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Re:science, naturalism and materialism

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  • Will
    Ken, The cause might not be a god but rather a highly advanced being whose technology is god-like. I don t think it would be possible to distinguish between a
    Message 1 of 70 , Jan 1, 2008
      The cause might not be a god but rather a highly advanced being whose
      technology is god-like.
      I don't think it would be possible to distinguish between a god and a
      physical being with god-like powers.
      Any proof would have to be discernible by us and therefore physical.
      If the proof was physical then it would be within the realm of a
      highly advanced being's powers.
      The only possible proof of the supernatural would be if you assume
      first that humans are capable of discerning the non-physical.
      But what would be necessary for a physical being to perceive the
      non-physical? It would have to be a special faculty and the faculty
      itself must in some way be supernatural.
      But since a supernatural faculty could not communicate with a physical
      faculty in any way except a physical way you would be forced to say
      that the entire mind is supernatural in order to make this work.
      So I think that all discussions that start with an ontological duality
      inevitably lead to a Cartesian duality of mind and body.
      But a supernatural mind is totally superfluous since the operation of
      the brain is sufficient to explain all perceptions.
      The only function of a supernatural mind is to shore up a first
      assumption of ontological duality.


      --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Ken Batts"
      <ken@...> wrote:
      > Will: It seems possible that the physical evidence might strongly
      > indicate a supernatural realm, for example the sky opening up and
      > revealing angels and a giant old man sitting with a book containing a
      > list of every human who'd ever existed's sins on a golden throne.
      > While not "proof," it might be enough for some of us naturalists to
      > strongly suspect we've been mistaken.
      > On the other hand, a more likely explanation for the angels and old
      > man would be that I'd lost my mind!
      > Ken
      > --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, Will Davidson
      > <will_g_davidson@> wrote:
      > >
      > > <<<Should science reveal two categorically different realms of
      > being, then
      > > naturalists would accept that finding.>>>
      > > Tom, in my mind this is tantamount to saying "Should science reveal
      > the existence of a god the naturalists would accept that finding."
      > > I believe both statements to be empirically impossible.
      > > Evidence is, and must be physical. You cannot prove the existence
      > of the non-physical with physical evidence. Because you would only be
      > proving that portion of the transcendent phenomena that was physical.
      > > I suppose you could endeavor to show that a physical effect was
      > uncaused. In this case you might assume that the "cause" was
      > transcendent. But in reality the cause might be an undiscovered
      > dimension of physicality (such as another spatial dimension).
      > > How would scientists go about proving that mind was a second kind of
      > being? My intuition tells me that it is by definition impossible.
      > > I think that being is synonymous with physicality.
      > > Many people have the perception that their mind is non-physical in
      > the same way that many people perceive free will to be uncaused.
      > > But we find in both cases that there are strong psychological
      > motivations for believing in these things.
      > > I think that it is best that we start with the proposition or
      > intuition of physical being and then try to uncover the psychological
      > motivations and mechanisms that lead people to believe otherwise.
      > > Existence is like ripples upon a lake. The ripples are not a
      > different kind of being then the lake. It is all water.
      > > Existence is simply many different patterns of the same physicality.
      > Evolution has molded us to be hyper-vigilant discerners of these
      > patterns... and eventually to treat certain patterns (mind) as if they
      > were wholly separate and distinct from all the other patterns. This is
      > the root of human delusion.
      > >
      > > Will
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > ---------------------------------
      > > Looking for last minute shopping deals? Find them fast with Yahoo!
      > Search.
      > >
    • Rich Lawrence
      I just wanted to add something to the discussion because I have heard this argument before: How come monkeys can t add? It appears that they can and,
      Message 70 of 70 , Jan 3, 2008
        I just wanted to add something to the discussion because I have heard
        this argument before: "How come monkeys can't add?" It appears that
        they can and, depending on the specific test, out perform their
        cousins, homo sapiens. :)

        Otis wrote:

        > > One final question: If human cognition evolves by way of natural
        > > selection to attain the capabilities of abstract mathematics and a
        > > comprehension of the universe, why hasn't chimp or orangutan cognition
        > > similarly evolved? They have been around longer than modern humans.

        According to research done at Duke University, which is right down the
        road from me, it appears that the other primates HAVE evolved the
        capabilities of abstract mathematics to the degree that they beat
        college students on short term memory tests. The conclusion of the
        report states:

        "Our results indicate that monkeys perform approximate mental
        addition in a manner that is remarkably similar to the performance of
        the college students. These findings support the argument that humans
        and nonhuman primates share a cognitive system for nonverbal
        arithmetic, which likely reflects an evolutionary link in their
        cognitive abilities."

        Here is a link to the published study:


        The difference in sophistication between the two primate species may
        be explained by the larger prefrontal cortex in homo sapiens which
        very well may have evolved under the pressures that Mike eloquently

        However, and this to me is the salient point, the findings of the
        study are congruent with a naturalistic worldview; I , for one, have
        been expecting to see these sorts of studies producing these sorts of
        results. The data which shows that other primates have mathematical
        abilities is not at all shocking to someone who has adopted a
        naturalistic viewpoint. It would make sense from a naturalistic
        viewpoint that since everything we have in our biological and
        intellectual arsenals has evolved over time and within nature (there
        is no other place I am aware of) that we would see these faculties in
        our closest relatives on the family tree in various stages of
        development, sort of like our hands, feet, skeletal structure, etc.
        This study seems to confirm that conjecture, at least in my mind.

        On the other hand, it would be the supernaturalists that would find
        the results of this study disturbing as supernaturalism presupposes a
        "special" place in nature for man. This special place has been so
        ordained by the supernatural forces (according to some stories) or
        because we have access (somehow) to the supernatural we are "special"
        among species. Other species may be explained totally through the
        mechanism of evolution, but something "happened" to humans and as a
        result of this special, one-time happening all of the "higher"
        faculties, art, music, math, etc. were suddenly bequeathed to humans
        and are evidence of our continued specialness, crying out for an
        explanation by materialists of all flavors! Something or someone "out
        there" raised us to a new level, over and above the other species and
        that makes us "special". Our uniquely human traits that I outlined
        above are the proofs of the pudding.....or so the story goes.

        Studies like the above, and there will be more of them as neuroscience
        figures out the brain much in the same way that biology has and is
        figuring out the endocrine system, will continue to show that the
        cognitive abilities, or any ability for that matter, of the primates
        follow a well ordered path of development; no supernatural bullets or
        interventions needed. Our ability to do math is a function of being a
        primate is what the study suggests, not evidence of any special place
        that humans hold in the universe.



        --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Layfield"
        <mike@...> wrote:
        > --- In naturalismphilosophyforum@yahoogroups.com, "Otis" <ldg994@>
        > wrote:
        > >
        > > One final question: If human cognition evolves by way of natural
        > > selection to attain the capabilities of abstract mathematics and a
        > > comprehension of the universe, why hasn't chimp or orangutan cognition
        > > similarly evolved? They have been around longer than modern humans.
        > >
        > Hello Otis. I know you addressed this question to Tom, but I couldn't
        > resist trying to answer it.
        > Why hasn't chimp or orangutan cognition evolved similar to human?
        > The answer: They did not evolve human-like cognition because their
        > ape ancestors were not bipedal. According to ScienceDaily, recent
        > discoveries confirm that bipedal apes have been around for more than
        > 21 million years.
        > http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071009212545.htm
        > Once bipedalism was established, it freed the ape hands and arms for
        > other uses like throwing and communicating which put pressure on the
        > early hominoid brain to exploit these in activities like hunting and
        > socializing, waging war and producing offspring.
        > I think bipedalism in apes made hunting easier. Meat provided the
        > protein and fat for brain development and nourishment (more
        > intelligence is required for hunting than for chomping leaves and
        > grass). Improved hunting and communicating combined with already
        > excellent ape vision and hand-eye coordination-- all in the service of
        > acquiring resources and leaving progeny-- is in this case more than
        > enough to account for the development of the human-like cognition in
        > us, the sole surviving bipedal ape. Too bad only one species of
        > hominoid survived out of the multitude of species that have lived.
        > Neanderthals, according to the fossil evidence probably buried their
        > dead with flowers. That sounds like human-like cognition to me.
        > Mike
        > ---
        > "What can be done with fewer is done in vain by more"
        > William of Ockham
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