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'Explore as much as we can': Nobel Prize winner Charles Townes on evolution & intelligent design
UC Berkeley News ^ | 06/17/2005 | Bonnie Azab Powell,

Posted on 05/16/2007 6:54:51 AM PDT by SirLinksalot

Charles Townes is the Nobel Prize Physics winner whose pioneering work led to the maser and later the laser.

The University of California, Berkeley interviewed him on his 90th birthday where they talked about evolution, intelligent design and the meaning of life.

I thought this would be good to share...

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BERKELEY – Religion and science, faith and empirical experiment: these terms would seem to have as little in common as a Baptist preacher and a Berkeley physicist. And yet, according to Charles Hard Townes, winner of a Nobel Prize in Physics and a UC Berkeley professor in the Graduate School, they are united by similar goals: science seeks to discern the laws and order of our universe; religion, to understand the universe's purpose and meaning, and how humankind fits into both.

Where these areas intersect is territory that Townes has been exploring for many of his 89 years, and in March his insights were honored with the 2005 Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities. Worth about $1.5 million, the Templeton Prize recognizes those who, throughout their lives, have sought to advance ideas and/or institutions that will deepen the world's understanding of God and of spiritual realities.

Townes first wrote about the parallels between religion and science in IBM's Think magazine in 1966, two years after he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for his groundbreaking work in quantum electronics: in 1953, thanks in part to what Townes calls a "revelation" experienced on a park bench, he invented the maser (his acronym for Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission), which amplifies microwaves to produce an intense beam. By building on this work, he achieved similar amplification using visible light, resulting in the laser (whose name he also coined).

Even as his research interests have segued from microwave physics to astrophysics, Townes has continued to explore topics such as "Science, values, and beyond," in Synthesis of Science and Religion (1987), "On Science, and what it may suggest about us," in Theological Education (1988), and "Why are we here; where are we going?" in The International Community of Physics, Essays on Physics (1997).

Townes sat down one morning recently to discuss how these and other weighty questions have shaped his own life, and their role in current controversies over public education.

Q. If science and religion share a common purpose, why have their proponents tended to be at loggerheads throughout history?

Science and religion have had a long interaction: some of it has been good and some of it hasn't. As Western science grew, Newtonian mechanics had scientists thinking that everything is predictable, meaning there's no room for God — so-called determinism. Religious people didn't want to agree with that. Then Darwin came along, and they really didn't want to agree with what he was saying, because it seemed to negate the idea of a creator. So there was a real clash for a while between science and religions.

But science has been digging deeper and deeper, and as it has done so, particularly in the basic sciences like physics and astronomy, we have begun to understand more. We have found that the world is not deterministic: quantum mechanics has revolutionized physics by showing that things are not completely predictable. That doesn't mean that we've found just where God comes in, but we know now that things are not as predictable as we thought and that there are things we don't understand. For example, we don't know what some 95 percent of the matter in the universe is: we can't see it — it's neither atom nor molecule, apparently. We think we can prove it's there, we see its effect on gravity, but we don't know what and where it is, other than broadly scattered around the universe. And that's very strange.

So as science encounters mysteries, it is starting to recognize its limitations and become somewhat more open. There are still scientists who differ strongly with religion and vice versa. But I think people are being more open-minded about recognizing the limitations in our frame of understanding.

You've said "I believe there is no long-range question more important than the purpose and meaning of our lives and our universe." How have you attempted to answer that question?

Even as a youngster, you're usually taught that there's some purpose you'll try to do, how you are going to live. But that's a very localized thing, about what you want with your life. The broader question is, "What are humans all about in general, and what is this universe all about?" That comes as one tries to understand what is this beautiful world that we're in, that's so special: "Why has it come out this way? What is free will and why do we have it? What is a being? What is consciousness?" We can't even define consciousness. As one thinks about these broader problems, then one becomes more and more challenged by the question of what is the aim and purpose and meaning of this universe and of our lives.

Those aren't easy questions to answer, of course, but they're important and they're what religion is all about. I maintain that science is closely related to that, because science tries to understand how the universe is constructed and why it does what it does, including human life. If one understands the structure of the universe, maybe the purpose of man becomes a little clearer. I think maybe the best answer to that is that somehow, we humans were created somewhat in the likeness of God. We have free will. We have independence, we can do and create things, and that's amazing. And as we learn more and more — why, we become even more that way. What kind of a life will we build? That's what the universe is open about. The purpose of the universe, I think, is to see this develop and to allow humans the freedom to do the things that hopefully will work out well for them and for the rest of the world.

How do you categorize your religious beliefs?

I'm a Protestant Christian, I would say a very progressive one. This has different meanings for different people. But I'm quite open minded and willing to consider all kinds of new ideas and to look at new things. At the same time it has a very deep meaning for me: I feel the presence of God. I feel it in my own life as a spirit that is somehow with me all the time.

You've described your inspiration for the maser as a moment of revelation, more spiritual than what we think of as inspiration. Do you believe that God takes such an active interest in humankind?

[The maser] was a new idea, a sudden visualization I had of what might be done to produce electromagnetic waves, so it's somewhat parallel to what we normally call revelation in religion. Whether the inspiration for the maser and the laser was God's gift to me is something one can argue about. The real question should be, where do brand-new human ideas come from anyway? To what extent does God help us? I think he's been helping me all along. I think he helps all of us — that there's a direction in our universe and it has been determined and is being determined. How? We don't know these things. There are many questions in both science and religion and we have to make our best judgment. But I think spirituality has a continuous effect on me and on other people.

That sounds like you agree with the "intelligent design" movement, the latest framing of creationism, which argues that the complexity of the universe proves it must have been created by a guiding force.

I do believe in both a creation and a continuous effect on this universe and our lives, that God has a continuing influence — certainly his laws guide how the universe was built. But the Bible's description of creation occurring over a week's time is just an analogy, as I see it. The Jews couldn't know very much at that time about the lifetime of the universe or how old it was. They were visualizing it as best they could and I think they did remarkably well, but it's just an analogy.

Should intelligent design be taught alongside Darwinian evolution in schools as religious legislators have decided in Pennsylvania and Kansas?

I think it's very unfortunate that this kind of discussion has come up. People are misusing the term intelligent design to think that everything is frozen by that one act of creation and that there's no evolution, no changes. It's totally illogical in my view. Intelligent design, as one sees it from a scientific point of view, seems to be quite real. This is a very special universe: it's remarkable that it came out just this way. If the laws of physics weren't just the way they are, we couldn't be here at all. The sun couldn't be there, the laws of gravity and nuclear laws and magnetic theory, quantum mechanics, and so on have to be just the way they are for us to be here.

Some scientists argue that "well, there's an enormous number of universes and each one is a little different. This one just happened to turn out right." Well, that's a postulate, and it's a pretty fantastic postulate — it assumes there really are an enormous number of universes and that the laws could be different for each of them. The other possibility is that ours was planned, and that's why it has come out so specially. Now, that design could include evolution perfectly well. It's very clear that there is evolution, and it's important. Evolution is here, and intelligent design is here, and they're both consistent.

They don't have to negate each other, you're saying. God could have created the universe, set the parameters for the laws of physics and chemistry and biology, and set the evolutionary process in motion, But that's not what the Christian fundamentalists are arguing should be taught in Kansas.

People who want to exclude evolution on the basis of intelligent design, I guess they're saying, "Everything is made at once and then nothing can change." But there's no reason the universe can't allow for changes and plan for them, too. People who are anti-evolution are working very hard for some excuse to be against it. I think that whole argument is a stupid one. Maybe that's a bad word to use in public, but it's just a shame that the argument is coming up that way, because it's very misleading.

That seems to come up when religion seeks to control or limit the scope of science. We're seeing that with the regulation of research into stem cells and cloning. Should there be areas of scientific inquiry that are off-limits due to a culture's prevailing religious principles?

My answer to that is, we should explore as much as we can. We should think about everything, try to explore everything, and question things. That's part of our human characteristic in nature that has made us so great and able to achieve so much. Of course there are problems if we do scientific experiments on people that involve killing them — that's a scientific experiment sure, but ethically it has problems. There are ethical issues with certain kinds of scientific experimentation. But outside of the ethical issues, I think we should try very hard to understand everything we can and to question things.

I think it's settling those ethical issues that's the problem. Who decides what differentiates a "person" from a collection of cells, for example?

That's very difficult. What is a person? We don't know. Where is this thing, me — where am I really in this body? Up here in the top of the head somewhere? What is personality? What is consciousness? We don't know. The same thing is true once the body is dead: where is this person? Is it still there? Has it gone somewhere else? If you don't know what it is, it's hard to say what it's doing next. We have to be open-minded about that. The best we can do is try to find ways of answering those questions.

You'll turn 90 on July 28. What's the secret to long life?

Good luck is one, but also just having a good time. Some people say I work hard: I come in on Saturdays, and I work evenings both at my desk and in the lab. But I think I'm just having a good time doing physics and science. I have three telescopes down on Mt. Wilson; I was down there a couple nights last week. I've traveled a lot. On Sundays, my wife [of 64 years] and I usually go hiking. I'd say the secret has been being able to do things that I like, and keeping active.

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'Faith is necessary for the scientist even to get started, and deep faith is necessary for him to carry out his tougher tasks. Why? Because he must have confidence that there is order in the universe and that the human mind — in fact his own mind — has a good chance of understanding this order.'

-Charles Townes, writing in "The Convergence of Science and Religion," IBM's Think magazine, March-April 1966

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Who created us? U.S. vs. UC Berkeley beliefs

A Nov. 18-21, 2004 New York Times/CBS News poll on American mores and attitudes, conducted with 885 U.S. adults, showed that a significant number of Americans believe that God created humankind. UC Berkeley's Office of Student Research asked the same question on its 2005 UC Undergraduate Experience Survey, results for which are still coming in. As of June 8, 2,057 students had responded.

CLICK ABOVE LINK FOR THE TABLE THAT SHOWS THE RESULT


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: charlestownes; evolution; fsmdidit; gagdad; id; intelligentdesign; templetonprize; townes
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To: YHAOS

Yes, that is one of the standard “tricks” of evolutionists. If an advocate of ID (or creationism, for that matter) quotes an evolutionist criticizing the ToE, that is considered “quote mining” because the quoted scientist actually “believes” in the ToE. Apparently they consider the quoted scientist’s personal “beliefs” more important than a frank and honest statement.

I will agree that it is possible to quote someone “out of context,” and anti-evolutionists probably do it occasionally (as do evolutionists), but they don’t do it anywhere near as often as they are accused of it. In the vast majority of cases, the charge is a red herring.


101 posted on 05/23/2007 10:53:36 PM PDT by RussP
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To: RussP
He obviously has problems with the ToE, but yet he does not seem to accept ID

DR Laughlin does not have a problem with ToE itself He has a problem with the way some people use ToE.

102 posted on 05/23/2007 11:09:32 PM PDT by Jeff Gordon ("An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last." Churchill)
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To: Jeff Gordon

And how do you know that. You tried to speak for Isaac Newton earlier in this thread. Are you speaking for Prof. Laughlin now? Or do you know him personally?


103 posted on 05/23/2007 11:19:50 PM PDT by RussP
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To: RussP
And how do you know that?

Because Dr. Laughlin has quoted Pauli and said that people who abuse ToE are "Not even wrong."

104 posted on 05/24/2007 2:58:16 AM PDT by Jeff Gordon ("An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last." Churchill)
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To: Jeff Gordon

I think you misunderstood Laughlin’s quote (which I posted earlier in this thread). He wrote:

“Evolution by natural selection, for instance, which Charles Darwin originally conceived as a great theory, has lately come to function more as an antitheory, called upon to cover up embarrassing experimental shortcomings and legitimize findings that are at best questionable and at worst not even wrong.”

He was referring to “experimental shortcomings” that “are at best questionable and at worst not even wrong.”

He was not saying that the ToE is “not even wrong.”

When he uses the expression “not even wrong,” he does not mean “right.” He means “worse than wrong,” i.e., “meaningless.”


105 posted on 05/24/2007 11:01:11 AM PDT by RussP
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To: RussP

OK, let me try that one more time. Laughlin’s quote is a bit confusing. His use of the phrase “not even wrong” applies to “findings,” — not to the Darwinian ToE itself. And as I wrote above, his phrase “not even wrong” means “worse than wrong.”

So the bottom line is that, in taking that quote an an endorsement of the ToE, I think you misunderstood it on two counts.


106 posted on 05/24/2007 11:33:12 AM PDT by RussP
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To: RussP
You are 100% correct. Laughlin is criticizing the people who abuse ToE. He is not cricizing ToE itself. This is what I have been saying all along.

Guns do not kill. People use guns to kill. The Theory of Evolution is not wrong. People who abuse the Theory of Evolution are wrong.

107 posted on 05/24/2007 3:05:54 PM PDT by Jeff Gordon ("An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last." Churchill)
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To: Jeff Gordon; RussP
(ME) “It certainly isn’t being represented as an endorsement of ID

(YOU)”If you Google Dr. Laughlin's quote you will each and every reference to it is using it to support ID. (Every one except the stand alone reference on RussP's Great Quotes page and now RussP's repeat of the quote on FR).” (emphasis mine)

Do you (in this context) equate ‘endorsement’ with ‘support’? If you do, then I must inform you that I do not. We can offer a quote in support of a position, or some aspect of a position, without representing the quote as an endorsement of said position. You seem to implicitly acknowledge this fact when you exempt RussP’s use of the quote from your general observation about its use otherwise in all of Googleland. I must say that I am not ready to accept the idea that in all instances of the quote in Google are we to admit the term ‘support’ and the term ‘endorsement’ as having the same meaning, but neither is it worth the exhaustive effort of running down and analyzing every instance of the use of the good Professor’s quote. Nonetheless, I cannot help but note the irony of the fact that, by exempting RussP from your general citing of Google, you have fairly laid yourself open to the charge of taking him out of context.

I’ve pinged RussP in order to offer him the opportunity of correcting any misimpression I may have regarding his thoughts or attitudes respecting this issue.

108 posted on 05/24/2007 3:25:32 PM PDT by YHAOS
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To: YHAOS
neither is it worth the exhaustive effort of running down and analyzing every instance of the use of the good Professor’s quote

No exhaustive efforts are required. Just use the Google searach term:

"the Darwinian theory has become an all-purpose obstacle to thought rather than an enabler of scientific advance" -gilder

Every reference to the quote comes from Gilder. Every reference except for RussP's references.

Do you (in this context) equate ‘endorsement’ with ‘support’?

Laughlin's quote does not endorse ID. Gilder uses (abuses) Laughlin's quote to support ID.

109 posted on 05/24/2007 3:44:45 PM PDT by Jeff Gordon ("An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last." Churchill)
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To: Jeff Gordon

I’d be interested in knowing who you think “abuses” the ToE and how, if you care to tell us. Do you think, for example, that Richard Dawkins abuses it?


110 posted on 05/24/2007 5:06:57 PM PDT by RussP
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To: RussP
I’d be interested in knowing who you think “abuses” the ToE and how

We are talking about people that Dr. Laughlin says abuse ToE, not people who I say abuse ToE. Quite frankly I do not know who, specifically, he is talking about.

111 posted on 05/24/2007 7:54:15 PM PDT by Jeff Gordon ("An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last." Churchill)
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To: Jeff Gordon; RussP
No exhaustive efforts are required. (respecting the ‘abuses’ of the Laughlin quote) Just use the Google searach term:

Oh, good. A misapprehension entirely of my fault, I’m sure. I was under the impression there was a veritable Google sea of misapplied quotes of Dr. Laughlin’s out there, much like the wave after wave of broomsticks carrying buckets of water in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, each one (the quotes, not the broomsticks) requiring analysis of the context in which it was used, to determine whether or not it was a genuine instance of being out-of-context.

Speaking of which:

Laughlin's quote does not endorse ID. Gilder uses (abuses) Laughlin's quote to support ID.

Non-responsive, Sir. I asked, “Do you (in this context) equate ‘endorsement’ with ‘support’?” Just in case there is any confusion, that question was a request for clarification. Repeating an assertion does not clarify. It may well be that it fits your purpose to remain suitably vague. That is your prerogative, and that is fine. In either case I shall have had my answer.

Neither have you thrown any light on why you cite the use of Laughlin quotes on Google, which you condemn as abusive, but then explicitly exempt RussP’s use of the quote from that general category. If RussP is exempt, why are these other quotes included in your discussion with him?

Now it develops in your last message that the use of the quote you cite as being abusive comes not from all of Googleland but from but one person (Gilder). So, is it merely Gilder v RussP? Was there a wider context, which you’ve now chosen to narrow? As before, it is your prerogative to answer, just as it is my prerogative to raise these troublesome issues.

112 posted on 05/25/2007 3:38:05 PM PDT by YHAOS
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To: YHAOS; RussP
“Do you (in this context) equate ‘endorsement’ with ‘support’?

No. The words have different meanings. This is why I used two different words rather than one word. To further clarify my intended communication:

Dr Laughlin's quote neither supports nor endorses ID. Gilder abuses Dr. Laughlin's quote to both support and endorse ID.

explicitly exempt RussP’s use of the quote from that general category

I said that "each and every" Google reference to the quote uses the quote to support ID. The "each and every" would not be correct unless I exempted to the two Google references created by RussP.

I have exempted RussP because he has stated that he is not using Dr. Laughlin's quote to support or endorse ID. While he did bring up the quote in a thread about ID, I have to take him at his word. He said he is mearly quoting Dr. Laughlin because he read it somewhere and liked it. He said he read it somewhere other than from Gilder thus further dissociating himself from the use of the quote to support or endorse ID. Finally, his use of the quote on his web page does, indeed, stand alone and aside from any discussion of ID.

RussP: If my conclusion is not correct If you really are using the quote to endorse or support ID, please feel free to correct me. If RussP does say I am mistaken then I will revise my mistake and remove the RussP exclusion from the "each and every" statement about the Google references.

113 posted on 05/25/2007 5:25:57 PM PDT by Jeff Gordon ("An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last." Churchill)
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To: everyone

Fascinating interview and article!


114 posted on 05/25/2007 5:32:12 PM PDT by California Patriot ("That's not Charley the Tuna out there. It's Jaws." -- Richard Nixon)
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To: Jeff Gordon

I was using the Laughlin quote to criticize the Neo-Darwinian ToE. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide whether such criticism is equivalent to “supporting ID.”

I actually think it is. But that doesn’t mean that I misused the quote in any way. Am I only allowed to criticize the ToE if I am not supporting ID?!


115 posted on 05/25/2007 8:39:16 PM PDT by RussP
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To: RussP
I was using the Laughlin quote to criticize the Neo-Darwinian ToE.

You are using the quote to criticize the Neo-Darwin ToE. Dr. Laughlin's uses the quote to criticize people who abuse ToE. There is a significant difference.

Am I only allowed to criticize the ToE if I am not supporting ID?!

Certainly. Since you are citicizing the ToE do you have an alternative explaination for life that does not derive from ToE?

116 posted on 05/25/2007 9:52:31 PM PDT by Jeff Gordon ("An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last." Churchill)
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To: Coyoteman
It leaves me still advocating for science and the scientific method. (But its getting pretty lonely in these here parts lately!)

I show up on occasion. But most of these threads have fewer occasions for Calvin and Hobbes or bad puns, so I mostly stay quiet.

Did you see my ping to you about the Chinese cat that sprouted 'wings' wrt "hopeful monsters"?

Cheers!

117 posted on 05/25/2007 10:03:48 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: Coyoteman
Real science parted from "metaphysics, philosophy and theology" a couple of centuries ago, although the latter are still crying, "Listen to us! We were here first!"

Seems to me the humanities got left in the dust first.

Cheers!

118 posted on 05/25/2007 10:04:45 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: Alamo-Girl
Scientists like Dawkins, Singer, Pinker, Lewontin and Monod do not respect the epistemic divide when they posit the theory of evolution as objective truth which by definition cannot be subjected to the scientific method (observer problem.) When they do this, these scientists reflect poorly on other scientists.

I beg to differ; it tends to reflect poorly on them. Like the old joke about peeing on yourself while wearing dark pants--it gives you a warm feeling but nobody notices.

Only with that crowd, they're wearing light khaki.

Cheers!

119 posted on 05/25/2007 10:06:48 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: betty boop
Umm, betty?

Ever hear of the "correspondence principle" ?

Cheers!

120 posted on 05/25/2007 10:07:31 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: RightWhale
Leibniz has the third take and was probably right, as Herder suggested. James was on that track a century later. Now, yet another century later, the consciousness seems to be lodged in the claustrum and chooses whether to go ahead with motion the body suggests.

Interesting empirical tidbit in this regard -- neurosurgen Frank Vertosik, in his memoirs When The Air Hits Your Brain, speaks of experiments in which most of the brains of housecats were removed, and then the cats returned to their owners. Most of the owners could not tell any difference in the cats' behaviour.

For the nonce, though, this treatment of the mind -- at least as you have described it -- doesn't explain hesitation, confusion, memory, or learning. Is there more to the story?

Cheers!

121 posted on 05/25/2007 10:12:34 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: Coyoteman
I have science on my side, so I have you outnumbered and outgunned! ;-)

I just watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail tonight. I tend to doubt the outnumbered part.

Full Disclosure: ...very small rocks.

Cheers!

122 posted on 05/25/2007 10:14:26 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: Coyoteman
Philosophy and religion rely on faith because their subject matter can't be observed and documented.

Much of the subject matter can be observed and documented; but not reproducibly, and not in a way which lends itself to experimentation...(e.g. it is "historical" and cannot be reproduced any more than we can experiment with the old battles--as the old Saturday Night Live skit, "What if Napoleon had had a B-52 at Waterloo?")

Given the difficulties, and the number of varying creeds out there, the easiest response is the null hypothesis.

Cheers!

123 posted on 05/25/2007 10:23:01 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: Jeff Gordon

“Since you are citicizing the ToE do you have an alternative explaination for life that does not derive from ToE?”

Your question seems to imply that I have no right to dump on the ToE without offering a specific alternative. That’s comparable to a prosecutor claiming that a defendent cannot be exonerated until another suspect is available. And it’s typical of people who don’t understand basic scientific principles. I’m not saying you are necessarily one of them, but you are skirting very close with questions like that.


124 posted on 05/25/2007 10:44:49 PM PDT by RussP
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To: RussP
Your question seems to imply that I have no right to dump on the ToE without offering a specific alternative.

Not at all. You can dump on anything you like as far as I am concerned. I was just curious if you do have an alternative to ToE. I do not have a problem if you don't. If you do, I would like to hear it if you wish to tell it.

125 posted on 05/25/2007 11:00:33 PM PDT by Jeff Gordon ("An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last." Churchill)
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To: Jeff Gordon

Honestly, I don’t claim to know how life originated or evolved, but I am virtually 100% certain that it couldn’t have happened without intelligent design of some kind or other.

When a person dies, the police can sometimes determine that the death was the result of murder — even if they don’t have a clue who committed the murder.

The claim that ID is “unscientific” because we don’t know who the Designer is, or because we cannot “study” the Designer, is logically equivalent to saying that the police cannot conclude that a murder was committed until they know who the murderer is and what the murderer’s motives were. It’s just plain nonsense.


126 posted on 05/25/2007 11:30:07 PM PDT by RussP
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To: RussP
Why criticize the ToE? Why not focus on proving your theories to be true?

When scientists discovered that Newtonism did not work for large and small scale problems, they did not spend their time proving Newtonism wrong. The spent their time and effort proving that the theories of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics were right. You did not see papers from Einstein or Heisenberg titled "Newtonism and me" as you do from Gilder with "Evolution and me."

The day someone presents experimental results that prove ID, I will be among the first to accept ID. Even in this event I will not reject Evolution just as no one rejects Newtonism. Newtonian mechanics work well within it's domain. Evolution does and will continue to work well within it's domain even if ID is proven true.

127 posted on 05/26/2007 2:00:05 AM PDT by Jeff Gordon ("An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last." Churchill)
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To: grey_whiskers
LOLOL! Thank you so much for your insights!
128 posted on 05/26/2007 7:20:54 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: grey_whiskers
Is there more to the story?

Yes. Actually nearly everything is as it was. The one major difference is that the free will decides to not do the motion rather than initiating the motion.

129 posted on 05/26/2007 7:58:33 AM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Treaty)
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To: Jeff Gordon

I think you have it backwards. The “burden of proof” is not on ID advocates to prove ID or to “disprove” evolution (which are essentially equivalent endeavors). The burden of proof is on evolutionists to “prove” evolution, not in a mathematical sense, but in the sense that it actually explains how life got to be what it is.

Evolutionists do nothing of the sort. What they do is *assume* that it explains things because it is the only alternative once ID is rejected a priori. That is why, whenever some new evidence comes along that challenges evolution, evolutionists just yawn and dismiss it. In doing this, they use two tricks:

1. They implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) challenge ID advocates to “prove” that the observed phenomenon could not have possibly come about through Darwinian mechanisms. That is, they get the “burden of proof” backwards.

2. They claim that ID advocates simply are too narrow minded to *imagine* how the observed phenomenon could have come about through Darwinian mechanisms. That is, they don’t even try to explain how the phenomenon is consistent with the ToE; rather, they simply invoke imagination as the answer.

A classic example is a post on FR several months ago that cited a scientific paper that claimed that the human brain is highly optimized as a network. My memory of the details is vague, but the point is that the evos on FR did precisely what I outlined above.


130 posted on 05/26/2007 11:33:14 AM PDT by RussP
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To: RussP; Jeff Gordon
Am I only allowed to criticize the ToE if I am not supporting ID?!

It would seem you are not allowed to criticize the ToE if you use any part of the observation of an advocate of the ToE in support of any portion of your argument. It’s apparently sufficient that one not be an approved member of the ToE brotherhood to excite their wrath (be not despairing, oh ye sisters of the order, you are included in the brotherhood with full privileges). We must believe, in fact, that no one is to be allowed to criticize the ToE under any circumstance, but such a blatant proscription is intellectually indefensible, so more subtle representations must be put forward. Hence the argument ‘out-of-context,’ which has the added virtue of being a frequently indulged transgression, thereby providing the cover of reasonableness for the accusation. This is a common phenomena. Dispute a prelate or a mullah: ‘blasphemy!’ Contradict a king or a caliph: ‘treason!’ So common, in fact, that I have long thought of it as not a religious trait, nor a political trait, nor a philosophical trait, but simply and utterly a human trait.

’Tis an ancient and oft told tale, replete with a lineup of the usual suspects: the scrambling of meanings and terms; changing the subject; ignoring the crucial question; shifting the burden; invoking the automatic disqualifier; positing a distinction possessing no difference; claiming inherited superiority; etc, etc, etc.

131 posted on 05/26/2007 9:43:08 PM PDT by YHAOS
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To: YHAOS; RussP
Criticize the ToE all you wish. If your critizisms are valid and provable by experimentation then they will be accepted. The same is true of ID. If any aspect of ID can proved by experimentation then it will be accepted.

In the abscence of experimental proof science can accept nothing. Those who claim other wise just do not undersatand the scientific method.

132 posted on 05/26/2007 10:51:57 PM PDT by Jeff Gordon ("An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last." Churchill)
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To: Jeff Gordon

“In the abscence of experimental proof science can accept nothing. Those who claim other wise just do not undersatand the scientific method.”

If only it were so. Alas, evolutionists declare anything and everything by default as evidence in favor of their theory. Any alternative is ruled out a priori by fiat because they don’t like the religious implications.


133 posted on 05/27/2007 12:30:38 AM PDT by RussP
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To: grey_whiskers
Ever hear of the "correspondence principle" ?

Why yes grey_whiskers: Niels Bohr insisted on it. For this reason, he said that all descriptions of quantum phenomena should be made in the "classical language" of Newtonian physics.

Moreoever one imagines the principle additionally implies that, if there is uncertainty in quantum phenomena, then correspondingly there is uncertainty in the "classical" domain as well. So much for "exact" science....

134 posted on 05/27/2007 8:52:45 AM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein.)
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To: Jeff Gordon; RussP
Criticize the ToE all you wish.

Thank you, I will. {8^ ) But, where in our little series of exchanges do you find my criticism of the ToE? Or even dispute? You and I have surely been in dispute, but that is scarcely to be considered the same as criticizing the ToE. I don’t criticize or dispute the ToE very much. I don’t know enough. I rely on The Masters of The Universe to keep me briefed on the way things are. However, as I mentioned earlier, this does not mean I am entirely without resources. I have my own sort of Bravo Sierra detector to aid me when necessary.

In the absence of experimental proof science can accept nothing.

Does this include the self-evident truth that all men are created equal? Or the principles of government by the consent of the governed?

135 posted on 05/27/2007 1:18:36 PM PDT by YHAOS
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To: YHAOS
I have my own sort of Bravo Sierra detector to aid me when necessary.

As do all of us.

136 posted on 05/27/2007 2:37:01 PM PDT by Jeff Gordon ("An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last." Churchill)
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To: betty boop
Moreoever one imagines the principle additionally implies that, if there is uncertainty in quantum phenomena, then correspondingly there is uncertainty in the "classical" domain as well. So much for "exact" science....

Psi-ing heavily.

I am afraid you are misunderstanding on this point, err, "probability locus". ;-)

Correspondence says that the new theory should boil down to the results of the old theory under the conditions the old theory is known to hold (On cases where the new supplants the old, then of course the new takes precedence, otherwise, why bother?)

And of course probabilistic dynamics is one of the hallmarks of quantum mechanics.

Sorry for the late, terse reply. Just came back from hiking in Flagstaff and I'm all stiff and sore, with all the weekend's work yet to do.

No wonder I'm FReeping.

Cheers!

137 posted on 05/28/2007 5:25:55 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: grey_whiskers; Alamo-Girl; hosepipe; cornelis; r9etb
Correspondence says that the new theory should boil down to the results of the old theory under the conditions the old theory is known to hold (On cases where the new supplants the old, then of course the new takes precedence, otherwise, why bother?)

Of course grey_whiskers my earlier reply left out a whole lot of details regarding the correspondence principle. My general understanding of it is as you describe, above. The operative word there is should, and the qualification is "under the conditions the old theory is known to hold." The point is the conditions (and expectations) of the old theory, though eminently valuable and indispensable for accurate prediction of macro-level phenomena, apparently generally do not hold at quantum levels. Atoms are not solid bodies, or composites of solid bodies; they aren't structured like miniature solar systems; events occur within them that appear to be spontaneous (uncaused); the behavior we observe is disturbed by the very fact of our observing it; etc., etc. Where Newtonian mechanics is all about precise observations (measurements) leading to precise predictions -- where there is a direct one-to-one correspondance between a phenomenon and the physical laws that pertain to it, which seem to operate more or less autonomously -- there is none of this to be found at the quantum level.

There seems something almost completely arbitrary about the imposition of the correspondance requirement, "from the outside" as it were. If I am understanding Bohr correctly, the classical (Newtonian) language must be used to describe quantum events because that language has evolved over a very long period of time based on normal modes of human perception; i.e., based on the way that humans have been organizing their experience from time immemorial. Thus the classical language is based on visual perception. Quantum events are totally non-visualizeable. There is no suitable language in which to speak of them. So you use the language you have.

Bohr seems to have thought there might be some smooth interface between events occuring at quantum levels and the world of classical experience. But if so, he couldn't say exactly what or where that interface is; he proposed atoms with very large outer orbits as candidates. But I think it's fair to say that nobody knows this for a certain fact.

What is most striking to me is the utter break at quantum levels with classical physics on the matter of causation. Classical mechanics requires that in order for something to happen, something must have caused it. There is also the supposition that bodies are "real" and their interactions "certain" independently of the observer, and that their properties are given, completely intrinsic to them. All of this is undermined by what we know about quantum physics. It is difficult to see a smooth interface between these two realms. But if people want to look for it, I certainly wish them every success.

In any case, I can understand why science would seek to find such a smooth interface; for both realms obviously exist, and so on grounds of the complementarity principle, they together ought to express "unity" at some level....

Einstein evidently thought that quantum mechanics could not be "the last word" about the fundamental structure of reality, that there must be some deeper principle at work yet to be discovered that would supply the requisite unity.

Bohr evidently didn't share this view, thinking perhaps we shall never know whether there is a deeper principle at work. But that's okay, because according to him science is not about finding out how nature "is," but only about "what we can say" about nature: He's pointing to language here. Since the Newtonian language is really the only scientific language we have (and as already mentioned is visually based), it must serve in explications of the unvisualizeable realm of quantum events.

Einstein's desire -- it seems to me -- is metaphysical at its root. Bohr tried to keep philosophical thinking -- other than epistemology -- out of his science altogether. [I can't express how deeply I admire both these great men.]

I hope you enjoyed your hiking expedition, grey_whiskers -- though I'm sorry you're feeling a little sore today! Me, too. Yesterday I conducted a marching band down the street in two Memorial Day parades/observations. My "mace arm" is killing me.... But I'm sure I'll be fine tomorrow. :^)

Thanks so much for writing!

138 posted on 05/29/2007 10:50:46 AM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein.)
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To: betty boop
Thank you oh so very much for your outstanding essay-post!

Truly, I suspect if there exists a way to bridge classical physics to quantum mechanics to relativity - it will be found in geometric physics.

139 posted on 05/29/2007 11:47:07 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl
Truly, I suspect if there exists a way to bridge classical physics to quantum mechanics to relativity - it will be found in geometric physics.

Indeed, dear A-G, I believe that was Einstein's expectation, who longed to "transmute the base wood" of material reality into the "pure marble of geometry." [My own thinking just seems naturally to gravitate towards Einstein's direction here....]

To which his friend Bohr timely replied: Science is about observation and articulation of what has been observed, period; it is not about explanation.

[That must hit the scientific community squarely between the eyes. But then, nobody else that I can think of stands to gain anything immediately from seeing the world in this way.]

If that is not a permanently standing "complementariety," I don't know what could be.

The paradox is: Somehow or other, both of these men have to be "right." The problem consists in "squaring" the two accounts.

Which raises the issue of how competent science is (methodological naturalism) to give a full account of the total reality that we humans all experience together. And if there is "incompetence" in any way, what is to supply the deficit in reliable knowledge?

Or so the problem seems to me, at the present state of my humble researches into "the observer problem."

140 posted on 05/29/2007 3:32:20 PM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein.)
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To: betty boop
Excellent analysis! Thank you so much, my dearest sister in Christ!

Which raises the issue of how competent science is (methodological naturalism) to give a full account of the total reality that we humans all experience together. And if there is "incompetence" in any way, what is to supply the deficit in reliable knowledge?

Precisely so.

Seems to me that some scientists today take the "observation and articulation of what has been observed" (to quote Bohr) under methodological naturalism - and then promptly turn around and present it as "explanation".

That would be like removing the leg of man, subjecting it to rigorous research and then turning around and declaring that the observations made on the leg explain the whole man.

Nature is but a part of "all that there is."

141 posted on 05/29/2007 10:55:54 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl; betty boop
That would be like removing the leg of man, subjecting it to rigorous research and then turning around and declaring that the observations made on the leg explain the whole man.;

This is an observer problem in an epistemological sense, which is other than the observer problem as described earlier where the behavior of phenomena is passive to the act of observation itself. I see two unique issues--or do I have that wrong?

142 posted on 05/30/2007 10:24:41 AM PDT by cornelis
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To: cornelis; betty boop
Indeed, they are distinct although related issues of the observer problem.

Examples of the one include the tendency to anthropomorphize God - and the tendency to project methodological naturalism as reality.

Examples of the other include the uncertainty principle - and that one cannot say something is random in the system when he doesn't know what the system "is."

Except for divine revelations, the observer is "in" space/time.

143 posted on 05/30/2007 10:50:27 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: cornelis; Alamo-Girl; hosepipe
I see two unique issues--or do I have that wrong?

I don't think so, cornelis. In the first instance you cited, we are dealing with the expectation that a thorough analysis of parts (singly or in any combination) is capable of revealing the structure of the whole of which they are the parts. I think it's safe to say that neither A-G nor I puts much stock in such an expectation.

The second instance has to do with the supposition that somehow, reality is being conjured forth -- so to speak -- by an act of observation.

A-G and I have both been studying an interesting essay by Robert Lanza that seems to suggest that the latter case prevails. That somehow, reality is somehow "constructed" by human minds.

Certainly these are two different, and unique issues.

For myself, I think there's something to what Lanza is saying. But I don't think it can be "the whole story." So I take a page from Bohr here, and simply suppose that what Lanza is saying is "one half" of a complementarity; then go look for the "other half." (If that makes any sense.)

Am still looking!

Your thoughts, dear cornelis?

144 posted on 05/30/2007 5:00:47 PM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein.)
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To: betty boop; Alamo-Girl; cornelis
Amazing that the "observer" can see what he sees and completely discount that another observer "has" a different vista.. That at least "looks" different after being described by the other observer..

Little wonder that God cautioned to stay away from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.. For what is the observer observing but good and evil.. Good in degrees and Evil in degrees and a mix of them both.. How wise it is that, that Tree is warned against at the very git go in Genesis.. Before the drama of men started and is the very focus of Satans attack on mans testimony..

Neils Bohr seemed to see that for every good there was an evil and for every evil there was a good.. reciprocal logic.. Could even be that the "good" was/is timestamped as well the "evil" was/is timestamped.. Meaning whats good may not be good tomorrow.. Could take a observation/view of eternity(God) see good and evil in its time.. and watch good progress to evil and evil progress to good.. in real time.. Judging good from evil may be a game for God to play.. Mankind just cannot see far enough..

145 posted on 05/30/2007 6:01:47 PM PDT by hosepipe (CAUTION: This propaganda is laced with hyperbole....)
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To: betty boop
Thank you so much for your excellent post!

I must confess however that everytime I think about Lanza, the old "Life is but a Dream" melody sticks in my brain. LOL!

146 posted on 05/30/2007 9:24:15 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: hosepipe
Thank you so very much for sharing your insights!

Judging good from evil may be a game for God to play.. Mankind just cannot see far enough..

Thank God the Father for Jesus Christ, for the Holy Spirit, for Scriptures and for our conscience. Without His leading, we'd have no moral sense at all.

147 posted on 05/30/2007 9:28:32 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl; cornelis; hosepipe
I must confess however that everytime I think about Lanza, the old "Life is but a Dream" melody sticks in my brain. LOL!

LOLOL dear A-G! I can certainly understand why!!! :^)

Still, if there's a complementarity here, it seems it would likely go to the essential difference of Being and Knowledge. That's basically the "angle" I'm working with the Lanza paper (with further insights from Wiliam James and Bohr)....

It's been a real struggle so far! :^) LOL!

148 posted on 05/31/2007 10:25:36 AM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein.)
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To: betty boop
Still, if there's a complementarity here, it seems it would likely go to the essential difference of Being and Knowledge. That's basically the "angle" I'm working with the Lanza paper (with further insights from Wiliam James and Bohr)....

I think that is an excellent approach to his theory - much better than his original article!

149 posted on 05/31/2007 10:51:04 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: Alamo-Girl; ahayes; omnivore; hosepipe; cornelis
I think that is an excellent approach to his theory - much better than his original article!

Thanks for your kind words of encouragement, my dearest sister in Christ! At present this is just an hypothesis to try to track down....

As you know, I've been reading William James in connection with research on "God and the Observer Problem." I came across some very striking lines that evoke some of the things that Lanza is saying. The truly striking thing to me, however, is the fact that The Principles of Psychology was originally published in 1892 (IIRC), and yet in these passages seems to capture insights that would seem to be before their time -- in the sense that Planck's quantum of action, and Einstein's photon, and the elaboration of quantum theory (let alone the existence of Lanza) had not yet been discovered/occurred.

Here are the excerpts I find so "striking": They hit the foundation of the "observer problem" dead-on IMHO.

Out of what is in itself an undistinguishable, swarming continuum,devoid of distinction or emphasis, our senses make for us, by attending to this motion or ignoring that, a world full of contrasts, of sharp accents, of abrupt changes, of picturesque light and shade.

If the sensations we receive from a given organ have their causes thus picked out for us by the conformation of the organ's termination, Attention [selective observation], on the other hand, out of all the sensations yielded, picks out certain ones as worthy of its notice and suppresses all the rest....

Helmholtz says that we notice only those sensations which are signs to us of things. But what are things? Nothing, as we shall abundantly see, but special groups of sensible qualities, which happen practically or aesthetically to interest us, to which we therefore give substantive names, and which we exalt to this exclusive status of independence and dignity. But in itself, apart from my interest, a particular dust wreath on a windy day is just as much of an individual thing, and just as much or as little deserves an individual name, as my own body does....

...[P]erception involves a twofold choice. Out of all present sensations, we notice mainly such as are significant of absent ones; and out of all the absent associates which these suggest, we again pick out a very few to stand for the objective reality par excellence. We could have no more exquisite example of selective industry.

That industry goes on to deal with the things thus given in perception. A man's empirical thought depends on the things he has experienced, but what these shall be is to a large extent determined by his habits of attention. A thing may be present to him a thousand times, but if he persistently fails to notice it, cannot be said to enter into his experience....

The problem with the man is less what act he shall now choose to do, than what being he shall now resolve to become [which is implicit in his choice].

Looking back ... we see that mind is at every stage a theatre of simultaneous possibilities. Consciousness consists in the comparison of these with each other, the selection of some, and the suppression of the rest by the reinforcing and inhibiting agency of attention. The highest and most elaborate mental products are filtered from the data chosen by the faculty next beneath, out of the mass offered by the faculty below that, which mass in turn was sifted from a still larger amount of yet simpler material, and so on. The mind, in short, works on the data it receives very much as a sculptor works on his block of stone. In a sense the statue stood there from eternity. But there were a thousand different ones beside it, and the sculptor alone is to thank for having extricated this one from the rest. Just so the world of each of us, howsoever different our several views of it, all lay in the primordial chaos of sensations, which give the mere matter to the thought of all of us indifferently. We may, if we like, by our reasonings unwind things back to that black and jointless continuity of space and moving clouds of swarming atoms which science calls the only real world. But all the while the world we feel and live in will be that which our ancestors and we, by slowly cumulative strokes of choice, have extricated out of this, like sculptors, by simply rejecting certain portions of the given stuff. Other sculptors, other statues from the same stone! Other minds, other worlds from the same monotonous and inexpressive chaos! My world is but one in a million alike embedded, alike real to those who may abstract them. How different must be the worlds in the consciousness of ant, and cuttle-fish, or crab! [All boldface added for emphasis.]

Or of Robert Lanza's glow worm....

This stuff definitely takes some getting used to!!! LOL!

Anyhoot, it seems to me that Being is that which does not change. Knowledge is that which changes, based on human observations and experiences which, once articulated, must (it seems to me) bear some truthful relation to Being, or they cannot be "true." Note also that James suggests that getting knowledge "right" is an intergenerational project: we and our ancestors together do this work of "constructing a common universe" in thought and language.

Possibly we could take a next step and say that Being and Life are identities. That could lead to all kinds of interesting speculations, such as cosmological theories of a living universe, astrobiology, etc. But my ideas at this point are still fairly preliminary. I'd love to hear your thoughts, A-G!

150 posted on 05/31/2007 2:17:17 PM PDT by betty boop ("Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." -- A. Einstein.)
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