Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryPhilosophy

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Space cosmic background of supernova nebula and stars field

Leading Astronomer Gets It All Wrong About Free Will and Destiny

Logic and reason aren’t laws of physics and therefore they transcend physical properties

Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb, has recently written an essay in which he considers whether human beings have free will and how long the human race will survive. Loeb is a prolific and often quite thoughtful scientist who has a refreshing propensity to think outside the mainstream. However, his recent essay in Scientific American, titled “How Much Time Does Humanity Have Left?”, is well off the mark. I think he profoundly misunderstands human nature and human destiny. Loeb opines on the question of human free will: The Standard Model of physics presumes that we are all made of elementary particles with no additional constituents. As such composite systems, we do not possess freedom at a fundamental level, because all particles and…

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Planet Earth from space

Is Life From Outer Space a Viable Science Hypothesis?

Currently, panspermia has been rated as “plausible but not convincing.” Marks, Hössjer, and Diaz discuss the issues

Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks has been doing a series of podcasts with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer, and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz in connection with a recent co-authored paper on the fine-tuning of the universe for life in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. In the first portion of this episode, podcast 153, “Why is there fine-tuning everywhere?” they look at one explanation offered for that fact in recent decades: panspermia (life was seeded throughout the universe) by advanced extraterrestrial beings. Prominent scientists who were atheists gave the theory the needed push. What is the science support for it? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-Episode-153-Hossjer-and-Diaz.mp3 This portion begins at 01:53 min. (The simulation theory portion begins at 4:59 min). A partial transcript,…

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Black hole illustration

6. Is Matt Dillahunty using science as a crutch for his atheism?

That’s neurosurgeon Michael Egnor’s accusation in this third part of the debate, which features continued discussion of singularities, where conventional “laws of nature” break down

At this point in the “Does God exist?” debate between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were all unfalsifiable. When, in Section 4, it was Egnor’s turn to rebut Dillahunty, Dillahunty was not easily able to recall Aquinas’s First Way (the first logical argument for the existence of God). Then, turning to the origin of the universe, Egnor…

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Planet with numerous prominent ring system

5. Egnor, Dillahunty Dispute the Basic Causes Behind the Universe

In a peppery exchange, Egnor argues that proofs of God’s existence follow the same logical structure as proofs in science

At this point in the “Does God exist?” debate between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty (September 17, 2021), readers may recall that the debate opened with Egnor explaining why, as a former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then made his opening argument, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded in his own opening argument that the propositions were all unfalsifiable. When, in Section 4, it was Egnor’s turn to rebut Dillahunty, Dillahunty was not easily able to recall Aquinas’s First Way (the first logical argument for the existence of God). No matter, they agreed to keep talking. The…

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Knights on a chessboard. Business, strategy, conflict and leadership concept.

4: Egnor Now Tries To Find Out What Dillahunty Actually Knows…

About philosophical arguments for the existence of God, as he begins a rebuttal

Readers and viewers who have been following this debate, “Does God exist?” (September 17, 2021), between theist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty may recall that it opened with Egnor explaining why, as former atheist, he became a theist. Then Dillahunty explained why, as a former theist, he became an atheist. Michael Egnor then stated his case, offering ten proofs for the existence of God. Matt Dillahunty responded that they wre all unfalsifiable propositions. Now it is Egnor’s turn to rebut Dillahunty. The conversation was somewhat rambunctious and has been condensed for print: A partial transcript (beginning at 36:30) and notes follow: Michael Egnor: Well, first of all, you mentioned that you don’t defend the existence of leprechauns…

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Human hand fine tuning levels on professional audio equipment

Was the Universe Created for Life Forms to Live In? How To Know?

We can begin by looking at the fundamental constants that underlie the universe

In a continuing conversation with Swedish mathematician Ola Hössjer and Colombian biostatistician Daniel Díaz (podcast 153) on the fine-tuning of the universe — and Earth — for life, Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks asks them about fundamental constants. This is the first part of Episode 3, “The universe is so fine-tuned!” (September 16, 2021). Earlier portions, with transcripts and notes, are listed below. https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-Episode-152-Hossjer-Diaz.mp3 This portion begins at 01:09 min. A partial transcript, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: Why is the speed of light, the speed of light? Why isn’t it slower or faster? Why is the universal gravitational constant what it is? It turns out these and other constants of the cosmos are…

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white knight chess piece

Atheist Spokesman Matt Dillahunty Refuses To Debate Me Again

Although he has said that he finds debates “incredibly valuable,” he is — despite much urging — making an exception in this case. Why?

I recently debated atheist Matt Dillahunty on Theology Unleashed,. Matt is an atheist activist and the former president of the Atheist Community of Austin, Texas. Since 2005 he has hosted the televised webcast The Atheist Experience and he has also hosted a live Internet radio show and founded Iron Chariots, a counter-apologetics project. From a bio sketch: Matt Dillahunty is a seasoned debater, the current president of the Atheist Community of Austin, and the well known host of The Atheist Experience. He has debated Jordan Peterson, David Wood and a host of other theists, and has shared stages with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Laurence Krauss. He is known for his cool headed logical arguments and philosophical abilities. Matt describes…

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Fog in the forest

Longtime Skeptic Now Accepts Parapsychology as Science

But read the fine print. It’s a matter of determining what can be considered a science statement, whether it is proven or disproven

University of London psychology prof Chris French has a complex relationship with parapsychology (research into, for example, extrasensory perception or ESP). At one time, he believed in it, then was, for four decades, a skeptic — but he has now come round to a new approach to the question: How do we decide what is and isn’t “science”: Before we can assess the scientific status of any discipline, we must first consider what philosophers of science refer to as the demarcation problem. What criteria must be applied in order to decide whether a discipline is a true science or not? This is a fascinating topic that has been a subject of discussion amongst philosophers of science for a very long…

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Chess Pieces on Board for Game and Strategy

3. Atheist Dillahunty Spots Fallacies in Christian Egnor’s Views

“My position is that it’s unacceptable to believe something if the available evidence does not support it.”

“Does God exist?”Earlier this month, Christian neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty began to debate the question at Theology Unleashed. As they briefly explain in the first episode, Egnor was an agnostic and became a Christian, based on his experiences; Dillahunty went the opposite route. In the second episode, Egnor set out his position briefly, offering ten proofs of the existence of God. Now it is Matt Dillahunty’s fifteen minutes — to spot weaknesses in Egnor’s arguments and offer his own, beginning at 20:30 min. He begins by remarking on Egnor’s speed of presentation: A partial transcript and notes follow: Matt Dillahunty: Never in the entire history of doing debates has someone come in and, in 15 minutes,…

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Knight chess isolated on gray background

2. A Neurosurgeon’s Ten Proofs for the Existence of God

First, how did a medic, formerly an atheist, who cuts open people’s brains for a living, come to be sure there is irrefutable proof for God?

“Does God exist?” On September 17, in a dramatic debate, Christian neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty squared off on the question at Theology Unleashed. The debate hosts are Arjuna Das for Theology Unleashed and Nathan from Digital Gnosis as the moderator. A partial transcript and notes follow. Egnor has been a guest at Theology Unleashed, before, debating materialist philosopher David Papineau. The ten proofs of God that he presents as his opening argument below are not drawn from sacred texts but from philosophical reasoning: Michael Egnor: There are, broadly speaking, two different kinds of theology. There’s natural theology and there’s revealed theology. Revealed theology is the use of scripture, personal experiences, or relationships to God. And that’s…

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Knowing the Enemy

Debate: Former Atheist Neurosurgeon vs. Former Christian Activist

At Theology Unleashed, each gets a chance to state his case and interrogate the other

“Does God exist?” On September 17, in a rip-roaring old-fashioned debate, Christian neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty debated the question at Theology Unleashed. We’ll cover this debate for you, including transcripts and notes. First, each participant was given a chance upfront to state where he is coming from and why. Michael Egnor, representing the Yes side, went first. How did a medic, formerly an atheist, who cuts open people’s brains for a living, come to be sure there is a God? And how did a fundamentalist Christian come to be hosting The Atheist Experience? The debate hosts are Arjuna Das for Theology Unleashed and Nathan from Digital Gnosis as the moderator. A partial transcript and notes follow.…

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Big Bang

The Big Bang: The Beginning of All Questions About the Universe

... and the mind and all that

This offbeat “Science Uprising” film discusses the way in which the Big Bang, — the idea of a cosmic beginning — is unpopular among many philosophers of science because it sounds like an argument for the existence of God. But it is the best science explanation: You may also wish to read: The Big Bang has no natural beginning. In the debate between theistic neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and naturalist philosopher David Papineau, the question gets round to the origin of the universe itself

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business and investment strategy analytics, financial simulation model

When a Simulated World Begins To Fall Apart — Sci-fi Saturday

Marie has reason to expect trouble when the simulator who explains reality to her cannot get her name right…

“Untitled Earth Sim 64” at DUST by Jonathan Wilhelmsson (September 10, 2021, 6:11) Marie is an offbeat woman who suspects that all is not right with the world. After experiencing various glitches in reality, she is called upon by a mysterious being that accidentally lets slip that her universe is a simulation. Marie’s life quickly unravels at this revelation, as she desperately looks for meaning in an untitled simulation. Review: This sci-fi comedy has won a number of awards and it is easy to see why. It is fast-paced and raises many interesting issues. When Marie (Karen Olrich-White) attempts to explain to her friend (Alexandra Frick) that she has learned from a mysterious voice (James Fraser) — amid a series…

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Merry Christmas

Philosopher Ed Feser Distinguishes Matter From Materialism

Feser, of Pasadena College, California, asks us to consider what materialists are really saying

Edward Feser explains the problem by starting with what the materialist is not saying: The matter to which he would reduce everything is not the matter of common sense, not the hard earth of daily experience. It is instead a highly abstract theoretical construct which – just like Descartes’ res cogitans – is not and indeed cannot be known directly via perception (nor, unlike the res cogitans, by introspection either). Moreover, it is a conception the materialist has inherited from Cartesian dualism itself. And it is that conception of matter, rather than the Cartesian’s commitment to a non-empirical res cogitans, that has made it so difficult for Cartesians and materialists alike to account for how conscious awareness relates to the…

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Mystical dark blue foggy forest with snowflakes.

If You Met Someone in a Dream Every Night… ? Sci-Fi Saturday

In a sci-fi short, a paramedic must confront a question about the nature of reality

“Time is a Place” (2017) by Tim Nackashi (uploaded at DUST November 24, 2018, 7:08 min) Two strangers, a woman and a man, are haunted by a recurring dream they seem to share night after night. Their illusory time together in the dream is more freeing than anything in waking life. She has not told him that in reality, she is a paramedic who discovered his unconscious body at the scene of an accident. Review: The film started out as a mess. It was unclear whether the characters are dead or alive — but, under the circumstances, that must matter. It remains unclear until the very end. But the basic idea is, in principle, intriguing: What if two people share…

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Oumuamua is a mildly active comet, and the first interstellar object detected passing through the Solar System.

What Space Object ‘Oumuamua Says About How Science Works

The space object, thought by at least one famed astronomer to be an ET lightsail, prompts thoughts about how scientists decide what to believe

The subtitle of Matthew Bothwell’s wrap-up on ‘Oumuamua is most informative: An alien-made artefact or just interstellar debris? What ʻOumuamua says about how science works when data is scarce. At least one astronomer, Harvard’s Avi Loeb, insisted that ‘Oumuamua must be an “extraterrestrial light sail.” And few suggested that that couldn’t possibly be true. Right. What do we do when we are not sure? Bothwell, author of the forthcoming Invisible Universe, offers some thoughts. W all imagine ET in our own image: Victorians of the late 19th century, living in the era of ambitious engineering, looked at Mars and saw globe-spanning canals – evidence, they believed, of a grand industrial civilisation mirroring their own. In the Cold War 1960s, as…

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Man with his back walking through the fog street

Is a Science Writer’s “Agnosticism” a Futile Pursuit?

John Horgan, a creative thinker and able writer, is agnostic about quantum mechanics, consciousness, and God. But let’s look at the bases for that.

If science writer John Horgan had merely said that agnosticism is the only sensible stance regarding God, there would be little surprise. That view is over-represented in popular science writing. But he says the same thing about quantum mechanics and consciousness too. Some brief snippets from his article (with brief responses): He’s not happy that quantum mechanics, a well-established branch of science (our computers would not work if it were not real) cannot eliminate the role of the conscious observer: Quantum mechanics Introducing consciousness into physics undermines its claim to objectivity. Moreover, as far as we know, consciousness arises only in certain organisms that have existed for a brief period here on Earth. So how can quantum mechanics, if it’s…

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Man reading a book on a background with science formulas

Science’s Limitations According to a Futurist

Danaylov rightly warns against a blind embrace of science

“[S]cience on its own has not and cannot ensure our progress or future survival,” writes Nikola Danaylov. In our last post, we introduced Nikola Danaylov, futurist author and speaker. Danaylov is currently in the middle of an online series about the story of humanity and how science and technology fit into that story in our past, present, and future. Danaylov begins his series with his main thesis: “[O]ur future is indeed determined. But not by some unbreakable and deterministic law of nature. No. Our future is determined by a story that we have created.” In other words, the way we narrate our own lives matters because it determines how we will act in the future. The Power of Story Danaylov spends the…

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Religion conflicts global issue

Religion Is Far Too Complex to Have a Single Evolution Story

Casey Luskin reflects on Yuval Noah Harari’s thesis that religion evolved through stages because humans needed it in order to co-operate in larger groups

In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2015), historian Yuval Noah Harari recounts a familiar sort of tale about the origin of religion. Casey Luskin, who has been reviewing the book, explains, Yuval Noah Harari tells the standard evolutionary story. According to this story, religion began as a form of animism among small bands of hunters and gatherers and then proceeded to polytheism and finally monotheism as group size grew with the first agricultural civilizations. At each stage, he argues, religion evolved in order to provide the glue that gave the group the cohesive unity it needed (at its given size) to cooperate and survive. Casey Luskin, “Reviewing Sapiens: Getting the Origin of Religion Backwards” at Evolution News and Science…

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Brain mind way soul and hope concept art, illustration, surreal mystery artwork, imagination painting, conceptual idea of success

How we can know mental states are real?

Mental states are always “about” something; physical states are not “about” anything

Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor did a recent podcast with Arjuna Das at Theology Unleashed, “where Eastern theology meets Western skepticism.” In this section, they talk about how we can know that the mind is real and how materialist philosophy has just plain gone bad: Here is a partial transcript and notes for the twenty to thirty-one minute mark: Michael Egnor: There was a philosopher named Franz Brentano (1838–1917) in the 19th century who proposed what I think is the best definition of what distinguishes a mental state from a physical state. Brentano asks, is there any unique thing that all mental states have that no physical state has? He said, it’s intentionality, and by intentionality he meant that every mental state…