A Naturalistic Fairy Tale-Part XXII

And then did we decide that giant meteors were possibly not the cause of mass extinction. We did decide that perhaps magnetic blips resulting in SUPER volcanoes (1) were the cause (praise Science). Please do disregard our past theories, or keep them in mind, in case we bring them up again as THE explanation.

“The weakening of Earth’s magnetic field exposed the surface to a shower of cosmic radiation, says Yukio Isozaki of the University of Tokyo. He believes the radiation broke nitrogen in the atmosphere into ions that acted as seeds for clouds enshrouding the planet.”

Yes, we, naturalistic atheists of the TRUE FAITH do believe in a firmament.  Not one that a god had to do with, but the real one that actually happened (praise Science).  We shall explain the global flood from a naturalistic perspective soon (i.e., true perspective), but we’ll use computer simulations, and it will be very, very, far in the past.  Therefore, you can do nothing other than believe, unless you are stupid and lacking faith in random processes. So, at the 250 Million Years Ago point, did a plume of super hot material begin rising through the mantle of the Earth.

This did upset the convection of the core, and did throw the Earth’s magnetic field in disarray.  This did result in massive Global Cooling, and the sea levels did drop (praise Science).  And then did, 5 million years later, the super-hot material did burst through the surface of the Earth in 3 massive super-volcanoes!  Individually, they were inadequate, but all together, they did result in massive death (praise Science).  As we have taught you before, through death comes life.  If we do teach you one thing, this is the most important.  So, did exactly 67% of life become extinct.  That was a close one, but our ancestors did live until they died (praise Science).

(1). Did magnetic blip trigger mass extinction? MSNBC.

Materialism and Free Will

The Outsider (DB; one of my co-authors) has an interesting post on the continued materialist assault on the notion of free will.

Wow, so Flip Wilson was right, all those years ago, when he told the judge, “The Devil (or in this case, his “patterns of brain activity”) made me do it!” This gets all of us off of the hook, in a moral or ethical sense, since we are not responsible for our “brain pattern activity!” How can we be responsible when our “brain patterns” are making the choices for us?(1)

Read more:

(1). “But Judge, My Brain ‘Patterns’ Made Me Do It!”

A Naturalistic Fairy Tale-Part XXI

And then did we decide, that the Universe could be teeming with aliens. Sure, we decided that a planet must have the right mass, be the right distance from a star, have the right atmosphere, the right material composition, and the ability to sustain water.(1)

That’s somewhat unlikely, so we decided to say that life might exist on planets with very different conditions, and so might be quite prevalent in the Universe (praise Science).  So, we do now admit that the distance from a star does have some importance.  Too close, things do melt.  Too far away, things do freeze.  Then did we discover that the Earth could be only 5% closer to the Sun without becoming like Venus, but one of us, in 1993, did calculate that the Earth could keep from freezing up to 1.7 times its current distance from the Sun (praise Science)!(2; Sorry our link goes to Shell.  Perhaps it didn’t originally). So, we admit that perhaps a planet’s mass does have some bearing.  Mars is in the ‘Goldilocks Zone,’ but don’t look at it.  Plus, the Earth’s natural cycle does involve volcanoes that release CO2, that keeps the planet warm (praise Science—hate the automobile–do ignore the recent cold).  The pattern of subduction of carbon into the Earth’s crust has kept the Earth’s climate stable for the last 4 billion years (please do now ignore our recent assertions about the wildly variable climate in the past).

So, one of our great fellows noted:

‘”I’ve been kind of twisting the knobs so that they’re different from Earth, but they all have the same mass as Earth,” says Spiegel, who was at Columbia University in New York when he carried out the work.’

So, the mass and distance do seem somewhat important, but we did simulate the tilt and combined with a greater spin rate, we did discover that

“When this large axial tilt was combined with a rate of rotation three times Earth’s, the summers became warm enough for ice to temporarily melt around the pole facing the star (see diagram). This meltwater was only sustainable when the planet rotated faster than the Earth, as the centrifugal force created made it harder for air to flow from the poles to the equator. This trapped heat at the illuminated pole.”

So, then did one of our own argue that we should not think in terms of habitable or inhabitable, but we should consider “fractionally habitable.” Because we do now know that even the Earth is not 100% habitable (praise Science).

So, we are optimistic about the future, and we did title our article, “Why the Universe may be teeming with aliens,” we’ll go right on ahead and print this quote later in the article for those who do keep reading needlessly.

‘”I don’t think we really understand how or why the Earth has been habitable in its history and what the excursions from habitability really were,” he says, “and until we do, it’s hard to be anything but sceptical that some of these models are really going to inform the search.”‘

So, we do end our article (praise Science), with:

‘There is always the chance that the search for liquid water on the surface may be missing the point. What if exotic forms of life could thrive where there is no liquid water at all – swimming around in lakes of liquid methane on Saturn’s frigid moon, Titan, for example? “One should not rule out the notion that a kind of life or organised chemistry could exist in that kind of liquid,” says Lunine. “Let’s cast the net broadly.”‘

So, we do now know that casting the net broadly would not be wrong (praise Science), and let us wish a Happy New Year to SETI.

(1). Why the universe might be teeming with life, NewScientist.
(2). http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/icar.1993.1010

A post for those determined to think about thinking

From a comment at Uncommon Descent:

Incidentally, one of the many philosophical grounds for rejecting the view that intellectual acts could possibly be bodily acts is that intellectual acts are capable of being self-reflexive. You can kick a ball; but you cannot kick “kicking.” Nor can you see “seeing”; vision, like kicking, is a bodily act. However, you can easily think about the act of thinking about something, which is what I hope I have stimulated contributors who hold to a deterministic position – whether “hard” or “soft” – to do. (Commenter vjtorley supposedly summarizing Aristotle)

Here’s a short story I wrote to crystallize a few reflections on forms of determinism.

Once upon a time there was a crystal which reflected on its own light. So that is what it did, as it was its nature and it was good. In a moment of reflection it thought it good to crystallize more crystals like itself that would form reflections of their own. It reflected on this thought for an extra moment, weighing the danger of allowing others to reflect its light in themselves against the possibility of being able to reflect on things together. Then it allowed its thought to crystallize. For a moment all the new crystals reflected on things in harmony with each other. But then there was an illusion that crystallized in one which drew light into itself and drew so many others in to reflect on itself that it seemed to be reflecting its own light just like the original crystal. This dark crystal apparently illuminated many questions but it could not shed light on any subject because it was really just an illusion that the original had already shed light on.

Supervenience Physicalism and the Darwinian Mind

The notion of supervenience is that, “A set of properties A supervenes upon another set B just in case no two things can differ with respect to A-properties without also differing with respect to their B-properties. In slogan form, “there cannot be an A-difference without a B-difference”. (1) So, this notion when combined with physicalism is the assertion that all mental activity is reducible to physical causes. In other words, there is nothing that happens on a mental level without a supervening physical change in the brain. This does not allow for mental changes to affect the physical only the other way around.

Superveniences establish such a relationship between the mental and the physical, so that any change in the mental is caused by a change in the physical. Just as a shadow is dependent upon the position of the object causing it, so is the mental dependent upon the physical. (2)

Logically, the notion of supervenience physicalism is the default explanation of the mind from a Darwinian perspective. There is research; however, that goes against this notion (3,4). In other words, there is evidence that changes in the “mental state” affect the physical state of the brain.

Darwinists may purport determinism and physicalism in general arguments, but when applied to their own experiences and thoughts, they often balk. The essential problem for them from this framework is that their beliefs in Darwinism are nothing but illusory experiences supervened by physical processes in their brains. Their belief that they are rational scientists, or thinkers, is nothing but the result of complex biochemical processes, which results in the illusion that they have rationally selected among alternative worldviews or interpretations of data.

Many Darwinists, when faced with this type of argument, will retreat from a position of physicalism. Even Darwinists are distressed by, and most often don’t believe in, the notion that their mental processes are fully determined by physical substrates. In fact, they must retreat from this position, because it refutes their notion that they are rational in their abilities to evaluate evidence, or that they have freely chosen their worldviews.

(1). http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/supervenience/
(2). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physicalism
(3). The Mind and The Brain
(4). The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul

Is the use of teleology immature?

Charles Darwin should be spinning in his grave: More than 40 percent of American adults still don’t believe in evolution. Though Darwin’s theory has been uncontroversially accepted among scientists, public resistance remains remarkably forceful. Meanwhile, creationism and intelligent design enjoy widespread public support. (1)

Clichés aside, I don’t think Darwin or any other naturalist should make reference to the continued existence of anyone post-death.  I don’t think most people, other than Darwin worshipers, should be too worried about the post-death radial velocity of Darwin’s remains. This is just another way of saying, “There are a lot of stupid people out there, and IDists and Creationists are among them.”

An academic psychologist, Tania Lombrozo, from a venerable Ivory Tower (2), UC Berkely, has tried to explain teleology from an evolutionary perspective.

Continue reading

Intelligent Design vs. the Imagination

The Darwinian view of embryos seems to show how a mythological view of biology can develop based on blurred imagery and vague reasoning. Most Darwinists no longer say that ontogeny (the way that embryos develop) recapitulates phylogeny (their ancestral history or development) because that would obviously be ignorant and stupid, instead they say that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny occasionally. Modern Darwinists argue that if embryos look similar to the embryos of other species (in the Darwinian mind it seems that any similarity will do) then that is sound evidence of their common ancestry. For example:

Although a human embryo does not “recapitulate” the adult stage of any previous ancestor, certain ancestral conditions and particular structures are clearly recapitulated. This figure is from Mayr’s book What Evolution Is. According to Mayr, “embryonic similarities, recapitulation, and vestigial structures . . . raise insurmountable difficulties for a creationist explanation, but are fully compatible with an evolutionary explanation based on common descent, variation, and selection.” As Mayr also notes, if evolution is not true, “why should the embryos of birds and mammals develop gill slits [They’re actually not gill slits.], like fish embryos?” Hawaii.edu

Given Darwinian “reasoning” in which any similarities among embryos verify common descent one would think that deep distinctions and differences among embryos would therefore falsify common descent because verification and falsification are logically linked. Unfortunately Darwinism has little to do with logic and evolution is rooted in hypothetical goo in which the “fact of evolution” has already been established based on more of this sort of reasoning: “This looks a little bit like that or something!” Given that it is already established there actually can be no such thing as scientific evidence against “evolution” and all arguments against it are based on ignorance while all apparent evidence against it can be interpreted as a gap in knowledge.

It’s ironic that anyone would argue that biological observations are “fully compatible” with evolution given that there are apparently no biological observations which are not compatible with hypothetical goo. What sort of observations would not be compatible with “evolution”? It’s interesting to think about exactly what sort of observations could “raise insurmountable difficulties” for theories of evolution in general.

Here are pictures of embryos:


Unfortunately students have often been taught that the blurred form of imagery represented in Haeckel’s forged embryos (a blurring which seems to be typical to the Darwinian urge to merge) has something to do with the empirical evidence. In contrast, some iconoclastic proponents of ID have sought to shatter such imagery. Imagery which is still in use, although proponents of Darwinism have claimed, “This illustration, and re-drawings of it, should not be included in any biology textbook today, nor is it now.” (Textscience.org, Emphasis added) They went on to argue, “Embryological similarities are indeed excellent evidence to support the truth of evolution, and thus they should be included in introductory textbooks, since they are a vivid graphic example…”

It seems to me that Haeckel’s forgeries lasted so long in textbooks (and does in many to this day) because the Darwinism “meme” needs to pollute impressionable minds with “vivid” imagery (i.e. propaganda) which then tends to structure a largely imaginary view of biology in general. In my experience Darwinists often use the term “overwhelmed” to describe their mental state with respect to their view of the evidence but being overwhelmed may have more to do with indoctrination than eduction.