Evidence for design

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Sheldon's picture
"The evidence for design is

"The evidence for design is my (and I assume your) experience."

Your assumption is incorrect.

"There are 2 arguments based on it.

1) The fine tuning of the experience."

Life is "fine tuned" for it's environment by species evolution through natural selection, our environment is not fine tuned for us.

2) Our ability to respond to the experience...without deities there...is nothing that knows how the brain is configured).

The physical brain evolved, and consciousness and all our cognitive abilities result from this evolved brain.

Someone's picture
(1.1) I had written in the

(1.1) I had written in the first argument
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With physicalist theories there is no reason to have favoured the expectation of any particular physical activity to have correlated with experience over any other physical activity, or to have favoured what the experience that correlated with physical activity would be like.
---

and you have replied:
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Life is "fine tuned" for it's environment by species evolution through natural selection, our environment is not fine tuned for us.
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What type of physical activity (if any) would correlate with experience, or what that experience would be like, would depend on what type of universe it was. Evolution would have no influence on it. And how were you thinking which type of universe it was regarding those factors would influence evolution?

(2.1) If you cannot explain how it would make a difference to behaviour which type of universe it was regarding those factors mentioned in the original post in (1) and again in (1.1) then you will not be able to explain how we can tell which type of universe it was regarding those factors.

Sheldon's picture
Our experience (I assume you

Our experience (I assume you mean consciousness) is a product of our physical brain, our physical brain evolved. Thus your claim that " Evolution would have no influence on it (consciousness), is demonstrably false, and in spite of your denials and incomprehensible verbiage, evolution through natural selection has a massive weight of objective evidence to support it. Establishing it as a scientific fact as solidly evidenced as anything that science has demonstrated to be valid.

The rest of your post is again incomprehensible gibberish sorry, are you translating this verbiage into English through babel fish or something?

Here's a clue for you we have only one universe to observe, and in that universe all the objective evidence indicates that life is fine tuned for it's environment, and not the other way around. So I ask again what objective evidence can demonstrate to support your claim that the universe is designed, or for the existence of any deity?

Someone's picture
You will ask me again where

You will ask me again where is the evidence? I gave the evidence in the first post on the thread. The problem so far is that you are claiming you cannot understand it. I presume that is the excuse you are giving for not answering the question I gave. But that is ok, I am not in a rush, I am quite willing to break it down into little bits for you to digest.

Is there any chance what the neural correlate of consciousness (NCC) refers to? Perhaps look it up if you do not.

It is basically the belief that there will be a correlation between what we experience and certain neural activity.

Assuming you hold that belief that will be such a correlation (given your statement that our experience is a product of our brain activity), do you also believe that all physical activity will be experienced. That the wind activity will produce/correlate to an experience? Or is it just certain activity?

Sheldon's picture
"I gave the evidence in the

"I gave the evidence in the first post on the thread. The problem so far is that you are claiming you cannot understand it."

You seem to be implying the fault lies with me rather than you. I already stated as have others that your post consisted mainly of bare assertion and quite a bit of incomprehensible gibberish. As I said before you can use the word evidence twice in every sentence, that does not make what you're saying evidence. Nothing in your post is evidence for design. Look at this conclusion for example...

"Irony:

Those that believe reality is one without deities asking where is the **evidence for design? Because the **evidence is: all the **evidence! As all **evidence is that which is experienced, and it is what is experienced that is the **evidence."

Irony indeed, it's nonsense, just a mass of tautologies. The biggest belly laugh has to be the phrase "the evidence is all the evidence" wow, that's deep man...sigh...
-------------------------------------------------------

This was even more ironic...

"Some may go to the lengths of denying that they understand what is meant by experience, but I will not be drawn into that debate."

I thought for a moment Breezy had created a sock puppet account. Experience is defined adequately in the dictionary, so if you are using it other than its primary definition derived from common usage then it is absolutely incumbent upon you to say so, and properly define what you mean by it, not stamp your foot and refuse to be drawn into any discussion on the matter.
--------------------------------------------

And on you went, take a look at this use of "begging the question fallacy"

"2) Our ability to respond to the experience.

A theist can explain it without it being explicitly observed (quantum randomness, and fluctuations of kinetic energy, and a being (God for example) which knows the fine adjustments that can be made (explainable by chaos theory) and the means to make them). "

So a theist can explain *it* can they, well I wish you would in plain English. That aside if you presume the thing you're arguing for in the argument it is called begging the question, another logical fallacy, and you have done it there.
----------------------------------------------------

"Assuming you hold that belief that will be such a correlation (given your statement that our experience is a product of our brain activity), do you also believe that all physical activity will be experienced. That the wind activity will produce/correlate to an experience? Or is it just certain activity?"

Here we go again I have read that over and over, and it is still incomprehensible gibberish. It's always telling to me that people who want to be seduced by the numinous, but have no real evidence always end up producing this kind of verbose cryptic verbiage, and pretending it has a hidden esoteric meaning, so they can then insult the intelligence of people who inevitably don't know what they're trying to say, or indeed if they are saying anything at all. I believe a description much in vogue is woo-woo.

****"Woo-woo is a slang term used to describe those who believe in phenomena that lacks substantiated evidence to prove the claim of the phenomena. It can also refer to the explanations for the specific phenomena itself. It also describes the method a person uses to understand such phenomena, based on the subjective nature or their personal philosophy which can be neither proven nor disproved. In this sense, one could associate woo-woo with philosophy, religion, or any other branch of study concerning itself with knowledge that is open to interpretation or subjectivity."

If you don't think objective evidence exists, then we're done, as this would mean anyone can believe or not believe whatever they wish with equal validity or not, and all based on naught but sheer caprice and personal motive. Of course this is also a very apt explanation of why we have so may different religions, and why they keep inventing new ones, either to replace or from old ones, and of course why they all produce the same woo-woo arguments whilst ironically scoffing at each others.

If there were a hell it would be like listening to arguments like those day in and day out.....

Sheldon's picture
Jesus it''s like wading y

Jesus it''s like wading through a tautology storm.

Facts:

1 1 Material universe exists, that we know of.
2. Organic life exists in that one universe.
3. Conscious beings have evolved from that organic life, and can experience that universe.

Nowhere in there is there any evidence for any deity or anything supernatural. You can insist this universe needs a designer all you want, you have no evidence, and your claims are not evidence.
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"What type of physical activity (if any) would correlate with experience, or what that experience would be like, would depend on what type of universe it was. "

Again just the one natural physical universe exists as far as we are currently aware, and conscious beings evolved in one tiny part of it, and as a result now experience it. Where's the evidence for your assertion it must have a deity designer and creator?
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"Evolution would have no influence on it. And how were you thinking which type of universe it was regarding those factors would influence evolution?"

Evolution fine tuned life for this planet, that's a fact, I don't know what you mean by the rest, since the universe existed first then evolution occurred. You keep asking questions about the type of universe, how do you know more than one type is even possible? How many universes have you tested your assertions on? Why would any physical universe need anything supernatural to explain it, and what objective evidence can you demonstrate for this assumption?
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"If you cannot explain how it would make a difference to behaviour which type of universe it was regarding those factors mentioned in the original post in (1) and again in (1.1) then you will not be able to explain how we can tell which type of universe it was regarding those factors."

Read and re-read, it still means nothing to me sorry. Are you leaving out punctuation on purpose? Your verbose verbiage is hard enough to decipher, but without punctuation it's just a long procession of random words. However once again then, it is a fact that we can observe only one universe it is a natural physical universe with no evidence demonstrated for anything supernatural, and in the universe organic life occurred on one planet that we know of, and that life evolved into conscious beings that experience. Again you'll have to spell out where in there is any need or objective evidence for any deity?

Not knowing how the universe produced life doesn't validate unevidenced claims about deity creators, that's argumentum ad ignorantiam.

Matt Davies's picture
My favourite quote related to

My favourite quote related to this is from Quine: "Creatures inveterately wrong in their inductions have a pathetic but praiseworthy tendency to die before reproducing their kind."
It's not surprising that our experiences are correlated with physical activities, creatures for which this is not the case would die out very quickly.
I don't really follow your second point, but the solution an atheist can give is that if the brain were not able to respond to its environment, our species would die out very quickly.

Someone's picture
What difference were you

What difference were you thinking it would make to the chemistry (and therefore overt behaviour) if the universe had instead been such that the experience that correlated with the evolved brain activity were a flash of light every time a neuron fired?

Matt Davies's picture
I feel this is a bit "cart

I feel this is a bit "cart before horse", experience is something that arises out of chemistry and biology (seeing as the brain is a product of chemistry and biology) and not vice-versa. It makes sense to ask whether we would have had different experiences if chemistry or biology were different, but it doesn't seem to make sense to ask whether chemistry responded to the nature of experience.
This question is answerable, different animals have different biologies and so experience things in vastly different ways. Take a bat for example, their biology is such that the experiences they have are correlated to ultrasound waves. The fact that there are other creatures with different biologies means that there is no unique way of experiencing the world.
Some of these ways of experiencing the world will be more conducive to survival than others, and so it's not surprising that our way of experiencing the world seems designed, because if it didn't it wouldn't be conducive to survival. But our experience of the world is not perfect - take hallucinations and optical illusions for examples.

Someone's picture
I assume that you do not

I assume that you do not think that all things experience. So that you don't think that a cup experiences for example. But that you think the minimal set of laws of physics sufficient to describe the activity of things that don't experience are sufficient to describe the activity of things that do. Can you understand that, if you can then have I assumed correctly?

Sheldon's picture
"But that you think the

"But that you think the minimal set of laws of physics sufficient to describe the activity of things that don't experience are sufficient to describe the activity of things that do."

I have no idea what that means sorry, I understand all the words, I just have no idea what you are trying to claim with them?

Sentient beings exist that possess consciousness, as do things that are not and do not, these are two objective facts. You appear to be implying that because our current understanding doesn't fully explain why this is the case, that it evidences a creator deity. That is a common logical fallacy called argumentum ad ignorantiam.

"Argument from ignorance (from Latin: argumentum ad ignorantiam), also known as appeal to ignorance (in which ignorance represents "a lack of contrary evidence") is a fallacy in informal logic."

Not knowing why there are conscious beings in a purely material universe does not evidence any supernatural beliefs. You'd have to objectively evidence such beliefs, whether this satisfies your emotional need to maintain your religious beliefs is not relevant.

Someone's picture
I am talking to you elsewhere

I am talking to you elsewhere on this thread. I am not starting loads of separate concurrent conversations with you on it. Let's finish the other ones first.

Matt Davies's picture
Yeah pretty much, I don't see

Yeah pretty much, I don't see anything I overtly disagree with in there.
Perhaps I might add that I don't think there's a sharp cutoff between things that have experiences and things that don't. I'll agree with you that a cup doesn't experience, and a human does, but something like an insect is somewhere in between.

Someone's picture
I am not sure what you mean

I am not sure what you mean by something in between no experience and experience. If you just meant that a human has awareness of what it is experiencing, and experiences thoughts, reasoning etc., where an insect doesn't then fine. If not, then could you perhaps explain. As I am considering a lack of experience to be what the majority of atheists imagine death to be like, and anything other than that involves experience.

I had also mentioned that I assumed you thought the minimal set of laws of physics sufficient to describe the activity of things that don't experience are sufficient to describe the activity of things that do, and you seemed to indicate that you did.

The point there is that the properties of reality behind those minimal set of laws of physics would not involve any property of experience. Any experience that results from any activity would be an epiphenomenal property. Which would mean that in a physically different but similar universe:

(i) different in terms of what epiphenomenal experience correlated with certain neural activity (a flash of light every time a neuron fired for example)

but

(ii) the same in terms of the laws of physics things that don't experience follow

The behaviour would be the same. So the same evolutionary pressures etc. Can you follow that?

Matt Davies's picture
I think you get what I meant,

I think you get what I meant, so no more explanation there is necessary.

Indeed.

(Reading your third paragraph, I can't help but be reminded of a paper by Frank Jackson "Epiphenomenal Qualia" not sure if you've read it, but you're reasoning is along similar lines)

I see your argument much more clearly now. The assumption you rely on is that experiences have epiphenomenal properties only. I think your reasoning is sound beyond there. I disagree however with your assumption that experiences are purely epiphenomenal in character.

One reason I may reject this assumption is because it's consequences are unparsimonious. If we assume that experiences are epiphenomenal, then it follows (as you argued) that there could be different universes in which everything observable that goes on is identical, but epiphenomenal properties of things in the different universes are different. Here I would invoke "Identity of Indiscernibles" and claim that if because these different universes are indistinguishable, they are identical and so epiphenomenal properties are redundant. This kind of argument was used by Leibniz to argue against absolute space, and has also been used as an argument against "haecceitism" - that we all have a property of being ourselves.

Identity of Indiscernibles is controversial as far as I'm aware, and so I wouldn't want to rely solely on an argument based on it, but I feel that argument above should at least cast some doubt over whether epiphenomenal properties are fundamental or superfluous.

More importantly, I disagree that experiences have epiphenomenal properties because they're superfluous - physicalist descriptions have the potential to describe experiences completely, we don't need to invoke anything else. I think I may be able to tell what sort of situation you have in mind. The old philosophical worry: "How do I know that my experience of seeing red is the same as yours?". Questions such as these (and epiphenomenalism in general) are hangovers from 18th century Philosophy. Now that Psychology is becoming a fully fledged science, it's increasingly evident that we can answer these questions physicalistically.
Synesthesia is an interesting case of this - where people actually do have different correlated experiences than usual. We don't need to resort to epiphenomenalism to explain this though, the condition can be explained in terms of neural pathways. Our different experiences of the world are just due to us all having different brain structures.
Here's a thought experiment - say it were possible to create an identical copy of yourself with exactly the same brain structure. Both you and your copy would behave in exactly the same way in identical situations. If this is the case, there would seem no reason to assign different epiphenomenal properties to their experiences, but then if there's a one-to-one mapping between brain structures and epiphenomenal properties, then why appeal to epiphenomenal properties at all? All we need is brain structures to explain behaviour.

The root of our disagreement is over whether epiphenomenal properties are fundamental. Seeing as the existence of epiphenomenal properties would impose extra structure onto the world, I'd argue it's your burden to convince me that there's a situation which we can't explain physicalistically and have to resort to epiphenomenal properties - I maintain there aren't any.

Someone's picture
No I do not rely on

No I do not rely on experiences having epiphenomenal properties only, obviously the experience is not epiphenomenal, we base our knowledge or beliefs on it.

For the first argument, whether the experiences are epiphenomenal or not does not come into it.

For the second argument, it is simply a question of how in the physicalist account aren't our experiences epiphenomenal.

I do not understand what your thought experiment where we assume our experiences are epiphenomal such that if there were two chemically identical constructions in identical environments they would act the same is supposed to indicate to you or anyone else. In the second argument the point is made, how do you know that reality is one in which at least some subsection experiences? What is the evidence? .... the experience.... but how does the evidence fit in with your story? Oh right it doesn't... you had a story that could work, if only for that pesky evidence that it is wrong.

Matt Davies's picture
"Any experience that results

"Any experience that results from any activity would be an epiphenomenal property."

I quote this from your previous comment - the only thing I'm getting from this is that you think experiences are epiphenomenal, I don't see what else this sentence can mean.

With regards to your first argument, you argue that the physicalist account can't explain the fine-tuning of experience. It quite evidently can - it is perfectly possible on the physicalist account that creatures that have poorly-tuned experiences can exist. But because of this, these creatures die out. It's no wonder that our experiences are well-tuned, because we would die out quickly if not.

If this fine-tuning is supposed to be god-given, why is it only well-tuned and not perfectly tuned? Hallucinations and mirages and standard optical illusions are all cases where our experiences are very poorly tuned to reality.

Our experiences are not epiphenomenal at all in the physicalist account. The thought experiment is designed to show that identical brain states will have identical experiences. What this implies is that experiences are not fundamental - we can reduce experience entirely to brain states.

Sheldon's picture
"With regards to your first

"With regards to your first argument, you argue that the physicalist account can't explain the fine-tuning of experience. It quite evidently can - it is perfectly possible on the physicalist account that creatures that have poorly-tuned experiences can exist. But because of this, these creatures die out. It's no wonder that our experiences are well-tuned, because we would die out quickly if not."

Precisely correct, and as I told "someone" evolution has fine tuned us for our environment with the mechanisms of natural selection and survival of the fittest, where fittest means fit for their environment. Obviously our experience of reality better increases our chances of surviving long enough to pass on our genes, if it did not we wouldn't be here. What creationists do here is reverse the process and claim it is too improbable, but there would be a vast number of failed species that became extinct making, the ones we see are the ones that best suited their environment.

The universe isn't fine tuned for life, life is fine tuned for it's environment by billions of years of evolution whittling away the species that weren't.

Natural phenomena (like evolution) exist, the material world and universe exists, and conscious life exists, all these things can objectively evidenced as real, deities and inexplicable magic can't.

Someone's picture
Sorry missed this one.

@Matt Davies

Sorry missed this one.

You are taking the sentence from http://www.atheistrepublic.com/forums/debate-room/evidence-design?page=2... out of context. The "any experience that results from any activity would be an epiphenomenal property" was in the type of universe I was assuming you were thinking of. In the previous paragraph I had written:
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I had also mentioned that I assumed you thought the minimal set of laws of physics sufficient to describe the activity of things that don't experience are sufficient to describe the activity of things that do, and you seemed to indicate that you did.
---

which is why I went on to write:
---
The point there is that the properties of reality behind those minimal set of laws of physics would not involve any property of experience. Any experience that results from any activity would be an epiphenomenal property. Which would mean that in a physically different but similar universe:
--

You then don't seem to get my point on the 1st argument, which is that if the experience that correlated with our brain activity was a flash of light every time a neuron fired, it wouldn't have made any difference to the behaviour, because the experience would be epiphenomenal. So what was experienced wouldn't influence evolution. What was experienced would just depend on what the universe was like, it wouldn't influence evolution.

Matt Davies's picture
In the kind of universe I'm

In the kind of universe I'm thinking of, there are no epiphenomenal properties of anything at all, let alone experiences. I maintain that experiences are an emergent property - they occur only in complex systems that meet certain criteria (these criteria science is not yet able to definitely specify).
There's nothing wrong with the minimal set of physical laws being able to describe both non-experiencing and experiencing things. Just like how some materials are ferromagnetic, and others aren't - the physical laws describing both ferromagnetic and non-ferromagnetic materials are the same, things are ferromagnetic because they have a certain structure.
In the same way the physical laws describe both experiencing and non-experiencing things. It's the intrinsic structure of the thing we're considering that determines whether it experiences or not.
You say:

"the properties of reality behind those minimal set of laws of physics would not involve any property of experience. Any experience that results from any activity would be an epiphenomenal property."

The minimal set of laws of physics don't involve a property of experience, but this doesn't mean experience is not an emergent phenomenon. Just because ferromagnetism isn't mentioned in the minimal set of laws of physics, it doesn't mean that ferromagnetism is an epiphenomenal property. There's no need to resort to epiphenomenal properties, and so the rest of your argument has no weight.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Someone - But that you think

Someone - But that you think the minimal set of laws of physics sufficient to describe the activity of things that don't experience are sufficient to describe the activity of things that do. Can you understand that, if you can then have I assumed correctly?

I got what you mean; and I agree with it, with the following caveat: the difficulty with what you have said is that macroscopic objects have something on the order of 10^23 moving parts. That makes applying the rules essentially impossible (to something like a human being), but I tentatively assume that it would work if anyone had the resources to do such a thing (or in other words: when it is possible to do those computations, it works like a charm).

Someone's picture
It does not matter whether

It does not matter whether something is predictable or not. The point is that if the behaviour of any given thing is explainable given forces that don't involve experience, then whether something experiences or not, or what the experience is like is not an explanation for behaviour. But then how do you explain me discussing the experience, and that I am infallible with regards to the the fact that the following statement is true: "at least one subsection of reality experiences", and that I know that my experience is not a flash of light that correlates with each time a neuron in my form fires?

Nyarlathotep's picture
Someone - The point is that

Someone - The point is that if the behaviour of any given thing is explainable given forces that don't involve experience, then whether something experiences or not, or what the experience is like is not an explanation for behaviour.

I've learned that if you want something to not be an explained strongly enough; you will find that is the case. Or in other words: an explanation for even the simplest process, will fail to silence the strongest of critics. I suspect that is what is happening with what you said.

Someone's picture
You seem to not be

You seem to not be understanding the point.

IF
the forces that explain the behaviour of things that do not consciously experience are sufficient to explain the behaviour of things
that do
THEN
what is experienced is not an explanation for the behaviour of things that do.
BECAUSE
the behaviour is explained in terms of the forces that explain the behaviour of things that do not experience (the experience is not
involved in those explanations because they do not experience)

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Nyarlathotep's picture
@Someone

@Someone
Well lets look at your argument's form:
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If A explains B & C, then D can not explain C (because C was already explained by A).
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You might notice this depends on a controversial hidden premise: things can only be explained in 1 way.

I don't think you will get very many people to accept that premise.

Someone's picture
If the set of properties (I

If the set of fundamental properties (I shall refer to as set A) that are sufficient to explain the behaviour of things that lack property B then having property B is an epiphenomenal property if property B does not reduce to the properties in set A.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Let me make it more concrete:

Let me make it more concrete:
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Friction is not a fundamental conservative force. Particles do not exhibit friction between themselves, particles exhibit the electromagnetic force (particles exchange photons back and forth, particles don't "rub" on each other).

Macroscopic objects tend to have something like ~10^23 moving parts. Macroscopic objects can be described as having friction between them. It is commonly believed that this force of friction is simply the another way (and a much simpler and useful way) to represent the ~(10^23)! interaction between the moving parts (but you can never be sure since you will never be able to do that calculation).
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Could you restate this information in the language you are using ("epiphenomenal property", "sufficient to explain", "property B does not reduce to the properties in set A"); because what your saying seems rather vague. It doesn't help that you labelled sets and elements of sets as capitol letters; forcing me to re-read what you wrote several times.

Listen; I'm sure what you are trying to say makes sense (just like in the other thread). And what you have written probably makes sense to you since you know what you are trying to say. But to those of use who don't have access to your thoughts; all we have is what you write; and that is a tangled mess. Perhaps try simpler sentences and less pronouns.

Someone's picture
So friction like pressure or

So friction like pressure or temperature is thought to be a concept that can be given a reductive explanation in terms of the fundamental interactions outlined in the known laws of physics. So those would not be considered epiphenomenal properties, because they are thought to reduce to or at least be an approximation of a reduction to the fundamental properties of the fundamental entities outlined in physics that do have an influence on behaviour. But if those entities had a fundamental property X which did not appear in those equations, then that would be an epiphenomenal property. Likewise if there was another property call it Y for example, which was considered an emergent property which did not reduce to those properties that appeared in those equations, then it would be an epiphenomenal. Panpsychics seem to have seen the problem and so put forward the claim that the fundamental entities do experience, and can claim that the behaviour outlined in the equations can be based on that behaviour. Though panpsychism is a bit off topic, because I am currently discussing the position of those that believe that reality is one without deities and believe that a cup does not experience.

For a simple example though, consider a robot with Build A that passes the Turing Test, how were you thinking you could tell if it were experiencing? Perhaps consider how you would expect Build A to behave if it was experiencing vs. how you would expect Build A to behave if it wasn't. The answer presumably is that you would expect Build A to follow the known laws of physics in either case, so there could be no experiment to tell, as the expected behaviour for the hypothesis it was experiencing, would be the same as the expected behaviour for the hypothesis that it wasn't. Thus you can see that whether it was experiencing or not would be considered to be an epiphenomenal property.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Someone - But if those

Someone - But if those entities had a fundamental property X which did not appear in those equations, then that would be an epiphenomenal property.

Could you please use less pronouns:

'"those entities" - which entities? We've mentioned several.

"those equations" - which equations? As far as I can tell, that is the first reference to equations; could you be more explicit? I'm sure you know what you mean, but I sure as hell don't.
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If this experiencing thing you keep talking about is a fundamental property (which as far as I can tell you were suggesting); what is its dimension? Is it a binary property? Seems like wild conjecture to me.

Sheldon's picture
"Seems like wild conjecture

"Seems like wild conjecture to me."

Our experiences just synced. What kind of belief requires a person to claim subjective experience is as valid as objective evidence? I've encountered this type of apologetics before, it's headache inducing. I marvel that people think they have found something compelling though. Is it me or could this argument validate Thor just as much as it can Jesus or Allah?

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