The materialist label

Dale, at fruitful faith.net, has a new post, moral things, with which he hopes to extend recent discussions on morality. Unfortunately he has somehow activated a log-on requirement which I can’t penetrate. Hopefully this is an error and he will correct it soon as I think he makes some interesting points worth discussing.

At this stage (and in the hope he finds this here) I want to comment on the use of labels. Dale is interested in understanding how ‘materialists’ “arrive at their value-judgements.” I think he wishes to call people like me ‘materialists’ although he acknowledges that I do “not accept the label.” Lets clarify this.

I think we can get by without labelling people and I usually resist such temptations. In fact, I don’t think I often feel that temptation. However, I have noticed that several people commenting here wish to apply labels to me and other commenters (I wonder if this is a form of judgmentalism?). The problem, of course, is that people interpret labels like ‘materialist‘ differently. This results in people setting up straw men. It’s best just to discuss the real issues and positions – not the imagined ones.

What is ‘matter’

So my concept of ‘materialism,’ and indeed ‘matter,’ is very different to that of one commenter, for example, who limits ‘matter’ to something with substance, – ‘physical, mechanistic.’ That, to my mind, is an archaic definition. It certainly doesn’t cover the widely different forms of ‘matter’ we recognise today. In fact, I would suggest that it doesn’t cover any ‘matter’ at all if we think of matter as a property (or field) of space/time – a position which modern scientific understanding of the fundamental nature of ‘matter’ seems to be coming to. Have a listen to this fascinating Blogging Heads discussion between Sean Carroll (from the blog Cosmic Variance and who researches theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation) and Jennifer Ouellette for a better description of this.

I am quite happy to call myself ‘materialist’ if my definition of ‘matter’ is used – but certainly not if an archaic definition (commonly meant by those who bandy about this word) is used. Dale applies the label to those who deny “a spiritual realm/dimension” or have the “view that ‘mind’ = ‘brain’ (roughly speaking) or that ’spirit’ = ‘body’ (or that ’spirit’ = nothing).” Well, I currently don’t believe in a dualist model of consciousness, that consciousness could exist independently of the brain. Not because I am a ‘materialist’ but because currently the evidence is that is not the case. This position is also often held be people normally not called materialist – including Christians like theologian Nancy Murphy. (Interestiongly intelligent design guru Phillip Johnson attempted to get her “expelled” from the Fuller Theological seminary in 1999 after she wrote a negative review of his book ‘Darwin on Trial’).

However, the study of consciousness is difficult and in its early days. it could be that sometime down the track we do find evidence for existence of consciousness apart from the brain. If we do it will be fascinating – we will have a new form of ‘matter’ to investigate and bring into our theories. This would certainly be acceptable to my definition of ‘materialism’ – but not that indicated by Dale and some others.

Liberation from the labels straight-jacket

So I avoid using these labels because (i) they mean different things to different people. But also because (ii) they can end up being a rigid definition of a ‘world view’ which obliges the holder of the label to apply blinkers and force their thinking, opinions and appreciation of reality along predetermined lines.

I actually find it liberating not to acknowledge ideological labels. It makes it easier to take reality as it comes, rather than expend all that effort required to force reality into an ideological straight-jacket.

So, Dale, hopefully you will see this and alter you blog settings to allow comments on your interesting article.

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138 responses to “The materialist label

  1. [thanks Ken, the only thing I've seen that would appear to be holding any comments was that the 'comments must be moderated...' box was ticked? I've un-ticked it - maybe that will help?]

  2. [whoops, found another box that was ticked! (don't know how!?) 'Users must be registered and logged in to comment' - It should be all 'open' now!]

  3. You might like this: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/10/your_brain_is_the_next_battleg.php (“Your brain is the next battleground”)

  4. Thanks for the link. I did pick up the article (article) the other day and found it very interesting and topical. I have felt for a while that this area would be the next battle ground between science & religion – and that stupid women O’Leary has been trying to promote it as such.

    The point that this is different to attacks on evolutionary science because neuroscience is not taught in schools appears valid. However, I think there are many people with ‘supernatural’ views who currently accept evolutionary science but will be taken in by this. In that sense it may be a bigger battle although science must be moving fast in this area.

  5. The science in that area is moving at a huge rate, its an area I’m watching for myself (as an observer rather than participant for now). There are excellent leads from gene variants, copy number variation, etc. associated with neurological disorders, for example. There are some studies reporting particular proteins being needed for particular cognitive functions.

    There is mapping of gene expression onto brain regions, which is really something to my mind. If you haven’t visited the Allen Institute for Brain Research, do. (http://www.alleninstitute.org/) Its partly funded by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen dropping $US100M of his own money on the effort! (Now there’s a nice research grant!!) Browse down into the projects. They’re starting to do for the brain and nervous system what the initial genome sequences did, providing large-scale basic information other research can leverage. BIG hat tip to Paul Allen.

    And this is only some of the more molecular side of it.

    Incidentally, this is related to why I asked Dale if he thought humans more than biological creatures, to see if his beliefs included this general line of thinking.

  6. And your link slanders a well respected scientist:

    Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D. is a well known American scientist in the field of neuroplasticity, and its application to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

    After receiving a bachelors with honors in philosophy, he changed career directions to the medical sciences. Currently associate research professor of psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine, he is also a fellow with the International Society for Complexity, Information and Design.

    Schwartz is a seminal thinker and researcher in the field of self-directed neuroplasticity. He is the author of almost 100 scientific publications in the fields of neuroscience and psychiatry, and several popular books. His major research interest over the past two decades has been brain imaging/functional neuroanatomy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), with a focus on the pathological mechanisms and psychological treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

    Dr Schwartz is also the overseas ambassador/patron for the UK’s national Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder charity, *OCD-UK.

    For his book The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force, Schwartz received collaboration from LBL physicist Henry Stapp.

    But he doesn’t follow the pary line, so he must be destroyed and dismissed…

    As must his collaborator on “The Mind and the Brain” Henry Stapp:

    After receiving his PhD in particle physics at the University of California, Berkeley, under the supervision of Nobel Laureates Emilio Segrè and Owen Chamberlain, Stapp moved to ETH Zurich to do post-doctoral work under Wolfgang Pauli. During this period he composed an article called ‘Mind, Matter and Quantum Mechanics’, which he never sent for publication, but would become the title of his 1993 book. When Pauli died in 1958, Stapp transferred to Munich, now in the company of Werner Heisenberg. While making important contributions to, inter alia, the analysis of proton-proton scattering and the development of analytic S-matrix theory, Stapp is perhaps most well known for his ongoing work in the foundations of quantum mechanics, with particular focus on explicating the role and nature of consciousness. He is also an expert on Bell’s Theorem, having solved problems related to non-locality presented by John Bell and Albert Einstein.

    You guys really are narrow minded, intolerant, unscientific and religious through and through.

  7. @ James – October 24, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    “And your link slanders a well respected scientist:” Can’t really see any slander there (perhaps the link to O’Leary & the signing of the Discovery Inst. petition??). However, I am sure that if he has been slandered he will take it up with New Scientist.

    But what’s your interest, James. It’s not like you to actually come out in support of a scientist – quite the opposite!

    (Mind sharing with us what the source of you copy & paste on these two scientists is?)

    “You guys really are narrow minded, intolerant, unscientific and religious through and through.”

    Interesting – you equate narrow minded = intolerant = unscientific = religious!!!

  8. He is also a Discovery Institute fellow, which you left out. Can’t think why :-) And why not give the sources if you are pasting quotes?

    You could have just posted links, instead of cut’n’pasting so much. Anyway, your cut’n’paste efforts are very similar to those from this website (http://www.iscid.org/jeffrey-schwartz.php). This organisation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Society_for_Complexity,_Information_and_Design, which he is a member of, is apparently a “society devoted to promoting intelligent design.[1] The Society rejects evolution and seeks to undermine its teaching and alter the scientific method to eliminate what it sees as its materialistic, naturalistic, reductionistic and hence science’s atheistic underpinnings.”

    In any event, just because a link takes a stance on someone, doesn’t mean the person posting the link is narrow-minded, intolerant, etc. But its a nice attempt at trolling :-)

    There is such a thing a people going of the rails, y’know. Plenty of reputable people from all walks of life have.

    It is also possible to accept some of a person’s work and reject other parts of it, too. I haven’t looked at his other work so I would have no idea if its dotty or not (and I haven’t said either way about any of this work).

    Ken:

    “Interesting – you equate narrow minded = intolerant = unscientific = religious!!!” I should have picked that up. Nice catch!

  9. I think a post of mine may be stuck in the filters: just a head’s up.

    It was – the spam filter seems to be playing up. – Ken.

  10. Looking at it now, it might be the two-link thing. Must try remember that…!

  11. It is also possible to accept some of a person’s work and reject other parts of it, too. I haven’t looked at his other work so I would have no idea if its dotty or not (and I haven’t said either way about any of this work).

    The fact is, there is a growing amount of evidence that the immaterial content of beliefs and thoughts can change the physical brain. This is leading to dualism:

    The Dalai Lama invited Richard Davidson, a Harvard-trained neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s W.M. Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior to his home in Dharamsala, India, in 1992 after learning about Davidson’s innovative research into the <neuroscience of emotions. Could the simple act of thinking change the brain? Most scientists believed this idea to be false, but they agreed to test the theory. One such experiment involved a group of eight Buddhist monk adepts and ten volunteers who had been trained in meditation for one week in Davidson’s lab. All the people tested were told to meditate on compassion and love. Two of the controls, and all of the monks, experienced an increase in the number of gamma waves in their brain during meditation. As soon as they stopped meditating, the volunteers’ gamma wave production returned to normal, while the monks, who had meditated on compassion for more than 10,000 hours in order to attain the rank of adept, did not experience a decrease to normal in the gamma wave production after they stopped meditating. The synchronized gamma wave area of the monks’ brains during meditation on love and compassion was found to be larger than that corresponding activation of the volunteers’ brains. Davidson’s results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in November, 2004 and TIME recognized Davidson as one of the ten most influential people in 2006 on the basis of his research.[13][14]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroplasticity#Thought_and_neuroplasticity

    And you may want to check out Schwartz’s, Stapp’s and Beauregard’s peer reviewed work on the mind-brain connection.

    http://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/PTRS.pdf

    This is clear evidence against the “materialist’s” view.

  12. Mind sharing with us what the source of you copy & paste on these two scientists is?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_M._Schwartz

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

    “You guys really are narrow minded, intolerant, unscientific and religious through and through.”

    Interesting – you equate narrow minded = intolerant = unscientific = religious!!!

    Nonsense, I did not equate those things at all. The point is that ALL of them apply to you both…

  13. The first is very well-known to be flawed: you should have done your homework first ;-) I’ll give you a chance to show us you do homework can by naming some of the flaws of this work :-)

    (Small hint: one-sided beat-ups generally are just that. Additional small hint: it pays to read both sides of arguments, listening in particular to people with actual expertise in the area.)

    The second isn’t a research paper, but a hypothesis. As a hypothesis, it carries little weight until its shown to be true and is not “evidence”. To me its notable for ending by actually saying that they have no intention of putting forward a testable proposal! This would suggest its lower than a hypothesis really.

    Now you a chance to put yourself right on your own initiative. Make the most of it ;-)

  14. @13: Heraclides, have you seen this post (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/10/your_brain_is_the_next_battleg.php#comments) on Schwartz’s claims about the growing importance of dualism? (& the New Scientist item linked to therein)? ;-)

  15. @14:

    That’s the one I linked in post 3 :-) You’re on target, though! :-)

    Seriously, we obviously both read PZ’s blog. I didn’t have time to read all of the article, just skim it.

  16. Forgot to add, still haven’t gotten around to reading the original NS article, but a rushed skim suggests its a good piece.

  17. Alison:

    OK, Finally read the NS piece. Nice piece, stitches together all the bits well, I think. In this paragraph:

    But William Dembski, one of ID’s founding fathers and a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, praised Schwartz’s work as providing “theoretical support for the irreducibility of mind to brain”

    I would have liked her to point out Swartz’s article only outlines a concept/hypothesis and as such it can’t support anything (it can be consistent with other things, though). My guess is that she thought there is no advantage in saying that, as she says elsewhere in the piece that the content of the proposal itself doesn’t sit with the rest of the science, so pointing this out would be redundant, and perhaps without it, it’d be less confusing for non-scientists readers (what do you think?)

  18. The first is very well-known to be flawed: you should have done your homework first I’ll give you a chance to show us you do homework can by naming some of the flaws of this work

    Richard Davidson’s work was flawed? According to whom? Those who do not want dualism to be true?

    The second isn’t a research paper, but a hypothesis. As a hypothesis, it carries little weight until its shown to be true and is not “evidence”. To me its notable for ending by actually saying that they have no intention of putting forward a testable proposal! This would suggest its lower than a hypothesis really.

    Then you are not familiar with his actual work with self-directed neuroplasticity and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Where his theories get actual results.

    The paper I link actually referenced many of these studies, for instance:

    More recently, work by Beauregard and
    colleagues (Paquette et al. 2003) has demonstrated
    systematic changes in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
    and parahippocampal gyrus after cognitive-behavioural
    therapy for phobia of spiders, with brain changes significantly
    related to both objective measurements and
    subjective reports of fear and aversion. There are now
    numerous reports on the effects of self-directed
    regulation of emotional response, via cognitive reframing
    and attentional re-contextualization mechanisms,
    on cerebral function (e.g. Schwartz et al. 1996;
    Beauregard et al. 2001; Ochsner et al. 2002; Le´vesque
    et al. 2003; Paquette et al. 2003;).

    But Heraclides, you can ignore it, I wouldn’t want you to question your religion…

  19. My aren’t you determined to ignore everything that doesn’t suit you.

    You didn’t provide anything in response to the first. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Fail mark ;-)

    Your reply to the second demonstrates (again) that you know little about science. As I wrote earlier, their model doesn’t provide a testable hypothesis, so there is no help for you there. According to those who know this area, the papers cited don’t provide evidence of what he proposed, either. Go on, look for their assessments of this work. They’re not hard to find. In fact, the only way I can see you not finding them, is not trying to. You cannot judge an argument by only looking at one side. You need to consider those in opposition, too. But it seems you can’t bring yourself to try. Fail mark again ;-)

    So, let’s repeat my helpful hints: one-sided beat-ups generally are just that. It pays to read both sides of arguments, listening in particular to people with actual expertise in the area.

    Think about these hints, and try again, using them this time ;-)

    (Bonus hint: At least one counter to the claim in the second quote you gave can be easily found by using links from this blog page.)

  20. Your reply to the second demonstrates (again) that you know little about science. As I wrote earlier, their model doesn’t provide a testable hypothesis, so there is no help for you there. According to those who know this area, the papers cited don’t provide evidence of what he proposed, either.

    Of course they offer a testable hypothesis. That the content of beliefs can make physical changes in the brain, that belief(s) can make the brain act differently. In the link there are a number of referenced works. The Davidson study showed the same effect. Never mind the on going research into the placebo effect. Where placebos actually cause physical and mental changes. I know Heraclides that these facts are untidy for your religion, but that is your problem, not mine.

  21. @ James – October 24, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    “And you may want to check out Schwartz’s, Stapp’s and Beauregard’s peer reviewed work on the mind-brain connection.

    http://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/PTRS.pdf

    This is clear evidence against the “materialist’s” view.”

    James – could you give us a brief description of the evidence, results and conclusions in this paper and how it contradicts a ‘materialist’ scientific approach?

  22. @20:

    “Of course they offer a testable hypothesis.”

    They say they don’t themselves, as I pointed out earlier. Do you want to contradict them? I’m also left wondering if you have even looked at the paper-? I’m left guessing that you’re repeating others’ “reviews” of the paper from a religious website.

    “That the content of beliefs can make physical changes in the brain, that belief(s) can make the brain act differently.”

    This (itself) is not a hypothesis of “the brain (or mind) is not materialistic” (testable or not). In fact, its close to one of the things others’ have objected to.

    So, back to question time. Show how the above statement may not the same as “the mind is not materialistic”. Show also, the “hidden” assumption in your statement that aren’t in the experimental data.

    (Hints: Read my previous hints. If you use them, it won’t take you long to find some useful criticism which you can then verify. You may find the second questions helps you resolve the first. The second question may be harder for religious people if they find it difficult to consider things without infusing their beliefs into what they are reading: they will find it useful to keep remind themselves to read only want data shows, and take care not to add their own beliefs to the data.)

    By not exploring the issue, you’re earning even more fail marks ;-) I’m judging this by evidence of you exploring the problem, as we’d expect a student to do in answering an exam question. (Can’t help thinking of you and your marking, Alison!; we should borrow your marking talents here…) If you’ve never read the paper, never mind others’ critiques of it, that’s not a good start. So far is you have largely repeated variations on your original claims, not explore the issue. There is more to it that the assertions you’ve made so far.

    On the positive side, I note that you have moved your stance on the paper from “evidence” to “hypothesis”, which is at least one step in the right direction.

  23. It’s strange, isn’t’ it, that James is actually adopting a ‘materialist’ approach. He’s putting value in the work of scientists, referring to peer-reviewed papers, talking about evidence, etc., etc.

    Yet, elsewhere he attacks science (along the Ben Stein lines), attacks ‘materialism’, attacks the findings of expert scientists.

    I can’t see why he imagines that by taking ideas based on materialistic science (like the placebo effect, Davidson’s work, brain plasticity and the effects of things like meditation and mindfulness – or even quantum mechanics) as some sort of weapon to beat us scientists over the head with.

  24. James – could you give us a brief description of the evidence, results and conclusions in this paper and how it contradicts a ‘materialist’ scientific approach?

    In the analysis and development of clinical practices
    involving psychological treatments and their biological
    effects, the possession and use of a rationally coherent
    and physically allowable conception of the causal
    relationship between mind and brain (or, if one prefers,
    mentalistic and neurophysiological variables) is critical.

    If one simply accepts the standard presumption that all
    aspects of emotional response are passively determined
    by neurobiological mechanisms, then the theoretical
    development of genuinely effective self-directed
    psychological strategies that produce real neurobiological
    changes can be impeded by the fact that one is
    using a theory that excludes from the dynamics what
    logically can be, and in our model actually are, key
    causal elements, namely our wilful choices.

    The clinician’s attention is thus directed away from
    what can be in many cases, at the level of actual
    practice, a powerful determinant of action, namely the
    subject’s psychologically (i.e. mentalistically) framed
    commitment to act or think in specific ways. The
    therapist tends to becomes locked into the view that the
    psychological treatment of ailments caused by neurobiological
    impairments is not a realistic goal.

    There is already a wealth of data arguing against this
    view. For instance, work in the 1990s on patients with
    obsessive compulsive disorder demonstrated significant
    changes in caudate nucleus metabolism and the
    functional relationships of the orbitofrontal cortex–
    striatum–thalamus circuitry in patients who responded
    to a psychological treatment using cognitive reframing
    and attentional refocusing as key aspects of the
    therapeutic intervention (for review, see Schwartz &
    Begley 2002).
    More recently, work by Beauregard and
    colleagues (Paquette et al. 2003) has demonstrated
    systematic changes in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
    and parahippocampal gyrus after cognitive-behavioural
    therapy for phobia of spiders, with brain changes significantly
    related to both objective measurements and
    subjective reports of fear and aversion. There are now
    numerous reports on the effects of self-directed
    regulation of emotional response, via cognitive reframing
    and attentional re-contextualization mechanisms,
    on cerebral function (e.g. Schwartz et al. 1996;
    Beauregard et al. 2001; Ochsner et al. 2002; Le´vesque
    et al. 2003; Paquette et al. 2003;).

    In other words, despite what Heraclides says, this is evidence that immaterial beliefs, the actual content of beliefs can effect the physical brain. This would destroy materialism – if the non-material mind (in the form of beliefs) had a causal effect on the material brain. Since it would prove that something other than the “physical” existed.

  25. @25:

    Cut’n’paste isn’t writing for yourself, and quoting or paraphrasing by themselves don’t argue a case. You didn’t give the source of the quote, either: sources are usually quoted, so that people can see your particular derivation of the quote and its particular context, etc. You’re still not answering the questions asked (I think Alison wrote about this issue recently on her blog). All of these will get you fail marks… and they’re starting to stack up! ;-)

    So far you are just repeating your original assertion. You have made no attempt to look at others’ criticisms or try examine if the statements made even hold. You repeat the statements instead of examining the data presented and what the data is limited to saying. You did not try address my questions (e.g. “Show how the above statement may not [be] the same as “the mind is not materialistic”). Quoting a statement from the original doesn’t show the quoted statement is right or not.

    So… try again.

    Hint: Use the hints, they are there to help.
    Additional hint: Make sure you are answering the question(s) asked.
    Bonus hint: Until you use the hints, you will continue to fail ;-)

    Others, not me, have pointed out this isn’t evidence that ‘the actual content of beliefs can effect the physical brain’, and that this claim is not the same as “the mind is not materialistic”. My earlier hints suggest how to work on that.

    I may help you to compare my second question in my previous post and your response. (Show also, the “hidden” assumption in your statement that aren’t in the experimental data.) Also re-read the hint relevant to this question, too.

    @24:

    Yes, its interesting… Although his use of “science” is, not surprisingly, unbalanced. Its like what I’ve seen on religious sites: take a poor argument that can be made out to “show” their beliefs are backed by “science”, never look at others’ critiques of it, no matter how simple and straight-forward the critiques are, and never explore if the claims made stand, just assume that they do. I call that “defending faith, by arguing poor science “by faith”” :-)

  26. Cut’n’paste isn’t writing for yourself, and quoting or paraphrasing by themselves don’t argue a case. You didn’t give the source of the quote, either: sources are usually quoted, so that people can see your particular derivation of the quote and its particular context, etc. You’re still not answering the questions asked (I think Alison wrote about this issue recently on her blog). All of these will get you fail marks… and they’re starting to stack up!

    Nonsense Heraclides, Ken had the link in his post. That is where I got the quote, that was what he asked about – that specific paper. If you had looked back you would have know that. If you think my conclusion was false then show me, from the paper, where I went wrong…

    So far you are just repeating your original assertion. You have made no attempt to look at others’ criticisms or try examine if the statements made even hold. You repeat the statements instead of examining the data presented and what the data is limited to saying. You did not try address my questions (e.g. “Show how the above statement may not [be] the same as “the mind is not materialistic”). Quoting a statement from the original doesn’t show the quoted statement is right or not.

    Then prove me wrong… And my original assertion was the whole point…

  27. “Nonsense Heraclides, Ken had the link in his post. That is where I got the quote, that was what he asked about – that specific paper.”

    Maybe you got it from there, but I am correct in what I wrote: you didn’t give the source. Please show me where in post 24 you give the source. Without it no-one has a way of knowing where you got it from short of you telling us or “just happening to know” a likely source. You could just as easily have taken it off a ID website that quoted it, for example. Or a site promoting dualism. Or whatever.

    An assertion isn’t evidence of anything. Until you back your assertion you haven’t made any point, only stated something you would like to be true.

    My questions are for you to do the work needed to check your claim, which you need to do in order to show it has substance. Until you do, it’ll remain an empty assertion… and you’ll fail your exam ;-)

    Trying to make me answer questions doesn’t back your assertion.

    Try again.

    Re-read the questions, re-read the hints ;-)

    Would it really hurt to try?

  28. @ James:

    I didn’t ask for a cut and past – a wanted you to describe “the evidence, results and conclusions in this paper and how it contradicts a ‘materialist’ scientific approach?” – I was checking to see if you had any understanding of the paper’s content. I actually don’t think you have – it’s like those students who write essays by cutting and pasting. Certainly I don’t see any discrediting of ‘materialism’ in what you have cut and pasted.

    Now, I think the authors may be making controversial claims in this paper (There is a slightly fashionable misuse of quantum mechanics these days to reinforce suspect ideas). But I think you are trying to force the evidence into you own ‘revelation-based’ world view. My ‘materialism’ (and yes, being the ‘materialism’ of a scientist experienced in research it will be very different to yours) in no way excludes the observed fact that mindfulness, meditation, etc., activity can result in physical changes in the brain.

    I think the problem lies, as with Dominic, in your naive understanding of ‘materialism’ and your hostility to the scientific approach which is actually showing and investigating the relationship between mind and brain.

  29. I didn’t ask for a cut and past – a wanted you to describe “the evidence, results and conclusions in this paper and how it contradicts a ‘materialist’ scientific approach?”

    I clearly did.

    My ‘materialism’ (and yes, being the ‘materialism’ of a scientist experienced in research it will be very different to yours) in no way excludes the observed fact that mindfulness, meditation, etc., activity can result in physical changes in the brain.

    Really Ken, so do you believe that the mind is immaterial? Not pyhsical? If not, how does “mindfulness” effect the brain? What is “mindfulness?”

  30. @ James – October 25, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    “I clearly did.” – No you didn’t. The fact is that a ‘materialist’ scientific approach is being used to investigate these issues – or do you think fMRI is a demon or angel??

    It is also a fact that science does, philosophically, have a material (not necessarily the same as physical) concept of the mind – how else could it actually carry out these investigations? I suggest you re-read my article above.

    Interestingly, while on ‘mindfulness’, some of the investigators in this area have participated in the annual meetings of western scientists with Buddhist philosophers and psychologists in India (hosted by the Dalai Lama). I have read books from a few of the meetings and find them fascinating as both sides are learning from each other. There is not the hostility towards science like that expressed by you, James, and Dominic.

    One thing that impresses me about the Dalai Lama is his acceptance of science and willingness to accept that when scientific knowledge conflicts with Buddhism – the later will have to change! I pointed this out in Dalai Lama visit:

    “The Dalai Lama has often said that where science produces knowledge which conflicts with Buddhist teaching then Buddhism will have to change. To me this sort of statement is refreshing because it is not often heard from religious leaders. I know that the more moderate religious groups do accept scientific knowledge, but there are still large numbers who reject it.”

    Also – have a look at my post A value in religious mysticism.

  31. Ken, I’ll leave this you for a bit. It seems to me that James hasn’t the gumption to even try answer my questions. For me, that’s essentially conceding defeat, i.e. leaving him making assertions that he can’t or won’t back, or explore.

    I suspect my science take on this may be “harder” than yours. I can’t see much there that can’t be dealt with using existing molecular mechanisms without evoking non-physical or quantum processes. But that’s me :-)

  32. @ Heraclides – October 25, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    “I can’t see much there that can’t be dealt with using existing molecular mechanisms without evoking non-physical or quantum processes.” – I actually agree.

    My point, though, is that a ‘materialist’ approach goes on the evidence – which currently supports your (and mine) point. Now, if one day we obtained evidence that consciousness could exist apart from the brain this would be acceptable to a modern materialist. We would set about investigating this new material phenomenon – and we ‘materialists’ would enjoy it. (I tried to make this point in my article).

    I am trying to make the point that, philosophically, material is not restricted to something physical with substance. Its related to objective existence and ability to interact (rationality) rather than that old naive version of material that James and Dominic promote (for their own motives of trying to discredit science).

    I don’t think we really differ on this. Meditation and mindfulness are the brain changing the brain – in my current view. But evidence is primary here.

  33. Did Dawkings Really Say This?

    A serious case could be made for a deistic God.

    A serious case? A little sanity at last!

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/2543431/is-richard-dawkins-still-evolving.thtml

  34. @32:

    Thanks for that. You’re right about religious people generally tending to use very dated thinking of science as their windmill to tilt at, rather than more modern material. They often appear to be stuck somewhere around the Victorian or Edwardian eras, with smatterings of modern concepts thrown in for good measure, seemingly to at least give a vague appearance of being up to date. Its something science communication people sometimes comment on, as its got some angles on what they do or rather have done over the years.

  35. @ James – October 26, 2008 at 4:37 am

    “A serious case? A little sanity at last!” – or an open mind.

    @ James – October 25, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    I would still like to hear your own take (in your own words) on this paper. Where did you source it? Why bring it up? What is the relevance to the discussion?

    I am part way through reading the paper – it’s not easy. It’s basically a philosophical opinion piece rather than a true review. And it is not a primary source of evidence. There are quite a few scientific papers around you could have chosen to provide evidence for the mind being able to bring about changes in the brain.

    So why reference this paper? Is it because you wish to support their specific usage of a rather extreme interpretation of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics? That would make an interesting discussion.

    Or did you have a different reason.

  36. Those wanting more reading on Creationists’ pings at neuroscience and materialism, might find these articles interesting, part I: http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=402 There is also a part II: I’m not going to post a link, as I suspect two links triggers the spam filter! The articles start from the New Scientist article that Ken and I refer to earlier in this thread but take offer an independent view on all of this.

    The comments are worth reading. I have to admit I haven’t read all of it yet (I have to head off), but I thought I’d post a link here in case its of interest to others.

  37. Thanks for the link Heraclides. Part II is here: Reports of the Demise of Materialism Are Premature – Part II

    I look forward to reading them as I always enjoy Steven Novellas’ ideas.

  38. I would still like to hear your own take (in your own words) on this paper. Where did you source it? Why bring it up? What is the relevance to the discussion?

    I started this because Ken linked a article slamming Jeff Schwartz.

    I am part way through reading the paper – it’s not easy. It’s basically a philosophical opinion piece rather than a true review. And it is not a primary source of evidence. There are quite a few scientific papers around you could have chosen to provide evidence for the mind being able to bring about changes in the brain.

    We were speaking of Schwartz’s work, and by extension Stapp’s work – his co author. And they referenced many studies – you can look those up separately throught the link. I also referenced Davidson’s work – he is independent of Schwartz and Stapp.

    Just as a side note here. If the materialist is right then we have no free will. You do not believe things because they are true, you believe them because the underlying non-rational neural networks caused you to believe them. They may happen to be true, but you do not believe them because they are true. There is no freedom of thought involved.

  39. Finally found time to read all of his part II. I thought some of it was very good. The first part of this part II outlines on some of the philosophical aspects and I’d be curious to hear what DBT, Dale, Shaun, etc., think of his accounts of the issues at hand.

    It was interesting to read that Dembski apparently doesn’t think Swartz’s argument holds!

    Ken, did you see this in the comments (its new to me, but perhaps you already know this?): “Europe’s P.A.C.E in Resolution 1518 (2007) has stated that teaching ID-creationism in a science classroom — and overall, any kind of EC & OC pseudoscience, in my view — violates basic human rights.”

    (I’ve read past this, the comments section on that thread have gotten rather long and I’m out of time again!)

  40. It was interesting to read that Dembski apparently doesn’t think Swartz’s argument holds!

    That is not what he said Heraclides, he said:

    “If you want a knock-down argument against materialism and materialist accounts of mind, this won’t do it.”

    He just said that it was not a “knock-down argument.” Of course most arguments are not “knock down.”

    And let me repeat:

    If the materialist is right then we have no free will. You do not believe things because they are true, you believe them because the underlying non-rational neural networks caused you to believe them. They may happen to be true, but you do not believe them because they are true. There is no freedom of thought involved.

  41. @ James:

    I still can’t see you motive for referencing this paper – unless it was to promote a particular use of the Copenhagen interpretation to ‘explain’ the mind. Is that your motive? Otherwise there is really no reason to consider the paper.

    There is plenty of work (scientific evidence rather than opinion pieces) describing mind initiated changes in the brain. Surely that’s not at issue here.

    Your use of ‘materialist’ here is inappropriate (and your understanding of the term naive). Of course we have free will – we have not choice in the matter.

  42. @39: Should be I’ve not read past…

    @40: Don’t get in a miffy because one of your favourite people didn’t say what you expected ;-) I had a feeling you might :-) Swartz tried to argue against materialist accounts of the mind: Dembski said his argument on its own won’t do that. Dembski is saying that Swartz’s argument doesn’t stand on its own.

  43. Messed up an end tag, sorry.

  44. Your use of ‘materialist’ here is inappropriate (and your understanding of the term naive). Of course we have free will – we have not choice in the matter.

    Ken, free will is impossible in a materialistic universe.

    Dawkins:

    “As scientists, we believe that human brains, though they may not work in the same way as man-made computers, are as surely governed by the laws of physics. When a computer malfunctions, we do not punish it. We track down the problem and fix it, usually by replacing a damaged component, either in hardware or software.”

    “But doesn’t a truly scientific, mechanistic view of the nervous system make nonsense of the very idea of responsibility, whether diminished or not?”

    http://www.edge.org/q2006/q06_9.html

    William Provine:

    “Free will as traditionally conceived … simply does not exist. There is no way the evolutionary process as currently conceived can produce a being that is truly free to make choices.”

    John Searle:

    “Our conception of physical reality simply does not allow for radical [libertarian] freedom.”

    http://www.trueu.org/Academics/LectureHall/A000000918.cfm

    Again Ken, you have no control over what you believe, how you interpret evidence, or the conclusion you come to. If there is no immaterial mind to effect the physical brain processes, then these mechanistic, laws of physics as Dawkins calls them, dictate our thoughts and conclusions.

  45. @40: Don’t get in a miffy because one of your favourite people didn’t say what you expected I had a feeling you might Swartz tried to argue against materialist accounts of the mind: Dembski said his argument on its own won’t do that. Dembski is saying that Swartz’s argument doesn’t stand on its own.

    I’m not miffed in the least Heraclides. All Dembski said was that it was not a “knock down” punch, so to speak. But why would I or anyone expect it to be? His work is just one link in a larger argument.

  46. @45: So you concede that Swartz’s “review” is not conclusive evidence against materialism at all. Fine. Moot point anyway as a hypothesis can’t be evidence.

    Besides, what larger argument, his paper is supposed to be that larger argument, pulling together the other sources, as you pointed out yourself.

  47. Your Dawkins quote says nothing about free will and the article its from doesn’t deal with that either.

  48. People may be interested in this post (The problem of consciousness meets “Intelligent Design”) by David Chalmers. He doesn’t necessarily accept a ‘materialist’ description of consciousness but points out that this doesn’t give any comfort to theism or those forces of darkness – the ID proponents.

  49. Your Dawkins quote says nothing about free will and the article its from doesn’t deal with that either.

    You are joking right?

    “As scientists, we believe that human brains, though they may not work in the same way as man-made computers, are as surely governed by the laws of physics. When a computer malfunctions, we do not punish it. We track down the problem and fix it, usually by replacing a damaged component, either in hardware or software.”

    “But doesn’t a truly scientific, mechanistic view of the nervous system make nonsense of the very idea of responsibility, whether diminished or not?”

    Now tell me Heraclides, how is free will possible with a mechanistic nervous system, governed by the laws of physics? What is outside the mechanistic nervous system, what can effect it? Be specific please…

  50. People may be interested in this post (The problem of consciousness meets “Intelligent Design”) by David Chalmers. He doesn’t necessarily accept a ‘materialist’ description of consciousness but points out that this doesn’t give any comfort to theism or those forces of darkness – the ID proponents.

    That is correct, Chalmers is the one who really developed the hard problem of consciousness. And he gives no comfort to either side. At lest he admits the problem…

  51. @49: Read the article you took it from James. He was writing about retribution, what it was that was “broken”, and that the sensible response is to try fix what was broken.

  52. (Or put another way, you’re quote mining.)

  53. Read the article you took it from James. He was writing about retribution, what it was that was “broken”, and that the sensible response is to try fix what was broken.

    I know the point he was making, and it applies to thoughts as well as responsibility. If the nervous system is mechanistic then it’s mechanistic – period…

    You know this, that is why you are avoiding the question: how is free will possible with a mechanistic nervous system, governed by the laws of physics? What is outside the mechanistic nervous system, what can effect it? Be specific please…

  54. And as for the Dawkins quote, I seem to remember giving a bit more detail about it on an earlier thread…

    Heraclides – re marking & reading the question – shall we say that the Scholarship-standard students do rather better? ;-)

  55. @53:

    “I know the point he was making” So… you claim that you knew he was referring to something else, but choose to make his quote “about” something that he was not writing about. Hmm… isn’t that the definition of quote mining? ;-)

    You need quite a bit more before you can get from that statement to saying anything about free will. The first sentence simply says brains are physical things, that’s all. The last two sentences refer to the topic of his own article, which isn’t about free will.

    I only pointed out your quote doesn’t referring to free will. You’ve accepted that, and admitted to the quote mining, so I’m done on this one :-) Your question wasn’t related to my point and I have no interest in digressing.

    @54:

    James does occasionally “forget” that a point has already been dealt with! I would like to think that the better school students do better! :-)

  56. Heraclides I quoted Dawkins to establish that the nervous system is mechanistic and we are subject to governed by the laws of physics. He applies this to responsibility, but that would include the murders desire to murder for instance, not just the action. If this mechanistic view of human beings is correct, our mental world is just as affected as or physical world. Nothing escapes the matrix. And you do not believe things because they are true, but because your neurons just happen to fire that way. I can understand why you want to argue against this, it goes againt your experience.

  57. You’re making no sense at all. All you seem to be doing is digging yourself a deeper and deeper hole. Besides, as Alison pointed out, you’re travelling in a huge circle…

    (As for the last sentence, leaving aide your usual error/troll of trying to “speak for me”, I have no idea what you are on about.)

  58. I guess you can’t answer Heraclides:

    “how is free will possible with a mechanistic nervous system, governed by the laws of physics? What is outside the mechanistic nervous system, what can effect it? Be specific please…”

    So you bluster and fume, hoping that no one notices that you have said nothing…

  59. And as for the Dawkins quote, I seem to remember giving a bit more detail about it on an earlier thread…

    Free free to answer the question Alison:“how is free will possible with a mechanistic nervous system, governed by the laws of physics? What is outside the mechanistic nervous system, what can effect it? Be specific please…”

  60. James, if you are interested to learn how compatibilist free will can work, read Dennett’s Freedom Evolves. I’m halfway through it myself and he’d doing a pretty good job of describing how what we term ‘freedom’ can arise out of mechanistic processes. He also shows where the problems lie with hard determinism and libertarian free will.

  61. James, if you are interested to learn how compatibilist free will can work, read Dennett’s Freedom Evolves. I’m halfway through it myself and he’d doing a pretty good job of describing how what we term ‘freedom’ can arise out of mechanistic processes. He also shows where the problems lie with hard determinism and libertarian free will.

    I understand compatibilism quite well. It does not show that libertarian thought, if you will, is possible. One is compelled by his nature, and not by external forces, but genuine options are still not possible. But even worse for the materialist is being able to show how the immaterial content of a thought or proposition can effect or direct the underlying physical brain processes. If not, then the physical brain processes dictate all thoughts. And these underlying processes are mechanistic. In other words the physical dictates the mental, and the mental has no effect on the physical. And these physical processes care nothing for true or false, right or wrong, etc… They may happen to be right, but they are not right because of intention.

  62. @58: I point out errors, out which you make plenty, but ignore troll lines ;-)

  63. @61 I would also recommend doing some reading on emergent behaviours. This might be illuminating for how deterministic systems can lead to complex seemingly, non deterministic effects.

    Also, a bit of consideration on complexity would help, as it quickly becomes obvious that the problem that you are suffering from with the lack of free will becomes one of semantics. To all practical purposes we have, and behave as if we have free will because the causative factors for our actions are buried deep under the behaviours that emerge from deep complexity.

    One example I like here, in fact I can remember arguing this one with my brother, was the compact disc. When compact discs were first released, it occurred to me that the entire contents of the compact disc was one finite number (albeit a pretty big one), and in one sense, the possible range of all recordable on CD musical productions (<75mins) were very finite. As much as people like to think of these things as fully open ended things, it would be very simple for me to write a computer program that could generate every possible musical experience that you could fit on a CD. In fact, this would be one of the simplest ever programs, as all it would need to be able to do is counted up from 0 in base 2. Of course this, would take a fair amount of processing power/time to complete a full run :-)

    The kicker with the above example, and why I think it is relevant, is that to all intents and purposes this finiteness is immaterial, as the number of and complexity of the possible options is so huge that for us creators and listeners of music we can safely regard the options as infinite.

    I think that we can look at issues of determinism and free will (and dare I say it, Jame’s perennial favourite, subjective reality) in the same way. We could logically argue that human thoughts & behaviours are purely deterministic, and I would agree with that at one level, but practically speaking, this is not useful to us as to all intents & purposes we can & do act as if we have free will.

    Of course, this is yet another area of reality where a black & white absolutist nature will trip you up. When people are so daunted with dealing with the concept of a 4 billion year old earth to ignore the evidence and cling to a much more manageable 6000 years, I am not really expecting them to come to grips with a number on the order of 2^5120,000,000 (if that is the correct magnitude, its late and I am tired ;-))

  64. James, if you can’t be bothered to read the book I recommended, at least take a look at a summary of Dennett’s arguments.

    As with Nick’s example above, when we look at a CD with its binary on/off states, we don’t see ‘music’ when we look at a single bit or even several groups of bits. ‘Music’, like freedom, emerges from mechanistic processes and only really exists at the macro level of subjective experience. To argue that freedom can’t exist because we are made of deterministic atoms is to equally argue that music can’t exist because a CD is comprised of 0s and 1s.

  65. As with Nick’s example above, when we look at a CD with its binary on/off states, we don’t see ‘music’ when we look at a single bit or even several groups of bits. ‘Music’, like freedom, emerges from mechanistic processes and only really exists at the macro level of subjective experience. To argue that freedom can’t exist because we are made of deterministic atoms is to equally argue that music can’t exist because a CD is comprised of 0s and 1s.

    Does the music have any effect on the physical CD? Can it in any way change or interfere with what the CD is programmed to spit out? In this model the “music” is our thoughts/mind, and the CD is our brain. No, the music is dictated by the CD, and has no effect on what the CD puts out. Again, if materialism is true, we have no choice in what we believe.

  66. I think that we can look at issues of determinism and free will (and dare I say it, Jame’s perennial favourite, subjective reality) in the same way. We could logically argue that human thoughts & behaviours are purely deterministic, and I would agree with that at one level, but practically speaking, this is not useful to us as to all intents & purposes we can & do act as if we have free will.

    Ok, so all our thoughts and behaviours are deterministic, but we should pretend that they are not.

    Of course, this is yet another area of reality where a black & white absolutist nature will trip you up. When people are so daunted with dealing with the concept of a 4 billion year old earth to ignore the evidence and cling to a much more manageable 6000 years, I am not really expecting them to come to grips with a number on the order of 2^5120,000,000 (if that is the correct magnitude, its late and I am tired ;-))

    But a man has no choice, he is determined to believe one thing and not another. Of course this makes knowing truth impossible…

  67. @65 On this pathway, I would suggest looking into the concept of feedback loops, chaotic functions and again complex systems and emergent behaviours.

    Again, what you are suffering from is a lack of imagination of the deep complexities involved with these issues.

    The CD example was a simple one of quantising possible musical outcomes. If you really want to think about it, this should be illuminating, as it shows that for a given resolution (16 bit 48.1khz in the case of a CD), our possible actions are technically finite, but practically not, as any music fancier would appreciate. This is the point of the example. Adding a self modification system to the CD player could be interested, and have unpredictable results, but the system would still be deterministic. Perhaps on this angle, a bit of consideration on fractals could be useful. Completely deterministic, infinitely complex outcomes. I personally have a (admittedly naive) mental picture of DNA operating in a similar chaotic functional manner.

  68. @66 Just curious, but does it feel sometimes as though you are living next to an airport?

    You would make it more entertaining for the readers if you at least tried to engage the point.

    Perhaps another angle might help, perhaps something a little less concrete eh?

    What I am trying to allude to here is the difference between something being logically true, probable, or possible, and whether that makes any practical difference.

    All you need to do, is expand your mind set above the level of a single bit of information. That’s right, it is not possible to model reality to any degree of precision with just a single on/off, black & white, absolute god given truth or relativist atheist claptrap binary switch.

    One approach that might work for you, is to perhaps add another bit, lets say a second level of 100% god given truth vs atheist claptrap. This then allows you to model 4 possible states. Add a few more levels of 100% god given truth vs atheist claptrap, and then before you know it, you start to have the capability of distinguishing between shades of gray (perhaps a little pixelated). Isn’t this wonderful, what I have given you here, free of charge, is a way to retain your binary world view, and also come to grips with a bit of the complexity of small vs big numbers, low probability vs high and low vs high levels of confidence.

  69. I like the analogies (CDs) suggested by Nick and Damian.

    Jame’s resistance to these analogies may arise from a common problem creationists have with biological systems. They see them mechanically, as machines. Hence you get Paley’s “watch on the heath” repeated again and again. Similarly the constant repetition of Behe’s concept of cells being machines.

    But actually, biological systems are alive. This brings up a huge difference which make creationist arguments look silly. Its like classifying a human in the same way we classify a car – when even a child can see the difference.

    Seen in this way, and recognising some of the biological/chemical/physical processes that occur in the developing organism (just consider the process of the optical nerve growing from the eye and finding particular locations in the brain) it’s not hard to understand how feedback processes can arrive. I have no problem accepting that the mind can bring about changes in the brain – or that we can have “free will.” And I don’t have to postulate a mythical divine being to accept this!

    On “free will” – people define this in different ways and consequently answer the question (do we have free will?) differently. Any discussion on the concept should include a definition (and I know we will all argue about that).

  70. On this pathway, I would suggest looking into the concept of feedback loops, chaotic functions and again complex systems and emergent behaviours.

    Again, what you are suffering from is a lack of imagination of the deep complexities involved with these issues

    And you seem to be lacking clarity. No matter how complex, it would all remain deterministic. Yes, you may have a looping effect, but it would still be the physical effecting the physical. Nothing escapes the Matrix. Mental states (immaterial thoughts/content) play no causal roll in the process.

    You are left with epiphenomenalism: a secondary phenomenon accompanying another and caused by it ; specifically : a secondary mental phenomenon that is caused by and accompanies a physical phenomenon but has no causal influence itself Merriam..

    It’s amazing how the atheist here try and argue against the logical consequences of their own beliefs. They like to think that they are really rational, really intelligent, that they are really arguing from inference, choosing options – when all the while it has been the non-rational brain processes dictating their thoughts and conclusions.

  71. Seen in this way, and recognising some of the biological/chemical/physical processes that occur in the developing organism (just consider the process of the optical nerve growing from the eye and finding particular locations in the brain) it’s not hard to understand how feedback processes can arrive. I have no problem accepting that the mind can bring about changes in the brain – or that we can have “free will.” And I don’t have to postulate a mythical divine being to accept this!

    You do have a problem Ken, you just don’t grasp it yet. Feedback does not solve your problem because it is still the physical effecting the physical. Without a immaterial mind (what we call soul or spirit) immaterial thoughts or content have no causal effect on the process. You have epiphenomenalism, which I defined above for Nick.

  72. @70 Whooosh, there goes Concord again. Deep complexity, emergence, feedback loops and suchlike can make things sufficiently complex as to make the difference between non-deterministic and deterministic practically meaningless. In other words, not really a productive use of contemplation time. Again, I do not think that you have grasped the really, really, really big numbers we are talking about here.

  73. @71. Again, have a look at a fractal formula James, perhaps the Mandelbrolt set. What you have is a simple formula, that you can take, give a very simple seed value, and sit back and marvel at the amazing, beautiful and non repeating complexity that it generates. No outside soul, spirit or immaterial thoughts required, just the deep complexity of cold hard reality.

  74. Whooosh, there goes Concord again. Deep complexity, emergence, feedback loops and suchlike can make things sufficiently complex as to make the difference between non-deterministic and deterministic practically meaningless. In other words, not really a productive use of contemplation time. Again, I do not think that you have grasped the really, really, really big numbers we are talking about here.

    Nick, you already said that “human thoughts & behaviours are purely deterministic.” But the fact is that neither complexity or feedback changes the picture, it is still epiphenomenal. Now if the emergent quality was immaterial and could play a causal role in the process, then you have a point. But that is what we christians would call a soul or spirit – the mind. The materialist can not abide that possibility though…

  75. @ James – October 28, 2008 at 11:10 am

    “Without a immaterial mind (what we call soul or spirit) immaterial thoughts or content have no causal effect on the process.”

    You have a naive fixation with the word “materialism”. The fact is that in their investigations scientists never ask “is this material?”, “Is this supernatural?” They just get on with it and do their job of investigating reality.

    Now if there is a ‘soul” or “spirit” (however these are defined) existing separately from the body/brain then it will be part of reality. It will be detected and investigated. (It’s not automatically excluded – science investigates what is there).

    If such objects are not currently being investigated it’s because there has not, so far, been any evidence for them. Now if you, James, have real good evidence just front up with it and I am sure science will investigate it – determine the reliability of that evidence and actually investigate the phenomenon.

    Of course, no scientist worth their salt is going to waste time investigating a ‘personal revelation.’

  76. Again, have a look at a fractal formula James, perhaps the Mandelbrolt set. What you have is a simple formula, that you can take, give a very simple seed value, and sit back and marvel at the amazing, beautiful and non repeating complexity that it generates. No outside soul, spirit or immaterial thoughts required, just the deep complexity of cold hard reality.

    Is there any choice here? Any free will? Remember randomness does not equate to choice.

  77. @71 Or back to the CD example. With a very simple formula, n=n+1 (can’t do subscripts), started with n=0, and iterated enough times, we could theoretically generate every possible work of music that you could record on a CD. This is about as simple as it gets from a deterministic, no outside influences (soul, spirit, holy ghost or fairy at the bottom of the garden) point of view. This includes any number of hymns or prayers that you could choose to think of. Admittedly, you would probably mostly get unlistenable garbage, but I think the point still sticks, you don’t need outside input for these things.

  78. On that note, that’s me, I’m off to bed.

  79. If such objects are not currently being investigated it’s because there has not, so far, been any evidence for them. Now if you, James, have real good evidence just front up with it and I am sure science will investigate it – determine the reliability of that evidence and actually investigate the phenomenon.

    That’s fine Ken, just live with the consequences. If there is no immterial mind then you are a slave to the deterministic forces of nature. They dictate what you believe, how you will act, your tastes, desires, etc, etc… But you don’t like this do you Ken? You really do believe that you have control over your thoughts, your beliefs. As a matter of fact your “experience” screams against this scientific conclusion.

  80. James, back in #65 you completely dodged my point about the emergent properties of music out of binary CDs and freedom out of mechanistic atoms. You turned it around so that it was suddenly a prerequisite for music to be able to change a CD in order to be able to qualify as an emergent property. Not so.

    The crux of the argument you are using against deterministic atoms forming the basis of a subjective ‘free will’ is that because the atoms aren’t free then anything that’s comprised solely of atoms can not be free either. When we apply this same argument to music (a bit on a CD is not music therefore a CD can not contain music without some magic going on) we see where you are fundamentally going wrong.

    If freedom and music are experienced subjectively then this is exactly what we would expect to see. If you predefine either freedom or music as objective and metaphysically external then you will constantly go around in circles trying to find an external and metaphysical source for it all (which you fill with souls and god).

    But do you really believe that music requires a metaphysical soul to exist either on the CD itself or in the head of the beholder?

    If your only objection is that music can’t affect the hardware it exists on (which I believe to be an incorrect mixing of definitions just as asking ‘freedom’ to perform a symphony would be) then I can easily debunk even this with the example of software applications which can interact and affect the hardware they ‘run’ on (i.e. ‘are emergent properties of’). Again, sticking with this extremely versatile CD analogy, CD-burning software is able to eject the CD once it’s complete.

    Did you even bother to read the link I included?

  81. James said…”Yes, you may have a looping effect, but it would still be the physical effecting the physical. Nothing escapes the Matrix.”

    No. 82: ARGUMENT FROM “THE MATRIX”
    (1) We cannot prove that we don’t live in a Matrix-like world.
    (2) Therefore we cannot know reality.
    (3) If reality is contingent, then everything is possible.
    (4) Therefore, God exists.

    http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/GodProof.htm

  82. James, back in #65 you completely dodged my point about the emergent properties of music out of binary CDs and freedom out of mechanistic atoms. You turned it around so that it was suddenly a prerequisite for music to be able to change a CD in order to be able to qualify as an emergent property. Not so.

    The crux of the argument you are using against deterministic atoms forming the basis of a subjective ‘free will’ is that because the atoms aren’t free then anything that’s comprised solely of atoms can not be free either. When we apply this same argument to music (a bit on a CD is not music therefore a CD can not contain music without some magic going on) we see where you are fundamentally going wrong.

    Damian, the problem is equating freedom with music. That because deterministic atoms can created music, does not mean they can create “freedom.” It’s apples and oranges. Unless you can show how musical notes are in any way free, the analogy does not hold. And why wouldn’t an emergent property be just as deterministic as the the atoms that created them? If the emergent quality of the brain (I assume mind) can not in turn effect the physical processes of the brain then where exactly is the freedom? From where does it come?

  83. @ James – October 28, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    “where exactly is the freedom? From where does it come?”
    Come on James – You tell us what your model for this is. And provide the evidence.

    It does no good to say “just live with the consequences”. That just suggests some emotional hatred rather than dealing with evidence, models (theories) and verification for these.

    Or do you want to hold onto a model for which their is no evidence, no real theory, and no verification?

  84. And why wouldn’t an emergent property be just as deterministic as the the atoms that created them?

    Which is exactly the same as asking “why wouldn’t music be just as binary as the bits that make up a CD?”

  85. Nick, I apologise for semi-hijacking your point about the seemingly infinite variety with which mere 0s and 1s can be combined on a single CD to create every possible audio recording. (For that matter, anything that can be represented digitally under 700mb in size).

    My use of the CD analogy is related only in name and is to highlight the logical fallacy of demanding that atoms be ‘free’ in order for there to be true freedom in a person made from atoms. No one has an issue with non-musical bits on a CD combining to form music. The fallacy is to assume that what we call ‘freedom’ and ‘music’ has to be ‘free’ or ‘musical’ all the way down to its smallest components instead of seeing that we subjectively experience music and freedom only over a certain threshold of complexity.

    I’d never before thought about the fact that a simple algorithm could, given enough time, randomly reproduce via brute force every single beat, lyric, tone of voice, string or trumpet that has ever been recorded – and every single book in every single language and every single image from every single camera and much much more! That’s pretty mind-blowing. With the exception of a means of ‘selection’ and the need for derivation, this is very similar to how evolution works I guess. Which explains the incredible diversity amongst species as well as the distinct lack of CrocoDucks(TM).

  86. How is freedom being defined here? Freedom from what?

  87. @ Damian:

    Dennett has quite a long discussion of these sort of ideas in his book Darwin’s Dangerous Idea. It seems to me that his concept of evolution can be applied in quite a lot of areas, at least philosophically.

  88. Ken, yes, I’ve yet to read that book but as Freedom Evolves is supposed to be a summary of Darwin’s Dangerous Idea and Consciousness Explained I’m a bit reluctant to have to go over it all again. What did you think of it?

  89. I think Darwin’s dangerous idea is pretty deep, thorough and long. It’s not his easiest book to read. It’s worth having even if one doesn’t read the whole book, For example it does discuss some of Gould’s ideas in a detailed way.

    I think different people would read different sections depending on their specific interests.

  90. A few very quick points:

    @61: A simpler realisation is the mental is physical: you’re making a distinction between the two without any justification for it.

    @63: I’d second that.

    @67: The old “Core Wars” programs are an interesting example in some ways, especially the self-modifying ones. Some of them developed interested strategies that surprised their developers. (Emergent behaviour, etc.)

    @70: You’re arbitrarily “stating” that the mental and physical “must” be different again.

    @71: See above.

  91. @85 Run with it Damian, if anything, you are making this point more clearly than I am :-)

    Also, I think the points here are very complimentary. Ken is questioning the need for positing a realm of unseen “supernatural” forces, and quite reasonably asking for some sort of grounds for positing these forces, and the points that we are making are suggesting that we don’t actually need to posit “supernatural” forces to explain our apparent reality.

    I have said in another thread, but I’ll say it again, if I was looking for a safe place to stash a god concept in our models of reality, I would be looking at emergent behaviours etc… as I would think that these sorts of issues are our best candidates for unknowable unknowns. Then again, perhaps statistical methods are useful here.

    On another point, going back to the matrix idea, isn’t it a bit spooky that our reality appears to lose its continuous nature at lower scales of size and starts to behave in a more quantised (digitised perhaps?) fashion.

  92. @91:

    As a side alley regarding your latter point, its interesting to learn abut how the brain interpolates some of the sensory information it receives to construct some aspects of how we perceive things. For example, small gaps in lines are “joined”. An interesting point about these things is that the are hard-wired. There are plenty of other examples of this sort of thing: many are exploited in optical illusions and by the movie industry (e.g. we tend to perceive something hitting something else if we hear a sharp noise at the same time, even if no contact is made).

  93. Nick,

    …if I was looking for a safe place to stash a god concept in our models of reality, I would be looking at emergent behaviours…

    Hmmmm, perhaps god is as real as morals are real; in that morals and god/s are emergent properties of the world but that it is a category error to assume that they transcend things like atoms or the beings from which they emerge? Heavy.

  94. @91: Interesting point. The whole movie industry is based upon this type of optical illusion, what is it, 26 frames per second for film?

    Perhaps the whole of classical physics (somebody please correct me if I am using incorrect terminology here) can be thought of in this manner, an interpolation of (or emergence) of continuos reality from the underlying quantum building blocks.

    @93: Perhaps, but I think with this avenue, we are moving more into the whole Einsteinian usage of the term god. Not the tub thumping capital G style usage more familiar to our religious friends. Given this, it might be best to avoid that terminology. That however, does not detract at all from the wondrous and cosmic nature of the concepts. A very interesting field, and something I would love to learn more about. Has anybody read anything interesting and accessible in this area that they could recommend?

  95. Has anybody read anything interesting and accessible in this area that they could recommend?

    Nup. Any time anyone mentions a god of any type they seem to have swallowed the omnipotent, omnipresent type of god rather than the only-as-real-as-you-imagine-it type. Perhaps someone like Geering? Ken, have you read anything of his?

  96. Or perhaps something coming from the other direction, research into emergent behaviours.

  97. where exactly is the freedom? From where does it come?”
    Come on James – You tell us what your model for this is. And provide the evidence.

    It does no good to say “just live with the consequences”. That just suggests some emotional hatred rather than dealing with evidence, models (theories) and verification for these.

    Or do you want to hold onto a model for which their is no evidence, no real theory, and no verification?

    Ken, where is your evidence that you have free will? Yor personal experience?

    Again, from William Provine

    http://eeb.bio.utk.edu/darwin/Archives/1998ProvineAbstract.htm

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent.

    Free Will

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will.

  98. James, have you conceded the point then that freedom doesn’t necessarily require its smallest parts also have free will? (Just like music can be made of on/off states)

    And that placing the word ‘ultimate’ in front of either ‘free will’ or ‘music’ only serves to construct a nonsensical sentence? If music is made of bits then how can you believe in ultimate music? You see the problem here? I don’t believe in ultimate free will just as you and I don’t believe in ultimate music. I believe in free will at the level of the intentional organism and that if that organism should die or lose too much of it’s complexity in some other way it would similarly lose its free will.

    So far you’ve not acknowledged that you’ve read anything I’ve recommended and you have not engaged anything I’ve written. As I’ve just mentioned on another post here I believe you are simply a sad troll who spends too much time in front of a computer.

  99. James, have you conceded the point then that freedom doesn’t necessarily require its smallest parts also have free will?

    I will concede the point as soon as you show how freedom is possible. I have quoted a number of well known scientist that clearly say that free will is impossible. Do you disagree with them? On what basis, do you have evidence that it is otherwise? Like with the music, yes the music is emergent but it still is determined.

    I believe in free will at the level of the intentional organism and that if that organism should die or lose too much of it’s complexity in some other way it would similarly lose its free will.

    I have no idea what “free will at the level of the intentional organism” means. Intentionality does not equal freedom. Yes do make choices, but those choices are determined by the underlying physical forces. We do choose, but we can not exercise option.

  100. You’re just trolling now. And you’re not worth my time.

  101. You’re just trolling now. And you’re not worth my time.

    Of course…

  102. @ Nick – October 28, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    I can recommend Pascal Boyer’s Religion Explained and Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon for discussion of why the ‘god concept’ (and similar phenomena like ancestor worship) may have arisen naturally. I personally find these two authors treat the subject in more depth than Geering does (at least in the stuff I have read).

    Einstein’s’ use of the term was, I think a bit irresponsible or capricious. But the god metaphor is very useful – as in “did God have any choice in how the universe is?” I think we can share Einstein’s spirituality and awe regarding the universe and knowledge without using the word “god.”

    However these sort of ‘god’ concepts seem to get integrated into social organisations and activity. Consequently, while most people (in NZ anyway) don’t actually believe that a god exists as a real entity the terms seems to continue to have all sorts of social usages. It certainly gets included in some great art and music (I personally love Verdi’s Requiem – Verdi didn’t believe in a god but used the concept to produce beautiful music),

  103. @ James – October 24, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Re your comment: “And your link slanders a well respected scientist” referring to Schwartz & Stapp.

    I have just listened to the audio files of the international symposium called “Beyond the Mind-Body Problem: New Paradigms in the Science of Consciousness” referred to in the New Scientist article. Schwartz does come across as a raving loon – so much so that one of his co-panellists, Esther Sternberg, had to speak out against his confrontational behaviour. As for Stapp, who was on the same panel, his description of quantum mechanics was very confused and really just incorrect.

    Have a listen to the morning panel session for their contributions and you will see what I mean.

    Overall I found the meeting very muddled – all over the place. Despite Schwartz’s obvious hatred for ‘materialist’ science (and his expressed preference for a theological approach) when it came to suggesting any science around these questions (such as the near-death experience) they resorted to a ‘materialist’ approach. In other words they were unable to provide alternatives, despite the hatred expressed by a few of them.

    Really, these people present no threat to the ‘materialist paradigm’. Schwartz’s claim that this ‘paradigm’ will be seen to be collapsing ‘within this coming year’ is just silly hot air. This conference just confirms that fact.

  104. First Ken, thanks for the link. Second if Schwartz and Sapp, are so off the wall (I’m just half way through the morning talk)then I doubt that they would have been invited to this Symposium. Beauregard is also part of the Schwartz/Sapp team. But more importantly, as the first speaker layed out so clearly – there is a real mind body problem. Human consciousness can not yet be accounted for by purely material means.

    Again, thanks for the link. I will listen to it all today…

  105. Panel one:

    1.Mario Beauregard was quite clear on how the scientific establishment has been resistant to this kind of inquiry. Even to the setting up the experiments.

    2.Even Esther Sternberg spoke of the “dogma” of the present scientific community. And how she has experienced “push back” time and time again.

    3.Sapp was right on with the present understanding of QM. And the idea that the observer actually effects the result of the experiment(without a physical connection). The double slit experiment is a prime example. How is that possible in a strictly material universe?

    4.I have seen Schwartz before, he is just an emotional person – and the fact that he has been attacked on so many levels.

    5.Sternberg,Sapp and Schwartz agree on one thing – that “intention” (how/what one believes) can and does effect the physical brain and body. Ken, this really does undermine the materialist model, in very deep and profound ways. This is truely a paradigm shift.

  106. Panel Two:

    The whole panel was great. Andrew Newberg’s keynote address was especially good. He touched on issues often discussed here. Like what is reality, what do we define as evidence, and how our bias often taints what we accept/don’t accept as evidence. It’s all rather subjective. Bruce Greyson also touched on the topic and he spoke more about near death experiences. Greyson also referenced the “Irreducible Mind,” and important work on this subject.

    I hope the atheists here first, watch the two programs and second, watch them with an open mind.

  107. I can appreciate that you enjoyed this symposium, James. It was right up your theological street! However, as a scientist I of course was sensitive to the unwarranted hostility to, and attacks on, science and the scientific method. A couple of points.

    1: Dogma in the scientific community:
    Esther Steinberg was talking about the common, and quite human, resistance to new ideas and data. I myself have experienced resistance to hypotheses and theories I have advanced in my scientific research. I have seen this as arising from personal ambitions, personally jealousies, resistance to new ideas, and unwillingness to abandon a theory even though it is being eroded at the edges. (Scientists are just as human as everyone else). My approach has been to ensure publication of my work. In the end it is the empirical evidence that wins people over. Those that continue to hold onto a theory which has been proven wrong get abandoned in the inevitable progress of science.

    We should always follow the evidence (and we usually do in the end). Reality is what keeps science honest.

    Steinberg was referring to an historical resistance in the brain science community against new evidence showing the influence of mindfulness, etc., and also to the evidence showing a much greater plasticity than had previously been recognised. This is not about “materialism.” She was talking about the human resistance to change – not about problems with the scientific method and approach. In fact, as she pointed out in her criticism of Schwarz’s raves, it is the persistent presentation of the evidence, the experimentation, etc. which has won other scientists over in these areas. This is actually the science you are labelling “materialist” and oppose!! You are opposing the maxim of following the evidence whatever one’s preconceived beliefs or prejudices.

    I think, James, you should re-read my post on The materialist label to see why I am calling this labelling naive. And the fact is that at this symposium all the proposed work that was described (eg. near-death experience) is “materialist” science (materialism being understood in a modern, non-mechanical, non-naive way). The fact is that even speakers advancing a mystical spiritualism could not advance any other form of science. They acknowledged that.

    2: The role of quantum mechanics in cionsciousness:
    Your claim “The double slit experiment is a prime example. How is that possible in a strictly material universe? “ Now I understand this experiment and it certainly doesn’t conflict with my understanding of “materialism”. This easily accommodates entanglement and “spooky action at a distance” – it has no problem with the slit experiment. Science has not problem with the slit experiment.

    So tell me why you think that science cannot investigate and interpret the slit experiment? (After all we use it all the time).

    And explain how the “observer actually effects the result of the experiment” in this (or any other case)? And what significance does this have for consciousness? and how you think that significance has been shown? (e.g. what experiments has Stapp done to test his “hypothesis”?

    Consciousness and quantum mechanics?? I think Jim Al-Khalili (in his book Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed) got it right when he said some people think that because we don’t understand consciousness and we don’t understand quantum mechanics they must be the same thing!!! I am afraid that this position was the level of understanding presented at this symposium.

    Yes, current “materialist” science understands that quantum mechanics underlies consciousness – but certainly not in the way presented at this symposium (or in the paper you provided a reference for).

  108. Ken, I’m not sure, nor is anyone else, as far as I can tell, how QM actually fits into the whole consciousness question. Yes we know that entanglement happens, but we have no idea why or how. How can formerly entangled particles mirror each others movement at a distance? How can the observer change the outcome of an experiment, just by observing (with no pyhsical connection). The argument from the materialists for years has been, even if thoughts (mind) did exist how could they possibly effect the physical brain – they basically believed that thoughts just went along for the ride – no causal role in the process. Well perhaps QM will give us a clue, at least it points to the fact that mental acts (like observing) can effect physical conditions.

    As far as near-death experiences. There does seem to be growing evidence that the mind can survive the body. Some on the panel are doing further studies – so my question to you Ken, what if we found that the mind could survive death? How would that change your view of the world? Would it make theism more likely – in your mind?

  109. @ James:

    “what if we found that the mind could survive death?” I would find it fascinating – a new area to research. However, at present that is just wishful thinking. If there was genuine evidence for this there would be no need for the experiments that are planned. My ‘materialist’ philosophy says – “follow the evidence!!”

    If such a phenomena existed it would not contradict my concept of ‘materialism’ (which sees evidence as central). And that is the problem – you are attempting to impose an unwarranted naive mechanical philosophical definition on science. And the alternative you wish for is a form of magic ignoring evidence.

    Schwarz goes along with that slander and then declares that “materialist science’ will collapse within the year! Yet, as you admit, they have nothing to replace it with!! No wonder he comes in for criticism.

    Quantum mechanics is centrally involved in the brain (after all chemistry is based on quantum mechanics). However, there is absolutely no evidence (as you admit) for this solipsist view that consciousness effects the outcome of an experiment. That attitude belongs to a once slightly fashionable interpretation which has extremely few adherents today. But – whatever the legitimacy of interpretation – the whole thing depends on evidence – which is zero in this case.

    On the other side of the ledger science is making progress investigating consciousness. Currently the evidence supports an interpretation which sees the mind as the brain – a monist rather than dualist view. This could well change as new evidence comes in.

    It all comes down to evidence. My attitude is to follow the evidence – wherever it leads. You seem to want to call that “materialism.”

  110. If such a phenomena existed it would not contradict my concept of ‘materialism’ (which sees evidence as central). And that is the problem – you are attempting to impose an unwarranted naive mechanical philosophical definition on science. And the alternative you wish for is a form of magic ignoring evidence.

    I agree about definitions Ken, that’s why I have asked is we live in a material universe or supernatural universe. As far as magic (or the supernatural) goes – perhaps that is exactly what we are looking at with wave collapse and entaglement. Since we have no physical mechansim for either yet. And never may have.

    And I will take exception – Schwarz and the gang do have evidence, and they spoke about it. Yes this field is in its infancy, but we will see what the future holds.

    On the other side of the ledger science is making progress investigating consciousness. Currently the evidence supports an interpretation which sees the mind as the brain – a monist rather than dualist view. This could well change as new evidence comes in.

    And yes if monism is true all the problems I mentioned remain – no free will, no human rationality (we don’t believe something because it is true, we believe things because the underlying, non-rational physical process causes us to believe things – whether true or not, we HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THE PROCESS, THE CONTENT OF OUR BELIEFS, HAVE NO CAUSAL EFFECT). This of course makes a mockery of all investigation, science and daily experience.

  111. I think that these sorts of things quite neatly highlight the problem that occurs with logical thinking when you arrive at your conclusion first, and then try and fit the evidence around that. In this case you are left looking more than a bit silly with an argument full of holes.

    Take the brain being modified by conscious thought issue. This is only an issue for someone who is expecting and looking for an external unknown force (and what might this be anyway). With the mind being an artifact of the brain in all its electro chemical glory, in which part of your body would you expect to see changes when you change your mind, or concentrate on a particular thought, the liver? While some decisions might have longer term implications for your liver, the obvious location is the brain.

    In terms of quantum mechanical weirdness, this looks to be again an attempt to co-opt the bucket of things we could classify as currently unknown as somehow supernatural. As Ken has clearly pointed out, this category was much bigger in the past, and included such item as thunder and lightening. I am happy for people to have a “god of the gaps”, but these people need to deal with the demonstrated consequence of this in that they will need to be constantly redefining their god as the gaps become smaller. A “science of the gaps” approach as taken by DBT however, needs to be strongly resisted.

  112. In terms of quantum mechanical weirdness, this looks to be again an attempt to co-opt the bucket of things we could classify as currently unknown as somehow supernatural.

    And as I said Nick, I see no reason to believe that we live in a “natural” universe. I have yet to see a definition of “natural” that is not arbitrary. I don’t need to co-op the unknown for the supernatural since you can not co-op what we do know for the natural. The thing with quantum queerness is that no mechanism or connection can be found – yet entaglement and wave collapse are facts. Will we someday figure this out? Who knows, perhaps we never will. And perhaps these mysteries (that underlie all of reality) will help the materialist question his faith…

    As Ken has clearly pointed out, this category was much bigger in the past, and included such item as thunder and lightening. I am happy for people to have a “god of the gaps”, but these people need to deal with the demonstrated consequence of this in that they will need to be constantly redefining their god as the gaps become smaller.

    Well that is just wrong Nick. Can you prove that thunder and lightening are “natural?” How? Or “natural” on the quantum level? Or is an assumption on your part? Nothing if getting smaller for the theist Nick…

  113. @ James – November 4, 2008 at 12:05 am

    This discussion is rather pointless because assumptions and words are not defined and are used differently. So, James, I would like to know your definitions of “materilaism” and “matter.”

    How about giving us brief definitions which can define where you are coming from?

  114. Sure Ken, I would define a natural universe as one that is self generating and self sustaining. That nothing outside of the universe either cause it or is now sustaining it. Does that sound reasonable?

  115. No, James. I asked for “your definitions of “materialism” and “matter.”” I am specifically requesting these because you continue to label science as “materialist” so want to know what that means to you.

  116. No, James. I asked for “your definitions of “materialism” and “matter.”” I am specifically requesting these because you continue to label science as “materialist” so want to know what that means to you.

    Ken I gave you my definition for a natural universe. That would apply to a materialistic universe – one in the same. Matter would simple be the physicalness, if you will, of the universe.

  117. @ James:

    So matter is “physical” implying that “materialism” limits itself to “physical” things. So what is “physical?” Does it have to have form and substance? Does it have to have mass?

    See, this still doesn’t explain to me what you mean by “materialism” when you apply it to science.

    What is the defining feature of “physicalness”, of “matter.”

  118. Again. I do not accept this supernatural/natural split, as this is not useful terminology. Known and unknown however, is useful and more descriptive to boot. If this is the criteria by which things end up in the supernatural bucket, then at least be honest and say so. I suspect however, that in this case, the supernatural bucket is categorised as anything that we could co-opt to try and support the pre reached conclusion of the existence of a god. This is the mental block that I was talking about before.

    In terms of lightening and thunder, as far as I know, this is understood to the level that it can be artificially generated.

    Its just a small point really, but if you try just for once to leave the reaching of conclusions until after looking at the evidence, and then try and base those conclusions on the evidence, you would be surprised about how much more sense the universe makes. If you require absolute certainty about anything and everything however, then of course the scientific approach will disappoint you. In fact the only thing that will supply that desired absolute certainty is delusion.

  119. So matter is “physical” implying that “materialism” limits itself to “physical” things. So what is “physical?” Does it have to have form and substance? Does it have to have mass?

    See, this still doesn’t explain to me what you mean by “materialism” when you apply it to science.

    What is the defining feature of “physicalness”, of “matter.”

    Ken, I’m not sure what you are looking for, I think my definitions are clear.

    Here is a definition

    ma-te-ri-al-ism

    the philosophic theory that physical matter and its related forces are the source or cause of all phenomena.

  120. Again. I do not accept this supernatural/natural split, as this is not useful terminology. Known and unknown however, is useful and more descriptive to boot. If this is the criteria by which things end up in the supernatural bucket, then at least be honest and say so. I suspect however, that in this case, the supernatural bucket is categorised as anything that we could co-opt to try and support the pre reached conclusion of the existence of a god. This is the mental block that I was talking about before.

    Yes you do accept the supernatural/natural split, if not you would not have brought the God of the gaps argument. My point with the queerness of QM, where there is no physical connection between certain events, is to ask the materialist if this causes him to question his assumptions. In the big picture, it may all be “supernatural” or “natural” for that matter. If the universe is not self-generated or self-sustaining then we live in a supernatural universe, even though we can understand certain properties/events. In other words, what phenomena do we experience that suggests we don’t live in a supernatural universe?

    In terms of lightening and thunder, as far as I know, this is understood to the level that it can be artificially generated.

    And? This is the problem Ken, why wouldn’t this knowledge be understood in a supernatural universe?

  121. @ James:

    I am trying to get from you your understanding of what is meant by “physical matter” and “materialism” – because this is a word you bandy about a lot and (from my point of view) use in a naive and archaic way.

    You see – “materialistic” (your word) science investigates things which don’t have substance or physical form (in the naive sense), it investigates the influence of thoughts, perception and mindfulness on parts of the brain and their activity/utilisation, it investigates phenomena such as “dark matter.” This doesn’t fit in with a naive definition of “materialism” or “physical matter.” It seems to me this is a good reason (for an honest person) not to continue using words like “materialism” in a naive way.

    Of course, scientists don’t go into their investigations with such naive concepts. In my whole scientific career I never heard any working science use apply this word to their investigations.

    The people who do habitually use this word are those, like the Wedge plonkers, who are attacking science.

    So what is your understanding of “physical matter and its related forces”?

  122. @ James:

    What do you mean by a “supernatural universe?”

    In the sense of the dictionary definition of “natural” – that which we know/understand and therefore “supernatural” – that which we don’t (yet) know, don’t (yet) understand of course the universe is largely “supernatural.” And “supernatural” is what science is all about – investigating and understanding the (currently) unknown.

    Your concepts of “self-generated or self-sustaining” universes are beside the point. Whatever type of universe we live in it is the scientific method that will discover that for us – not preconceived mythology. Science doesn’t presume either form of universe.

  123. In the sense of the dictionary definition of “natural” – that which we know/understand and therefore “supernatural” – that which we don’t (yet) know, don’t (yet) understand of course the universe is largely “supernatural.” And “supernatural” is what science is all about – investigating and understanding the (currently) unknown.

    Sure, that is a dictonary definition. But it is arbitrary. That is my point. Why shouldn’t the supernatural be at least partly understandable?

    Your concepts of “self-generated or self-sustaining” universes are beside the point. Whatever type of universe we live in it is the scientific method that will discover that for us – not preconceived mythology. Science doesn’t presume either form of universe.

    We no Ken, just because the scientific method has figured some things out doesn’t mean it can figure all things out – that is a faith assumption(and we may be reasching the limits of out understanding with quantum queerness, time will tell). And if the universe is not self-generated or self-sustaining then that is the point – we live in a supernatural universe even though we can discover some aspects of it.

  124. @123 Nobody has stated that science can certainly figure everything out (straw man fighter:-)). History has shown however, that it would be silly to put boundaries around it, as the inventiveness of scientists in devising new theories and ways to test them is astounding.

    You do realise that quantum theory is an extremely successful branch of physics I hope. Regardless of the weirdness.

    Show us your alternative to science for “figuring things out”. Tell us what the bible has to say about the behaviour of particles at the atomic/sub atomic level. I will prepare myself to be impressed.

    We can posit all manner of forces and suchlike that we have no evidence for. However, I think that I have a better word than supernatural for these. Fiction. Not everybody has the same trouble as you as stating that something is unknown.

  125. @123 Nobody has stated that science can certainly figure everything out (straw man fighter:-)). History has shown however, that it would be silly to put boundaries around it, as the inventiveness of scientists in devising new theories and ways to test them is astounding.

    I don’t disagree in the least

    You do realise that quantum theory is an extremely successful branch of physics I hope. Regardless of the weirdness.

    Yes, it has been especially useful in my field – electronics. The problem is though we may be looking at things that do not have a “physical” explaniation.

    Show us your alternative to science for “figuring things out”. Tell us what the bible has to say about the behaviour of particles at the atomic/sub atomic level. I will prepare myself to be impressed.

    Scripture does not address these issues. But it does tell us why the universe is intelligible in the first place. Since a rational God created and ordered it. And why humans can grasp said intelligibility. How does the materialist account for such intelligibility? Bind, purposeless, dumb forces?

    We can posit all manner of forces and suchlike that we have no evidence for. However, I think that I have a better word than supernatural for these. Fiction. Not everybody has the same trouble as you as stating that something is unknown.

    That is the point Nick, how do you know that the very forces you do understand are not supernatural? On what do base this assumption?

  126. @ James:

    “Why shouldn’t the supernatural be at least partly understandable?” – Surely that’s my point. The so-called “supernatural” is, at least potentially, understandable. Science can, and does investigate it. In fact the so-called “supernatural” is the field of scientific investigation.

    “just because the scientific method has figured some things out doesn’t mean it can figure all things out “ – I agree. There may be things which are beyond our investigation for reasons of technology, limits inherent in the human brain or even (just possibly) limits inherent in reality itself. But, as an intelligent species, that doesn’t stop us investigating. We say “I don’t know how this works – so let’s find out.” Until we come across things that really stump us we are, quite obviously and legitimately, going to continue doing this.

    Now if there are things it is impossible to investigate, understand, or know (and as I have said there may be) then it is arrogant for anyone to claim that they, themselves, “know” these things by “revelation” or any other method..

  127. Surely that’s my point. The so-called “supernatural” is, at least potentially, understandable. Science can, and does investigate it. In fact the so-called “supernatural” is the field of scientific investigation.

    Sure, I agree…

    “just because the scientific method has figured some things out doesn’t mean it can figure all things out “ – I agree. There may be things which are beyond our investigation for reasons of technology, limits inherent in the human brain or even (just possibly) limits inherent in reality itself. But, as an intelligent species, that doesn’t stop us investigating. We say “I don’t know how this works – so let’s find out.” Until we come across things that really stump us we are, quite obviously and legitimately, going to continue doing this.

    Again, I agree. But would add that we are looking at things that really stump us already.

    Now if there are things it is impossible to investigate, understand, or know (and as I have said there may be) then it is arrogant for anyone to claim that they, themselves, “know” these things by “revelation” or any other method..

    Well no, because if God actually did communicate His understanding would be far superior to ours. In that case Revelation would trump all our finite knowledge.

  128. “we are looking at things that really stump us already.” – I disagree. Sure we have had to wait for some technological advances such as the LHC and some speculative ideas in things like string theory are outside experimental validation for the foreseeable future but calling this being “stumped” is very pessimistic. We have plenty to go on with and scientific investigation has never been so rich and active.

    What do you define as being, for all time, beyond human investigation and possible understanding?

    “if God actually did communicate His understanding” – the problem here, of course, is that we have only the word of those who claim to have received this communication. Many of these people are currently in prison or under psychological treatment. It’s the nature of ‘revelation” is that there is absolutely no way to validate the message – and plenty of reason to be suspicious of claims.

  129. What do you define as being, for all time, beyond human investigation and possible understanding?

    I don’t know what is or will be beyond human understanding in the end. Wave collapse and entanglement certainly are now. And there are features in the universe that just don’t make sense.

    “if God actually did communicate His understanding” – the problem here, of course, is that we have only the word of those who claim to have received this communication. Many of these people are currently in prison or under psychological treatment. It’s the nature of ‘revelation” is that there is absolutely no way to validate the message – and plenty of reason to be suspicious of claims.

    That really is not the point, not yet. Let me ask you – if, and I stress if, an all knowing Creator, somewhat like the Christian God, did exist – would His knowledge be vastly superior to ours?

  130. @ James:

    “I don’t know what is or will be beyond human understanding in the end. Wave collapse and entanglement certainly are now. And there are features in the universe that just don’t make sense.”

    Entanglement and “wave collapse” (I don’t accept that sort of description) may be beyond common sense or intuitive knowledge – but then that’s the nature of science – we get to find out about things which aren’t “common sense.” These things will always seem a mystery to most people because they aren’t “common sense.” I personally find these features of quantum mechanics much easier to understand by appreciating that energy/mass is a property of space/time. Sean Carroll’s comments are quite helpful in this.

    There will always be features of the universe, of reality, that “don’t make sense” – either because we have not yet sufficiently investigated them or because they don’t correspond with “common sense.” This doesn’t at all mean that they are not rational and potentially capable of being understood. Just imagine how people considered things like thunder and lightning a few centuries ago.

  131. There will always be features of the universe, of reality, that “don’t make sense” – either because we have not yet sufficiently investigated them or because they don’t correspond with “common sense.” This doesn’t at all mean that they are not rational and potentially capable of being understood. Just imagine how people considered things like thunder and lightning a few centuries ago.

    Well until we can actually give a mechanism for entanglement and wave collapse we are in the dark. We do not understand the interaction. I’m not suggesting that we don’t keep investigating, but the point is we don’t know now – will we know in the future – it’s anyone’s guess.

    And I’m not sure what your point about thunder and lightning is. Christians have always taught that God created the universe and controls weather events. I haven’t seen anything that counters that claim.

  132. Ken, let me ask you – if, and I stress if, an all knowing Creator, somewhat like the Flying Spaghetti Monster, did exist – would His knowledge be vastly superior to ours?

    Pastafarians have always taught that His Noodliness created the universe and controls weather events, especially mountains and midgits. I haven’t seen anything that counters that claim.

  133. IS SCIENCE ON THE VERGE OF PROVING AFTERLIFE ??

    ARE YOU OPEN MINDED ??

    Electro-magnetic imprint of DNA goes with you in the death transition! Multi-life
    history/experiences in DNA! Unseen IMPERISHABLE “bodies” in aura? Brain is not the mind! Mind based upon mental (or reasoning) body of aura! Mind goes with you in death!!

    Note: I lost both of my parents at their early age of 57. This caused me to launch a part-time
    fifty year study of “what comes next after death?” Topics I researched were such as
    the Mother Mary apparitions, a variety of religion beliefs other than my former Catholic (though still Christian), atheists’ rationale, the paranormal, quantum physics, astronomy, biology, genomics, messages from the afterlife, instrumental transcommunication (ITC) via tapes & TV, UFO objectives, and extraterrestrial messages, trying to find out answers, primarily thru books, science magazines, and numerous websites, obviously with a very open mind.

    I was particularly interested in answering this QUESTION: How can it be that it is possible to
    contact afterdeath personalities as if they were still of full mental capability — via paranormal
    MEDIUMS, or even by special ITC electronic communications, as has been demonstrated
    repeatedly? As a retired engineer/executive, I needed to understand exactly HOW
    “mechanically”or structurally this could be possible. I FOUND THE ANSWER:
    Electromagnetic/energetic version of DNA — and unseen IMPERISHABLE body aura containing
    the mind — go with you in death transition!!

    Two books in particular provided key answers, and both were most believable due to being very
    comprehensive and “scientific” though not related to much of Christian/Judeo training. Below I
    have compiled short summaries and excerpts for your possible interest. Also, a short list of books
    that reinforced these two. I hope you will keep an open mind in reading them. An old Chinese
    proverb states: “A mind is like a parachute. It only functions when it is OPEN.”

    To summarize the first book, a dictation by a benevolent extraterrestrial group Guardian Alliance,
    it teaches SCIENTIFIC EVOLVEMENT: 1) Your electro-magnetic or energetic version of DNA
    goes with you in the death transition. 2) you will reincarnate repeatedly and the DNA holds your personal multi-life history and experience. 3) Your invisible aura is the source/basis of your mind and morphogenetic fields for holding patterns, etc. 4) Your consciousness will next progress
    eventually through fifteen dimensions toward “nirvana” perfection, currently being in the third.
    All other dimensions are unseen and have different vibrational frequencies and atomic
    configurations. 5) After incarnation as the Buddha, Christ came to us as a teacher from the twelfth or higher dimension. 6) God is the Universe Prime Creator/Force/Source — and not the god Yahweh of the Old Testament who was an Ancient Astronaut to Earth.

    As dictated by Ascended Masters, key messages in the second book were: 1) There are other
    unseen IMPERISHABLE “bodies” around the physical one in an aura (Note: As seen by
    Kirlian/GDV photography, see Wikipedia re: the paranormal aura). Key bodies are the astral, the
    mental (or reasoning), the etheric, among several others. 2) THE BRAIN IS NOT THE MIND. The mental body is the basis/source of the mind. 3) All these “bodies” go with you in the death transition,
    especially including the mind. 4) In the next step, all these bodies and DNA will proceed with
    you into the astral plane or dimension. 5) do not fear death as it is merely a transition to another
    “form”.
    See the more detailed excerpts below. Also, a short list of other reinforcing books. To me, these
    were “startling” concepts, but comforting in their believability as they “fit” based on other related
    research.

    There does need to be more scientific research especially on 1) electromagnetic/energetic &
    biophotonic properties of DNA, and 2) functions of the aura (or bio-energy field)! Russian and
    German scientific researchers are “on track” to one day scientifically prove life continues after
    death. Dr. Fritz-Albert Popp and son Jurgen at University of Marburg, Germany continue early
    work on electromagnetic aspects/versions of DNA and cell biophotonics as members of the Int’l
    Institute of Biophysics, and among others, Dr. Peter Geriaev in Russia with a breakthrough in
    biophotonic electromagnetic DNA termed Wave Genetics or bioholography. This energetic/biophotonic research will radically transform genetic science, currently based on bio-chemicals. And, Dr. Konstantin Korotov, Director at the St Petersburg State Tech University, who concentrates on aura (or bioenergy field) research as Founder/President of the International Union of Medical and Applied Bioelectrography, has actually produced early Kirilian/GDV photographs which may be of the “soul” or aura leaving dying human bodies. American research on these two “niches” appears to be more modest, especially on the aura as mainstream scientists refrain from it due to its Indian paranormal history. Also, “materialist” brain researchers continue to believe that the source of the mind MUST be someplace in the brain or physical body. Plus, narrowly educated atheists do not believe in any perceived afterlife.

    Book #1. Source: “Voyagers” Volumes I & II — by ASHAYANA DEANE(Anna Hayes)
    For details see Chapters on Ascension Mechanics & DNA. Available from Amazon.com,
    Volume I and 2nd Edition Vol. II 583 pages. Also includes information on Earth history and quantaum physics.

    “At the death of the physical body, you will discover that your consciousness lives on and your
    evolution continues.
    “Ascension is not some lofty spiritual concept designed by the minds of man, it is the literal,
    tangible scientific process of the evolution of consciousness and biology with the laws of energy
    mechanics that apply to a multidimensional reality system. All souls will eventually evolve and
    ascend through a 15 dimensional scale to re-emerge as sentient identity within realms of pure
    consciousness beyond the dimensional systems. Whether or not you view ascension and
    multidimensional evolution as a reality while you are alive on Earth, you will be directly faced
    with that reality once your consciousness has passed out of physical life and into the
    multidimensional framework. How well you prepare for that discovery now will determine the
    ease with which you are able to take your next evolutionary step once you “wake up on the other
    side”
    “The term “Ascension” represents much more than some lofty spiritual concept invented by the
    finite human psyche in order to give purpose to its finite existence. Many in the earthly scientific
    communities believe that life is limited to the physical expression and that consciousness is the
    result of the body’s biochemical/neuro-electrical functions. Following these erroneous beliefs
    they draw an equally erroneous conclusion that consciousness ends at the death of the physical
    body. Consequently, human science will be confronted with a whole new order of
    multidimensional reality and a whole new science.
    “The process of ascension is not some quasi-religious concept based upon the meandering of the
    human mind. Ascension is instead a highly SCIENTIFIC process that represents the universal
    order through which consciousness experiences itself as being. Ascension also involves the
    understanding of morphogenetic fields or the form holding energy constructions that allow
    matter to build into individuated forms. Ascension therefore is a science with specific mechanics
    that allow for the evolution of consciousness from simple to more complex forms. Every being
    in existence is involved in this evolutionary process and applies to each and every one of you.
    The choices one makes in thought and deed will determine the quality of experience, or lack
    thereof, that will be personally encountered.
    “DNA is built upon minute electro-tonal (i.e., multi octave) patterns of multidimensional
    frequency and the energetic imprint of the DNA goes with you in the death transition. The
    content of that pattern will determine how high your consciousness will be able to travel
    (progress) in the system once it is released from the body. Whatever frequencies are contained
    within that imprint will determine the specific dimensional placement after death.
    “This “system” blueprint has called your races forward toward an unseen destiny which is the
    return of immortality and the (eventual) reunion of the consciousness of man with its Prime
    Creative Source. In terms of the soul’s perspective, the challenges and hardships faced along the
    way in Earth life are understood to be lessons in growth as human consciousness evolves to
    remember the truth of its eternal existence and embrace the beauty of its multidimensional
    identity. From the perspective of a human consciousness focused within a physical body on
    Earth, those challenges can seem, at times, overwhelming. Without consciousness recognition of
    the purposes, processes and objectives of the evolutionary plan, the hardships can appear to be
    unbearable and without meaning.
    “All human souls are involved with the exact same process of evolving the genetic “package”
    and the consciousness to higher dimensional levels; some souls are just further along in this
    journey. This is a process by which the life forms evolve through matter particles and antiparticles
    upward through the 15 dimensional scale, from dense matter solidity to pure, nonmattered-
    based conscious energy substance.
    “All dimensions exist in the same space, but seem to operate separately due to the particle
    pulsation rates of which they are composed. The degree of angular rotation of particle spin shifts
    90 degrees from one dimension to the next while remaining invisible to each other. In the
    universe there are 15 primary dimensional bands. Dimensional frequency bands group in sets of
    3 and each set of three dimensions represents a Harmonic Universe. Thus there are five
    Harmonic Universes within one (overall) dimensional Universe. The degree of angular rotation
    of particle spin shifts 90 degrees from one dimension to the next within one Harmonic Universe.
    In each Harmonic Universe containing three dimensions, there are two 90 degree shifts of the
    angular rotation of spin between particles. Between one Harmonic Universe and the next there is
    a 45 degree reverse angular rotation of particle spin. This 45 degree reverse angular rotation of
    particle spin creates a Magnetic Repulsion Zone, or void between Harmonic Universes, which
    keeps the reality fields contained there within separated from each other. Through this structure
    of relative angular rotations of particle spin, the holographic illusions of multidimensional
    reality, matter, time, space, movement and individuation of form are perpetually created and
    sustained. Entities existing below the 7th dimension possess physical biological forms.
    Dimensions 7 through 9 possess the etheric matter form.
    “All matter forms and forms of consciousness are manifested through a morphogenetic form-holding imprint which exists as a quantity of crystalline, electro-tonal energetic substance that is composed of specific patterns of frequency. These multidimensional electromagnetic fields are collectively referred to as the bio-energetic system or the aura field of a manifest form. The aura field has seven primary inner layers (i.e.,bodies) which correspond to dimensional frequency bands 1 through 7. The aura field also has seven outer layers which represent the form-holding MORPHOGENETIC imprints for the seven inner layers of the aura field. The morphogenetic imprint holds the instructions and design for
    form-building in a type of digital or electronic encoding. The seven outer layers correspond to
    dimensional frequency bands 9 through 15.

    “The perceptions of your present races are focused within the middle range of the third
    dimension. In order for humanity to evolve into higher dimensional fields, the frequency
    patterns of dimensions four, five and six must be brought into manifest expression with the
    energetic grid of Earth. The frequencies or sound-tones must also become operational within the
    active DNA strands. The energetic imprint of the DNA is carried with the personal
    morphogenetic field and consciousness after physical death of the body. (Note: Morphogenetic
    fields are the form holding patterns through which matter forms. Rupert Sheldrake postulated on
    their existence, but proposed no physical mechanism.) Whatever frequencies are contained with
    that imprint will determine the dimensional placement of the consciousness after death. The
    ultimate success of DNA* building lies in the hands of the embodied consciousness who
    personally directs the process by the way in which personal energy is used and applied.
    *Note 1: Our current scientific community is thoroughly confused about the multiple
    strands of DNA, declaring only a few as having a known usage – and calling the remainder “junk
    DNA.” Over 97% of DNA has an unknown function! However, if it were junk, the sequence of
    the “syllables” i.e., the nucleotides in DNA, should be completely random. In fact, they are not
    random at all, and current scientists now believe that this DNA contains some kind of code with
    function completely unknown or undetermined.
    “(At death), you will move your consciousness through a dark tunnel, with a bright light at its
    end, the same effect as in a Near-Death-Experience (Note: the subject of much book
    investigative reporting).
    “Multiple reincarnational** identities represent portions of a person’s soul awareness evolving.
    To the soul-self identity, the immediate incarnates in its incarnational family are recognized as
    living sub-personality fragments of its own identity whose reality simultaneously takes place
    with the dimensional bands contained within the soul-self’s DNA. The DNA represents electromagnetically encoded digital imprints of the other living portions of your identity.
    **Note 2: Reincarnation occurs only in the first Harmonic Universe. “You reincarnate into
    multiple forms and situations because one lifetime is in no way sufficient time, nor does it offer
    sufficient exposures to enough diverse situations to give the fragment-spirit the understanding
    necessary. The best way to learn about poverty, or being rich, or being helpless, or being
    powerful, or being female, or being male is by experiencing lifetimes in such circumstances.”
    Book source: Andareon Theory communication.
    “Consciousness and matter are both composed of these units of electro-tonal energy and so both
    spiritual and scientific mastery are brought together through the applied knowledge of electro-tonal
    energy dynamics. For the smallest units of energy in the cosmos you could find 800
    billion billion units in an average 3 dimensional photon. They represent the “divine substance”
    out of which the cosmos is composed.
    “There is an organizational intelligence and sentient creative force of vast proportion that is
    responsible for the design and creation of the cosmos, i.e., the Central Creative Force you call
    God***. Members of the benevolent Guardian Alliance (Note: who communicated this book)
    are beings from higher reality fields, dimensions ten through fifteen, who have evolved beyond
    the manifestation of biology, physical and etheric matter substance into states of conscious prematter
    form who appear as forms of light when they enter your system**** or, occasionally take
    on the appearance of biological forms in order to interact with Earth life. Note for example: Jesus from
    the 12th dimension.
    ***Note 3: The GOD of the Old Testament Yahweh was an Ancient Astronaut as demonstrated
    by the Jewish-American scholar Zecharia Sitchin who authored multiple books based on
    historical Middle Eastern archeological hieroglyphic interpretations.
    ****Note 4: The above afterlife “system” description is supported in the website Zetatalk.com
    which contains details on souls, reincarnation, DNA and dimensions (density), particularly
    Dimension Four.
    Book #2. “The Treasure of El Dorado” Chapter 7. The Bodies of Man. EXCERPTS from dictated communications by Ascended Masters. Joseph Whitfield 213 pages. Available through Amazon.com.

    “The value of the TREASURE is literally priceless since it could not be purchased with all the
    material wealth of all worlds. The asset is the SECRET OF OVERCOMING DEATH.

    “Few indeed are aware of the totality of their being. Existing within and around the physical
    bodies are IMPERISHABLE bodies. These other bodies interpenetrate the physical body as well
    as extend beyond it. The various bodies which constitute the total potential of all developing
    human beings are: the physical matter body, the astral (antimatter) body, the etheric (Christ)
    body, the mental body and the emotional body. It is these other bodies that constitute the
    phenomenon referred to as an aura (NOTE: Which has been proven to exist by special
    photographic techniques, see Wikipedia aura paranormal). The reason that the aura is not readily
    seen by most people is that its range of vibration renders it invisible to the physical eye. One’s
    CONSCIOUSNESS and other higher faculties reside in this “spiritual” (frequency existing) body
    and are INDESTRUCTIBLE.
    “WHEN PHYSICAL DEATH OCCURS, THESE OTHER BODIES LEAVE THE PHYSICAL
    BODY AS A UNIT AND BECOME THE OPERABLE VEHICLE THROUGH WHICH THE
    CONSCIOUSNESS CONTINUES TO FUNCTION IN OTHER DIMENSIONS! While one is
    no longer physically incarnated, the astral body houses the other bodies after the transition called
    death. Unlike the physical body, however, the astral body is inviolable, (i.e.,incorruptible).
    “Let us examine some of the functions which the various aspects of the astral body serve while
    one is physically incarnated. The subconscious is the mechanism which performs those vital
    functions that produce automatic actions and reactions on the physical level. Examples of this
    would be breathing, beating of the heart, blinking of the eyelids, digesting, etc. It is the
    subconscious which permits the formation of habits and which must be reprogrammed in order to
    break habits and existing beliefs. The subconscious however does not have the capacity for
    rational thought. Everything that is recorded in the brain is also recorded in the subconscious.
    The subconscious contains total memory information FROM ALL PREVIOUS LIVES AND
    EXPERIENCES (as recorded in the energetic DNA).
    “The brain is the memory bank while physically incarnated. The subconscious mind is the
    memory bank for your total experiences. Whatever is recorded in the brain is recorded
    automatically in the subconscious as well.
    “Consider that quality of the astral body that is called soul. Think of a cassette tape (i.e., the
    energetic DNA). When the tape is blank, it can be said to contain no soul. Now fill it with
    recordings. What we have done is to impart attributes to a previously empty cassette. We have
    thus CREATED SOUL. When the life ends, the tape (i.e., the surviving energetic DNA) is filled
    with that essence called SOUL. Within the total soul are many completed “tapes” containing the
    records of all incarnational experiences. The completed “tapes” form the memory bank, or the
    akashic record of each individual being. Whatever information is contained (from past lives),
    whether it be good or evil, true or false, right or wrong, correct or incorrect, can and does
    influence your well-being in your present life. This is why many people go through lifetime
    after lifetime making the same mistakes over and over again. In summary, the subconscious and
    the soul lack discernment. They cannot reason.
    “The conscious part of your mental body provides you with the powers of thinking. Thinking is
    the capacity to discern, reason, rationalize, to exercise self-discipline, to deduce, to employ logic,
    to analyze, inquire, synthesize, judge, investigate, observe, etc. THE BRAIN IS NOT THE
    MIND. It is one of the instruments that the mind uses while you are manifested in the physical
    planes (dimensions) of expression. The mental body has three distinct parts or levels: the
    conscious, the subconscious, and the superconscious. A primary function of the mind or mental
    body is to produce awareness, an incredible tool in the development of potential. As a
    component of the mental body, the subconscious has the ability and the capacity to record all
    sensual, mental, and emotional, and spiritual experiences and to “play back” this information,
    functioning like a tape recorder (i.e. the morphogenetic field and/or DNA).
    “The etheric (or Christ) body has been described by enlightened writers. Often referred to as the
    light body due to the effect produced in the atomic structure of this body by the speed of the
    electron movement within the atoms which equals or exceeds the speed of light. Achieving the
    status of etheric (or Christhood) confers upon the recipient many powers not found in the lesser
    bodies. Jesus represents the best example in history. Among the powers he was known to have
    demonstrated were: bilocation, levitation, materialization, healing, etc. Jesus constantly
    reminded his followers that they could do all of these and even greater things.
    “When one achieves the full etheric (or Christ) vibration, then death will no longer have
    dominion over him. It gives him the power to alter his vibrations at will, and thus he can freely
    travel through the physical, astral and etheric vibrations.
    “It is the emotional body that gives you a feeling nature, i.e., that produces the capacity for
    experiencing all levels of emotion such as joy and sorrow, love and hate, compassion and
    malevolence, ecstacy and depression, pleasure and pain, excitement and indifference. The
    emotional capacity is experienced on all levels of expression.
    “The superconscious is the functioning mind of the etheric or Christ self. What is required is that
    man of earth become aware of the existence of the incredible power of the superconscious mind
    and desire its attainment. To give you some idea of the scope of the superconscious mind, think
    of a rating scale numbered from 1 to 10 as representing the range of man’s conscious mind in
    Earth. Then classify the most outstanding geniuses of Earth history using 10 as the ultimate that
    is attainable. You will find that such men as Einstein, Swedenborg, Whitman, etc., would be
    rated from perhaps 7 through 9. By comparison, a pure state of superconsciousness would range
    into the hundreds or thousands. It is quite easy to conclude from this, is it not, that the means
    exist to literally transform Earth into a paradise by educating mankind as to its potential.
    “These bodies constitute man’s potential as he continues to evolve within the “system.” Each
    aspect of our total self is indispensable to the function and purpose of our total being.

    NOTE: The above concepts based on my “knowledge” research were confirmed in Australian Michel Desmarquest’s abduction to a highly advanced planetary culture (see below)

    OTHER REINFORCING BOOKS: *** most favored among hundreds researched.

    ***Abduction to the 9th Planet, republished under title “Thiaoouba Prophecy” by Michel Desmarqueet, Arafura Publishing, Australia. He was abducted physically in 1987 for nine days by the spiritually most highly evolved and most technically developed planet in our galaxy. He confirmed and detailed the existence of imperishable aura , reincarnation, and astral/etheric afterlife on progressively more advanced planets !! Excerpts below.

    “Your astral body, which inhabits every normal human being, transfers to its higher-self all the sensations that are experienced during a lifetime in a physical body. A normal human astral body contains approximately four billion trillion electrons, exactly marrying your (peak) physical shape.

    “The more you cultivate your mind, the less you will be burdened by your physical body and the quicker you will proceed through your cycle of lives. Regarding the problems of your planet, Michel, the solution depends on love, not money. People need to rise above hate, resentment, jealousy and envy, and put their neighbor before themselves.

    “There are nine categories of planets. You are on the planet Thiaoouba which is the top of the scale. Earth is a planet of the first category which could be likened to a kindergarten. We are one of three planets in the galaxy which are the most highly evolved.

    Zetatalk by Nancy Lieder, Granet Publishing, dictated by benevolent extraterrestrials
    also see website Zetatalk.com, Section Density, i.e. Dimensions
    ***An Ascension Handbook by Tony Stubbs, Oughten House Pub’g, channeled by Serapis Bey

    The Science of the Soul by Robert Siblerud, Sacred Science Publishers

    The Infinite MIND by Valerie V Hunt: The Science of Human Vibrations of Consciousness, Malibu Publishing
    The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot, Harper Perennial

    ***Andareon Theory by Robert Gidel, Andareon Foundation Press, dictated by Andar Group

    After We Die, What Then by George Meek, electronics engineer, Ariel Press

    A Lawyer Presents the Case for Afterlife, by Victor Zammit, Gammell Pty, Ltd.,Australia
    also see website Victorzammit.com
    Extraterrestrials in Biblical Prophecy by G. Cope Schellhorn, Horus House Press

    ***The Yahweh Encounters – Controversial Bible Interpretation, by Ann Madden Jones

    Extraterrestrial Contact – the Evidence and Implications by Steven Greer, Cross Point Publishers

    Gods, Genes & Consciousness – Nonhuman Intervention in Human History
    by Paul Von Ward, Hampton Roads

    A Seth Reader, by Richard Roberts, Vernal Equinox Press

    ***The Only Planet of Choice, by Phyllis Schlemmer, Gateway Books, Bath, UK

    Vibrational Medicine, by Richard Gerber, Chapters 1 & 4, Bear & Co.

    Light After Life by Dr. Konstantin Korotkov, Backbone Publishing

    Miracles of the Storm – Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC), by Mark Macy
    See website: World ITC.org

    PS: Pass this along if you are so inclined. Promotion encouraged, but this is NOT for total re-publication in books, magazines, professional journals, etc. without source approval. Short quotes or references OK. DJS

  134. Maybe Cedric could give us an executive summary of the above. I lost it after Dimensions 8 and 9

  135. This caused me to launch a part-time
    fifty year study of “what comes next after death?” Topics I researched…

    You sound like a real expert.
    After all, you’ve studied it for 50 years. Very impressive.
    (Dutifully puts on impressed face)

    trying to find out answers, primarily thru books, science magazines, and numerous websites, obviously with a very open mind.

    Books, magazines, websites…but all with an open mind?
    Ah.
    (..awkward silence…)
    Yep, quite a few people round these here parts do the same thing. We get them all the time. I always end up telling them the same thing in response.
    I don’t care about your conclusions; it’s your methodology that counts.
    What are you doing that is any different from the nutters out there?

    Two books in particular provided key answers, and both were most believable due to being very comprehensive and “scientific” though…

    I’m sure. No doubt those books were very glossy and lots and lots of end-notes giving them a great air of respectablility. Would not surprise me if they were written by a former engineer or doctor with few letters after their name.
    (Adds gravitas, you understand)

    Here’s a very recent example of someone else trying to do the same thing on this very blog…

    It is interesting that Cedric Katesby refers to Connett et al. The Case Against Fluoride as an ‘article’. If he believes that he is oblivious to much fluoridation literature. It is in fact a 372 page text co-written by three highly qualified academics. There are 1,191 endnotes over pages 291-355.
    In praise of the book, published just three years ago, Arvid Carlsson, Nobel Laureate in Medicine or Physiology (2000) and Emeritus Professor of Pharmacology, University of Gothenburg says…

    Gosh, how impressive, eh? What’s not to love about that?

    As a retired engineer/executive, I needed to understand exactly HOW…

    And the cliches keep on coming. Talk about fitting a stereotype.
    The Salem Hypothesis strikes again!
    (Google it. It really is a thing)

    Two books in particular provided key answers

    Ah, books. With “key” answers, no less. And you found them. Gosh, lucky you.

    OTHER REINFORCING BOOKS: *** most favored among hundreds researched…

    More books? My oh my. Will the riches never cease?

    website Zetatalk.com…see website Victorzammit…See website: World ITC.org

    Websites. Well, of course. What could be more natural?

    No, it won’t do.

    Science Works! How the Scientific Peer Review Process works

  136. There seems to be one fatal flaw in your conclusion, Don: DNA doesn’t record any mental states. In fact DNA doesn’t record anything at all. It’s also entirely useless to some non-physical mind because it only contains information relating to the physical.
    Moreover I can identify at least one fatal flaw in your methodology, namely what you take as your starting “observation”: that dead people actually can be communicated with. This of course has yet to be demonstrated at all.
    So it seems you’ve been doing nothing at all worthwhile for the past fifty years. You took the wrong path, never cared to confirm whether it was right but instead tried to convince yourself if was the right one and that your wrong destination was the one you should have ended up at to begin with.

  137. Good grief Quintin did you actually read all that stuff? I am impressed by your dedication.

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