Author Topic: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?  (Read 19870 times)

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Online Azdgari

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #754 on: January 17, 2012, 11:36:07 PM »
My imagination is a past event?  And your point?

Well, if your imagination of something is yet another past event, then it's not the exception you need it to be.  Boom.  There goes your point.

If I project an idea into a possible future,

Hold on right there.  By imagining the future, you are not "projecting an idea into a possible future".  You are not somehow metaphysically communicating with the future.  You're just thinking about what the future might be.  If I imagine what's inside a closed box, I am not somehow "projecting an idea into the possible contents of a box".  I'm just thinking about what might be in there.

then make a decision based on that possibility,  the decision is being based on a future which hasn't been caused yet,

No, the decision is based on what you imagined.  See above.

therefore an imagined cause.

Your imagination - one of the thoughts in your mind - is a cause.  Note your use of the past tense.  Imagination is something that has happened.  An event in the past.  It's not an event in the future.  It doesn't open up a wormhole through time and space or anything like that.  Imagination is just a thought process, Gill.

The present then , is being decided on an imagined cause of the future.   Doesn't matter if the imagination then becomes a past event, the choice was still based on an imagined cause, not an actuality.

The imagination is an actuality.  It's an actual thought process, and that thought process has real effects.  Other, non-imagination thought-processes can also do this.
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Offline Samothec

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #755 on: January 18, 2012, 02:09:58 AM »
Sorry I got that way, Sam.  I realize you're not engaged in the intellectually dishonest crap that Gill's so attached to.  But there was was a reason I made that accusation:  The position that free-will affects the physical universe requires that free-will actually does stuff to the physical universe in definite ways.  Few free-willers seem to want to touch that topic, though.  And you've been no exception, up to this point.  Why?

A few weird things here. The usage of the term 'free will' as if it is somehow separate from the mind rather than an aspect of it. The hidden idea that a mind exercising free will somehow does not affect the physical universe. That I've been party to a weird concept I've never encountered until your post.

I understand that you are not a proponent of the first two ideas.

Of course a mind exercising free will affects the physical universe – anyone who says otherwise is an idiot. The mind is part of the universe so any aspect of it (like free will) is part of the universe. I don't see how it could be any different unless invoking woo.

I was referring only to reality - to physical determinism (or stochasticism, or whatever).  If you have been talking about something other than objective reality, then we have been talking past one another.

I thought it might be a misreading on my part but here you do it clearly: roughly equating determinism with stochasticism. Admittedly my readings are so far very limited but they have so far indicated a significant contrast between the two things with the Wikipedia article referring to stochastic processes as non-deterministic. As for the other aspect, I'm thinking we might have been indeed talking past each other.

Even the random factors can be coherently described.

How? To my knowledge they can not be coherently described. They can be roughly described and that description can be coherently written but that is hugely different from a coherent description of randomness. The closest we can come at this point is via the budding science of chaos theory. And you never answered my question as to whether you've read anything on that subject – although the quoted sentence and your other comments imply you have not read anything about chaos theory.

Nobody was claiming that they would fire the same way each successive time.  Each time is a reaction to the previous state.  That's still stochastic, not freely-willed.

How does a stochastic system preclude free will?  Plus, stochastic does preclude deterministic AFAIK.

We make choices based on which neurons fire in what order with the changing situations accentuating the differences.
Differences between what?  What does this have to do with free will?  Where does will have any physical effect at all here?  You've not answered the question.

The different sensory inputs as well as varying feedback loops cause the differences in neuron firing times. You asked for a scientific/physical description of free will; this is a clarification (that you asked for) of a point within my answer. It is/was a direct answer – just because you don't like it doesn't change the fact that it is one.

What do the free-will factors do, and how can they be coherently described?
You've described no free will at all.

If I haven't described it then I have no clue as to what you are calling "free will". With the request for "free will factors" it seems like we are back to the weird woo free will you alluded to in the above quotes.

What is this weird concept and where does it come from?
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Offline Samothec

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #756 on: January 18, 2012, 02:17:55 AM »
If I project an idea into a possible future, then make a decision based on that possibility,  the decision is being based on a future which hasn't been caused yet,  therefore an imagined cause.    The present then , is being decided on an imagined cause of the future.   Doesn't matter if the imagination then becomes a past event, the choice was still based on an imagined cause, not an actuality.

Your statements above are false. To form the idea you relied upon past experience. To evaluate the idea for how well it would work, you again relied upon past experience. You made a choice not based on the future but on your past experience applied to the future projection. Your decisions are always based on a combination of imagined outcomes based on your past experiences in reality.

The only humans who don't do this are newborn babies and people with a debilitating head injury which impairs their memory.
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Online Azdgari

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #757 on: January 18, 2012, 03:26:44 AM »
Sam, three things.

1. When I talk about "free will" - and when its usual proponents talk about it (including our friend Gill here) - I/they are referring to something that is neither random nor deterministic, which affects human thoughts/behaviour in a way not governed by the laws of physics.  If it is governed by the laws of physics, then it is not "free" in the sense that free will is being advocated in this thread.  That is why supernaturalism is required in order to support the idea of free will.  This is also the most traditional sense of the term.  If this is not your idea of what "free will" means, then perhaps another term would be more appropriate.

2. When I conflate pure determinism with stochasticism, it is because they function identically for the purpose of discussing free will.  Randomness disrupts determinism, yet does not promote the ability of one's will to affect decisions in a way that does not follow physical laws.  Therefore it is irrelevant to the discussion of free will.

3. When I said that random factors can be coherently described, I am referring to quantum mechanics.  Things are not 100% random on that scale.  An electron is not equally likely to be at every place in the universe, for example.  There are probabilistic limitations, things that are coherent described and defined, bounds within which randomness takes place.  And I think I am familiar enough with chaos theory; as far as I know, it has mostly to do with (un)predictability, which is off-topic.
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Online Azdgari

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #758 on: January 18, 2012, 11:16:32 AM »
If this is not your idea of what "free will" means, then perhaps another term would be more appropriate.

On further reflection:  Another term, or a qualified term.  For example, I believe that the experience - the sensation - of having what we see as free will, justifies the behaviour the metaphysically-free-willers view as requiring metaphysically-free-will in order to make sense.  For this reason, I say that I believe in experiential free will or subjectively free will.  This indicates that the free will is not an objective process, but a state of mind.

It's a point I wanted to make to Gnu, if he'd been receptive instead of dogmatic.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2012, 11:18:37 AM by Azdgari »
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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #759 on: January 18, 2012, 12:36:11 PM »
I don't know what that author is talking about, since energy doesn't need any energy added to it to accelerate.
Are you sure you know what you're talking about?  Are you sure you aren't fundamentally misunderstanding something?

Quote from: Gill
As pointed out before,  electromagnetic waves can slow down traveling through a substance,  but they don't need anything to accelerate them back to the speed of light after coming out of the substance.
The reason EM waves slow down when traveling through a substance is because the substance "scatters" the waves; the photons must travel around the atoms of the substance instead of simply being able to go straight through.  It is not dissimilar to flying somewhere versus taking a road trip there; if both go the same speed, the road vehicle will take longer because the roads are not in a straight line.

Quote from: Gill
Therefore, an if an immaterial substance, like gravity, can direct energy without effecting the total energy, I don't see why an immaterial substance such as 'mind' could not do the same.
But gravity is an effect of mass, which is a material substance.  What is the material substance that creates the effect of "mind"?  Furthermore, gravity is a force, not a substance.  There is no such thing as an "immaterial substance".  A substance, by definition, is material in nature, made of physical matter.

No, the mind doesn't give energy to the system, it directs energy.  And energy doesn't necessarily have to be added to a system for it to be directed.
However, a force that can direct energy must have a material cause.  There is no such thing as a force that does not spring from matter.  If something is not material, it is not a substance but instead a force, and must be caused by something material, just like gravity is caused by mass and electromagnetism is caused by protons and electrons.

Gravity is a property of mass.   But the gravity itself, is just space-time curving.   Therefore, the actual curve in space-time has no energy/mass association.  It's just space-time.
If it had no energy/mass association, it would not be able to affect either.  The association, as you put it, is the slope of the curvature, which is caused by the amount of mass involved and determines the amount of potential energy involved.

Never said the mass wasn't there.  But the curve is not the mass.  It's a response to the presence of the mass.  So then,  you have a curve in space-time which can change the direction of energy, lighwaves traveling around that curve.    The curve itself is then directing the energy.  Therefore, an immaterial curve in space-time can direct energy.

Hence, an example of an immaterial thing directing energy.
This is the same mistake you were making earlier about the brain and the mind.  You are basically saying that the effect is not the cause, which is true, but you are using it to imply that the effect is not related to the cause, which is false.  The fact that the causal relationship exists is itself an association; therefore, a curve in space-time has a matter/energy association, which is how it can affect matter/energy.

But electromagnetic waves themselves, don't need energy to accelerate.   As has already been discussed here.   So why would there have to be some material thing to accelerate them, as suggested here?
The energy transferred when light curves around an object or goes through a physical medium does not result in light slowing down.  It results in the total strength of the light wave (the number of photons, as it were) being reduced; the other photons are trapped by gravity or hit atoms in the medium, transferring their energy.

And what are you making observations with?  Your mind?  Which according to you is matter/energy.  So then how do you know your mind , matter/energy produces true observations?
Internal consistency.  The fact that the observations themselves can be measured means that they can be compared.  If the measurements are consistent, then the observations are true as far as we know (though, naturally, they can be refined and enhanced).  Now, you might say that we can't really know for sure that they're true since all of the observations are made using matter/energy, but the fact is that until you or someone can show that there is a way to make observations that don't involve matter/energy, the idea is speculative and makes no difference to anything.

I think that's enough of a response for now.

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #760 on: January 18, 2012, 01:46:54 PM »
Because you appear to want to deny causality, and I'm trying to understand the basis for that claim.
And what led you to the conclusion that I "appear to want to deny causality"?  Not only that, but when you say that my argument is because I appear to want something, you make it about me, personally, instead of about the subject at hand.  I really don't appreciate that sort of thing, and I'll ask you to refrain from such things in the future, unless you can point to specific statements to back up your assertions.  If there is some "personal want" of mine involved, it's not something I'm conscious of.  So it is in your interests to clarify the things that led you to that conclusion.

Aside from that, we're getting nowhere except to restate our positions, because we're both speculating.  So tell you what.  Show me how your assertion is not pure speculation based on your idea of how things might work, in other words give me results I can actually see and work with, and I'll be happy to concede the argument assuming the results agree with what you're saying.  Otherwise, we might as well be arguing about what came before the Big Bang.  The fact that you can explain your speculation better than I can doesn't amount to anything as far as showing which is actually true, because we're both operating without evidence.

The only fact here is that humans do not act in a wholly deterministic manner.  Your assertion is that if you control for random influences, then humans would act in a wholly deterministic manner.  So...find a way to control for those random influences as best you can, and then see what happens.  I'd be happy to assist as much as it is within my ability, because I am honestly curious to find out what the actual answer is.  But we need something that can really be done, not something that can only be thought of.

Offline screwtape

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #761 on: January 18, 2012, 02:11:55 PM »
Are you sure you know what you're talking about? 

He is 100% sure.  It is the rest of us that have doubts.

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Offline Samothec

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #762 on: January 18, 2012, 03:30:41 PM »
This is not a direct reply to any posts; it is posted without reading any of the posts made since my last one.

While I was on the porcelain thinking chair where one can let the things pressing on you drop away, I thought about this subject.

If we were governed solely by determinism we would be run purely on instinct and would never have developed consciousness – we wouldn't have a self-aware mind. It is the brain's feedback loops that create self-awareness which allow us to have "free" will. Fortunately this is not a deterministic world but instead a stochastic world.

Lower animals are ruled by determinism with some mammals and birds having advanced enough brains to begin to develop a low-level consciousness.

There is no woo involved in the mind nor in so-called 'free' will. Free will is merely the potential to make choices from those available to us. Any other definition of the mind or of free will needs to be explicitly defined and a justification needs to be made for why that definition should even be considered.

Comments from the thinking portion of the membership?

EDIT
From Azdgari's new posts: I am also refering to "experiential free will" - the only kind I see or understand. Even from those posts, which I am going to reread, I still don't get woo free will.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2012, 03:33:47 PM by Samothec »
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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #763 on: January 18, 2012, 03:38:56 PM »
So how do we reconcile the fact that mobs of humans tend to be quite predictable, whereas individual humans are much less so?

Online Azdgari

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #764 on: January 18, 2012, 03:42:20 PM »
So how do we reconcile the fact that mobs of humans tend to be quite predictable, whereas individual humans are much less so?

The same way we reconcile the fact that mobs of rolled dice tend to be quite predictable, whereas individually rolled dice are much less so.
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Offline Dante

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #765 on: January 18, 2012, 03:49:14 PM »
So how do we reconcile the fact that mobs of humans tend to be quite predictable, whereas individual humans are much less so?

Define predicatable.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-04/m-udi041408.php


Quote
In the study, participants could freely decide if they wanted to press a button with their left or right hand. They were free to make this decision whenever they wanted, but had to remember at which time they felt they had made up their mind. The aim of the experiment was to find out what happens in the brain in the period just before the person felt the decision was made. The researchers found that it was possible to predict from brain signals which option participants would take already seven seconds before they consciously made their decision. Normally researchers look at what happens when the decision is made, but not atwhat happens several seconds before. The fact that decisions can be predicted so long before they are made is a astonishing finding.

While not yet the final authority, it does show that the brains functions make the decisions, and not the conscious mind.

Actually it doesn't. One could conceivably be all-powerful but not exceptionally intelligent.

Offline Samothec

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #766 on: January 18, 2012, 03:58:04 PM »
1. When I talk about "free will" - and when its usual proponents talk about it (including our friend Gill here) - I/they are referring to something that is neither random nor deterministic, which affects human thoughts/behaviour in a way not governed by the laws of physics.  If it is governed by the laws of physics, then it is not "free" in the sense that free will is being advocated in this thread.  That is why supernaturalism is required in order to support the idea of free will.  This is also the most traditional sense of the term.  If this is not your idea of what "free will" means, then perhaps another term would be more appropriate.

I'd like to suggest a different term for the supernatural "free will": woo-will.
I know – most people don't like logic or logical terms – they like the ones they're familiar with. But I can hope.

2. When I conflate pure determinism with stochasticism, it is because they function identically for the purpose of discussing free will.  Randomness disrupts determinism, yet does not promote the ability of one's will to affect decisions in a way that does not follow physical laws.  Therefore it is irrelevant to the discussion of free will.

True.

3. When I said that random factors can be coherently described, I am referring to quantum mechanics.  Things are not 100% random on that scale.  An electron is not equally likely to be at every place in the universe, for example.  There are probabilistic limitations, things that are coherent described and defined, bounds within which randomness takes place.  And I think I am familiar enough with chaos theory; as far as I know, it has mostly to do with (un)predictability, which is off-topic.

On the quantum mechanical scale thing are very funky. Check out quantum tunneling[1] – if I'm recalling the correct term. It is a potential problem with continuing to reduce the size of computers since it says that at least some particles, like electrons, can tunnel through a thin enough silicon wall. So our macroscopic sense of order is fairly well violated on that scale. This was part of why I made the comments about hard determinism being impossible.

On further reflection:  Another term, or a qualified term.  For example, I believe that the experience - the sensation - of having what we see as free will, justifies the behaviour the metaphysically-free-willers view as requiring metaphysically-free-will in order to make sense.  For this reason, I say that I believe in experiential free will or subjectively free will.  This indicates that the free will is not an objective process, but a state of mind.
 
Bold mine.

Your use of "sensation" let me glimpse why metaphysically-free-willers believe in woo-will and what it might be. I know many mystical feelings can be replicated via electrical or magnetic stimulation of the brain. But some people don't understand (or refuse to understand) that it is not god or the mystical but just another sensation – admittedly an unusual one but that doesn't make it supernatural.
 1. I'd double-check the term using Wiki but it is blacked out today in protest of SOPA
« Last Edit: January 18, 2012, 04:16:35 PM by Samothec »
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Offline Samothec

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #767 on: January 18, 2012, 04:14:51 PM »
So how do we reconcile the fact that mobs of humans tend to be quite predictable, whereas individual humans are much less so?

In part because the probability of most events can be described by a bell curve (with varying amounts of skew) and the mob basically is the bell curve while the individual is a single point somewhere in the graph.

Also in part because people generally want to be part of a group so they will curtail some behavior to fit in so the members of the mob act with the mob.
Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding. - Martin Luther

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #768 on: January 18, 2012, 05:12:01 PM »
Quote
In the study, participants could freely decide if they wanted to press a button with their left or right hand. They were free to make this decision whenever they wanted, but had to remember at which time they felt they had made up their mind. The aim of the experiment was to find out what happens in the brain in the period just before the person felt the decision was made. The researchers found that it was possible to predict from brain signals which option participants would take already seven seconds before they consciously made their decision. Normally researchers look at what happens when the decision is made, but not atwhat happens several seconds before. The fact that decisions can be predicted so long before they are made is a astonishing finding.

While not yet the final authority, it does show that the brains functions make the decisions, and not the conscious mind.
I knew a study like that was probably floating around somewhere.

However, I also noticed this when I clicked on the link:

Quote
This unprecedented prediction of a free decision was made possible by sophisticated computer programs that were trained to recognize typical brain activity patterns preceding each of the two choices. Micropatterns of activity in the frontopolar cortex were predictive of the choices even before participants knew which option they were going to choose. The decision could not be predicted perfectly, but prediction was clearly above chance. This suggests that the decision is unconsciously prepared ahead of time but the final decision might still be reversible.

I'm not surprised that the brain plays such a huge part in decisions, given the way it's structured.  In fact, it's a good thing it's that way a lot of times.  But given that the brain can clearly come to a decision much faster than the mind can, why have a conscious mind in the first place if there isn't some reason for it?

Offline Dante

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #769 on: January 18, 2012, 05:53:26 PM »
why have a conscious mind in the first place if there isn't some reason for it?

A simplistic guess?

Because as we evolved societally, there were natural pressures to force us to start thinking about future ramifications of our actions, creating self awareness, and from there the mind evolved into what we experience today.

Do you think think lower animals have the free will you're arguing for? Dogs, for instance? Or are their actions determined by their experiences and situations?
Actually it doesn't. One could conceivably be all-powerful but not exceptionally intelligent.

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #770 on: January 18, 2012, 06:22:15 PM »
A simplistic guess?

Because as we evolved societally, there were natural pressures to force us to start thinking about future ramifications of our actions, creating self awareness, and from there the mind evolved into what we experience today.

Do you think think lower animals have the free will you're arguing for? Dogs, for instance? Or are their actions determined by their experiences and situations?
Next time I sit down and have a chat with my cats, I'll ask them and see what they say.[/sarcasm]

Honestly, I don't know.  We can't talk with animals to ask them about it.  But I would be very surprised to find that humans were the only organisms that had the ability to freely choose between alternatives (this is not the same as objectively free will).

Offline Dante

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #771 on: January 18, 2012, 06:54:41 PM »
Hell, I dunno either, but it sure makes for interesting discussion and thought experiments, no?

My questions about animals are derived from the fact that the lowest forms function using only the brain, and not the mind. Similarly, we humans don't have to use our minds to make our hearts beat or our lungs breathe.

We have evolved minds and consciousness, but that doesn't suggest that the mind works off anything other than nuerons firing in the brain.
Actually it doesn't. One could conceivably be all-powerful but not exceptionally intelligent.

Online Azdgari

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #772 on: January 18, 2012, 07:18:10 PM »
Is it sensible to say that something uses "only the brain and not the mind" when the mind is, in us, a part of the brain's function?

I mean, it sort of makes sense...but then it brings up the question of whether someone can use the mind but not the brain.  The original wording treats them as though they are equal, separate entities.

Would it not be more accurate to say that something's brain does not produce a mind?
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Offline Dante

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #773 on: January 18, 2012, 07:37:57 PM »
Is it sensible to say that something uses "only the brain and not the mind" when the mind is, in us, a part of the brain's function?

Our minds are a function of our brains, yes, but not all brain activity is mindful conscious, correct? Breathing, salivating, sweating, etc all come from the brain, but not the conscious mind.

Or am I reading you incorrectly?

Actually it doesn't. One could conceivably be all-powerful but not exceptionally intelligent.

Online Azdgari

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #774 on: January 18, 2012, 07:55:22 PM »
I'm just offering a clearer way of stating it, that can't be misconstrued as saying that the mind and brain are separate entities.
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Offline Brakeman

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #775 on: January 18, 2012, 08:44:55 PM »
I'm just offering a clearer way of stating it, that can't be misconstrued as saying that the mind and brain are separate entities.

Yes, that's mostly true, but for a few of those on here, the mind and the ass might be closer related..
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #776 on: January 19, 2012, 06:20:37 AM »
Because you appear to want to deny causality, and I'm trying to understand the basis for that claim.
And what led you to the conclusion that I "appear to want to deny causality"?  Not only that, but when you say that my argument is because I appear to want something, you make it about me, personally, instead of about the subject at hand.  I really don't appreciate that sort of thing, and I'll ask you to refrain from such things in the future, unless you can point to specific statements to back up your assertions.  If there is some "personal want" of mine involved, it's not something I'm conscious of.  So it is in your interests to clarify the things that led you to that conclusion.

My apologies - the wording was clumsy.

My point, which I think is worth re-stating, is this:

That given absolutely identical situations, there will be no change in the outcome, aside from those caused by random interventions.

The "absolutely identical" refers to - heh - absolutely everything.  Every single object is in the same place, every single neuron is at the same electrical charge, every memory is identical, every preference, every thought to that point....every aspect of history from the grandest scale of events to the unnoticed half-step to the right to avoid the snail on the path 30 years previously, all these aspects adding up to the situation, the environment, the person that there is.  And as mentioned I extend this "absolutely identical" beyond the material, if need be, to cover the soul, the spiriit, or whatever.

I don't think it is particularly contentious to say that with EVERYTHING completely the same, we could expect the same thing to happen next.  This was my point about causality that I made rather poorly, that "from A follows B" from moment to moment....certainly in a randomless universe.

So the options, as I see them, are these:

1) NOTHING is random.  Causality is all.  B follows from A each and every time.  No free will possible.
2) There is randomness in the universe.  B may follow A, or C may, but it is a random process that is undirected and unpredictable.  No free will exists that is worthy of the name, since I won't accept that "random" is the same as "willed"!
3) There is randomness in the universe.  B may follow A, or C may, and which one does is the result of a stochastic process: given a person's likes or dislikes, their history, and so on, there is (say) an 80% chance of B, and 20% chance of C.  Gross predictions are possible, but the actual outcome that happens is again at base subject to a random factor that "chooses" between B and C.  Again, no free will, for the reasons in (2).  This is the universe I believe we live in, BTW.
4) The free will universe, where a specific decision can be somehow made that is not random: is not stochastic: but which can still overrule causality by allowing C or D to follow from utterly identical As.

The reason why I reject (4) is that I have been offered no model to show how this would work - how two identical persons can go different ways.


Aside from that, we're getting nowhere except to restate our positions, because we're both speculating.  So tell you what.  Show me how your assertion is not pure speculation based on your idea of how things might work, in other words give me results I can actually see and work with, and I'll be happy to concede the argument assuming the results agree with what you're saying. 

I guess restating is all I did!  Perhaps if you let me know if my four options have covered everything.....given that (4) can include elements of random or stochastic process as well if required (with the caveats in (2) and (3) about definition of "free will").  If I've covered all the possible options, we could then examine them and work on establishing which one "works".
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline dloubet

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #777 on: January 19, 2012, 02:48:53 PM »
I kind of thought it boiled down to the thought experiment where one makes a "free will" decision, then you re-wind the universe and play it back to see if they make the same decision again.

If you get the same decision each time, then the universe -- and our decisions -- are deterministic. (or stochastic)

If you get different results, then the universe -- and our decisions -- are random.

I don't see a third alternative.

I agree that we live in a stochastic universe. One that would be deterministic if not for random quantum events. This does not grant us free will, but it does grant us a future not written in stone. A future where our decisions, as mechanical as they are, make an actual difference.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2012, 02:51:01 PM by dloubet »
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #778 on: January 20, 2012, 07:32:00 AM »
I kind of thought it boiled down to the thought experiment where one makes a "free will" decision, then you re-wind the universe and play it back to see if they make the same decision again.

Aye, that's the underlying point, I think.  Even if there IS a free will making decisions, if that free will can somehow make DIFFERENT decisions even when every single factor involved is identical, then how IS that any different from being random?

Or on another track, how would free will be desirable?  If I cannot say "everything that brought me to this point makes me me" - if I am saying that what is and was is irrelevant to what we do next (in a free will and non-stochastic universe)...then who am I?
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #779 on: January 20, 2012, 01:25:07 PM »
Aye, that's the underlying point, I think.  Even if there IS a free will making decisions, if that free will can somehow make DIFFERENT decisions even when every single factor involved is identical, then how IS that any different from being random?

Or on another track, how would free will be desirable?  If I cannot say "everything that brought me to this point makes me me" - if I am saying that what is and was is irrelevant to what we do next (in a free will and non-stochastic universe)...then who am I?
I think we're defining free will differently.  I've thought about mentioning this before, but I could never figure out how to say it well.  But when I say free will, I mean something more like the ability to make a decision which is based on the stochastic process that you mentioned, but is not necessarily random.  The fact that there is an 80% probability of one option and a 20% probability of the other does not mean that there's something inside the brain that rolls the equivalent of a 10-sided dice to determine which is picked.

There are random factors involved in the decision (for example, if I'm deciding whether to loan my car out to someone, happening to recall that they've been in an accident before would factor into the decision, as would other details), but the random factors only change the relative probability of a given option happening.  For example, it might change the probability from 80/20 to 45/55, but I simply don't see the decision made by the equivalent of a dice roll at any point, unless the person actually does roll a dice or something to decide it.

Honestly, I think the simplest explanation is that the decision is made through the interaction between the different aspects of the personality (which most people aren't even aware of, they're only aware of the end result).  Those aspects may be deterministic (I don't know one way or the other), but I don't think their interaction is.  I think their interaction would actually be governed by chaos theory, so you might have a completely deterministic and predictable process right up until that point, but the result is not necessarily predictable even though it is not random.

So, not free will as most people use the term.  To me, it is simply the understanding that the decision is not something which will always come out the same way in a save-state situation, because the decision isn't final until it's already past (until the chaotic interaction which makes the decision is complete).  In the save-state, the decision is always in the future, therefore the chaotic interaction isn't complete, and can't be predicted with perfect accuracy because of that.  You'd end up with a decision within the range of the probable options, but wouldn't be able to guarantee which particular option actually got picked.

Offline Samothec

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #780 on: January 20, 2012, 03:38:44 PM »
I think we're defining free will differently.  I've thought about mentioning this before, but I could never figure out how to say it well.  But when I say free will, I mean something more like the ability to make a decision which is based on the stochastic process that you mentioned, but is not necessarily random.  The fact that there is an 80% probability of one option and a 20% probability of the other does not mean that there's something inside the brain that rolls the equivalent of a 10-sided dice to determine which is picked.

There are random factors involved in the decision (for example, if I'm deciding whether to loan my car out to someone, happening to recall that they've been in an accident before would factor into the decision, as would other details), but the random factors only change the relative probability of a given option happening.  For example, it might change the probability from 80/20 to 45/55, but I simply don't see the decision made by the equivalent of a dice roll at any point, unless the person actually does roll a dice or something to decide it.

Honestly, I think the simplest explanation is that the decision is made through the interaction between the different aspects of the personality (which most people aren't even aware of, they're only aware of the end result).  Those aspects may be deterministic (I don't know one way or the other), but I don't think their interaction is.  I think their interaction would actually be governed by chaos theory, so you might have a completely deterministic and predictable process right up until that point, but the result is not necessarily predictable even though it is not random.

So, not free will as most people use the term.  To me, it is simply the understanding that the decision is not something which will always come out the same way in a save-state situation, because the decision isn't final until it's already past (until the chaotic interaction which makes the decision is complete).  In the save-state, the decision is always in the future, therefore the chaotic interaction isn't complete, and can't be predicted with perfect accuracy because of that.  You'd end up with a decision within the range of the probable options, but wouldn't be able to guarantee which particular option actually got picked.

This sounds a lot like the exchange above between myself and Azdgari.

As for the remembering of the accident in your example isn't randomness but is an example of the complexity of the brain/mind and one of the multitude of factors pointing to a stochastic universe. The information is already in your memory and it becomes a matter of the right neural connection bringing up the information when needed.

I'm begining to wonder if anyone actually uses "free will" in the way you and I have been told it is used since we both accept that it is an aspect of the brain/mind and not some woo.
Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding. - Martin Luther

Offline Samothec

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #781 on: January 20, 2012, 03:56:32 PM »
Anfauglir
So the options, as I see them, are these:
1) NOTHING is random.  Causality is all.  B follows from A each and every time.  No free will possible.
2) There is randomness in the universe.  B may follow A, or C may, but it is a random process that is undirected and unpredictable.  No free will exists that is worthy of the name, since I won't accept that "random" is the same as "willed"!
3) There is randomness in the universe.  B may follow A, or C may, and which one does is the result of a stochastic process: given a person's likes or dislikes, their history, and so on, there is (say) an 80% chance of B, and 20% chance of C.  Gross predictions are possible, but the actual outcome that happens is again at base subject to a random factor that "chooses" between B and C.  Again, no free will, for the reasons in (2).  This is the universe I believe we live in, BTW.
4) The free will universe, where a specific decision can be somehow made that is not random: is not stochastic: but which can still overrule causality by allowing C or D to follow from utterly identical As.
 

# 3 would be better stated as "There is uncertainty in the universe." It would provide a more significant distinction between 2 and 3 and be a far more accurate representation of the universe. Expanded below.

dloubet
I kind of thought it boiled down to the thought experiment where one makes a "free will" decision, then you re-wind the universe and play it back to see if they make the same decision again.

If you get the same decision each time, then the universe -- and our decisions -- are deterministic. (or stochastic)

If you get different results, then the universe -- and our decisions -- are random.

I don't see a third alternative.

I agree that we live in a stochastic universe. One that would be deterministic if not for random quantum events. This does not grant us free will, but it does grant us a future not written in stone. A future where our decisions, as mechanical as they are, make an actual difference.

You don't see a third alternative even though you present one? Deterministic and stochastic can not be equated.

Properly stated:
1) If you get the same decision each time, then the universe – and our decisions – are deterministic.
2) If you get different results within a narrow range of probabilities, then the universe – and  our decisions – are stochastic.
3) If you get different results without constraint, then the universe – and our decisions – are random.

*   *   *

During the discussion  of free will vs determinism there has been repeated claims of deterministic equaling stochastic. I had felt that there was something wrong about determinism  – other than the aspect that determinism is an extreme view and extreme views are rarely correct – and things finally clicked. I was assuming others had the same knowledge base as myself.

So, with that realization I can point out how the proponents of a deterministic universe are incorrect in equating it with stochastic universe and that we do not live in a deterministic universe. It is simple to state but for you to understand it will probably require some reading on your part (since no one else has pointed out these facts).

Even eliminating randomness there is an inherent uncertainty in the universe prohibiting determinism. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and the variations in the two slit experiment are the two major factors that I can name off the top of my head.

The variations in the two slit experiment demonstrates quite effectively that there are inherent uncertainties. First off, there is the basic two slit experiment: the odd fact that when you fire a stream of photons at a pair of slits in a barrier you do not get two lines instead you get a wave interference pattern. Randomness does not explain that. (The dual nature of photons as both wave and particle does but that is off topic.) Then there is the further experiment where a detector is placed before the slits: then you do get two lines. In a deterministic universe the detector would not – could not – change the results of the experiment; either the  wave interference pattern would remain or the basic two slit experiment would produce the expected two lines. Again randomness does not explain that.

Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heisenberg_uncertainty_principle

These basic factual uncertainties prohibit a deterministic universe, prove that deterministic and stochastic are opposing conditions, and force an assumption of some sort of woo to support determinism.
Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding. - Martin Luther

Offline dloubet

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Re: Evolutionists, arguing for their own imprisonment?
« Reply #782 on: January 21, 2012, 03:32:18 AM »
Quote
Properly stated:
1) If you get the same decision each time, then the universe – and our decisions – are deterministic.
2) If you get different results within a narrow range of probabilities, then the universe – and  our decisions – are stochastic.
3) If you get different results without constraint, then the universe – and our decisions – are random.

Damn. That's an excellent point! :-( 

Thanks for the correction! :-)

It's back to the drawing board for me.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 03:36:30 AM by dloubet »
Denis Loubet