General Question

limeaide's avatar

Proof of no soul/afterlife/god, or something else?

Asked by limeaide (1921points) June 7th, 2010

A person has a stroke, a brain injury etc…, loses some brain tissue which leads to memory loss. The person doesn’t remember a lot of their experiences and/or people from their life. If someone had a soul wouldn’t it retain the memories/experiences? If the memories/experiences are stored in the brain that can be damaged or die, then when we die is our soul is void of memory or experiences or what do you believe?

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107 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t believe in a soul but I’m imagining that if one would, one doesn’t have to think a soul must contain memories, perhaps just the essence of the person.

ucme's avatar

We’d have seen them on CNN by now, wouldn’t we? The truth is out there, kind of.

limeaide's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Do you mind expanding on what you think the essence might be? And if you don’t beleive in a soul, I’m guessing that makes you an atheist, dead is dead? Of course don’t answer if you don’t want to share. :) Thanks!

CMaz's avatar

Do you remember what you did June 7th on your third year of your life?

I believe you experienced something, that at the time was memorable. But now, what ever it was is insignificant. I.E. You don’t remember, because there is no need to..
If a biblical heave exists. None of the memories that we have, will have any significance or need of retention.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@limeaide Well, I can’t really extrapolate on other people’s ideas, can I? I am an atheist, that’s correct but I don’t think that my lack of belief in a soul has much to do with my lack of belief in god. I speculate that a person’s essense would be their soul making this (and therefore unacceptable to me) a circular concept.

limeaide's avatar

@ChazMaz GA! this does bring into question the traditional thoughts of heaven and re-joining relatives/family that passed before us.

LostInParadise's avatar

I have posted this before, but it is such a neat idea that it is worth posting again. Out of body experience experiment . Anybody care to place a wager on the results of the experiment?

ragingloli's avatar

Define those things first, then we can talk.

Zaku's avatar

Depends on what one thinks a soul or spirit is, and how it works.

One model could be that a brain and body provide a way for a soul to interact with things, and damaging the brain as you describe impairs that. The memory, or access to it in the body, seem to be dependent on the brain, by your example.

Another model or definition could be that the soul is something other than memory.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

A broken record player does not prove that the record is lost.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


I’d wager they find some degree of support enough to issue further experiments after this one. They wouldn’t be conducting this one if it hadn’t already been observed. What it all actually turns out to be is a completely different matter, or should I say… different than matter.

Solidhowie's avatar

this a very interesting subject my friend,great question indeed.
in my belief, the soul is lay in between our consciousness and subconscious, some say soul is also our personality or another word is.. our ways of prospective. if a person gets a brain damage…long term or short term memory, lets just say amnesia, a real bad one. that person will not lose their soul but their “spirit” our i refer as spiritual power or psyche endurance. they will lost their prospective of many things , lets just say that person just hit a reset button on the soul system.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

We’ve been discussing this subject for two weeks now here

I propose that Soul and Mind are synonymous. One term from science, the other from religion. Both pointing to the same agent.

I propose that Spirit and Thought are synonymous in the very same manner.

Many spirits build a soul, just as many thoughts build a mind.

Rarebear's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Thanks for posting to the other link. I didn’t want to enter on the same conversation here.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

As we shouldn’t. Much of this would be redundant to what’s already been discussed.

josie's avatar

There isn’t any evidence that the soul actually exists, but even if it did it would not be an anatomical structure like the brain. Otherwise, it could be removed or repaired by a surgeon. Interesting thought…

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

There also isn’t any evidence that a mind actually exists. So where exactly did that “interesting thought” arise from?

Certainly you don’t suggest that thought is reducible to mere chemical reactions?

Rarebear's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Not sure if you were talking to me, but that’s exactly what I am suggesting. Without chemical reactions there would be no thought.

GrumpyGram's avatar

I and many relatives have had so many (collectively) “contact” with people who are “dead” that I have no doubt there is some sort of Afterlife that cannot be described. It isn’t just a wish on my part; it’s a belief that results if you’ve been fortunate (if that’s the word) to have and have heard about these experiences. I really don’t see any connection between the afterlife and a God, though.
Or IS there a connection? I wish I knew.

Rarebear's avatar

@GrumpyGram You’ve had contact with the dead? How exactly did you have contact with the dead?

MrsDufresne's avatar

I have often wondered this. Especially after having surgery and being under general anestaesia. I personally believe that when we die, the living must have absolutely no proof, awareness, or knowledge of the afterlife because it would make the desire to inhabit that dimension much, much greater. We aren’t suppose to know, because of how many would [want to] go there if there was proof. That fear of the “nothingness” that is perceived as death, is there for a reason. People that have had near death experiences know that awareness does not end when the brain ceases to exist. But it is nearly impossible to prove that to another person who has not experienced it first hand.

Solidhowie's avatar

@MrsDufresne u just ended this impossible-explanation subject beautifully with the fear of “nothingness”>:] i agree with your answer.

We do not know nothing yet,but keep the faith up people!
enjoy life and be better humans!

good luck guys

josie's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies The fact that we discover how something (like the mind) actually works is no evidence that it is then made invalid or useless or silly. We do not really know how gravity works but we can describe it mathematically and it is clearly there. We do not know exactly how the mind works, but there are certainly chemicals involved, and it is clearly real. If we discover that gravity is simply the interaction of a few sub atomic particles, does that mean that gravity suddenly is insignificant or an object of derision? Of course not. So what is your point?

SmashTheState's avatar

Rupert Sheldrake’s morphic field model suggests that rather than consciousness residing in the brain, the brain is something like a radio receiver which tunes into a collective unconscious not just for humanity but for all life forms. Damage to the brain, according to this model, does not destroy thoughts and memories, but rather interferes with the ability to “tune in” to them. I’m not suggesting that we all accept Sheldrake’s model (and indeed, many scientists regard Sheldrake as a quack) but merely that it’s possible to propose models which account for the phenomena you describe. Therefore, no, it’s not proof of the non-existence of a spirit (or gods).

Rarebear's avatar

@SmashTheState People can suggest whatever “models” they like. But without evidence it’s just someone spouting off pretty nonsense.

SmashTheState's avatar

@Rarebear Everything we “know” about the world is a model. Perhaps you’ve seen Magritte’s etching of the pipe, with the legend ”This is not a pipe”? And indeed it isn’t, it’s an etching of a pipe. In fact, it’s not an etching of a pipe, either, it’s the model we create in our minds of the qualia of our sensorium as translated through our schema and experience.

We live in the representational world of our minds, creating models of the world-in-itself. A model is always wrong, by definition, because it is not the thing itself, it’s a representation of the thing. So saying that Sheldrake’s morphic field model is “pretty nonsense” is just a meaningless mouth noise, since one can say the same thing of all models. And if we dismiss all knowledge as worthless, then we end up in a nihilist void where even discussion is pointless. Therefore, all we can say is that one model is more useful than another model for a specific purpose.

Since Sheldrake’s model is internally consistent, it’s perfectly valid. One can argue as to its usefulness, but since the model is valid, it can be used to show that the simple existence of brain damage does not rule out spirits or gods.

ragingloli's avatar

That is the problem with proving a negative. It is just silly. You can never prove a negative because people always come up with more excuses to keep their claim alive. I could sit ten years in a haunted house waiting for a ghost that never comes, and the ghostwhisperers would just claim that the ghost did not want to show itself to me.
It is not up to us to disprove the existence of souls, spirits and gods, it is the believers duty to prove the existence.
We might as well be artificial intelligences inhabiting an equally artificial, computer simulated universe. This ‘model’ is also internally consistent and even has a non-trivial mathematical probability (just imagine how many simulated realities could be run by civilisations in the real parent universe. They would outnumber the physical reality hundreds, millions, even billions to one, so the probability that we are living in the real universe is smaller than the fraction of a fraction of a percent.)
But, I have no evidence for any of this, so it is just as valid as the invisible teapot orbiting mars, or the invisible pink unicorn that violates you at night and heals you before you wake up leaving no trace behind. Read: not very.

Rarebear's avatar

@SmashTheState Sorry, that’s postmodern drivel. I say that if I put a tinfoil hat on my head I get messages from aliens. It’s EXACTLY the same thing.

Again, without evidence there is nothing. Show hard scientific evidence that the brain is a big radio receiver then I’ll listen.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@josie You’re describing the brain, not the mind.

@ragingloli Correct me if I’m wrong please, but isn’t the fallacy in attempting to dis-prove a negative, rather than prove a negative? I still get your point, and agree completely. But when negatives are proven, they become positives. Perhaps I’m mistaken.

@SmashTheState With Sheldrake on the table, and terms like “small mouth noises” being used, it seems we are both familiar with The Bard. Yes?

josie's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Mind is a function of brain. Just like respiration is a function of lungs and cardiovascular network. So what is your point?

Rarebear's avatar

@real I thought you were going to take a nap!

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


Well that’s one theory about what the mind is. I was unaware that the matter had been settled. I for one disagree. I do not suppose that I’m alone. For there are many among us who can’t seem to accept that the Gettysburg Address is ultimately reducible to mere chemical reactions. But you are free to believe that if you wish. Oh sorry, if what you say is true, then you have no wishes, no desires, no dreams, and no real position on anything at all. You’re just the end result of a bunch of chemical reactions. In fact, you don’t really exist at all. None of us do. And this conversation isn’t really taking place. It’s just soup boiling.

@Rarebear I did.

@ragingloli thanks.

josie's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I have all of those things. So what if there are chemical reactions involved? Do you think that these events occur in some sort of mysterious vacuum? If so, prove it. The existence of neurons and chemicals is on the record. What have you got other than a capricious Platonic wish that it was something less vulgar? What is wrong with our physical nature? What makes you think you are above it?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@josie “So what if there are chemical reactions involved?”

Chemical reactions are involved in the brains ability to express the mind/soul. But chemical reactions are not the mind/soul.

And no, I don’t believe in “mysterious vacuums” unless I’ve observe the necessity to infer such a phenomenon.

Yes, the existence of neurons and chemicals is definitely on the record. But nowhere in that record do I see a satisfactory explanation for mind/soul… or just mind if you prefer.

@josie “What have you got other than a capricious Platonic wish that it was something less vulgar?”

I don’t recall ever having a “capricious Platonic wish” of any sort. You must be mistaking me for someone else.

@josie “What is wrong with our physical nature?”

Mine or yours? I mean, I’ve got a few issues with hemorrhoids and dandruff, but nothing that can’t be kept under control with a few chemical reactions purchased at WalMart. I can’t speak to your physical nature.

@josie “What makes you think you are above it?”

I don’t recall stating that I was. And thus, I don’t suppose to know of any mechanism to “make” me think such a thing.

@josie “I have all of those things.”

You mean “wishes, desires, (and) dreams,”?

Prove it. And while you’re at it, please explain who the “I” is in your claim.

mammal's avatar

The soul is in its own nature, perfect purity, perfect calm, perfect silence; and as a well springs from the very veins of the earth itself, so is the soul nurtured of the blood of God, the ecstasy of things.

This soul can never be injured, never marred, never defiled. Yet all things added to it do for a time trouble it; and this is sorrow.

To this, language itself bears witness; for all words which mean unhappy mean first of all disturbed, disquieted, troubled. The root idea of sorrow is this idea of stirring up.

For many a year man in his quest for happiness has travelled a false road. To quench his thirst he has added salt in ever increasing quantities to the water of life; to cover the ant heaps of his imagination he has raised mountains wherein wild beasts and deadly prowl. To cure the itch, he has flayed the patient; to exorcise the ghost, he has evoked the devil.

It is the main problem of philosophy, how this began. The Rishis, seven that sat on Mount Kailasha and considered thus answered, that the soul became self-conscious; and crying, “I am That!” became two even in the act of asserting it was One. This theory may be found not too remote from truth by whoso returns to that tower upon the ramparts of the soul and beholds the city…...

And this secret has also its part in the economy of life. By the road of silence one comes to the gate Or the City of God. As the mind is gradually stilled by the courage and endurance of the seeker, ....... conscious of itself and of no other thing. This is the supreme anguish of the soul; it realizes itself as itself, as a thing separate from that which is not itself, from God, In this spasm there are two ways: if fear and pride are left in the soul, it shuts itself up, like a warlock in a tower, gnashing its teeth with agony. “I am I”, it cries, “I will not lose myself”, and in that state damned, it is slowly torn by the claws of circumstance and disintegrated bitterly, for all its struggles, throughout ages and ages, its rags to be cast piecemeal upon the dungheap without the city. But the soul that has understood the blessedness of that resignation which grasps the universe and devours it, which is without hope or fear, without faith or doubt, without hate or love, dissolves itself ineffably into the abounding bliss of God. It cries with Shelley, as the “chains of lead about its flight of fire” drop molten from its limbs: “I pant, I sink, I tremble, I expire”, and in that last outbreaking is made one with the primal and final breath, the Holy Spirit of God.

The Soul of The Desert

Rarebear's avatar

@mammal “This soul can never be injured, never marred, never defiled.” Okay, what happens when someone sticks a gun to their head and pulls the trigger? What happens after that?

PandoraBoxx's avatar

The soul is not the person. The soul inhabits the person, not the other way around.

SmashTheState's avatar

@PandoraBoxx Actually, according to the gnostic definition, you are a soul. The soul is the combination of soma (body) and pneuma (spirit, literally “breath”). You have a spirit. You are a soul.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

My Soul is me.

Made of many spirits. A spirit of lust, a spirit of hope, a spirit of anger, a spirit of kindness, a spirit of greed, tolerance, empathy, jealousy, a spirit of charity. These spirits build my Soul. They build the who in I. They build me.

My Mind is me.

Made of many thoughts. Thoughts of lust, thoughts of hope, thoughts of anger, thoughts of kindness, thoughts of greed, tolerance, empathy, jealousy, charity. These thoughts build my Mind. They build the who in I. They build me.

Rarebear's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies And all those emotions and actions can be boiled down to biochemical mechanisms honed by millions of years of evolution.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Biochemical mechanisms are the physical medium that allows the immaterial thought/spirit to manifest into the physical realm. I do not deny that. But the who in you is not reducible to biochemical mechanisms alone. Take away the thought/spirit mind/soul, and the biochemical mechanisms become a rock.

ragingloli's avatar

“But the who in you is not reducible to biochemical mechanisms alone.”
Why could it not? When we create an artificial intelligence that is self aware and can think about its own existence and everything else associated with the human mind, does it suddenly become not an emergent function of a complex network of electrons moving through conductors and semi conductors, but nothing but a mouthpiece for some intangible supernatural thing merely hijacking the computer brain?
Why do you say that biochemical mechanisms “become a rock”? Is a plant a rock? A bacteria? An insect? A fish? Or a dog? Are they too just “rocks”?
Both are natural, but biochemistry is so much more complex than a rock, while even the processes that created the rock also created things much more impressive than that. They crushed primordial matter via gravity to enormous densities forcing the ignition of nuclear fusion, which then created heavier elements which then were compressed by gravity into current stars, rocky planets, moons and asteroids. It created brightly lit galaxies, colourful nebulas, impressive supernovae, mysterious and destructive black holes and their equally magnificent energy and matter outbursts.
Just look at this.
That is “just a rock”, too. When we have a natural world that is this magnificent and awe inspiring, do we really need the supernatural? In fact, in my mind invoking the supernatural trivialises reality and turns it into something lesser. And remember, just a rock.
And biochemistry can do so much more than a rock. It can take chemicals, break them up, recombine them to new chemicals, it can take a mere long chained molecule and inflate it into a multi-tonne whale, which itself goes through its existence constantly interacting with and adapting to its environment. It can conquer and transform even the most hostile environments. It turned and turns barren rocks into oasises bustling with activity and colours and sounds. All with mere biochemistry.
So what if our mind, our consciousness is “just a rock”?
That is fine with me. This rock has created a majestic reality of unsurpassed brilliance, simplicity and elegance. Adding a consciousness to that list of achievements of that rock is only a small step in light of what it already has done.
If I am a mere rock, then so be it. I will be a proud rock. I do not need a supernatural entity to feel special. In fact, I feel more special by accepting being part of the natural world. Everything in the universe is made from the same stuff. I am the universe, the universe is me. I am part of this glorious and beautiful universe that produced me. And my existence adds to its splendor. I do not need, nor do I want to be, a pathetic supernatural blob that just hijacks the achievements of this “rock’s” creation, just to express itself and its own unfounded claim to superiority. It would make us mere parasites, like the Goa’uld.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

The concept we call “Supernatural” is false, and only serves to derail intelligent discussion concerning these matters. I don’t believe in the supernatural either @ragingloli. I don’t know how anyone could justify that.

But, if there is a God, or a Soul, then it is perfectly natural for them to exist. Nothing supernatural about it at all.

Pride, splendor, glorious, beautiful… all concepts from a mind. Labels like destructive when describing black holes, and even the descriptor “black hole”... all concepts from a mind.

If biochemistry ultimately arose from the laws of physics, then biochemistry just a new form of rock.

“But the who in you is not reducible to biochemical mechanisms alone.”
@ragingloli “Why could it not?”

Because the laws of physics are not the same as the laws of information, and all life has the necessity for information. Rocks don’t, and neither does biochemistry. But add information to biochemistry, and then, and only then, do we see life, and consciousness.

There are no physics or mathematics that come close to explaining the existence of information. The “ation” + “in-form” denotes a process of bringing thought in-to-form. But before that process occurs, the thought is immaterial, and without form. Information IS the mechanism that explains the differences between living organisms and non living matter. Rocks, biochemistry, nebulas, star cluster… don’t have it.

ragingloli's avatar

You know that I disagree with you and you know why I think you are wrong and why I think that consciousness can easily emerge from simplicity. I have explained that already in great detail. So forgive me that I will not repeat that again.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

You’ve explained a hypothesis. But you’ve never demonstrated a proven accepted mechanism. And you’ve never addressed the mathematics against the hypothesis you propose. I’ve offered empirical evidence with nearly infinite precedent that satisfies the scientific method and the mathematical probabilities to explain the existence of information.

CMaz's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies – Good shit! I mean… GA. :-)

mammal's avatar

well, most white folks don’t have a soul, so i guess some of us do and some of us don’t….case closed :)

ragingloli's avatar

I have. It is called the theory of evolution.
And I can not remember you offering anything involving mathematics against the theory, so feel free to refresh my memory.
And the “precedents” you gave were all taken out of the artificial world that we created. The same mistake that creationists and ID proponents do when they argue against evolution: comparing lifeless, dead objects with self replicating, mutating, competing systems. A book has an author, yes. So do computer programs and speech. But a book is dead. A program must be run by someone, it must be rewritten by someone to change, it must be copied to multiply. Neither of these things reproduce, nor do they mutate or compete for resources. They can do nothing on their own own. Life does.
Paintings have painters, cars have manufacturers, houses have builders, watches have clockmakers. They are all precedents for ‘design’. And there are nearly infinitely more precedents in the artificial world. But a dog has no designer. You would not make this mistake in this case, but you make this mistake when it comes to “information”.
Take a hollow seashell, fill it with plaster and remove it when it is dry. Did some one “read information” from the seashell and use it to form the cast? Or did the cast just form in accordance with physical laws?
Take a bismuth crystal. Full of right angles. Surely making countless perfect right angles need information to form. They do not. They formed according to physical laws and the chemical properties of the mineral. Processes inside the cell that make an entire organism based on one extremely long molecule are the same, just more complex.
We call it things like “genetic information” and “transcription” and “translation” because human scientists, in there ethnocentric nature, did not bother creating new words to label these processes and instead coopted the words from human artificial concepts.

Rarebear's avatar

I still want to know how @GrumpyGram has talked with the dead.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ragingloli “We call it things like “genetic information” and “transcription” and “translation” because human scientists, in there ethnocentric nature, did not bother creating new words to label these processes and instead coopted the words from human artificial concepts.”

That’s just not true at all.

“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 Yockey, Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life

Not synonyms, metaphors, or analogies. Read the book. It’s very interesting and Yockey is even an Atheist. But nowhere in it does he suggest that DNA was labeled as a code for convenience. It was discovered to be a genuine code by acknowledging that it adheres to extremely precise criteria. The same criteria that prevents tornadoes and solar flares from being labeled as codes.

I have no problem with evolution. I believe in evolution. You and I differ on the types of mutations that are possible, but I’ve never once doubted that evolution accounts for our present condition.

The mathematics that I’ve presented are not to refute evolution. They refute abiogenesis as being remotely possible to create code. It would literally be a miracle.

@ragingloli “Take a hollow seashell, fill it with plaster and remove it when it is dry. Did some one read information from the seashell and use it to form the cast? Or did the cast just form in accordance with physical laws? Take a bismuth crystal…”

That event is not information. That’s just observable phenomenon under the influence of cause and effect. But your description of it is information. Information is a description, and that’s what transcription does. It describes us before we even exist.

@ragingloli “They do not (need information). They formed according to physical laws and the chemical properties of the mineral.”

I agree with you completely for non living matter. Plaster casts and bismuth crystals do not need information to exist. But life does. And all designed objects do as well. Information, as presented by a codified set of instructions (plans), are a prerequisite for all designs, including life. Information is the smoking gun that determines if a thing is designed or not.

@ragingloli “But a book is dead. A program must be run by someone, it must be rewritten by someone to change,...”

Yes, a book is non living matter. But a book is not reducible to the non living matter of ink, glue and paper alone. It is also a product of thought, as apparent by the information those words represent. A book is not thought. A book represents thought. All information represents a thought from a mind.

And a program does not need to be reauthored to change. It can be designed from the very beginning to sense and act upon external stimuli, just like DNA.

@ragingloli ” must be copied to multiply. Neither of these things reproduce, nor do they mutate or compete for resources. They can do nothing on their own own. Life does.”

I know this is a hard swallow, but information is a funny critter. First, it’s not a physical object that can be duplicated. Copies of it’s representative code may be duplicated, but they all refer back to the original source info. They are not millions of separate pieces of info. It’s millions of different mediums that all represent the same info.

And, even more astounding, a single codified representation of a singular source of information is the only thing in the universe that duplicates itself just by being observed. As I write this thread, I am the only person alive who is aware of the information that my comments represent. But as soon as you or anyone else read my reply, the code has duplicated on your screen and in your mind, making you aware of the very same information that previously only I was aware of.

LostInParadise's avatar

Information requires physical representation. When you write something on this site, the physical representation of your ideas inside your brain is translated into an electronic signal that appears on our computers and then gets encoded in our brains. Why should one assume that there is some non-physical entity like soul that is necessary? As you point out, evolution and reproduction in general can be described in terms of information and these have been going on for far longer than there were humans to notice. What do we gain by positing unknowable and unmeasurable intervening agents?

mattbrowne's avatar

Such a proof does not exist.

All so-called near-death experiences by the way are not near death at all. They are normal experiences of a brain under strain.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


But there are no ideas inside the brain. Only synapses, neurons, and flesh. No one has ever held an idea in their hands, and thoughts don’t spill onto the floor during brain surgery.

Point being, ideas, thoughts, and mind, are not reducible to the laws of physics. They are immaterial agents that are represented by physical mediums. Technically, the materialist shouldn’t even believe in them because they are non materialistic, and quite immaterial. We cannot prove they exist. We may only infer their existence.

Just like your comments are not reducible to mere photons firing on my computer monitor. But I will infer your existence because of these photons that represent your thoughts.

There must in fact be an immaterial realm of thought and ideas, and mind, of which our physical brains act as receiver/transmitter processing mechanism. It is not bound by energy/matter space/time. It is beyond all notions of physicality.

Since I equate thought with spirit, and mind with soul, then thought/spirit and mind/soul are agents of the immaterial realm. It is quite knowable and measurable through inference and instrumentation.

The code that you have authored to me is a tool of instrumentation that allows me to detect the existence of unseen information. Just as an electroencephalogram is a tool of instrumentation that allows me to detect the existence of unseen brain waves, or a radio is a tool that detects unseen radio waves.

It’s there, otherwise I’m just talking to my computer screen and nothing else.

ragingloli's avatar

There are also no images, video’s and music on a computer, just a complex assembly of switches and gates and electrons moving through them.

LostInParadise's avatar

Ideas are stored in the brain in the way that neurons are structured. We know that memory is physical. There were experiments that trained single cell animals to favor a particular direction (left or right) for a reward. When their RNA was transferred to other cells, these demonstrated the same left/right bias.

Structure is a global property, but that does not make it non-physical. If horse has a certain mass, I can build another object with equal mass. I can also build something that has the same shape as the horse. Ideas require physical form to be manifested.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Transferring RNA to another cell is no different than transferring code from my computer to yours. Of course it will retain the same instructive properties.

Ideas require physical form to be manifested… into physical form.

But the idea, as you so rightly note, is not a physical form in and of itself.

LostInParadise's avatar

No, ideas need physical form to exist. When you remove all the physical manifestations, the idea ceases to be.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

How do you know that for certainty?

Destroying a CD does not destroy the song Sunday Bloody Sunday. By what logic may we claim that destroying all CD’s, MP3’s, Vinyl, YouTube, Sheet Music… will finally destroy that song? If destroying 99.999% of those mediums does not destroy the song, then what makes you suppose that 100% would destroy it? There is no precedent to support the hypothesis.

Just because we cannot detect it, doesn’t mean it’s destroyed. A broken electroencephalogram does not destroy a brain wave. A broken radio does not destroy radio waves.

And most critically, destroying a CD does not destroy the energy and matter. We know that energy and matter cannot be destroyed, yet the CD is poof! Gone!

Since energy/matter cannot be destroyed either, and there is no evidence to suggest that destroying a single medium affects the information it represents whatsoever, then by what reasoning may we claim that the information is destroyed?

There is a third element among us friends. Our physical reality consists of energy + matter. But our creations, and all life adds an immaterial quantity of information to the mix. Life = energy + matter + information.

ragingloli's avatar

“There is no precedent to support the hypothesis.”
Yes there are.
The Egyptian pyramids. How were they built? What techniques did they use? That information once existed in the brains the builders back then, probably on papyrus, too. These media do not exist anymore. It has not been transferred to today’s media either. The information on how to build pyramids the same way they were built thousands of years ago does not exist anymore. It is lost, destroyed.
The same is true for all the other achievements of ancient civilisations that we know nothing about. Ziggurats, the Aztec Calendar, the contents of the brains of all the billions of people who are now dead, both recent and ancient. What did the foreman of the construction crew that built the Cheops Pyramid say to his wife at dinner on the day the last stone was set into the building? That information once existed. Not anymore.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Lost is not equatable to destroyed. Agreed that those media do not exist any longer. I mean sure, we may eventually uncover the plans, but lets assume that all those mediums are gone for good. Still, the only claim we can confidently make is that we no longer have access to that information. But it by no means proves that information is destroyed.

Take a conceptual leap with me. Don’t worry, it’s purely physical.

Every word from our mouths is a vibration. Those vibrations eventually dissipate into the cosmos, undetectable by any human senses or instrumentation. But we must acknowledge, that vibration does in fact go on and on an on, bouncing off obstacles, throughout the universe, multiplying. It has reached a point where we can no longer detect it, but the signal remains nonetheless.

Some vibrations will be from random occurrences, like trees falling and waterfalls. Those are not codified. But the vibrations from a whispered message are codified. And they will represent information forever, detectable or not.

Likewise the photons that strike the ancient papyrus also reflect into the cosmos. They may indeed fade to a point where they can no longer be detected. But that light is moving faster than the television signals of old I Love Lucy episodes. The wave has engaged, albeit an extremely faint one by our detection methods. It remains intact.

It is no different than the methodology implemented by SETI. The reason they are confident that random noise from the universe (falling trees and waterfalls) can be filtered out as background noise, is because codified signals have extremely precise protocols that are not reproducible without a sentient mind to codify a message.

There very well may be an alien on another planet at this very moment receiving a codified message from the very lips of that pyramid foreman, dead and gone for centuries. If their instrumentation is vastly superior to ours for detecting faint signals, and they understand the principles of Shannon’s communication model, well, the plans for the pyramids may well be intact after all.

Either way, that does not disregard the premise that the message is irreducible to the medium that expresses it. That intelligent alien would never suppose that the cosmos wrote that message by chance, and somehow provided a formula for pyramids out of thin air. No, that alien would definitely understand that the signal received was a genuine code, and it represented the thought/spirit of someone’s mind/soul.

ragingloli's avatar

They do not represent it forever. Sound waves not only fade away. They get mixed up with other sound waves and fuse into different form. They get distorted by the changes to the medium itself, like wind, turbulences, etc. and by being reflected off surfaces. The message transmitted via sound waves could not have been sent with any sound waves. It is inherently dependent on the form of the soundwaves, the specific pattern of changes in amplitude, frequency, wavelengths, etc. All that changes over time. There comes a point where the only thing you will derive from such a sound wave is unintelligible wagharbl. It is inevitable.
The same is true for light. It does not simply fade and become weaker. It gets scattered into random directions in an atmosphere, it changes by interfering with other light, it gets broken down by prismas, absorbed by certain surfaces, scattered by others. It gets polluted by visual noise.
You can look at a paining and see the painting. But if you look at a white, rough wall opposite to the painting, you are not going to see anything but the wall, because the rough surface of the wall scatters the light that was reflected by the painting to the wall, into random directions.
Messages transmitted via light and sound do not exist forever, because they are inherently dependent on the precise sequence of changing, precisely determined properties of the medium, a sequence that gets disrupted pretty quickly.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Well I did say it was a conceptual leap. The medium becomes entropic, I agree. Such is the physical realm. And though we continue to develop more sensitive instrumentation to detect physical nature all the time, I agree that it is very unlikely that any intelligence could overcome the interference to such a degree that I described.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

However I must reemphasize, that we are in fact getting pretty clever at not only detecting the faintest of signals, but also isolating and differentiating mixed signals from one another. Some of the technology is pretty eerie actually. And it is much more effective when the signal is actually codified, recognized apart from the entropy.

Rarebear's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies “Destroying a CD does not destroy the song Sunday Bloody Sunday” Oh, I so wish it could, though…

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“I can’t believe the news today. Oh I can close my eyes and make it go away.”

LostInParadise's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies , By the time a signal’s strength weakens to the point that it is less than that of background noise, that signal is irretrievably lost.

There is just no chance that the SETI project is going to find anything. There is not enough energy available to produce a signal from some distant planet that will be detectable to us.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Well SETI has some pretty smart people that feel differently about that. I mean these guys are really really smart folks. You wouldn’t believe the requirements necessary just to be an intern. I know this from first hand experience. But who knows, you may be right.

Personally, I don’t believe in extraterrestrial life.

ragingloli's avatar

SETI assumes that aliens still use primitive radio communications.
The SETI guys also claim that there is no evidence that aliens are visiting earth. That is an easy claim to make when you never even take a look at the evidence.
That is a fact that frustrates serious UFO researchers like physicist Stanton Friedman.
Sure they may find something someday, but in other, even closely related fields, they are pretty closeminded.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’m not here to defend SETI. I don’t believe their research will lead to anything at all. But I cannot deny that the people involved with SETI are extremely intelligent individuals who have their own very good reasons to disagree with me.

I’m sure Stanton is quite a smart fellow too.

Jabe73's avatar

Here is a good link It doesn’t “prove” anything but does debunk many skeptic explainations of ndes/obes.

Rarebear's avatar

@Jabe73 Your link didn’t work.

SmashTheState's avatar

I wonder how the naive materialists in this thread explain the famous Lorber case, amply documented, in which a person with virtually no cerebellum (crushed to less than 2% of its original volume as a result of cerebral pressure) was mentally normal, with a measured IQ of 128 and a degree in mathematics.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’m not even sure how naive spiritualists would explain that one.

LostInParadise's avatar

@SmashTheState , Not well documented and apparently “greatly exaggerated.” See Link , second post

Jabe73's avatar

@Rarebear It is better to just go directly to since there are several good links on this site but I should have pasted the link that was my fault.

My own opinion on this is that maybe it is more irrational to assume that we and all other life could of came by chance from non-living material. I was reading a good article by the mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose who calculated that the chances of a life-supporting universe happening by chance to be 1 in 10 10^123, that number has a 1 followed by trillions of zeros, too big to imagine.

I read another calculation about how the odds of randomly producing the required enzymes for a simple living cell were 1 in 10 to the 40,000th power. The number of atoms in the universe is 10 to the 80th power. The entire universe (judging by these calculations) could have been a giant pool of primordial soup and still the odds of a single living cell forming would be close to non-existent.

WOW! We (living beings) with the ability to feel emotions, love, humor have all formed from out of nothing is to me just as bizarre as believing in the tooth fairy. Science (in all the experiments I’ve read about) has not even come close to creating a single living cell but has modified several already living organisms. Let me guess Leslie Flint was a fraud too. I consider myself a free thinker as well (let me guess you have to be an atheist to be considered a free thinker). I try to look for the truth whether it takes me down a materialist or non-materialist path, we do not know everything about physics (we aren’t even close). We are still only beginning to learn about matter, dark matter, dark energy, subatomic particles, quantum physics, etc.

ragingloli's avatar

Evolution does not say that life poofed into existance by mere coincidence. It does not say that a cell randomly assembled itself in a one-off event. That is what creationists say when they argue against the strawman they created. Evolution works by tiny, undirected changes, selected for or against by environmental pressures, accumulating on top each other over time.
The computers we all use today were not created just yesterday without connections to anything. They are the result of countless generations of previous computers, each featuring small changes and improvements from the previous model, selected for or against by the consumer and the industry. The same is true for everything else we created. From the domesticated plants and animals we eat to the machines we use, the science we employ, the languages we speak, the knowledge we have. All the result of Evolution with integral parts of mutation, reproduction and selection replaced by human intervention, but still based on the same principle.

Jabe73's avatar

@ragingloli I am fully aware of the difference between abiogenesis and evolution and yes there are theistic evolutionists (I believe in this as well). I see there are several other “theories” out there as well such as evolutionary creationism, progressive creationism, day-age creationism, and gap creationism. The young earthers have their own two theories (at least that I am aware of), omphalism and young earth fundamentalism.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Jabe73 said:

“mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose who calculated that the chances of a life-supporting universe happening by chance to be 1 in 10 10^123, that number has a 1 followed by trillions of zeros, too big to imagine.”

“I read another calculation about how the odds of randomly producing the required enzymes for a simple living cell were 1 in 10 to the 40,000th power. The number of atoms in the universe is 10 to the 80th power. The entire universe (judging by these calculations) could have been a giant pool of primordial soup and still the odds of a single living cell forming would be close to non-existent.”

Yes that’s correct. Here is further support for your comments.

The late Leslie Orgel (renowned Abiogenesis proponent) said: the self-organization of the reductive citric acid cycle without the help of “informational” catalysts would be a near miracle.
emphasis mine

Shall we leap to believe in Atheistic miracles?

But let’s go ahead and take a leap of faith and start with “a membraine enclosed ribozyme capable of plymerising itself and its counterpart copy…”

Martin Line makes a great case in A Hypothetical Pathway from the RNA to the DNA World, but in the end still warns us that:

“The pathway proposed is not intended to represent reality”

and requires “a formidalbe conceptual leap” and hopes that

“If support for some of these steps can be shown, final resort to an intelligent creator for the origin of life (Gibson, 1993) may yet be premature”

Nanoarchaeum has the smallest number of base pairs that we know of at 480,000. That’s 4^480,000 potential configurations… that’s 10^200,000. The entire universe is only estimated to have 10^80 atoms… A random assembly of any meaningful codified information would literally be a mind boggling supernatural miracle. The Atheist is forced to embrace the very supernatural miracles they would otherwise deny, becoming a parody of the religious fanatic they previously mocked.

But let’s give the cosmos an even easier problem to work on. The Math behind Abiogenesis is a rework of the Infinite Monkey Theorum. I’ve given you the building blocks, just like the Monkeys were given an alphabet. But there’s not enough time since the Big Bang to even come close to writing 130,000 character sentence.

The text of Hamlet contains approximately 130,000 letters. Even if the observable universe were filled with monkeys typing for all time, their total probability to produce a single instance of Hamlet would still be less than one in 10^183,800.

As Kittel and Kroemer put it, The probability of Hamlet is therefore zero in any operational sense of an event, and the statement that the monkeys must eventually succeed gives a misleading conclusion about very, very large numbers.
This is from their textbook on thermodynamics, the field whose statistical foundations motivated the first known expositions of typing monkeys

LostInParadise's avatar

You are assuming that the 130,000 building blocks were assembled all at once. This certainly did not happen. The construction evolved over time. It was not necessary to construct every possible combination. At each stage, only the small number of viable combinations could make it to the next stage.

josie's avatar

The fact that the universe is astonishing is not proof that something supernatural created it

ragingloli's avatar

Jesus Christ… You are making the same damn mistake as every creationist out there: You falsely assume that all that assembled itself all at once. Of course that is not going to work, but that is not how evolution works.
Holy fucking Satan.

watch the blind watchmaker. It covers your infinite monkey comparison and why it is wrong.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@LostInParadise “You are assuming that the 130,000 building blocks were assembled all at once.”

The monkeys type one letter at a time. No code is constructed “all at once”.

@josie “not proof that something supernatural created it”

Agreed. I don’t believe in the “supernatural” either. If God exists, then it is perfectly natural for God to exist. But asking for code to arise by chance is begging for a supernatural event, as it has never once been demonstrated.

@ragingloli “You falsely assume that all that assembled itself all at once.”

When did I assume that? Wouldn’t dream of it. Code is assembled one letter at a time. Dawkins Blind Watchmaker does not allow for the “Informational Catalyst” that Leslie Orgel (renowned Abiogenesis proponent) said was needed. Dawkins is the one who makes “the same damn mistake” as every other materialist out there. He presumes that information can arise purely through the laws of physics and chemistry with no support and no precedent. There is no reason to believe in such a thing as a thoughtless code. It’s like believing in the FSM. Dawkins can polish his pulpit all he wants, but I choose not to believe until a precedent is provided.

“the self-organization of the reductive citric acid cycle without the help of “informational” catalysts would be a near miracle.”
Leslie Orgel

I fully accept Dawkins proposition of “Apparent Design”. I agree with him on that 100%. But as he makes that statement, he falls prey to suggesting something beyond the scope of his presentation. He falls prey to believing in what I call “Apparent Information”.

ragingloli's avatar

The quotes you posted presume and require just that, that everything happened randomly, all at once. That is the mistake they and you make.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

No. It happens over time. That’s why the infinite monkey theory is defeated. Calculations with the amount of particles in the universe at 10^80, and the time the universe has existed at 14.6 billion years, does not allow for such an event to take place. It’s not all at once. You’ve got all the time since the beginning of time to work with. It can’t happen.

ragingloli's avatar

You said: “A random assembly of any meaningful codified information would literally be a mind boggling supernatural miracle.”
That is exactly what I meant. You think that evolution means that all that “information”, after millions of years of random assembly and subsequent reset to zilch, just came together in one big accident. That is not how evolution works. Have you seen part 2, from minute 5 onwards, of the Blind Watchmaker documentary? It addresses just that by using a phrase from Hamlet. Evolution managed to arrive at that phrase, purely by random mutation and natural selection, in less than 3000 generations, while the monkeys still just produced garble.

LostInParadise's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies , There are two mistakes in your reasoning. The first mistake is that each combination has to be done sequentially. Since there may be millions of copies of a particular cell, there can at any stage be millions of separate“keys” that are typed in parallel.

The more serious mistake is in not seeing that the number of combinations that have to be tested gets continuously parsed. Let me give you an idea how natural selection cuts down on the number of combinations that have to be tried. Suppose that the blocks consist of the 26 letters of the alphabet. For the first two positions there will be 26*26 = 676 possibilities. Suppose that only five of these are viable: AB, DF , GQ, XC and ZZ.
In the next generation it will only be necessary to test out 5*26=130 possibilities, compared to the 26*26*26 total combinations of 3.

The important thing to realize is that at each stage of evolution, the organism must be viable and that the chances of a given random combination of blocks being viable is very small, so only a tiny fraction of all possibilities will be tested.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ragingloli Did you not see Dawkins admit it was a “cheat” at 7:10 on part 2 of the video? What a load of crap. First he says it’s a cheat, then he says it’s a good model of Darwinism and “cumulative selection”. He starts the experiment with a “Target” which is the “Information Catalyst”. It’s no different than the Southpark Cartoon you referenced earlier.

He says: “It’s looking into the future”.

How does a “Blind Watchmaker” look anywhere?

Dawkins is full of shit.

@LostInParadise “There are two mistakes in your reasoning.”
@LostInParadise “Since there may be millions of copies of a particular cell, there can at any stage be millions of separate“keys” that are typed in parallel.”

I’ve given you more than “millions of cells” to work with. Would you rather have “millions of cells” over a lifetime, or “infinite monkeys” since the beginning of time 14.6 billion years ago at the Big Bang. Odds are in favor of the monkeys, and Kittel and Kroemer calculate those odds at one in 10^183,800. Impossible… “therefore zero in any operational sense of an event”.

@LostInParadise “The more serious mistake is in not seeing that the number of combinations that have to be tested gets continuously parsed.”

I’m very familiar with the algorithms. They are the same algorithms that allow Dawkins to “cheat” with his Methinks it is like a weasel experiment.

Besides, I’m not speaking of evolution. I accept the principles of evolution. You and I disagree on how mutations occur, but in principle, I do accept evolution.

I’m speaking of the Source Code that got it all started. Where did that come from? That’s the Infinite Monkey Theory.

It is a proven fact that code can be programed to act upon stimuli fed by sensory equipment. A.I., Robotics, Computer Science, all confirm this in spades. But in every case, the program must be written with that functionality from the very beginning. This is advanced programming, above and beyond a simple miracle hoping for molecules to arrange themselves into something meaningful by accident.

The research of Barbara McClintock states that a cell “senses danger” and “acts accordingly”. She did not say reacts. She said acts.

Natural Selection would never allow the organism to live long enough for Dawkins “cumulative selection” to occur. I plumb for the McClintock research, suggesting a more active approach to coping with environmental pressures. I believe in “Intelligent Evolution”.

LostInParadise's avatar

Surely you are not saying that a cell has some sort of consciousness that causes it to think that there is danger ahead.

ragingloli's avatar

The target in real life is survival and procreation. The prerequisite in Dawkins example for the survival and subsequent procreation is looking more similar to the target phrase. It is a necessity of that very example. And besides, Dawkins has given you enough other examples of evolution without the simulation trying to look like a preset target. For example the aerofoil example or the artery example.

Natural Selection would never allow the organism to live long enough for Dawkins “cumulative selection” to occur.
Yes it would. He explained that with the mimicry insects near the end of the documentary. A bit more adaption of an organism gives it slightly greater survivability than its less adapted peers, more of those will survive and the next generation will have more of the adapted individuals.
It does not have to work for every individual, just for more individuals than the less adapted ones. That is all it needs. Just how do you think life forms survived before they evolved Barbara’s self repair mechanism?
First you say that “I accept the principles of evolution.”, and then you go and reject the very core of the Theory of Evolution, namely accumulating small changes in the gene pool and natural selection.
You are not accepting the principles of evolution.
You are an intelligent design proponent.
ID proponents say that because paintings have painters, cars have engineers, buildings have builders, e.g. that design things have designers, they say that life, because they look designed, are designed, and must have a designer.
You are saying that because books have authors, programs have programmers, that DNA, because it looks authored, must be authored and thus must have an author.
Just like regular ID proponents, you look at what humans have designed, look at nature, and because you can not explain how it could arise naturally, you conclude that it must have been designed/authored.
It is not Dawkins that is “full of shit”.
And besides, where does this author, who would have to be based on even more complex information, come from? Who wrote the author’s “source code”?
Not only are you making the same argument as ID proponents, but your argument has the same crippling problem as ID. Trying to establish the origin of the author/designer invariably results in infinite regress unless you resort to an “pulled out of your arse” excuse of the author/designer being eternal/outside of the universe/outside of time, e.g. resorting to an unprovable and unfalsifiable appeal to the supernatural.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@LostInParadise “Surely you are not saying that a cell has some sort of consciousness that causes it to think that there is danger ahead.”

It’s not me that’s saying it.

“one of the characteristic properties of living cells is their intelligence. Even single cells are endowed with the ability of a planning control or intelligence, which is reminiscent of the intentionality of a self-conscious mind. “Each cell is an intelligent being that can survive on its own” writes cell biologist Bruce Lipton (2005, 7)

And Barbara McClintock writes about cells (1983, 184): “They make wise decisions and act upon them.”

“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.”
Barbara McClintock, Gifts of Speech

Her words, (again),
“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 A. Shapiro writes:

“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).”

“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.”

“Evolutionary genomic change occurs largely by a process of Natural Genetic Engineering.”

”…the degree to which these genome reorganization activities are not random is poorly appreciated. Non-randomness is evident at three levels: mechanism, timing, and sites of action.”

“These examples make it clear that natural genetic engineering occurs episodically and non-randomly in response to stress events that range from DNA damage to the inability to find a suitable mating partner.”
A 21st Century View of Evolution

@ragingloli “First you say that “I accept the principles of evolution.”, and then you go and reject the very core of the Theory of Evolution, namely accumulating small changes in the gene pool and natural selection.”

Not. I accept small changes in the gene pool and natural selection. We disagree on how the genes change and I don’t substitute “cumulative selection” for “natural selection” like you and Dawkins do.

Call me an ID proponent all you like, but ID doesn’t accept any of this. I do.

@ragingloli “And besides, where does this author, who would have to be based on even more complex information, come from? Who wrote the author’s “source code”?”

I’ve made no claims as to the nature of the original author. You have, by presuming it “would have to be based on even more complex information”. By assuming you know the requirements for such a being, you have more in common with ID proponents than I do. And I have no intentions of playing God in a Box by presuming that this being has or needs a source code of its own.

I have in the past made a case for an immaterial realm that consists of pure un-codified source essence of information. I do not suppose that realm operates under the same constraints as our physical realm. My personal discoveries of what a God is, spirit, mind, thought and soul… would be considered heresy by typical religious dogma. Discussing it openly most often reveals a similar dogma from Atheists.

You’ll spend more time trying to convince me (force me) to believe in one of the many religious Gods (something you can argue against) rather than the unconventional depiction that I have offered so many times before.

In essence,

God = Truth = Information

Satan = Deception = Entropy

@ragingloli _—“You are an intelligent design proponent.
ID proponents say that because paintings have painters, cars have engineers, buildings have builders, e.g. that design things have designers, they say that life, because they look designed, are designed, and must have a designer.”—_

It has nothing to do with that. You’ve missed the point altogether. It has nothing to do with painters, engineers, builders, or designers.

It has to do with PLANS. When we discover a set of codified instructions that pre-determine the existence of a physical object before that physical object is manifest into reality, then and only then, may we infer sentient intervention. It resolves Paley’s watch argument.

I fully accept that the watch could arise by chance. But if I find a set of plans for it, then I know it didn’t. DNA is a set of plans that build a person. Plans don’t arise by chance.

ragingloli's avatar

What do you think happens to those small changes over successive generations? They accumulate into big ones. They have to. Just like constantly taking step after step will have you walking miles eventually.
By rejecting that you are rejecting the core of Evolution.

I have in the past made a case for an immaterial realm that consists of pure un-codified source essence of information. I do not suppose that realm operates under the same constraints as our physical realm.
So basically your entire belief depends on the supernatural.
It is funny, really. You reject out of hand the theoretical possibility that DNA emerged after millions of years of evolution in primitive proto cells based on principles that we know to work, in favour of something that you just imagined on your own, for which there is no evidence at all.

“It has to do with PLANS.”
Exactly my point. Because all the plans/recipes/blueprints of human history have had authors, and you know of no instance where one arose without one, you prematurely conclude that those found in nature also had to have authors.
This is perfectly congruent with the ID position.

Plans don’t arise by chance.
Not in the humans world, yes, they do not.
But we are not talking about a sheet of paper with numbers on it that has to be written on and read by someone to make sense of.
We are talking about a chemical compound, a molecule that has direct physical effects on the host without having to be read, but just by their chemical properties. A molecule that is subject to change by environmental factors, changes which alter the effects the molecule has on the host.
A molecule, that because of all that and because it, together with the host, is in a competitive environment, is subject to selective pressure.
That is why you can not simply apply your “Plans don’t arise by chance” catchphrase on it, because DNA is very very different from the plans and authored information you now from the human world.
Just as a ID proponent can not apply his “A complex thing must have a designer” catchphrase, that he based on the fact that human creations were manufactured, on life forms, because life is also very very different from designs made by humans, namely the fact that, unlike human creations, life mutates on its own, it procreates on its own. It is alive.
You make the same fundamental mistake as the other ID proponents: You compare passive objects created by humans (plans, designs, manufactured objects) with active objects in nature (DNA, organisms) and wrongfully apply the same conclusion to both objects, despite the large difference between them.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@ragingloli “But we are not talking about a sheet of paper with numbers on it that has to be written on and read by someone to make sense of. We are talking about a chemical compound, a molecule that has direct physical effects on the host without having to be read, but just by their chemical properties.”

It most certainly does have to be read and made “sense of”. That’s what transcription does, and no specific protein would manifest without it being read as such. It is most certainly not by chemical properties alone. You cannot deny the chasm between organic chemistry and informatics. Without the latter, no life arises. Reading is part and parcel to Shannon/Yockey protocols. No one would deny that DNA is read, interpreted, translated, and acted upon… just like every other genuine code in existence.

ragingloli's avatar

The thing is that these reading mechanisms were not in place in the beginning. These mechnisms themselves had to evolve. Prior to that, the molecule itself had to excert effects on the hosts without the reading and transcription apparatus of modern cells. Even in your belief it had to, because you deny that the cell itself was designed.
That just brings me to another grave weakness of your belief:
– You say that DNA has to be read to have an effect on the cell/organism.
– You reject the notion that the molecule itself has effects on the cell/protocell simply because of chemical properties.
– Which means without the reading apparatus, DNA, no matter how much information contained within, is useless.
Which means that the cell with its reading apparatus must have been specifically designed to “read” the DNA molecule

As it is you have a massive contradiction in your own framework.
You say that you are not an ID proponent.
Yet your framework requires the direct external design of the surrounding cell to make use of the DNA molecule, because you reject that the molecule could have any effect on the cell by itself.

You have the following choice to make:
– Admit that you are an ID proponent in the classic sense (because your framework requires a designed cell)
– Accept that the molecule has effects on the cell on its own and that the surrounding cell, together with the reading apparatus, evolved.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Wow two choices. Lucky me.

Jabe73's avatar

I remember reading an article about dutch scientists who performed experiments on dying patients to record their weight before and after physical “death”. The scientists recorded an average weight loss of 2¼ ounces or 63 grams at the very moment of physical death. The scientists considered factors such as dehydration, air, gas, ect for what could have contributed to the weight loss in a certain time frame.

Jabe73's avatar

The theory of relativity shows that 1 kilogram of matter corresponds to 25,000,000,000 kWh of energy. The formula shows that there is only one substance called “energy-matter”, which has a dual nature and can manifest as energy or matter. The same could apply for a physical/ethereal body. Matter is energy, energy cannot be created or destroyed. How did self-consciousness evolve from nothing even assuming that life itself could have evolved from nothing?

ragingloli's avatar

First of all, it were americans from massachusetts. Then it was only 21 grams average , not 63. Then he had a sample size of 4 people and apparently never followed up on his experiment. The results also varied and in one of the cases, the weight loss reversed itself and then lost weight again. He also had problems ascertaining the precise moment of death.

Read more here

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


Your position ultimately requires an unconscious universe… to speak. Do you believe that the cosmos has said something, anything, meaningful?

Ultimately, your very next comment is just star talk, continuing the conversation that got life started in the first place. Do you really believe that conscious awareness can arise from a mute universe? Either way, In the beginning was the Word.

LostInParadise's avatar

The Word? Now we really are getting biblical.
Do you believe that the cosmos has said something, anything, meaningful?
No. The universe does not speak.

Ultimately, your argument is that life is too complex to have arisen by chance. Until someone is able to simulate evolution at the chemical level, it will not be possible to directly refute that. However, the indirect evidence of evolution is overwhelming and predictions based on its randomness are routinely confirmed. For example, evolution says that organism diversity on small isolated islands should be less than elsewhere, and this is the case. To posit some mysterious undetectable force that guides evolution has no explanatory, and hence no scientific, value. If it eases your mind to feel that way, then go ahead and do so.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@LostInParadise “For example, evolution says that…”

Let’s be very precise and careful with the words we use. If the universe does not speak, then evolution “says” nothing at all.

@LostInParadise “To posit some mysterious undetectable force that guides evolution has no explanatory, and hence no scientific, value.”

But I didn’t do that. The existence of a genetic code is the very device that allows us to detect sentient authorship. It demands that we must, and it is no more mysterious than an anonymous note found on the ground or a book with its cover ripped away. We don’t automatically assume those scripts wrote themselves by accident by way of some mysterious force. We logically infer authorship just as we infer brainwaves from an electroencephalogram, or gravity from a falling ball, even though no one has ever held or touched brainwaves or gravity.

@LostInParadise “No. The universe does not speak.”

Though I tend to agree with you, by denying the evidence at hand and refusing to infer sentient authorship for the genetic code via the scientific method, one must otherwise conclude that the universe wrote the code of life all by itself. By doing so, the mute universe has somehow spoken. Codes are spoken into existence. I cannot help it if biblical reference coincides with this scientific acknowledgment. Perhaps Bhartrihari’s Sphota Theory of Language is more to your liking.

Put to the scientific method, with reliance upon precedent, experience, predictability, and repeatability, which is the more likely? Either a sentient agent spoke the code of life into existence, or the dumb mute cosmos spoke the code of life into existence. Either way, a code was, is, and continues to be spoken.

LostInParadise's avatar

I chose my words poorly. What I should have said is that the theory of evolution implies…

You are using the word “speak” in a way that does not correspond to the dictionary definition and whose meaning I can not fathom.

You are using the God of the gaps explanation, whether you invoke “god” or intelligent whatever. You are saying that we have no scientific explanation (when in fact we do) and therefore there must be some intelligent agent at work. Unless you can come up with an experiment to test the existence of your intelligent agent, unless your theory has some predictive element, it has no scientific value. It is in the same category as the Law of Attraction.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I use “speak” in the proper dictionary definition.
#2 in Merriam-Webster 2 a : to make a written statement.

That’s exactly what the genetic code does. It defines you. It speaks you into physical existence before you ever exist.

Inferring authorship is a scientific explanation that stands up to the scientific method. I cannot force you to accept the evidence. I can only offer it.

It’s very simple. A code has been written. It either comes from the mute dumb cosmos, or it was sentient authored. Do rocks speak?

BTW… Evolution doesn’t “imply”. Only sentient beings capable of communicating can “imply”.

LostInParadise's avatar

The theory of evolution can imply in the way that a set of mathematical axioms can imply. There are results that follow from the theory.

The way that scientific method works is that you have to devise an experiment that can falsify what you are trying to establish. If the experiment fails at falsification then you tentatively accept the result that you were trying to establish. There is no possible experiment that is capable of falsifying an intelligent designer. Therefore the idea lies outside of science.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

To falsify intelligent authorship of code, all one need do is demonstrate a non intelligent mechanism that can author. Since that fails, then I accept the result that I attempt to establish. One can claim all they want that non intelligent authorship is possible. But I have no reason to accept a claim lacking evidence and flies against all mathematical probability.

I also accept the predictability of sentient authorship of code. And I accept the repeatability of sentient authorship for code, notwithstanding the 30,000 years of precedent with billions of empirical examples every single day.

No other mechanism has ever been demonstrated.

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