposite. It starts with a conclusion and then attempts to find scientific evidence in it’s support. Thus, this journal is, by its very definition, not science.

And it wasn’t created because some guys got together and wanted to post their scientific findings regarding creationism. It was created because the courts ruled that creation science was not actually science, and therefore could not be taught in schools. One of the prime pieces of evidence for this was the fact that no creationist articles had ever been published in a scientific journal. To combat this, Answers in Genesis decided that instead of trying to post their articles in actual scientific journals, they would create their own. Now they can claim that they have peer reviewed articles in scientific jorunals. However, no one’s buying it.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@oratio

Sorry for the tardy reply. I was just about to finish and suddenly a storm knocked out my power. Maybe the lightning was trying to tell me something. I’ve come down to my office to continue with our discussion.

Rocks have code? What rock conforms to Claude Shannon or Hubert Yockey communication protocols? Where is the transmitter? What mechanism does the rock use to perform error correction and noise reduction? What method is used to apply syntax and semantics? How is alphabet A determined so it can be mapped to B? What type of receiver is used to translate “Granite” into “English”?

”…the medium also hold information about itself…”

What storage mechanism is used to do this with? How was that “Apparent Information” encoded into the rock in the first place? What receiver mechanism did the rock use to translate “Sand + Wind + Time = Me”? What mechanism authored the plans to predetermine the rocks existence at a specific space/time coordinate?

“Norbert Weiner’s was a mathematician, not a physicist, and the quote is his world view…”

Cybernetics is not a world view. Buddhism is a world view. Cybernetics and Information Theory are sciences, and if you consider them world views then they are ones that you share by default every time you use your microwave oven or turn on your computer.

Quantum mechanics…
“The word quantum is Latin for “how great” or “how much.”[2] In quantum mechanics, it refers to a discrete unit that quantum theory ASSIGNS to certain physical quantities… (emphasis mine)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mechanics

Yes, even the units in Quantum Mechanics are assigned as descriptions. No one reads quanta or particles… We count and describe them just like tree rings. Though I don’t doubt that Quantum Mechanics could have arisen through intelligent evolution from Buddhism, it seems that Einstein beat them to it.

“Information transfer doesn’t need sentience”.

We agree completely. Any self running diagnostic program can easily outlive its author. But it always needs the original author to program it to do that from the beginning.

“No, trees don’t talk like humans do…”

Trees don’t talk at all.

“Information transfer and communication are two different things.”

How so? How can Information be “transferred” anywhere if it is not communicated? Does not compute…

“I don’t get why you are so hung up on talking.”

Because talking and listening are the same exact things as transmitting and receiving. There is not difference whatsoever and they are equals by all measure. The protocols are identical for both. Just ask your friendly neighborhood Computer Scientist to explain how his computers “talk” to one another.

“That’s an aspect of information transfer, but that is our human one.”

Information Transfer follows the same protocols every time whether it is accomplished with USB, TCPIP, FireWire, sign language, English, French, or codified Belch’s that you and I work out our own personal language with. Every one of them can tell me that you are going to the store at 7pm tomorrow.

“If you go down to the smallest basics of matter, everything in the universe that can be experienced consists of the exact same things”

Yes, I’m familiar with fractals and patterns, and I will accept them for what they are. I will not suppose that they are something that they are not. Fractals and Patterns are NOT Code, and they contain no Information. They cannot. Information can only be known if there is a code to express it upon.

”…you see how things are just ordered in different levels of complexity.”

Sure, I can see that too. That proves that Fractals and Patterns are not Code. The complexity that you speak of is “Irreducible Complexity”. Codes are ALWAYS reducible down to a factor of 1 bit. I can reduce your entire 600mb genome down to the word “Oratio”. I can reduce Oratio down to “O”, and it will mean the same thing. If I reduce the complexity of a snowflake, then it will no longer be a snowflake… it will be frost instead, then condensation, then humidity, then precipitation… Fractal Patterns cannot be reduced and still get the same product. They only represent themselves.

O represents something other than O. O represents YOU.

“Life is just the most complex collection of patterned information that we know of.”

Information can be formed into a Pattern… any basic Top 40 Hit Song will prove that. But Information is not a Pattern by default. Patterns are never Information unless they were encoded to be as such by an intelligent programmer. I can surely look at sand dunes and assign meaning to the different layers just like strings on a guitar. I can then write a song with those sand dunes and transfer it to paper as musical notes. I can encode the sand dunes to be a medium that holds Information. But the sand dunes are NOT equal to Information. They only represent Information.

Dualism…?

Another world view. I’m not speaking of world views. I’m speaking of proven science that runs our lives and has been relied upon for twenty thousand years. Information Theory is a science. But if you want proof of an immaterial realm then please refer to the Norbert Weiner quote.

You made two other comments that concern me about your knowledge of communication protocols.

“For information to be perceived, it needs an observer.”
“What I have said is true, but it is also a matter of interpretation”

There is a growing tendency to believe that Information is manifested upon reception. That is not the case at all. Information is manifested upon a thought which is transmitted via codified representation of that thought. Transmission is the first step to communicating information. The perceiver (receiver) must do their job as such and not attempt to author new Information at that step. This breaks down the protocols and fosters Information Entropy. No one could communicate if their intended message was constantly reinterpreted as something different from what was originally intended.

“I would like to see why Energy, Matter and Information is separate”.

The thoughts in my mind are not the same thing as my mind. Water is not the same thing as a bucket. The thoughts in my mind are pure Information and have been codified into English, then mapped to muscle movements which map them back to English on my keyboard. My thought/info are not the same thing as my keyboard or muscle movements. The keyboard “carries” my thought/info into my computer and they are mapped to binary. My thought/info are not the same thing as binary code. The binary is mapped to electrical impulses which fire photons at specific space/time coordinates to create letters. My thought/info is not the same thing as electricity, photons, pixels or letters. My thought/info is represented in the physical realm by all of these elements coming together by my intentions to form the screen letters into words. Words are formed into sentences. Intentions can only be known at the sentence level.

Upon hitting send, my thought/info is transmitted to a server which begins a checksum process, verifying that the intended message sent is the same as the message that was received. It is then backed up to another server and finally transmitted to your local hub and eventually sent to your computer binary firing photons and causing letters and words to appear on your screen.

My thought/info has been codified and mapped and duplicated hundreds of times before it ever gets to you. This is not hundreds of different pieces of Information. This is one quantity of immaterial Information that is represented in hundreds of different ways. Every medium along the way points to and represents the same exact Thought/Info. Print it out on paper and it will represent the same Thought/Info. Make copies and distribute it world wide and it is still nothing more than a representation of the same Thought/Info.

Pass it down to your grandchildren after I am dead and gone and it is the same Thought/Info… the exact same. Information transcends space and time of the material realm and is not subject to the fleeting fancies of materialism.

“Information is Information. Not energy and not matter. Any materialism that does not allow for this cannot survive in the present”.

“In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was God and the Word was with God. And the Word became flesh.”

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ragingloli

You think I believe in Intelligent Design? You think I’m against evolution? Think again please. First off, what “version” of evolution do you adhere to? Classic Darwinian (which never mentions random mutation)… Neo Darwinian (which introduced the concept of random mutation)… or Neo Neo v3.0.6.com (which is the current bullwork of much debate in biology but at least dropped the term “random” in acknowledging Barbara McClintocks “controlled” mutation)…?

Barbara McClintocks discovery and research on transposition have played one of many rolls in my adherence to “Intelligent Evolution”.

I’m very glad to see that we both agree in your statement, “The information in DNA, or species as we know them, did not arrive in this world by chance”. I think Creationists would agree with us on that too. How is that a “common fallacy”?

@ragingloli said:
“The only thing that happens by chance is the mutation of components…”

Barbara McClintock would disagree with you.
As she wrote to maize geneticist Oliver Nelson in 1973,
“Over the years I have found that it is difficult if not impossible to bring to consciousness of another person the nature of his tacit assumptions when, by some special experiences, I have been made aware of them. This became painfully evident to me in my attempts during the 1950s to convince geneticists that the action of genes had to be and was controlled. It is now equally painful to recognize the fixity of assumptions that many persons hold on the nature of controlling elements in maize and the manners of their operation. One must await the right time for conceptual change.”

James Schapiro would confirm her findings like many others:
“The conventional view is that genetic change comes from stochastic, accidental sources: radiation, chemical, or oxidative damage, chemical instabilities in the DNA, or from inevitable errors in the replication process. However, the fact is that DNA proofreading and repair systems are remarkably effective at removing these non-biological sources of mutation.”

“Molecular genetics has amply confirmed McClintock’s discovery that living organisms actively reorganize their genomes (5). It has also supported her view that the genome can “sense danger” and respond accordingly (56).”
http://shapiro.bsd.uchicago.edu/21st_Cent_View_Evol.html

Lastly on McClintock, one of my favorite quotes:
“A goal for the future would be to determine the extent of knowledge the cell has of itself, and how it utilizes this knowledge in a “thoughtful” manner
when challenged.”
(McClintock, B. 1984. The Significance Of Responses Of The Genome To Challenge. Science 226: 792–801.)

@ragingloli said:
“the process that is primarily responsible for the emergence of species is natural selection, and natural selection is not random.”

Well, I never said it was, and so it seems we agree again. But my question to you is, what mechanism is natural selection acting upon? Answer… Code.

At this point you leapfrog over this entire issue (again) and begin to teach me about the evolution that I already believe in. I’m not arguing about evolution… I believe in it.

But where did the Information come from?

You have accurately described a “Hypothetical Pathway” as to how the building blocks arose, but have not addressed where the Information came from.

@ragingloli said:
“The information is the result of billions of years of accumulated changes filtered by natural selection.”

How does natural selection occur without a code to act upon in the first place? Don’t put the cart before the horse. There would be no natural selection if there was not a code to act upon.

Where did the Information come from?

I’ll give you an entire language and a full set of linguistic protocols as a starting point. Please explain how a random assemblage of the English alphabet can somehow author a meaningful sentence. Just one sentence please. Scrabble them up for an eternity and produce one simple sentence that means something.

But then I guess you’ll have to describe how something was just waiting around to hear it.

It is impossible, and actually shocking to believe that could happen, especially when we get billions of confirmations of intelligently authored codified information every single day.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Fyrius

I only have one question for you about the Natural Phenomenon of Language.

Is all that talk about “basic grammatical principles” and “innate language faculty” and the “UG”, and “nouns and verbs”, and “subject-verb-object” and “vocabulary”…

Is sentience required for all that stuff to exist in the first place?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Thanks. I think we will leave judgement of Hugh Ross for another time though, you seem to be having fun on other issues I was too late to see.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh

Hehehe… perceptive you are indeed. Too much fun for one man…;)

ragingloli's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
The common fallacy is that creationists and ID proponents say that evolution is totally random. They don’t seem to understand the principle of small successive accumulated changes resulting big changes, or natural selection.
You said:
“To believe otherwise is mystical and a very circular argument until you can describe a proven and tested mechanism that produces Information by chance.”

This indicates that you assume that there are only two ways to produce information in DNA, namely and intelligent “Author” and random chance. That is why I compared you to creationists and ID proponents. In fact, since you belief that DNA was “coded” by an intelligent author, you yourself are an adherent of your own flavour of Intelligent Design.

What I was offering you was a mechanism to produce information in DNA that does neither rely on an intelligent author nor on pure chance, but on the simple rules of physics, chemistry (which is a specialised form of physics) and natural selection.
The first video I posted covered that.

The next point is that “reading” the information in DNA is entirely different from human inventions. Humans perceive the message by seeing or hearing and then interpreting the message to “extract” information. I put that in quotes because the information that humans end up with is not the information contained in the message, but an internally formed interpretation of the message.

DNA works different. The process of “reading” information in DNA is entirely chemical.
DNA unwinds, temporarily breaks up the hydrogen bonds between base pairs, the now open ends attract corresponding nucleotides, form mRNA, which once finished, leaves the nucleus and then reacts with tRNA carrying amino acids to synthesise proteins.
Again, all this is pure chemistry.

The next point is origin. As you said, I offered you a way for DNA to evolve, illustrated by the first video .
You asked where the information comes from.
Again, and I have to repeat myself, the information in DNA and the ancestor of DNA is an emergent property of DNA and its ancestral version. To draw an analogy, the components (base pairs) of the polymer are comparable letters in the human language. Again I have to emphasise that the major difference to letters is that the components can assemble themselves in accordance to physics, letters can not.

Whether the information contained “makes sense” is another question.
The “sense” of the information is determined by the effects that it exerts on the host and the resulting change in survivability. Information that results in increased or unchanged survivability “makes sense” and is thus preserved. Information that results in decreased survivability will likely end in the destruction of the host and with it, the information. That is the essence of natural selection. It does not act upon a code, it weeds out code that results in hosts of inssufficient survivability.

You bring up an interesting point about error correction in DNA. However, as I see it, all it does is minimising the influence of extra cellular events such as radiation, toxins, etc and put more emphasis on internal changes of DNA. Neither does it eliminate mutation, nor can it completely rule out mutation from extra cellular events, as evidenced by the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the offspring of surviving victims were plagued by horrendous deformity.
And these mutations are still subject to natural selection.
Additionally, these error correcting mechanisms also had to evolve, and could thus not have been present in early protocells.

“I’ll give you an entire language and a full set of linguistic protocols as a starting point. Please explain how a random assemblage of the English alphabet can somehow author a meaningful sentence. Just one sentence please. Scrabble them up for an eternity and produce one simple sentence that means something.”

You forgot THE deciding factor: Natural Selection. Those who are better suited to the task, survive and reproduce.
Adapted to your language scenario, that means,The change that results in a string closer to a meaningful sentence is kept, those that don’t are free to be jumbled up again in the next cycle.
Remember, earlier I said that information that makes sense is determined by survivability.
Also, the two other videos I posted earlier demonstrated the solution to similar task.

Video 2

Video 3

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ragingloli

Did you just say this?

“It does not act upon a code, it weeds out code that results in hosts of inssufficient survivability.”

oratio's avatar

You get a tardy response back. Some parts of the world needs to sleep to.

Every part of the universe contains information about itself and it’s relation to everything else. This information belongs to patterns in multiple levels of all matter.

Again, you confuse code and communication with information. Communication and language are just a pair of aspects of information transfer. Throwing a rock on a window is information transfer, an explosion, fusion of atoms in the stars and you buying a newspaper are likewise so. You speaking on the phone and making a memory are other aspects too. Anything changing from one state to another changes the state of information. Claude Shannon or Hubert Yockey communication protocols, has little to do with it. It’s not about transmitters. I am not even going to go into responding about syntax and semantics of matter and so forth, since you still talk about communication.

The quote you presented from Norbert Weiner is his world view. That has nothing to do with cybernetics, which I never mentioned. He too confuses information with communication. Not surprising, since he was a mathematician and deep into electronics in the 50’s. You seem to like taking my words and disprove them with something out of context.

You are a curious person. You seem to deny that you are religious, but rely heavy on quoting Intelligent Evolution witch is a part of Intelligent Design. You have a dualistic world view and set the consciousness apart from the physical as a separate entity. This is a fundamental problem. If we are to discuss with each other, there is little point in including belief aspects, since it neither can be proven, disproved or substantiated in any way.

Ok, we agree on that Information transfer doesn’t need sentience, but information patterns doesn’t need sentience either. No creator. Information doesn’t either need an observer. It exists without any sentience. Don’t be hooked up on numbers and symbols as information. These are human representations of information, and only has information value for us humans.

How can Information be “transferred” anywhere if it is not communicated? Does not compute…

This is what I am trying to say, but you don’t seem to grasp. Communication is a tool of sentience. It is many things and some of them are speech and digital data. There is transfer when it rains, as well as when you say “Hello”. It is not the same information, or at the same level of complexity.

I am not sure how to make myself clearer than I have already done. You stay in a dogma. I am talking about all the food one can eat, and you are stuck talking about candy.

When you bring up things like Irreducible Complexity, there is not much we can discuss. There is no such thing outside the human sphere. Only human made objects with specific function has Irreducible Complexity, and I am not talking about the human world, but the whole universe including us. I have not referred to it, nor will I ever.

Dualism…?

It’s interesting that you don’t consider yourself having a dualistic world view, since your statements clearly say you are. Again, you separate your mind from the physical.

You are stuck talking about transmitters and receivers, which belong to human communication.

You are just a riddle of a person. You rely heavy on Intelligent Design but also say that you are ”...speaking of proven science…”

ragingloli's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
yes i did.
What I mean by this is that natural selection itself does not follow a code or any programming, but singles out code/information, that result in the host to die or to not reproduce.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ragingloli

Let me get this straight…

You don’t think that natural selection is acting upon the mechanism of code, but you claim that it “singles out” or “weeds out” the bad code…?

How is something… anything… “weeded out”, without being acted upon? How is something “singled out” without being acted upon?

Could natural selection do anything if there wasn’t a code?

If you are “weeding out” your garden, then you are acting upon the weeds.

If you are “singling out” a race of people, then you are acting upon those people.

Without the code, natural selection would have nothing to act upon in the first place, and so it would never even exist. Code first @ragingloli

Natural selection cannot start the very thing that it needs in order to exist.

I will stick with McClintock/Schapiro conclusions and accept that it is the genome which “senses danger” and “responds accordingly” in a “thoughtful manner”. Natural selection then “selects” the good code from the bad and allows it to move forward.

This is not a Chicken/Egg dilemma. Please don’t make it into one.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@oratio

You’re honestly going to tell me that Norbert Weiner “has nothing to do with cybernetics”?

“Wiener is the founder of cybernetics, a field that formalizes the notion of feedback, with many implications for engineering, systems control, computer science, biology, philosophy, and the organization of society.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norbert_Wiener

The quote that you refuse to acknowledge is from his book called… “Cybernetics”.

And…

As we discuss “Information Transfer”… are you really telling me that Claude Shannon and Hubert Yockey have “little to do with it”…?

I present you with three top notch and universally accepted and proven scientists and you downgrade their 50 years of Information Theory to the level of a “world view”…?

And then accuse me of being religious or a dualist…?...?...?

And all I have is your opinion to base it on…?...?...?

Hhhmmmm… let’s see. This sounds vaguely familiar. You want me to reject science and just take your good word for what real Information truly is…

What is the name of your new religion @oratio…?

ragingloli's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
You really make me think that you do not really process what I write.

“You don’t think that natural selection is acting upon the mechanism of code, but you claim that it “singles out” or “weeds out” the bad code…?”

I already told you in this response that that is not what I meant. To make it even clearer for you, I meant that natural selection itself is not a programmed system.

“The “sense” of the information is determined by the effects that it exerts on the host and the resulting change in survivability. Information that results in increased or unchanged survivability “makes sense” and is thus preserved. Information that results in decreased survivability will likely end in the destruction of the host and with it, the information.”

Natural selection is not an external entity that designates lifeforms for survival. The life forms do this themselves by either outcompeting or being outcompeted by other lifeforms.The entire event of one entitiy losing to another entity due to whatever cause is called natural selection.

“Without the code, natural selection would have nothing to act upon in the first place, and so it would never even exist. ”

I really don’t want to repeat myself, so I will just link to my previous post .

Please read it again carefully and try to understand what I wrote, because your response tells me that you haven’t.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ragingloli

It is very difficult to “really process” what you write. That’s why I wanted clarification on specific quotes that you said in comparison to the contrasting explanations you give to them.

For the sake of communication, let’s just break this down to first principles.

Please directly answer this one question.

Could the process of natural selection take place without a pre-existing code bearing life form to enact the selection process upon?

ragingloli's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
Yes it could, because natural selection is not dependent on code.
It is dependent on competition between multiple entities.
Competition does not require code.
In the case of protocells as depicted in video 1, this competition takes place on an entirely chemical level.
The building blocks of the proto-DNA have chemical properties. These chemical properties influcence the chemical properties of the host entity, in that case, a lipid vesicle. These altered properties now determine whether the entity is more suitable to persists in comparison to other similar entities. This can exhibit in an increased capability to grow, an improved capability to “consume” new aminoacids or other particles, or to even consume other vesicles. Again, all this takes place on an entirely chemical level.
If it is more successful, vesicles similar to the successful vesicle will start to dominate the entire domain of vesicles.
This event of a chemically improved version outcompeting a less improved version is natural selection.

oratio's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Ok. You continue in the same manner. No, I am not saying that. I am not concerning myself with Mr. Weiner at all. I said that him being into cybernetics in the 50’s had nothing to do with your quote. But you knew that.

Your Nobel material scientists are quite impressive with their line of work. But they are/were experts in other things than I have been speaking about. Just because they are scientists doesn’t mean they can be referenced for every line of science there is. The reason why cross-science cooperation is important is because they have different views and approach on the same or related object of research.

A mathematician into cybernetics which is a poster child for Intelligent Evolution has probably little in common with his view on the universe than astronomers. He being an expert in electronics makes him an expert in digital communication, not the inner and outer workings of the universe as a whole.

Yes, Claude Shannon and Hubert Yockey have little to do with it. They are experts in communication. This is not about communication.

Please, look up what dualism through mind and matter aspect is. See what you agree with. Your bucket and water simile would fit right in. If you feel that you don’t separate mind and matter, then please don’t state that you do.

This is not an aspect of religion. Your basis as an Intelligent Designer links your statements to one. This is a growing outlook among physicists. I agree that the universe can be viewed in many ways, and this is one way. It is a correct way, but, I am the first to agree to that it is simplistic. You can look at society through a gender perspective as well as an economic one. Both are true.

You seem to both include a creator and reject a creator. Even with your dualism and your support of Intelligent Design, I am not sure if you are a deist or not. Not that it matters. Their arguments holds up just as bad if you don’t subscribe to their religion.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ragingloli

Wait a second… slow down please. I really want to make sure I’m following you accurately.

So you say “Yes it could…” That natural selection CAN take place without a pre-existing code bearing life form. You said “yes”... correct?

Instead, you say that it needs “multiple entities” in the equation… Yes? Correct?

OK, please describe what the difference is between a “code bearing life form” and “multiple entities”?

ragingloli's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
The entity in question does not neccesarily have to be “alive”. on that note, life is not a clear cut definition. viri for example are widely regarded as not alive

from: http://serc.carleton.edu/microbelife/yellowstone/viruslive.html
“Viruses straddle the definition of life. They lie somewhere between supra molecular complexes and very simple biological entities. Viruses contain some of the structures and exhibit some of the activities that are common to organic life, but they are missing many of the others. In general, viruses are entirely composed of a single strand of genetic information encased within a protein capsule. Viruses lack most of the internal structure and machinery which characterize ‘life’, including the biosynthetic machinery that is necessary for reproduction. In order for a virus to replicate it must infect a suitable host cell”

In the case of video 1, the lipide vesicles are extremely simple 2 component chemical systems and not life. They are even more primitive than todays viri.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ragingloli

OK good…

Let’s negate the necessity for determining “aliveness”. That can be debated and left for another day…

I will go with your term “multiple entities” whether they “live” or not.

Q?
Do your multiple entities have to possess some form of codified genome, or are you speaking of some type of entity that does not have a code… like a rock?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@oratio

Sorry oratio. If you want to discuss “Information Transfer” with me… If you want to discuss “Information Anything” with me…

then you must be willing to acknowledge the founders of the Information Sciences. If you cannot, then I’m not sure we have anything left to discuss.

ragingloli's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
They don’t have to possess a genome. In the first stages, the actual structure of the polymer, the order of its components, is entirely irrelevant. You could inject a modern piece of DNA which contains the information for an eye, or you could inject a piece of DNA that reads dfhjshgfjahgufdhgskdhgffhgd. It would make no difference.

If there is a lot of polymer in a vesicle it will be surrounded by many ions, thus causing water to flow into the vesicle, increasing the internal pressure and stretching the membrane. Fatty acids are in equilibrium between the vesicle and solution. If 2 vesicles are near one another they will gradually swap fatty acids. If one membrane is under tension, the fatty acid “on rate” will be greater than the “off rate” (move to a lower energy state by relaxing the pressure). It will suck up fatty acids from solution. The other vesicle will still give them off, but they will disappear (sucked up by neighbor) and not return. Therefore, the vesicle with high internal pressure will grow and the neighbor will shrink.

oratio's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies It seems we don’t since you repeatedly refuse to discuss what I am actually talking about. I acknowledge these people as I have said two times before. They are just talking about something else than I am, which I again and again have tried to explain.

Other than comparing apples to oranges, this was interesting. Good day.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ragingloli

But the “order of its components” is a code. That’s what is being selected for.

That’s why the “information for an eye” is selected, and “dfhjshgfjahgufdhgskdhgffhgd” is not selected. It definitely DOES make a difference. It makes ALL the difference in the world. It’s the difference between life and non life. You better believe it makes a difference.

ragingloli's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
NOT in the initial stages. In the initial stage, there is no way to “read” any information from the DNA polymer. What information is contained in it can not be expressed by the vesicle.
The only thing that influences the vesicle at that stage is the mere presence of the polymer inside the vesicle.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ragingloli

Uh, sure… a polymer with a specific “order of its components”... a code that is selected for.

ragingloli's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
No. For any code to be selected for, it must first express itself in the real world. Again, the intitial vesicle has no mechanism to express the code, only to express the presence of the entire polymer, namely the chemical property of polymers in general to attract ions.

ragingloli's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
To pick up the eye example again.
In a modern lifeform, the code for the eye is selected for, because it is translated via biochemical processes into an actual eye, that then aides the lifeform’s survival.

If the code for the eye would not be expressed by the lifeform, e.g. the eye does not grow at all, the code for the eye can not be selected for, as it would have no bearing whatsoever on the phenotypical properties of the lifeform.

An example of this is the human gene that would be responsible for producing vitamin C. That gene has been corrupted earlier in the evolution of humans, resulting in the inability of humans to produce vitamin C on their own. The gene has lost its function, which is why it will gradually decay even further in the future.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ragingloli

Sorry to leave you, I had an appointment

Please forgive me for baiting you down this line of questioning. (I think) I agree with absolutely everything you are saying (here) but still need to pursue this specific notion because I feel it is the hinging point for our understand one another.

We agree that it is not a code until it can “express itself in the real world”. I don’t like the way you put that, but do believe I understand what you are saying now. You did not bite on my suggestion that “order of components” are equal to code… that is good, because that would not fit within Yockey protocols at all without a communication mechanism to make expression possible. And I was attempting to assertain if you were promoting the same definition for Information that @oratio was endorsing.

More precisely, you don’t believe that “order of components” is a code… but do you believe that “order of components” contains Information?

ragingloli's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
To clear things up. I think code is code, no matter whether it can express itself in the real world or not. What I am saying is that it will not be selected for if it can not express itself.

“More precisely, you don’t believe that “order of components” is a code… but do you b
believe that “order of components” contains Information?”
In the case of DNA, kinda. Because if you change the order of the components, you automatically and inevitably change the information.

Fyrius's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies: “Is sentience required for all that stuff to exist in the first place?”
I do not think it is. Sentience might be required in order to be able to express and understand complicated meanings and whatnot, but I wouldn’t know how the principles of grammar could be related to sentience. They behave much like “unwritten rules” about what form is right and wrong, and I believe chimpanzees have been shown to be capable of the same “you’re doing it wrong” mind-set.

But I suppose it would be difficult to verify my answer, since we are the only species known to be sentient and also the only one known to have language. It’s difficult to tell whether there’s a causative relation between the two, if you only ever see them together.
Although it should be noted here that there do exist humans who have perfectly working intelligence but impaired language as well as humans who have it the other way around. That should go to show that at least general cognitive abilities and language proficiency are not inextricably dependent on one another.

Anyway, the mental system that allows us to form and use language is much like an instinct. It has very little to do with rational decisions. It comes natural, without requiring you to think about it much.
To illustrate this, I think you will agree without a moment’s hesitation that a sentence like “I expected he to win” violates the principles of English grammar, whereas “I expected him to win” or “I expected he would win” do not, but you will probably have a lot more trouble explaining why it works this way. The rules of English are all there in your head, but your conscious mind doesn’t have access to them.

And that’s where the linguists come in. :) Our job is to chart the mental grammar and find out how it all works.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ragingloli

Ragingloli, I’m getting lost here again, sorry.

I think you went too far with my question. Before DNA, speaking strictly to the “order of components” of the polymer. Does that “order of components” contain Information? Even though we agreed that it is not a code, does a simple “order of components” of a polymer, or anything, photons, ice crystals, iron ore, lava flow… Does a simple “order of components” represent any form of Information? @oratio believes that it does. Do you?

And, “In the case of DNA”, why does that “order of components… kinda” contain Information? Because changing the order changes the Information? If it changes it, then it must have been there in the first place. Can I get a definite yes or no on that please?

Do you agree that DNA is a code, or carries a code? If so, is it solely because of its “order of components”, or is there something more?

I hope I’ve made myself clear… I know this is a niggling point, but I feel it is a very important one.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Fyrius

I must say that you’ve lost me, although I find your statements extremely interesting. I’m wondering deeply about some of your phrasing, and finding it confusing, I request an explanation.

@Fyrius said:
“Sentience might be required in order to be able to express and understand complicated meanings and whatnot…”

Do I read you correctly that “meaning” can exist without sentience? That “meaning” can be created without sentience, but it just can’t be expressed or understood without sentience?

If this is so, how is it that “meaning” can even arise without sentience to create it? What other non-sentience agent could create meaning?

And I’m also confused as to what exactly are “unwritten rules”. Can you describe them effectively to me without writing them or speaking them? Can these “unwritten rules” be infused into me somehow without the use of language? Is this what you mean by instinct?
If instinct is an “unwritten rule” or a rule of any kind, then it must be a form of Information. Isn’t DNA the only mechanism capable of passing Information to offspring? Once thought of a “junk” DNA, we currently understand pseudogenes as legacy files. Primate olfactory genes have been confirmed to exist in humans. They are turned off, like all pseudogenes, but they are present nonetheless, yet unable to express themselves.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WG1-45GMFM2-3R&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=df9b03947cfd9d5441d30e03044b4982

I propose pseudogenes as the mechanism for passing instinct from one generation to the next. It is part of the genome regardless of being active or not. The genome is expressed on a code. Codes are written, hence there is no such thing as an “unwritten rule”.

@Fyrius said:
“…since we are the only species known to be sentient and also the only one known to have language.”

There are numerous non human life forms that use language. Killer whales are categorized into different “clans” based solely on their distinctive dialects.
“Pods of whales with related dialects are called clans”
http://www.killerwhale.org/fieldnotes/chat.html

The Bee Waggle Dance encodes very specifically for distance, direction and even wind drift to locations that the receiver bees have never been to before. The message predefines for an end result, and is decoded and acted upon precisely by other bees.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050512114116.htm

Now really, I must directly challenge you on your next statement…

@Fyrius said:
“It’s difficult to tell whether there’s a causative relation between the two, if you only ever see them together.”

That’s not the way science works. Science doesn’t try to disprove a negative. In fact, Science doesn’t work from the negative position at all.

The fact is, for Science at least, “if you only ever see them together” then it is very easy (not difficult) to establish “a causative relation between the two”. Science loves when this happens, and it is the basic principle behind establishing the Laws of the Universe.

I don’t use intelligence as a gage to judge language usage ability. I don’t think it is related at all, and so I fully accept your examples of impaired intelligence/language usage.

I look at it from a completely different position.

I prefer Language usage as a gage to determine different levels of consciousness. The more a life form can use Language effectively, the more conscious that life form becomes. Bees are more conscious than Ants. Adults are more conscious than babies… all because of their ability to label, describe and relate to the physical world around them through the use of Language.

So you must understand, that I am completely opposed to your notion that the foundational principles of Linguistics could ever arise without first acknowledging the necessity for a sentient entity.

The rest of your rap is dependent upon sentience, and so it will go unchallenged, regardless of whether I accept it or not.

oratio's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
You never seem to have understood what I said and it seems you seem to have a filter when you read my comments. You are speaking about ordered codes as messages. I have never contested that this is information. What you refuse to discuss is that information can be more than messages, transmission and thought. That information is more than communication.

You are a quite condescending. I agree with your view on that communication is a form of information, and what both @ragingloli and @Fyrius says. But you didn’t once discuss what I was saying.

You are only discussing network layer, while I am on the physical layer.

Stop referring to me at all as a bad example on how your views are not proven. You are not doing anyone a favor trying to bait them with arguments you don’t believe in and trying to get them into something you consider a logical trap, constructed of your conception of reality, based on Intelligent Design. That doesn’t make it a discussion but a argument, trying to show how wrong people are.

Trying to show that I am subscribing to a mystic pseudo-scientific view, relying on unsupported pseudo-scientific christian sources – mixed with credible science out of context – doesn’t help your point.

Some of your assessments are quite valid, but in the right context.

Just do me a favor: Stop referring to me at all.

ragingloli's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
About ice crystals, iron ore, lava, etc.
It is not just order of the components that dictate contained information, but also the physical properties of these components.
In case of lava, iron ore, ice crystals, information is present, as an emergent property of the interaction of the components and the resulting physical properties, but it only pertains to itself and how the superstructure behaves in its environment.
In the case of the ice crystal, the information itself doesn’t do anything, it is the underlying physical properties that dictate, for example, where on the ice crystal additional water molecules can attach, the aerodynamic behaviour, the melting point, etc.

To make it more clear: In nature, information is an effect of the physical makeup of the entity that contains it.

In the case of DNA or any other polymer for that matter, in the beginning, the information contained only related to the polymer itself and its behaviour in the invironment, for example, where new amino acids can dock, the amount of attraction of ions, etc.

To answer your question, the information contained in the polymer dependant on the order of its components, that also relates to the host entity and not just to the polymer itself, was not present until the order of the components actually became important to the host entity in an environment of competition.

Is DNA code or does it carry code?

It carries a code, and yes it is solely because of the order (and physical/chemical properties) of its components.
The RNA Polymerase does not care about any ethereal information contained in DNA when it synthesises an RNA molecule, it only cares about the the chemical properties

Fyrius's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
I’m sorry for confusing you. I’m trying to be clear.
I think your lack of understanding might be partly to blame on the fact that you’re talking to so many people at the same time, which probably causes you not to pay as much attention and time to my post as you would otherwise have. That’s understandable though.

“Do I read you correctly that “meaning” can exist without sentience? That “meaning” can be created without sentience, but it just can’t be expressed or understood without sentience?”
No, frankly, you don’t read me correctly at all. :/
Quite the opposite. What I meant was that sentience is (probably) required in order for the meaning of linguistic expressions to exist. Which can then be expressed and understood.

As for “unwritten rules”: There is a famous anecdote of an experiment where monkeys were put in a cage with a bunch of bananas, and every time any monkey reached for the bananas, they would all get hosed with cold water. This led to all the monkeys stopping any monkey from reaching for the bananas.
When a new monkey was put into the cage, it would of course reach for the bananas too, but the old monkeys would stop him. Thus the new monkey would learn the rule “reaching for the bananas is bad”, without understanding why.
When new monkeys were introduced one by one and old monkeys were taken away one by one, eventually all the monkeys in the cage would be new, and they would all stop anyone from reaching for the bananas even though none of them had ever been hosed.
Thus unwritten rules can be conveyed without language.

The unwritten rules of language aren’t exactly like this, however; they’re only partly acquired, and for the rest they are innate.
The unwritten rules of language would for example be along the lines of “subjects and verbs must agree in person and number”. Except nobody is aware of the specific content of these rules (unless they’re taught about them in high school), we just have them somewhere in our brains.

“There are numerous non human life forms that use language.”
Hold it.
This is where many misunderstandings between scientific fields have arisen in the past: the definition of “language”. Linguists seem to have completely different ideas from what the word means than biologists, for example.
Two of a number of key properties of language that make it fundamentally different from animal communication are that any conceivable thought can be conveyed (as opposed to only where a flower can be found), and that sentences can be broken down into smaller meaningful units (as opposed to a fixed monkey call with one meaning).
Whale dialects and bee dances fail to meet either criterion. It’s communication, but not language.

“That’s not the way science works. Science doesn’t try to disprove a negative. In fact, Science doesn’t work from the negative position at all.”
I don’t see how that’s relevant. I’m evaluating your positive idea that there would be a causative relation between language and sentience. Which would be hard to investigate, because…
Science tries to choose between a positive assertion and a negative null hypothesis.

“The fact is, for Science at least, “if you only ever see them together” then it is very easy (not difficult) to establish “a causative relation between the two”.”
The problem is, we have only one data point. If you have only one example of language and only one of sentience and they happen to be the same species, that’s not a very statistically robust grounds to say there is a causative relation.

As for your pet theory that language relies on sentience: I refer again to my remark that one needs to be sentient in order to use language, since there would be nothing to express if one can’t comprehend the meaning of a sentence. This gives some credibility to the idea that language is related to sentience, purely in the sense that language would be useless without it and therefore would have no reason to evolve. Thus, historically, the evolution of language probably depended on sentience, yes.
On the other hand, I stand by my assertion that the language system itself does not depend on sentience. To back this up, I have another two examples.

You say bees are more sentient than ants, which is reflected by their dances. Bee dances are indeed a rather intricate means of communication; so intricate in fact that it is unparalleled by many vertebrate species, which I think you would agree are “more sentient” than bees.
Furthermore, there are aphasic humans. These people are still every bit as sentient as their more fortunate peers in the same age group, but have lost their ability to use language properly, usually due to a stroke in certain areas of the brain. It usually leads to either an inability to string words together properly, resulting in pained single-word utterances, or an inability to understand the meaning of language, leading to long streams of nonsensical babbling. Examples of both are available on the Wiki pages I link to.
The fact that people can be sentient but can’t use language should go to show that sentience does not inherently lead to language. Language is a tool that sentience uses, but not a symptom of sentience itself.

whatthefluther's avatar

@Fyrius, @ragingloli, @RealEyesRealizeRealLies, @oratio…Although quite interesting, you jellies lost me some time ago (I’m an old man…I nap) but I recognize and appreciate the time and effort each of you has put into this discussion. As one should expect, there was some tension, things got a bit heated here and there and patience wore thin several times, but it looks like you all handled it with respect for the other jellies (how embarrassing if this degraded into a name calling jelly slugfest). From now on, I will refer to this discussion as “the most remarkable thread I never read.” See ya…wtf

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ragingloli

So you do disagree with Norbert Weiner’s assessment that:

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

I can only assume that you reject his claims based upon your own…

@ragingloli said:
“In case of lava, iron ore, ice crystals, information is present…”

”…the ice crystal, the information itself…is the underlying physical properties…”

“In the case of DNA or any other polymer for that matter, in the beginning, the information contained only related to the polymer itself and its behavior in the environment”

”…the information contained in the polymer dependant on the order of its components…”

If what I understand about your rejection of Weiner’s research is true, then I cannot embrace your rejection of his principles. As far as I can tell, you, like a few others here, are incapable of separating the medium from the message, concluding that in nature, the medium IS the message. I consider this a fatal error and it may prevent us from continuing with our discussion.

Information Theorists (like Weiner, Shannon, Yockey) all concur that Information is a separate entity from the medium which expresses it. Information can only be expressed upon a code. Only a genuine code can successfully run through the necessary communication protocols. If it can’t run through the protocols, then it is not a genuine code. If there is no code, then there cannot possibly be any Information present whatsoever.

Yockey drafted the communication protocols for DNA directly from Claude Shannon. Biology and Information Theory adhere to the exact same principles and definitions for Information Transfer to occur.

In Yockey’s own words:
“Information, transcription, translation, code, redundancy, synonymous, messenger, editing, and proofreading are all appropriate terms in biology. They take their meaning from information theory (Shannon, 1948) and are not synonyms, metaphors, or analogies.”
(Hubert P. Yockey, Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life, Cambridge University Press, 2005)

“The decoding of the genetic message from the DNA alphabet to the mRNA alphabet is called transcription in molecular biology. mRNA plays the role of the channel, which communicates the genetic message to the ribosomes, which serve as the decoder. The genetic message is decoded by the ribosomes from the 64 letter mRNA alphabet to the 20 letter alphabet of the proteome. This decoding process is called translation in molecular biology… (Ribosomes) act like the reading head on a tape machine (Turing, 1936). The protein molecule, which is the destination, is also a tape. Thus, the one-dimensional genetic message is recorded in a sequence of amino acids, which folds up to become a 3-dimensional active protein molecule. One is reminded of the linear signals that fold up to show a 2-dimensional picture on the television screen.”
(From Hubert Yockey, Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life, Cambridge University Press, 2005)

Hubert Yockey’s model here:
http://www.ctphotographx.com/clients/infotheory/YockeyComModel.jpg

Claude Shannon model here:
http://www.ctphotographx.com/clients/infotheory/ShannonComModel.jpg

Notice how BOTH communication models start with MESSAGE. By thinking that nature has Information everywhere, it means that you think that nature is sending you a message. That thinking is ultimately supportive of ancient myth and folklore of talking trees and burning bushes. Please don’t let science go there.

DNA is the ONLY molecule that can satisfy the Shannon/Yockey protocols. The only reason that happens is because DNA carries a REAL code with GENUINE Information. If you want me to believe that any type of Information can exist without a code, then you must demonstrate how it can run through the protocols.

Again, Dawkins opened up a real can of worms with his rap about “Apparent Design”. Biology is showing itself to suffer the same affliction from “Apparent Information”.

Ice crystals, lava, iron ore, and polymers have no code and no information.

They are described by observers with the scientific method. All information about them is authored by observers. The Information does not come FROM the polymer. It is ABOUT the polymer, and it always comes from a sentient observer. Nobody knows how to read “Mauna Loa”. We can only describe it. And we do that with codified Information.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Fyrius

I would like to review the research about the monkeys.

I don’t personally see an “unwritten rule” in that scenario. I see a bunch of researchers creating conditioned monkeys to teach religious fanatics by example how to brainwash their children. It’s the same principle. There is no Genuine Information being expressed. It is conditioning based upon pain receptors, fear tactics, and lies. The monkey doesn’t know why he can’t have the banana because no Information was communicated to him. Pain + fear + deception do not = rules of any kind. That’s simple conditioning based upon cause and reaction. Don’t confuse cause/reaction with thought/action.

Deception and Logic are not unwritten rules either. They are boundaries not to be crossed. Boundaries are not rules unless we make them so through discussion them with Language. The whole reason that “subjects and verbs must agree in person and number” is because it defies the boundaries of Logic and/or promotes crossing that boundary into Deception. Logic and Deception have been hotly discussed for millennia, and Language is the only tool that allows it.

@Fyrius said:
“It’s communication, but not language.”

How is it that humans can give the exact same instructions to another human, and we communicate this through language, but when a bee tells another bee the same thing, then you want to call it something different?

Communication cannot possibly take place without a code to transmit a message upon. The code humans use is a language that we call English, French, German… Pig Latin. The code bees use is a language that we call the Figure 8 Waggle Dance. What’s the difference? We have deciphered the Dance code A by mapping it directly to the English code B. We could not have done this unless it was a genuine code. All codes are languages. It doesn’t matter how advanced or primitive it is. As long as it can be mapped to another code and put through Shannon/Yockey protocols then it is genuine.

The Waggle Dance represents something other than itself. It is encoded and decoded amongst bees and predetermines for a very specific outcome. It is a language by all measures and genuine communication is possible because of it. It is directly relative to the level of consciousness that the bee possesses.

When a monkey thumps another monkey, that’s just like a human thumping another human. When you get thumped, you turn around and say “What”? The reason you say “what” is because an intelligent creature just caused you pain, but did not express any Information about why they were doing so. Pain alone is not a form of communication.

@Fyrius said:
”…properties of language that make it fundamentally different from animal communication are that any conceivable thought can be conveyed (as opposed to only where a flower can be found).”

I didn’t say it wasn’t different. I said it was a language. It is a different language. Fundamentally it is the same because it encodes/decodes, predefines outcome, can be mapped to any other language, and runs through Shannon/Yockey protocols.

It is perfectly fine for the bee to convey any conceivable thought that a bee can have. Just like English is fine for conveying any conceivable thought that a human can have. The Waggle can also be broken down into smaller meaningful units, just like English. That’s why we were able to decipher it.

Unfortunately this is where you have misquoted me:

@Fyrius said:
“You say bees are more sentient than ants, which is reflected by their dances.”

No, I never said that. Please refer to my quotes alone as not to misrepresent my comments. You replaced my word choice of “consciousness” with “sentient”.

I don’t equate the two at all. Sentience has many degrees of consciousness.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies said:
“I don’t use intelligence as a gage to judge language usage ability. I don’t think it is related at all, and so I fully accept your examples of impaired intelligence/language usage.”

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies said:
“I prefer Language usage as a gage to determine different levels of “consciousness”. The more a life form can use Language effectively, the more “conscious” that life form becomes. Bees are more “conscious” than Ants. Adults are more “conscious” than babies… all because of their ability to label, describe and relate to the physical world around them through the use of Language.”

This should satisfy your concerns for the Aphasic condition. In fact it even supports it further as they retain intelligence but loose their conscious awareness of the world around them directly relative to the degree of their condition.

As one of the worst types is Wernicke’s aphasia.
“Individuals with Wernicke’s aphasia usually have great difficulty understanding the speech of both themselves and others and are therefore often unaware of their mistakes. They are also often “unaware” of their surroundings, and may present a risk to themselves and others around them.” (emphasis mine)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphasia
That quote is from your very own provided link… and it depicts a loss of consciousness, not sentience or intelligence.

@Fyrius said:
“The fact that people can be sentient but can’t use language should go to show that sentience does not inherently lead to language.”

I never said it did. Sentience does not depend upon language at all. I said Language depends upon Sentience.

@Fyrius said:
“Language is a tool that sentience uses, but not a symptom of sentience itself.”

But before you said…
@Fyrius said:
“Anyway, the mental system that allows us to form and use language is much like an instinct. It has very little to do with rational decisions. It comes natural, without requiring you to think about it much.”

This borders on contradiction.

In closing, I quote you again:
@Fyrius said:
“I think your lack of understanding might be partly to blame on the fact that you’re talking to so many people at the same time, which probably causes you not to pay as much attention and time to my post as you would otherwise have.”

Of course you are capable of thinking that, yet it does seem different to those who clearly see me analysing every single word you write with intense scrutiny. I’ve also attempted to get clarification from you on things I did not understand. I am attempting to communicate with you on numerous levels. But since you are only speaking with me, and no one else, what is your opinion about where the blame belongs for the misrepresentation of my comments on “consciousness”?

Harold's avatar

@ everyone. My first ever question on here has certainly created some discussion!! I won’t attempt to answer all the points raised, as there are too many. Thankyou to all for disagreeing in a civil manner- it is very refreshing.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Harold

Yes Harold, you are new here and so we must fight each other for the right to possess your soul.

Mwuahahahahahaha!

Only one of us will have you.

Fyrius's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
“The whole reason that “subjects and verbs must agree in person and number” is because it defies the boundaries of Logic and/or promotes crossing that boundary into Deception.”
Nuh uh. Subject-verb agreement is not an inherent property of logic, either.
Think about it. English has minimal subject-verb agreement, where even a single form can be used to indicate any person, any number and any mood (think of the verb “must”, which has the same form in any use). Italian has much more intricate subject-verb agreement. There are even languages out there that have object-verb agreement, to some extent.
How would any of that be possible, if it were all just a consequence of the way logic works? Shouldn’t the grammar of every language work in the same ways, since logic is the same for everyone?

I already told you what makes the difference between human language and animal communication. Humans can tell each other where a flower is, but they can also invite each other for a cup of tea or give lectures about the French revolution or bicker about what language is. Bees can’t do that.
What bees do is using set messages with a little room for variation. What humans do is using an open-ended system that can generate an infinite amount of possible messages, and about any subject. We call the latter language.

If you would rather define “language” as “any code of communication” instead, go ahead, but know that the professionals disagree.
It would make your statement technically true, but about as meaningful as saying rocks can fall upwards if you define “rock” as “any small body of mass with a certain weight” and point to a helium-filled balloon.

“It is perfectly fine for the bee to convey any conceivable thought that a bee can have. Just like English is fine for conveying any conceivable thought that a human can have.”
Wat.
This is just patently false. Bees cannot convey any conceivable thought with their dances. The waggle dance indicates in which direction a flower can be found (at what angle to the sun, to be precise), and how far away. That’s all it can convey. A bee can’t dance that the hive needs more honey, or that buttercup nectar is tastier than dandelion nectar, or how hot he thinks the queen is, or anything else of the sort. Just directions and distances.

“The Waggle can also be broken down into smaller meaningful units, just like English. That’s why we were able to decipher it.”
The waggle dance may be broken down into the lemniscat-shaped flight path part and the waggling part, I suppose, each of which have their own meaning. Granted.
But I do hope you will agree that this still does not put the waggle dance anywhere near the same ball park as English.

“No, I never said that. Please refer to my quotes alone as not to misrepresent my comments.”
My mistake.
But just as a curiosity, what would be the difference between level of consciousness and level of sentience? Is sentience an absolute attribute and consciousness a relative one?

By the way, if you replace “sentient” with “conscious” in my post, my argument still holds.

“This should satisfy your concerns for the Aphasic condition. In fact it even supports it further as they retain intelligence but loose their conscious awareness of the world around them directly relative to the degree of their condition.”
No.
Read the description of Broca’s aphasia in the same article, for example. The only non-linguistic symptom of Broca’s aphasia is a paralysis in left hemispheric motor functions.
Your point of view would entail that all aphasics are less aware of the world around them in different ways, since they all have impaired language. This is not the case.

@Fyrius said:
“Language is a tool that sentience uses, but not a symptom of sentience itself.”
But before you said…
@Fyrius said:
“Anyway, the mental system that allows us to form and use language is much like an instinct. It has very little to do with rational decisions. It comes natural, without requiring you to think about it much.”
This borders on contradiction.”
Not at all.
Language is a non-rational instinct that works without requiring you to think about how it works, and this system is a tool that sentience uses. Just like you don’t need to take a car apart to be able to use it, the rational mind can use language but does not have access to its underlying principles.
Except through meticulous study of how the languages of the world behave. That’s the premise of Linguistics in a nutshell.

“Of course you are capable of thinking that, yet it does seem different to those who clearly see me analysing every single word you write with intense scrutiny. I’ve also attempted to get clarification from you on things I did not understand. I am attempting to communicate with you on numerous levels. But since you are only speaking with me, and no one else, what is your opinion about where the blame belongs for the misrepresentation of my comments on “consciousness”?”
Oh, come on. Now you’re just getting rude about a perfectly polite and sympathetic remark.

I’m tired too. I’m in the last month of my year, procrastinating hard to get everything finished on time.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Fyrius

@Fyrius said:
“I already told you what makes the difference between human language and animal communication.”

You telling me so does not make it so.

Your supposition is dependent upon the bee having a need, or the ability, or an imagination necessary to comprehend the French revolution in the first place. The bee consciousness breaks down relative to the vocabulary he uses to describe and understand the world around him. And his limited ability for abstract reasoning prevents him from entertaining any notions other than what is necessary to surviving as a bee. We cannot suppose that all abstract reasoning capacities are equal.

The human consciousness also breaks down where there is no suitable language for accurately describing the indescribable. We can tag notions of eternity, infinity, and omnipotence with words, yet we cannot describe them with any degree of accuracy because they cannot be observed by humans any more than a bee can observe a tea party. Sentient observation requires Language to describe it with. Language expands consciousness.

The differences between bees and humans is the degrees of capacity for abstract reasoning and imagination. Bees reasoning skills are limited (like humans), pointing to different degrees of what each are capable of observing in the first place.

The human ability to create new words is not due to a mechanical advantage of human language, nor to a disadvantage of the waggle dance language. It is solely possible because humans benefit from a greater capacity for abstract thought and imagination than bees are.

Both use languages nonetheless. That tool which permits description, recognition, and communication relative to the observational skills and reasoning attributes of a particular species.

Again, a mothers vocabulary provides her with much more consciousness than the baby who can only chottle. The baby cannot imagine paying the phone bill and will remain unconscious of it until her observations and vocabulary reaches a certain level. A weathered poet has greater conscious awareness than a grade school child. The grade school child cannot imagine the wind in his face after conquering the Mongols in a bloody battle. The whole premise behind literacy is to awaken the conscious awareness of the illiterate. Language promotes consciousness.

We were unconscious to the reality of brainwaves until we had words to describe the notions and theories behind them and create new devices called “electroencephalogram”. Upon those words, we become conscious of such things.

@Fyrius said:
“If you would rather define “language” as “any code of communication” instead, go ahead, but know that the professionals disagree.

I consider Encarta World Dictionary as professional enough:

lan·guage n

1. the speech of a country, region, or group of people, including its diction, syntax, and grammar

2. the human use of spoken or written words as a communication system

3. a system of communication with its own set of conventions or special words

4. a nonverbal form of communication used by birds and animals

5. the use of signs, gestures, or inarticulate sounds to communicate something

6. the characteristic forms of expression used by those in a specified group or sphere of activity

7. the verbal style by which people express themselves

Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation.

Here again you misrepresent my actual words. You omitted my use of the word “can”.

@Fyrius said:
“This is just patently false. Bees cannot convey any conceivable thought with their dances.”

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies said:
“…for the bee to convey any conceivable thought that a bee “CAN” have.”

A bee cannot conceive of (observe) a tea party. The bee can see one, but he as no reference point to conceive it. Observing is much more than merely seeing something. So no, a bee cannot convey a tea party with a waggle. But that’s not the fault of the waggle itself. Humans can observe and describe a tea party with any language they choose, including the waggle dance. Of course they would have to expand that language, but we could do so. Humans can take any language, and map it to another. That’s why we know what the waggle does say.

@Fyrius said:
“Just directions and distances”

More than that. The article clearly states:
“new food sources”
“and showed that they correct for wind drift even when en route to destinations they have never visited before”

It also uses the term “dance language”
“This ‘dance language’ was first described by Karl von Frisch in the 1960s”

And as to the whales… The link provided clearly states:
“Canadian researchers have discovered that in resident pods, each whale has the same set of calls, or DIALECT, as other pod members. The only other mammals known to have true dialects are humans, some monkeys, and the sperm whale. Groups of whales that share the same “dialect” are related to each other. Pods of whales with related dialects are called CLANS.”

How can there be a “dialect” without a language?

@Fyrius said:
“But I do hope you will agree that this still does not put the waggle dance anywhere near the same ball park as English.”

Yes, I completely agree. But I have every confidence that the waggle dance “could” be evolved just as any other language can be evolved. It is a very primitive language in its current state.

@Fyrius said:
“But just as a curiosity, what would be the difference between level of consciousness and level of sentience? Is sentience an absolute attribute and consciousness a relative one?”

I’m unfamiliar with “levels of sentience”. I am familiar with “levels of consciousness”. Sentience is an absolute attribute of consciousness. Consciousness has many different levels relative to the language usage that a sentient entity is capable of expressing.

@Fyrius said:
“Read the description of Broca’s aphasia in the same article…”

It’s just a different level of consciousness at the opposite end of the spectrum from Wernicke’s. The redundancy and error correction properties of human language are very efficient at compensating for Broca’s symptoms, effectively presenting Broca’s sufferers the same degree of consciousness than anyone else. The essence of meaning can still successfully pass through the required communication protocols. Broca’s is a mild case of Information Entropy, and similar to successfully conversing over loud noises like a lawn mower or night club. The physical ailments are a form of noise on the line. It may degrade the signal, but it does not prevent the signal from being communicated.

@Fyrius said:
“Language is a non-rational instinct that works without requiring you to think about how it works, and this system is a tool that sentience uses”

The bee would agree with you. So would the whale and the wolf. The aunt would not.

Fyrius's avatar

I’m considering calling it a day with this discussion. I have more urgent and productive things to do. And frankly, I’m getting tired of it.

I generally try to be patient with overconfident laymen and their pet theories about complicated issues they have only a naive understanding of, but if you’re so bent on defending it to the end of the world, please put some effort into it and read up on what you’re talking about. There are highly trained professionals out there who devote their lives to investigating the things you speculate about during your lunch break.

I suggest Hauser, Chomsky and Fitch 2002‘s influential article that presents a more nuanced definition of the word “language”, to prevent interdisciplinary misunderstandings much like the one your pet theory is based on.
It’s not an impeccable article, but it should at least give you a taste of the complexity of the nuances you’ve been disregarding.

“I consider Encarta World Dictionary as professional enough”
I do not. When talking about complicated scientific issues, you need to use the scientific definitions provided by the field concerned with the phenomenon.
Moreover, the seven definitions given there go to show how many different definitions of this word there exist, and if you just pick and choose the ones you like and disregard the ones that don’t suit your hypothesis, your argument becomes even more empty.

Terminology aside, there are vast and fundamental differences between human language and animal communication. Not just in degrees of complexity, but in fundamental nature. Human language is open-ended, animal communication is not. This is an absolute feature that is either there or not there, and that sets human language unambiguously apart from animal communication.

“Again, a mothers vocabulary provides her with much more consciousness than the baby who can only chottle. The baby cannot imagine paying the phone bill and will remain unconscious of it until her observations and vocabulary reaches a certain level.”
Neither does the baby know how to talk about things she can imagine, like bottles, milk, diapers and toys, until her linguistic skills reach the needed level.
It’s a fact that people can understand things and still be unable to talk about them. If it’s not sufficiently proven by the limits of child language, it should be by the limits of aphasic language.

“We were unconscious to the reality of brainwaves until we had words to describe the notions and theories behind them and create new devices called “electroencephalogram”. Upon those words, we become conscious of such things.”
What.
Those words were coined after the things they describe were discovered. We first became conscious of their existence and then made up words for them, to ease communication about them. Our understanding didn’t come from the invention of the words, the words came from our understanding.
I can’t believe having to point that out.

“…for the bee to convey any conceivable thought that a bee “CAN” have.”
This is why I gave some examples. Which you seem to have no trouble ignoring.
Surely a bee can conceive of thoughts such as “we need more honey” or “buttercup nectar is the best” or at least “the queen is totally hot.” But they will never be able to dance these thoughts.
It would be far-fetched to say that the very few things bees can express with their dances are all they are able to think. Because:

“Just directions and distances”
More than that. The article clearly states:
“new food sources”
“and showed that they correct for wind drift even when en route to destinations they have never visited before”
How is that more than directions and distances?
The “new food sources” part is an invariable part of the conveyed message, and is thus conveyed simply by the fact that a bee is dancing at all. They can only give directions to new food sources. Not to anything else.
And correcting for wind drift is impressive enough, but not part of the message. The message doesn’t say “but aim 21 degrees more to the east to correct for the wind.” It just conveys a slightly different direction.

It also uses the term “dance language”
“This ‘dance language’ was first described by Karl von Frisch in the 1960s”
I don’t care whether a biologist used the word “language” to talk about bee dance. Show me a linguist who would call it language and we’ll talk.
The authors of this article evidently used that word in the general sense of “communication protocol”, not in the sophisticated sense required for comparisons of human and animal language.

“How can there be a “dialect” without a language?”
Oh, no. I’m not the one who needs to answer that question. That would mean having to justify a negative, the absence of a necessity relation.
You are the one who needs to answer me: Why would regional variation only apply to interactions that deserve to be called language?

I do not give a flying duck about whale “dialects”. They are irrelevant. Yes, I know the word “dialect” is usually applied to languages, but in this context it obviously ISN’T. In this kind of context it’s just a word used for local variation in how exactly a sound is produced. All this takes is animals learning how to produce the sound from their parents, which is quite uncontroversially proven to be the case for many species.

“It’s just a different level of consciousness at the opposite end of the spectrum from Wernicke’s. The redundancy and error correction properties of human language are very efficient at compensating for Broca’s symptoms, effectively presenting Broca’s sufferers the same degree of consciousness than anyone else.”
How convenient for you. Whenever people show symptoms that don’t match your predictions, you can just say the brain compensates for it for these people. But not for the Wernicke’s aphasics.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Hey, if you gotta go then you gotta go. I’m enjoying this discussion immensely and encourage you to give one last reply. I’ll let your final comments stand and won’t challenge them. You may have the last word.

In my thirty plus years of “lunch break” education on language, I’ve come to understand things a bit differently than an enthusiastic fresh graduate. I’ve learned not to wave a Linguistics degree around as the end all Holy Grail of what Language is. Dogma wags its tail in many elusive ways, and lest I claim that Catholicism IS the final authority on Religion, or that Vivaldi IS the final authority on Music, I shall not suppose that Linguistics IS the final authority on Language.

Linguistics would do well to view itself in relation to other fields of study, as it overlaps into numerous arenas starting with Epistemology, Philosophy and Mathematics, to Information Theory, Communication Theory, Computer Sciences, Biology and even a few Religions that adhere to principles of the “Word”. Take Bhartrihari as one example:
http://www.iep.utm.edu/b/bhartrihari.htm

It is not a “convenient” out for me to apply knowledge of Information Theory to the Aphasic condition. Doing so permits additional perspective that may not otherwise be considered. All I ask is for you to look at that condition in relation to how Information Entropy can degrade a signal to varying degrees, hence resulting in varying degrees of awareness.

And seriously, to the bee… if you have evidence that a bee “surely” thinks about certain things, beyond what his language tells us he can think about, then please present it, or place that “pet” theory next to the ones you accuse me of embracing.

I noted clearly that waggle was very primitive, and that it must evolve to be of any serious use to human communication. Do you suppose that English came as a full package, and did not evolve? Of course it evolved, and neither Chomsky nor the Davidsonian Truth Theory gives any reason to believe otherwise. In the hands of humans, the waggle is sufficient to evolve a full axiomatic structure. ANY symbolic association can evolve this way to the degree that a species is capable of doing. And this fits perfectly well within a Tacit Knowledge proposition.

@Fyrius said:
“It’s a fact that people can understand things and still be unable to talk about them.”

That statement sends shivers down my spine. Are you really ready to abandon Frege so quickly?
http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/freg-lan.htm

Wittgenstein? Dummet?
http://www.iep.utm.edu/d/dummett.htm

If you want to break language down to its “fundamental nature”, beyond Tacit Knowledge there lies Symbolic Association. The moment that a baby tags an image in her mind to an object in physical reality she has embraced representational reasoning. She cannot “think” or be “conscious” of her bottle unless there is a framework of language to do that conscious thinking upon. The word/picture in her mind is a direct association to an object located at a specific space/time coordinate. She could not think of the bottle without it, and although it has nothing to do with speaking English, it functions as a word/picture association every bit as much as the word “bottle”. Mother gradually replaces the word/picture through repetitive vocal associations saying “ba-ba”. Now baby has two symbolic representations and her conscious awareness of the bottle has doubled. The more symbolic associations that exist, the more conscious awareness comes to the baby.

This research on Dolphin Language is very supportive of word/picture associations as reliable method for establishing codified language.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYLgWkIxHsw

@Fyrius said:
“Why would regional variation only apply to interactions that deserve to be called language?”

Because it’s much more than regional variation…

“The male killer whale therefore has an extremely complex signal framework which can be recognized against almost any background noise and which he can accent, abbreviate, punctuate, syllabify, hyphenate, prefix, and give numerous endings and inflections without affecting its ease of recognition…. ”
http://www.dauphinlibre.be/shamutalk.htm

Anyway… I thank you for your time Fyrius. It’s been a pleasure conversing with you and I wish you the best with your passionate pursuit of Linguistics. I wish there were more people like you who obviously love language and value the importance of studying it with great enthusiasm. All the best… You may have the last word my friend.

Fyrius's avatar

I thank you for your kind words. A pleasant turn in a conversation that was getting on my nerves.

I feel I owe you an apology for the belittlement and polemic in my above post. My patience has been leaving something to be desired. I’m just a tad on the tired side lately. (End of the year term paper frenzy.)

Alas, largely for the same reason, I’m not really in the right state of mind now to be able to adequately review your latest reply. But I intend give it the attention it deserves at a later moment that’s not in the middle of a night.

Now I’m going to bed.

Fyrius's avatar

Well, finally I’m replying. And I’m replying at a moment that is in the middle of a night, after all. Whodathunk.
We apologise for the delay.

“lest I claim that Catholicism IS the final authority on Religion, or that Vivaldi IS the final authority on Music, I shall not suppose that Linguistics IS the final authority on Language.”
I think this is a rather unfair comparison. Catholocism has many other religions to compete with, and Vivaldi has perhaps even more competitors for authority on music. Linguistics is the only serious endeavour to systematically study the human language faculty. There is no other field of study that has any reasonable claim to authority on how language works.
And furthermore, Catholicism is itself a religion among religions and Vivaldi is himself a musician among musicians, while Linguistics is itself not a language among languages. Linguistics is the science that investigates language, and I do believe the sciences investigating religion and music would deserve to be a great authority on questions into those matters, if not the final one.

“Linguistics would do well to view itself in relation to other fields of study, as it overlaps into numerous arenas starting with Epistemology, Philosophy and Mathematics, to Information Theory, Communication Theory, Computer Sciences, Biology and even a few Religions that adhere to principles of the “Word”.”
I would agree that linguistics needs to interact with other fields, though I’d limit it to biology, psychology, formal logic and computer sciences. I don’t think the linguists will be much help to epistemology, mathematics or philosophy. The closest thing to overlap would be in the field of semantics, and that’s adequately covered by formal logic.
And religions? The heck? I positively don’t understand why linguistics should bother with any religion at all, no matter how much those rely on language. Religions are fundamentally unscientific, and I would even dare say, inherently useless and counter-productive to any systematic investigation of reality. The linguists would probably only prove the religions wrong and then end up shunned and despised by their followers.

█ I’m also still not convinced about your analysis of aphasia. You have yet to back up your claim that the various and seemingly disparate types of aphasia can be characterised on a linear scale of “signal degradation”.
And before you attempt that task, I’d like to point you to the hurdle that Broca’s aphasia has been shown long ago to be caused by a stroke to Broca’s area, whereas Wernicke’s aphasia has been shown to be caused by a stroke to Wernicke’s area. How would you make sense of that in your information theory approach? Does information entropy have any effect on which cerebral veins are going to fail?

“And seriously, to the bee… if you have evidence that a bee “surely” thinks about certain things, beyond what his language tells us he can think about, then please present it, or place that “pet” theory next to the ones you accuse me of embracing.”
I think it’s not such a reach to assume any living organism that can have any thought at all must be able to think things other than directions and distances, just in order to function. I think that’s obvious enough not to need extensive justification.

“I noted clearly that waggle was very primitive, and that it must evolve to be of any serious use to human communication. Do you suppose that English came as a full package, and did not evolve?”
Firstly, you’re mixing things up. The evolution of English or any other language we use now and the evolution of the mental faculty that enables language are two completely unrelated processes, one of which came to its end millennia before the other even got started. One is a genetic evolution, the other is a memetic evolution. And of course the development of the latter has been shaped by the outcome of the former.
With that said, I do suppose bee dance could in principle be adapted to be versatile and open-ended enough to be worthy of the epithet “language”, but it would need some radical changes. For example, the dance code would need to be elaborated to have a dance for each of a variety of different concepts, and crucially, these should be combinable in such a way that the meaning of one dance affects the meaning of another (in other words, they need syntax). They’d also need recursive operations to create an open-ended system.
My point is that until each of these changes has been implemented, bee dance does not deserve to be called language, in the well-informed sense as carefully defined by linguistics. (Regardless of whatever the dictionaries have to say about it.)

█ As for Frege, Wittgenstein and Dummet, you’ll have to be a bit more specific as to the views that you believe me to be discarding.
I’m guessing it’s something on par with the ten thousand brazillion Eskimo words for snow myth.

“The moment that a baby tags an image in her mind to an object in physical reality she has embraced representational reasoning. She cannot “think” or be “conscious” of her bottle unless there is a framework of language to do that conscious thinking upon.”
I disagree. Why would having a mental representation of something be linked to knowing the word for it?
Have you never had a tip of the tongue experience, where you know exactly what you mean without being able to find the word? Have you ever come to the conclusion that it turns out there isn’t really a word for that sort of thing?
Have you ever not known how to say something? Have you ever experienced something that was easy to understand but hard to put into words?
Hasn’t your language faculty ever let you down when your conceptual understanding worked finely?

Maybe we’re talking about different things here. I for one am not sure I’m following you.

█ As for the whale dialects: still, none of that makes the use of the word “dialect” mean this must be proper language.

Phew. Well, there you go. Hopefully the last wall of text I will burden this thread with, at least for the time being.

Shuttle128's avatar

I know for a fact that I do not.

ragingloli's avatar

do you think asantaists believe as they do because they are scared to be judged by santa claus every christmas and be spanked with his twigs?

johanna's avatar

A theist means no god. So how could we be scared of something we know not to exist?
I am however scared of organized religion, I am scared of people who think they posses the answer, the one and only answer, and feel it is their duty to force their beliefs upon others. I am scared of belief taking precedence over reason and science. Most of all I am petrified of others trying to tell me how to live my life and that my way is the wrong way and that only their, religion, or other personal belief system based way, is right. That scares the shit out of me. A bearded make believe guy in the sky on the the other hand, not so much.

jangles's avatar

If someone could actually prove that god exists and that he wanted me to give over ultimate authority. I believe that I would. (Obviously making the assumptions that god is good and that he wants me ultimately to be happy)

I cannot speak on behalf of all atheists. I personally haven’t come to the conclusion that god doesn’t exists because I wanted moral freedom. I just have never heard of an argument for god that wasn’t fundamentally flawed or more of an assumption for something that can already be explained scientifically.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther