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Re: I don't understand how the word 'will' is being used posted 03 Nov 2008, 20:11 by Tilberian, Commoner

[quote="Thorsten":31rkdc4m] Yes. I think we can safely dismiss the notion that religious texts are true in the same sense as scientific texts, i.e. as a sequence of exact definitions tied to observations of nature. Quite obviously, for this reason of terminology alone, before we go looking for a soul, the definition would have to be formulated in scientific terms somehow. So, you may ask, is there an invariant piece of mind which is not lost after death. Which of course would require you to define mind - a task in which science is rather bad, given the amount of suggested definitions.[/quote:31rkdc4m] I'd define the mind as the software that is running on a brain. [quote="Thorsten":31rkdc4m] Strangely enough, the upcoming physics program at the CERN Large Hadron Collider is (among other things) looking for energy which 'disappears into some extradimensional realm' (see [url=]here[/url:31rkdc4m] for one of the suggested models). So present day particle theorists think it quite possible that the very thing you rule out actually happens.[/quote:31rkdc4m] You are being mischevious, my friend. You know as well as I do that energy disappearing into extra dimensions is only one possible outcome of the LHC experiments, and that at least as many physicists expect it not to happen as there are those who do. If you want to use highly theoretical extra dimensions as a hiding place for souls, be my guest, but first do me the favour of explaining how they are going to get there without accessing the incredible energies that will be unleashed at CERN. Personally, I think all this extra dimensions nonsense has been a desperate gambit to get the math to work and that the real explanation for where the extra mass of the universe is will be in a weakly interacting particle that we haven't seen yet. [quote="Thorsten":31rkdc4m] Again, that presupposes there is any such thing as a perfectly insulated, non-conductive room. But as soon as you say 'room', you need spacetime. As soon as you have spacetime, you have gravitational waves which go right through your room because the only way to shield spacetime from vibrating is to create an event horizon - but that's a black hole, not a room. And even those radiate energy.[/quote:31rkdc4m] Now you are just being argumentative. Either take my point or argue against it: the energy in a human body dissipates into the environment in the same way as a teapot cools off when it is taken off the stove. No energy "disappears," and the energy in a human brain is immortal in exactly the same way as the energy in a light bulb is immortal. [quote="Thorsten":31rkdc4m] Certainly, taking 'up to heaven' literally makes it inconsistent. The pattern being preserved somehow in the fabric of spacetime via gravitational waves, or the pattern leaking into extra dimensions and being stored in the underlying brane reality is a possibility. I don't claim I know what happens to souls or if there is one - I just know enough ways how an invariant core of mind may be preserved after death.[/quote:31rkdc4m] Let me ask you this: is it your contention that we should admit the possible existence of anything that we can imagine unless we have proof positive that it does not exist? Perhaps you are familiar with Bertrand Russel's teapot analogy. Should I hold a belief that there is a china teapot in orbit between Mars and Jupiter? Certainly such a thing is at least theoretically possible, if astoundingly improbable. I prefer to establish a threshold of improbability, below which I deem a thing to not exist for all practical purposes. No one has ever observed energy patterns from brains or elsewhere being preserved in gravity waves or branes. The very existence of branes is controversial. No one can even postulate how such a thing might happen. Why, for the love of Pete, would I accept, at all, the assertion that such a thing is happening? Maybe I'm terribly stogey, but I like to observe a rather strict boundary between fantasy and reality. [quote="Thorsten":31rkdc4m] Well, that's just your claim. But unless you prove it, it remains your opinion, no? Just repeating it doesn't make it true.[/quote:31rkdc4m] My claim followed my presentation of the facts, which show that souls lie in the realm of the speculative and brains generating consciousness lie in the realm of empirical proof. You can repeat your refusal to accept these facts, but that does not make you right. [quote="Thorsten":31rkdc4m] That illustrates a very good point. While in the brain you insist that everything is electrochemical activity, for a computer you'd distinguish between hardware and software. But you wouldn't in any way insist that the software needs to run on a particular CPU - instead of an electronic CPU, it may as well be processed optically. It actually doesn't have a real CPU at all - it can be a virtual CPU simulated by another machine. So the (non-conscious) software is in fact a concept that 'transcends' the running in a particular environment (you'd probably agree that copying a program and running it on a different computer gives me the same software running on a different computer) - whereas you think it flatly impossible that the (conscious) 'software' of the brain can be realized in any way except neuroelectricity. Interesting - but not really plausible.[/quote:31rkdc4m] You are attempting to put words in my mouth. I have never taken the position that consciousness can only be realized through neuroelectricity. In fact, my position is the exact opposite. I think the mind is perfectly analogous to software that is running on the brain. Given sufficient technology and the appropriate system architecture, I see no reason why a mind could not be created on some other substrate. I see no reason why another mind could not be "written" onto the hardware of someone else's brain (well, with errors due to differences between the originating brain and the target brain). I said the functions of consciousness are down to electrochemical activity only. It is obviously wrong to say the brain is conscious by itself; dead brains are hardly conscious. [quote="Thorsten":31rkdc4m] No, that's a picture of brain activity. That's not the same thing. That's like taking a snapshot of memory activity in a computer and claiming you understand what the algorithms are. That's confusing hardware and software. There is no way of telling from even the most colorful picture if the mind which is depicted is conscious or not. Try to think about it![/quote:31rkdc4m] You try to think about it. Of course a still picture of a CAT scan is a snapshot. That is why it is called a still picture. A movie of a CAT scan would show the brain activity shifting and changing with time as different processes occur. That would be a movie of consciousness. When we look at a CAT scan we are getting a low-resolution picture of the play of energies in the brain. That is consciousness. That is all it is. BTW you are wrong: you can tell if a person is conscious or not from a CAT scan. There is no confusion between hardware and software. A photo of an exposed brain without a depiction of the energies at work in it would be a photo of the hardware. A CAT scan is a photo of the energies, a photo of the software running. What is missing from the picture? Why CAN'T that picture be a depiction of consciousness (and unconsciousness, too)? [quote="Thorsten":31rkdc4m] Incidentially, just last week I read an interview with Wolf Singer, a leading German neuroscientist - he wasn't prepared to take the position you are advocating here that brain activity scans answer any fundamental questions. In fact, he called the notion misleading.[/quote:31rkdc4m] Yawn. Look hard enough and you will find someone who will say anything. The Intelligent Design creationists have been able to find biologists that claim evolution can't explain biodiversity. [quote="Thorsten":31rkdc4m] Define 'this universe'. String theory has plenty of hidden ones which couple only by gravity to 'this one'. In the end, it's a meaningless question, because in any scientific formulation of soul, the religious 'heaven' would in some sense have to be a part of 'this universe' - maybe a hidden one, but certainly not disconnected - how else would the soul go there?[/quote:31rkdc4m] Are you seriously taking this to the level of asking me to define what the universe is? Are we going to debate the meaning of the word "is" next? String theory, yay. I have another idea: let's say there's a magical box where anything we can't find goes to hide. Doesn't that sound like fun? That way, whenever we want to make something up and pretend it is real, we can just say it is in the magical box and that is why we can't find it! Heaven was invented by goat herders in the Middle East 6,000 years ago who thought the earth was flat and disease was caused by bad thoughts. Are you trying to tell me that they knew something about string theory? [quote="Thorsten":31rkdc4m] No, sorry, the DVD drive in the computer in front of you is based on a quantum effect playing out macroscopically. The sun works because of quantum effects playing out macroscopically. Neither of these works in a deterministic way - it's just that randomness in large numbers allows statistics to say something about the most probable outcome, but that's not deterministic, because you can always have a different outcome.[/quote:31rkdc4m] No, you can't. There you go again, forgetting to treat events that are sufficiently improbable as impossible and forgetting to treat entities that are sufficiently improbable as nonexistent. What does it gain us to note that, on paper, there is some chance that all the particles in the sun will spontaneously wink out of existence? Has such an event ever happened in the history of the universe? It is the sound of a tree falling in the forest: technically there, but practically nonexistent. You will have to do better than that to convince me that quantum randomness has any effect on real-world events. [quote="Thorsten":31rkdc4m] But the actual problem is more fundamental. It has to do with the transition from quantum state to the observed state. You can read up a bit on [url=]Quantum Decoherence[/url:31rkdc4m]. To quote the main message: [i:31rkdc4m]Decoherence does not provide a mechanism for the actual wave function collapse; rather it provides a mechanism for the appearance of wavefunction collapse. The quantum nature of the system is simply "leaked" into the environment so that a total superposition of the wavefunction still exists, but exists — at least for all practical purposes — beyond the realm of measurement. Thus decoherence, as a philosophical interpretation, amounts to something similar to the many-worlds approach.[/i:31rkdc4m] Funnily enough, here's the second way how present-day physics understanding generates worlds beyond our own... They are rather plentiful to find I must say. Well, in short you are completely wrong about the universe being deterministic - but I can't give you a complete lecture in quantum field theory here.[/quote:31rkdc4m] Take a look at the passage you just quoted: "...the waveform exists, but exists - at least for all practical purposes - BEYOND THE REALM OF MEASUREMENT." Do you understand what that means? It means the unobserved position of the waveform does not exist, for any purposes that we can possibly have. When charting the total history of the universe, we will never be able to measure the effect of the alternate position AT ALL. It exists in math, nowhere else. To reiterate, in order for you to show that quantum theory has some relevance for the determinism/nondeterminism of the universe, you will have to show examples of quantum randomness occurring in a measurable, real way at a level that can be said to affect events. At the level we all operate on, we know that when we drop something, it falls. That, my friend, is deterministic. [quote="Thorsten":31rkdc4m] I do know many scientists. In fact, I am one (in case you haven't guessed, I'm making my money doing theoretical physics, applications of quantum field theory). And when they talk about God, they usually mean the traditional, personal God of religion.[/quote:31rkdc4m] Richard Dawkins knows a lot more scientists than you do. And he says they don't mean that. [quote="Thorsten":31rkdc4m] Your question is ill-posed. Anything 'above the quantum level' is an effective concept how we try to cast the universe into a shape we can perceive. In nature, there is nothing 'above the quantum level' (and probably, even the quantum level is a gross approximation of reality). In its very nature, in its foundation, the universe is quantum. Regardless of how your perception creates the illusion of determinism.[/quote:31rkdc4m] Why ignore the effects of statistics? Why focus on the irrelevant, invisible actions of things that are almost too small to be real when the topic of discussion is the nature of the whole universe and everything in it? I am saying that cars have wheels and you are pointing to the engine block and saying that it doesn't have wheels and it is part of the car therefore cars don't have wheels. I am quite aware that everything that happens in the universe is because of the mass movements of atoms, which are individually governed by quantum theory. The critical point is that I am talking about mass movements and you keep taking it back to the level of the individual particle. Why? If we were subatomic particles, I would take quite a different position on the nature of the universe. However, we are only MADE of subatomic particles, we are not actually subatomic particles ourselves. view post


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