Godless Engineer Explains How Jesus and Inanna are Perfectly Vaguely the Same!

Average Reading Time: 26 Minutes

Have you ever watched someone attempt to do something they aren’t good at and fail horribly, and then surprised to find out they think they nailed it? This is what it is like watching Godless Engineer (GE) attempt to find parallels to the life of Jesus. I recently did a video on Inanna and featured some of GE’s arguments in my video, just to show how bad the argument is that Jesus is connected in any way to Inanna. GE (to my amusement) decided to respond. It was so bad I had to post it to my Facebook page to share with followers. GE then got on there and started to converse we me in an attempt to clarify his position. It did not go well.  None of us should be surprised by how bad this response was. After all, when GE made his original video on Inanna and posted it to his Facebook page, this is one of the things he said in the comment section:

Godless Engineer Egypt History.png

I know, I’m bordering on an ad hominem, but I couldn’t resist because the worship of Ra dates back to the Old Kingdom and might be even older. So let’s dive into this wonderful response so we can see how well GE is able to defend a connection/influence between Inanna and Jesus.

He starts off in the typical lines I get from mythicists. He says I intentionally misrepresented him and Richard Carrier. Ironically, you will see that GE does the same to me later in his own video. It is never that two people can disagree or there may have been a misunderstanding. No, its always intentional misrepresentation by people who attack mythicists and purposefully being disingenuous. Head on over to Carrier’s blog and you can see what I mean. The fact of the matter is GE simply did not define what he meant and was very vague.

He takes offense because I attacked him for saying Inanna is a perfect skeleton of Jesus and I pointed out that is simply not true. They do not perfectly match in any way or in any structure. So GE in his response says what he meant by saying a “perfect skeleton” is just that, “some subsets of a story that primarily make it up are the same,” and he says he specifically cited the resurrection and passion narrative.

Now it should be obvious GE never actually defined this in his original video. Saying something is a skeleton typically means they follow the same plot. However, neither story (Jesus and Inanna) shares the same plot sequence or structure Which is why I had to call him out in my response.

However, now we can see that this was not what GE meant. This is a common tactic of his, where he is vague on purpose in order to never really commit to anything. If you think I’m exaggerating watch this debate he had with the Distributist where he could not even define what a religion or theocracy is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sbOA9usp9U

But his new definition just makes things even stranger, because what specific subsets of the story are the perfect skeleton; the plot, the character, the lessons? I tried to press him on this on Facebook and all he said was this and gave me a link to a google search:

Screen Shot 2018-08-27 at 5.08.55 PM.png

https://www.google.com/search?q=skeleton%20of%20a%20story…

Ok, that doesn’t really help clarify what he means. So I looked at the first two links and they basically said all this means in the general plot or structure is seen as the same. When I told GE this, he clarified and said:

Screen Shot 2018-08-27 at 5.11.09 PM.png

So a skeleton is not a plot, but a plot outline. That doesn’t really help either. A plot is a vague structure and sequence for a story. An outline of a plot is even vaguer. So is GE basically saying Inanna is a perfect skeleton, meaning a perfectly vague, generalized outline of Jesus? Yes, they are perfectly vaguely the same. That makes total sense!

Of course, I bet GE would probably say:

Screen Shot 2018-08-27 at 5.13.50 PM.png

Because it is not that he is not clear about what he means, it is that when we ask him questions to define his terms and what he means we are purposefully being disingenuous, and then he runs away before you get a straight answer or a clear definition. GE spends a large amount of time during the rest of the video claiming I’m being disingenuous (like a broken record) and I’m going to ignore that because I really want to focus on Inanna and his attempts to connect her to Jesus. These were the parts that were quite enjoyable, and he doesn’t realize we can use his same reasoning to connect all sorts of unrelated stories.

GE then takes offense when I noted there is not a scholar who would agree with the claim Inanna is a perfect skeleton of Jesus and he says he rejects the authority on this matter and somehow thinks it is bad to appeal to authority. It is not. It is only fallacious when you appeal to an authority who does not specialize in this field. By rejecting legitimate authority you are basically saying your opinion is a better authority. So I would love to see where GE shows he is a better authority on Inanna than Sumerian scholars. Proclaiming boldly (as GE does) that he rejects authority looks foolish, not intelligent. Why should we take GE’s word over Sumerian or New Testament scholars?

GE goes on to say “all of the elements of the Inanna story are in the Jesus story.” This is just false as I pointed out in my video and will point out here in more detail.

After this is when things start to get bad. GE says, “there is indeed a solid link between Inanna and the Jewish people. . . these basic patterns affected the Jewish culture and people, and therefore influenced the later resurrection story they told about the Messiah.”

And how does he know this? Does he have documentation or inscriptions which show the Jewish Christians were influenced by Inanna? If you are going to make the positive claim of influence you need to show some direct connection. You can’t just assume influence when there is no paper trail or ancient manuscript claiming influence. You don’t get to just assume influence without evidence.

For example, both Socrates and Confucius where teachers of wisdom, rejected by the ruling authorities and had disciples carry on their teachings which made them famous. Clearly, Confucius is a “perfect skeleton” of Socrates. I don’t need to show any direct evidence of influence, I just need vague similarities, and clearly, I can show Socrates never existed and his legend was just influenced by Confucius. Both Thutmose III and Rameses II were long-reigning and wealthy pharaohs, both were military men that campaigned in Canaan, had successors that did not live up to their resumes, and fought against large northern empires. Clearly, Ramses II never existed and Thutmose III is the perfect skeleton for the myth of Ramses II.

If you realize how idiotic this reasoning is you can see why GE’s argument is bad. You don’t just get to claim influence, you have to show it. For example, we know Roman mythology was copied from Greek mythology because the stories are identical and authors like Cicero tell us this was happening. In other words, we have evidence of a connection. We don’t have this with Inanna and Jesus.

But wait, GE thinks he has evidence of this because in his original video he notes that the Jews were aware of Inanna/Ishtar because she is mentioned in the books of Ezekiel and Jeremiah. The reason I didn’t mention this in my reply is that it doesn’t relate at all. The Jews were aware of Inanna/Ishtar worshippers. So what? The fact that they were aware of pagan deities, like Inanna/Ishtar doesn’t prove the gospel writers were influenced by the descent of Inanna or borrowed themes or elements from it. Ezekiel doesn’t say this. He doesn’t even mention the legend of the Descent of Inanna. What is GE’s point supposed to be here? Is it because the Jews were aware of Inanna that proves it influenced the life of Jesus or affected Jewish theology? How does that even follow? The acknowledgment of the existence of this goddess doesn’t follow that they decided to craft stories in themes they got from her, let alone that they were even affected by her. This is a non-sequitur at best and GE offers no evidence this myth affected the Jewish Christians. Again, you need evidence of borrowing. If all you have are generalized “subsets of a story” that you think are connected, you don’t have evidence.

GE then moves to try and support the connection of Jesus’ crucifixion to Inanna. First, he admits the Roman version of crucifixion did not exist in ancient Sumer but then makes the odd claim, “but that doesn’t mean some form of crucifixion did not exist at the time.” This is nothing more than an argument from ignorance. If we have no evidence of crucifixion in ancient Sumer you can’t assume it was practiced then.

The best part is, just after this, GE rants on about practices like impaling one on a stake, or how crucifixion originated in other cultures that pre-date Rome. However, for some odd reason, he seems to think this proves crucifixion could date back to ancient Sumer. None of that can logically follow, since all the cultures he listed came into existence centuries after ancient Sumer collapsed. This is also a non-sequitur and he fails to demonstrate any connection between crucifixion and ancient Sumer. Just pointing out the Roman did not invent crucifixion doesn’t magically mean Inanna was ever described as a crucified goddess, let alone provide any evidence such a practice existed in Ancient Sumer. So his claim at the end of his video (where he says that my claim that crucifixion just did not happen in ancient Sumer is factually false) just shows how little research he did (while he ironically claims I did not research the history of crucifixion). GE, yet again, has not provided adequate evidence for his claim, therefore all he has to argue that crucifixion was in ancient Sumer is an argument from ignorance.

Furthermore, Inanna was not even executed in any of these ways that GE mentions. So even if GE could dig up some evidence of crucifixion in ancient Sumer, that wouldn’t matter, because she was not impaled or crucified. She was just pronounced dead by the judges of the underworld. Therefore, her death doesn’t even match the crucifixion of Jesus. Her dead body was only placed on a hook after she was executed. The very deaths of this “perfect skeleton” don’t even line up.

GE realizes this and tries to get around this by saying, “any hanging up, or suspended in air, in any kind of way would have by deemed crucifixion.” Does GE cite any sources for this? Does he cite any scholars or ancient texts? No, he just claims this, ad hoc, and expects us to take his word on it. In reality, there is no evidence to support this. There is no evidence any hanging up (especially a dead body) would have been seen as an execution by crucifixion. Were criminals in Victorian England crucified when they were hanged by the neck? Are deer being crucified when hunters hang their corpses up to drain the blood? I should not even have to explain something so unbelievably obvious. There is not a dictionary, scholar, or ancient text that says any “any hanging up, or suspended in air, in any kind of way would have by deemed crucifixion.” There are other types of “hanging,” so to speak. Its possible crucifixion could be seen as a type of hanging, but not all hangings are crucifixions. GE just made up this baseless assertion to attempt to rescue his argument and I challenge him to back this up with a source. I want to see an ancient source that says a dead body that is hung on a hook is a crucifixion, and even if he could do that he still needs to show this is what is in the Descent of Inanna. 

I checked his sources on this, and what he gives is a wikipedia article Captial and Corporal punishment which doesn’t say the hanging up of a dead body was seen as a crucifixion. Also, Wikipedia is not a credible source. Another link goes to an article by someone named Dan Hayden (who seems to just be a Christian theologian) who also doesn’t give any ancient sources claiming any hanging up of a living or dead person would have been deemed a crucifixion. So I am not sure where he got this claim, but as far as I can tell he just made it up.

After this GE says, “Whenever he [referring to me] says, “No historian would say that is was.” I mean I agree with you because no historian in their right mind would call that the Roman form of crucifixion.”

No, GE. The fact is no Sumerian or New Testament historian would call Inanna’s dead body on a hook a crucifixion. Even if GE is correct and being impaled is a form of crucifixion, hanging dead bodies on a hook is not a type of execution any more than a hunter hanging up a dead deer would be.

GE then unknowingly admits a problem with his theory when he says, “The Inanna story also doesn’t have to use words like resurrection or crucifixion because you can describe something and know what it is, like in the words that we use. Just because they didn’t use our words for things, doesn’t mean that is not what it was.”

No, GE, not only did they not use keywords like resurrection or crucifixion, they didn’t even describe these practices. That is the whole problem with your little theory. The Jewish idea of resurrection (anastasis) or an execution by crucifixion simply do not exist in the Inanna story and that blows your hypothesis out of the water that they are a “perfect skeleton.” The very themes you claim are connected are not part of the Inanna myth.

GE then makes a claim he doesn’t realize is meaningless and yet hilarious at the same time. He points out completely different Jewish works, like the Ascension of Isaiah, contains 7 heavens, just like the there are 7 gates to hell in the descent of Inanna.

So let me get this straight, because the descent of Inanna mentions seven gates to enter hell, and because some unrelated Jewish texts mention seven heavens that means Inanna influenced the passion narrative of Jesus? In what realm of stupidity does this logic follow? The fact that some Jews believed in seven heavens doesn’t mean Jewish Christians did, let alone that this idea came from a Sumerian idea of gates in the underworld. By his logic, the mentioning of seven seas in pirate literature must have been influenced by the descent of Inanna. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs must have been influenced by Inanna. Clearly, Snow White is the new Inanna, living in a dark forest (seen as a parallel to the underworld) with seven dwarfs, each representing a gate, just before the evil queen kills her and she is resurrected. See, I’ve found vague similarity. Surely that is enough to prove a connection or influence, right?

The reality is, Jesus didn’t traverse seven levels of anything in the Gospels, so how is this suppose to be evidence of his “perfect skeleton”? If you watch his video from 13:10 to 13:42 he rambles on about these 7 gates and then says, “It seems to fit.” Yet GE never actually says how these seven gates matchup in the gospels. How does this fit, GE? The Sadducees and Essenes were part of the same Jewish culture, yet clearly had different beliefs from each other and from the Christians. We have another non-sequitur from GE. He seems to have been wondering why I was laughing at his video when he shared my post of his video. This I can tell you is one of the main reasons. Especially since he rambles on about this for some time, not realizing he is not demonstrating how this is supposed to show influence on the Gospels.

After this GE says to me, “You seem to require an exact match for this to even make sense as a parallel.” To answer that, yes, that is correct. You don’t get to just find generalized patterns and claim influence without any evidence of influence. Again, scholars know the Roman pantheon was copied from the Greek pantheon because it is an exact match. We know the Hebrew Scriptures influenced the theology of the New Testament because the New Testament authors quote over three hundred times and directly tell us. We don’t think Socrates was copied from Confucius or that Ramses II was copied from Thutmose III because we can find some vague similarities. 

Ironically, we can’t even find adequate patterns between Jesus and Inanna. Let’s review how bad this connection is so far. Jesus was executed by crucifixion on a cross, whereas Inanna was killed by judges then her body was placed on a hook. No match. Inanna traversed seven gates, Jesus did not. No match. Jesus was stripped once for execution. Inanna lost a piece of jewelry at each gate she chose to go through. No match. Where is this “perfect skeleton” we keep being told exists? I can only assume it is in GE’s imagination.

Don’t worry, because right after this GE explains how we know Inanna was dead for three days and three nights. As I said in my video, the descent of Inanna never said she was dead for three days and three nights, and a careful reading of the beginning of the story shows it corresponds to her trip down to the underworld and before her death. Instead of GE realizing this or offering a proper way to translate the beginning of the story (different than what scholars provide) he doubles down on his misreading of the story and says when I pointed this out to him in my video it was “blatantly obtuse” and, “this story is told in a linear fashion. There is no reason to think it was told in parallel.”

As you would expect GE gives no evidence for this claim. We are just supposed to take his word for it. The text itself doesn’t say Inanna was dead for three days and three nights. It connects this time period to the tasks of Nincubura. I am not sure if GE even knows what this story says. Inanna specifically tells Nincubura to wait until she arrives in the underworld.

Let’s recap what it says. In lines 32-36 Inanna tells Nincubura, “On this day I will descend to the underworld. When I have arrived in the underworld, make a lament for me on the ruin mounds. Beat the drum for me in the sanctuary. Make the rounds of the houses of the gods for me” (1)

Okay, pretty clear statement. Nincubura is to wait until Inanna gets to the underworld to start her lamentations on her behalf. We then read of Inanna descent and then we get back to Nincubura and it says in lines, 173-175, “After three days and three nights had passed, her minister Nincubura (2 mss. add 2 lines: , her minister who speaks fair words, her escort who speaks trustworthy words,) carried out the instructions of her mistress (1 ms. has instead 2 lines: did not forget her orders, she did not neglect her instructions).” 

The story never connects “three days and three nights” to the death of Inanna. It is used in context with the tasks of Nincubura and the time period is of her waiting for Inanna to get to the underworld. There is no better way to say this, GE did not read what the actual source said and when I pointed this out he just ignored the problems with his theory and doubled down. Plus, it not just my word against his (in reality it is what the text says against his assertion), here is what an actual scholar has to say on Inanna:

“…it seems clear that Ninshubur’s delay is to allow sufficient time for Inanna to arrive within the nether world. The “three days (and) three nights” are intended to cover the time of travel to the chthonic depths.” (2)

Three days and three days refers to the length of the journey, which is actually a common theme in the ancient world. Now, I can already hear GE whining on how this is an appeal to authority as if it is a bad thing to refer to the experts. When GE just blatantly rejects what actual scholars have to say he is suggesting he is a better expert on the translations, and therefore he needs to explain why we should take his word over the word of actual historians. Anyone can read this story from start to finish and see the days correspond to the time it takes to get to the underworld, not the death of Inanna. The irony is GE has the audacity to say I am the one being disingenuous. He needs to just fess up and realize his mistake. Doubling down on this misreading of the text just makes him look like a poor researcher.

Finally, he gets the alleged resurrection connection. He says, “IP is requiring super-specific points in order to say, “oh, well this is a parallel.” But you see, the whole idea of a parallel is the fact that it is not super-specific points that perfectly match up.”

What, now? If we have no evidence of influence and if the points don’t match up you can’t claim they parallel. That should be obvious. If they don’t share the same theme, elements, or plot, you can’t claim influence. At best you are committing a hasty generalization, and mere association doesn’t show one influenced the other. You need evidence of a connection for that. What you find to be vague similarities doesn’t prove influence.

The fact is Inanna is not resurrected in the Jewish sense. If Jesus was (or at least this is what the Christians claimed) resurrected in the Jewish sense then it doesn’t parallel Inanna, because the Christians were drawing from a different culture and source material, namely the Hebrew Bible. Again, just because we see similarities between Socrates and Confucius does not mean one influenced the other. This is exactly why scholars do not see a connection between Inanna and Jesus, and as GE shows us, he never provides any evidence there was an influence. Hasty generalizations do not cut it.

GE then says, “The fact that she died and came back to life is resurrection.” Actually, it is not resurrection (anastasis) by what the Jews meant. To go through a resurrection (anastasis) you have to be human, die, and your mortal body has to come back to life immortal and glorified. People like Lazarus did not resurrect (anastasis), they simply resuscitated. The Jews and Christians had a very specific idea in mind and unless you can show they were getting this idea from Inanna you don’t have evidence. Just committing a hasty generalization doesn’t prove a connection. Resurrection (Anastasis) in the Jewish culture, does not just mean to bring something dead back to life. This is a case of a layman forcing his English definition onto a different culture’s meaning.

GE then contradicts himself from what he said at the beginning of his response. Early on, he rambled on about how he was only saying the passion story of Jesus’ death and resurrection is a “perfect skeleton” of Inanna. Then he admitted at 22:23 in his response video that Jesus is not depicted in the gospels as descending into hell as part of his passion story. But then he thinks (for some odd reason) that Jesus came back after his resurrection and revealed he went to hell. However, GE never gives a place where it says this in the New Testament. Jesus’ proclamation of victory over hell is actually not supposed to come in until after the ascension. So there is no clear evidence it is part of the passion story and therefore doesn’t fit his alleged, “perfect skeleton” for Jesus’ passion narrative.

Then the guy who has been whining the whole video about misrepresentation and being disingenuous says that I said Jesus’ descent into hell was a later invention of man, which I never said. So GE only proves here he is a total hypocrite about misrepresentation. He wonders why I was laughing so much at his video.

GE also claims there were several dying and rising gods as part of this motif, which is false. This is a fringe theory among Jesus Mythicists, but actual scholars do not take these claims seriously. If GE thinks they are wrong he has to show us why he a better authority than the experts, and he never does, he just assumes he is. He also tries to cite Osiris as a dying and rising deity, which only proves he has never studied ancient Egyptian mythology and what their word that we translate as “resurrection” actually meant to in their culture. See my series where we cover Osiris.

GE then says, “There is no evidence whatsoever to support the actual death of Jesus.” Except for the passage in Tacitus’ Annals, Josephus’ Antiquities, the passion narrative in Mark, and the letters of Paul, as well as a number of later sources, like Celsus. I’ll link to a great article by atheist and historian Tim O’Neill who debunked this nonsense. As Bart Ehrman has said, (paraphrasing) this nonsense that Jesus never existed might sound good to mythicists, but when you get out of that echo chamber no one is taking it seriously.

Let’s also remember the whole reason GE is doing this to somehow show Jesus never existed. What he doesn’t realize is it is a big waste of time on his part. Even if he could somehow show the Inanna cult influences the gospels it would not follow that Jesus never existed. New Testament scholars have speculated for years that the Gospels were written in a way to follow individuals and events from the Hebrew Bible. N.T. Wright argues Matthew is deliberately painting Jesus as a second Moses. Whereas, Luke is trying to make him look like another King David. Is this a problem for Christianity? Of course not, because ancient authors often looked to the past to see what was similar to the current events so they could draw connections. This doesn’t imply they simply made everything up.

Oral Tradition specialist, Albert Lord says, “Traditional narrators tend to tell what happened in terms of already existing patterns of story… When I say that an incident in the gospel narrative of Jesus’ life fits in a mythic pattern, there is no implication at all that this incident never happened. There is rather an implication that traditional narrators chose to remember and relate this incident because an incident of similar essence occurred in other traditional stories known to them and their predecessors. That its essence was consonant with an element in a traditional mythic (i.e., sacred) pattern adds a dimension of spiritual weight to the incident, but does not deny… the historicity of the incident.” (3)

Other ancient historians like Tacitus and Virgil also made use of this style, but never once have I heard a skeptic conclude that means they made things up. Dr. Rhiannon Ash says about Tacitus that he “…embeds such points in the very language which he uses,” and uses “linguistic echoes and structural similarities.” (4)

Jan Bremmer and Nicholas Horsfall note Virgil borrowed from Roman legends to paint current events of his day. (5)

Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh say, “To be able to quote the tradition from memory, to apply it in creative or appropriate ways . . . not only brings honor to the speaker but lends authority to his words as well . . . Luke 1:68-79 is an example. It is stitched together from phrases of Psalms 41, 111, 132, 105, 106, and Micah 7… The ability to create ouch a mosaic implied extensive, detailed knowledge of the tradition and brought great honor to the speaker able to pull it off.” (6)

So even if GE could prove beyond a shadow of doubt the Gospels authors were influenced by pagan cults that would not even prove his main point, that Jesus never existed. It would only show they connected events in Jesus’ life to something in pagan literature.  His whole argument would at best show the story borrowed elements from paganism, not that it was entirely made up.

But as we have seen GE cannot even give an ounce of evidence there are any good connections demonstrating influence. He thinks the acknowledgment in Ezekiel about the existence of an Inanna cult somehow translates to evidence it influenced the gospels. He erroneously claimed “any hanging up, or suspended in air, in any kind of way would have by deemed crucifixion,” and he doesn’t give any sources to show this. He doesn’t demonstrate how Jesus traveled seven layers of anything in the Gospels, like Inanna. He doesn’t demonstrate how the Jewish idea of resurrection (anastasis) related to a fertility goddess coming back to life, he doubled down on his misreading of the Descent of Inanna on the use of “three days and three nights.” He did not show how Jesus descending into hell was part of the passion story. His argument is laughable, which is why I was happy to share his video. I hope he keeps it up so I can refer people to it when I need to show them how bad Jesus mythicists are at history.

 

Sources:

  1. http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/section1/tr141.htm
  2. George M. Landes, The “Three Days and Three Nights” Motif in Jonah 2:1, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 86, No. 4 (Dec., 1967), pp. 446-450  Page 449
  3. B. Lord, “The Gospels as Oral Traditional Literature,” in The Relationship among the Gospels: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue, Page 39.
  4. Rhiannon Ash, “Tacitus,” Pages 85, 87.
  5. Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies: Supplement, Volumes 51-53, Page 93
  6. Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh, “Social Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels,” Pages 293-294
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The Origin of Form Was Abrupt Not Gradual: https://archive.archaeology.org/online/interviews/newman.html

Dynamical patterning modules: physico-genetic determinants of morphological development and evolution: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1478-3975/5/1/015008/pdf

Form and function remixed: developmental physiology in the evolution of vertebrate body plans: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24817211

To shape a cell: an inquiry into the causes of morphogenesis of microorganisms: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2128368

The Structure of Evolutionary Theory – Stephen Jay Gould

Hoyle on evolution, Nature, Vol. 294, No. 5837 (November 12, 1981), p. 105

How we are shaped: the biomechanics of gastrulation: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12694202

Principles that Govern the Folding of Protein Chains: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/181/4096/223

Shapes: Nature’s Patterns: A Tapestry in Three Parts – Phil Ball

The Shape of Life: Genes, Development, and the Evolution of Animal Form –  Rudolf Raff

Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body – Neil Shubin

Hox Genes Regulate Digit Patterning by Controlling the Wavelength of a Turing-Type Mechanism: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4486416/

A molecular mechanism for the origin of a key evolutionary innovation, the bird beak and palate, revealed by an integrative approach to major transitions in vertebrate history: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25964090

Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo – Sean B. Carroll

Mechanisms of Limb Patterning in Crustaceans: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282690221_Mechanisms_of_Limb_Patterning_in_Crustaceans

Leg development in flies versus grasshoppers: differences in dpp expression do not lead to differences in the expression of downstream components of the leg patterning pathway: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10725238

A double segment periodicity underlies segment generation in centipede development: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15268854

A conserved mode of head segmentation in arthropods revealed by the expression pattern of Hox genes in a spider: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9724761

Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis – Michael Denton

Biology of Amphibians – William E. Duellman and Linda Trueb

Increasing morphological complexity in multiple parallel lineages of the Crustacea: http://www.pnas.org/content/105/12/4786.full

Convergent evolution of aposematic coloration in Neotropical poison frogs: a molecular phylogenetic perspective: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1439609204700707

Evidence for convergent evolution in the antimicrobial peptide system in anuran amphibians: https://www.academia.edu/22259273/Evidence_for_convergent_evolution_in_the_antimicrobial_peptide_system_in_anuran_amphibians

Convergent Evolution: Pick Your Poison Carefully: http://www.cell.com/current-biology/abstract/S0960-9822(09)02153-8

Gradual Adaptation Toward a Range-Expansion Phenotype Initiated the Global Radiation of Toads: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/327/5966/679

‘Toadness’ a Key Feature for Global Spread of These Amphibians: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/327/5966/633.1

Phylogeny of the avian genus Pitohui and the evolution of toxicity in birds: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1055790308004703

Poivre, C., 1976. Observations on the biology, behavior and the phenomenon of convergence among Mantispides(Planipennes). Entomologiste, 32(1): 2-19.

Deja vu: the evolution of feeding morphologies in the Carnivora: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21672827

Carnivore Behavior, Ecology, and Evolution – John Gittleman

Do convergent ecomorphs evolve through convergent morphological pathways: http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1666/10007.1

Morphological convergence of the prey-killing arsenal of sabertooth predator: http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1666/10036.1

Iterative evolution of hypercarnivory in canids (Mammalia: Carnivora): Evolutionary interactions among sympatric predator: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/279713882_Iterative_evolution_of_hypercarnivory_in_canids_Mammalia_Carnivora_Evolutionary_interactions_among_sympatric_predators

The Cheetah: Native American: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1979Sci…205.1155A

Osteolepiforms and the ancestry of tetrapods: https://www.nature.com/articles/27421

Comparative genomics reveals convergent evolution between the bamboo-eating giant and red pandas: http://www.pnas.org/content/114/5/1081.abstract

Convergent evolution of the genomes of marine mammals: https://www.nature.com/articles/ng.3198

Convergent evolution of bilaterian nerve cords: https://www.nature.com/articles/nature25030

Genome-wide signatures of convergent evolution in echolocating mammals: https://www.nature.com/articles/nature12511

Life’s Solutions – Simon Conway Morris

The Runes of Evolution – Simon Conway Morris

Darwin’s aliens: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/international-journal-of-astrobiology/article/darwins-aliens/89B3E0F2165EB8D63A7C5EAA7D9702D3

Aliens may be more like us than we think: http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2017-10-31-aliens-may-be-more-us-we-think

Evolution of the human brain: when bigger is better: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3973910/

What We Still Don’t Know: “Are We Real?”

A Response to an Inane Video and his Hunt for the Physicalist Aether

Response to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pCn_w377Qo

When I heard I had a response from a guy calling himself Inane I thought it had to be a joke. But lo and behold he was seriously attempting to refute my series on the case for the soul. Considering the series has been up for quite some time and I’ve dealt with numerous objections in the comment section already, I suspected his response would be much of the same, reveal how little he has read on this topic, assuming his conclusion (physicalism), and show a total lack of understanding of idealism. I turned out to be right, as with every physicalist response I get to this series. So let’s dive in to hear what Inane D has to say.

He begins by saying at 1:23, “What I am arguing and will defend here is Inspiring Philosophy fails to make his case.” Now, first of all, why does this guy have to over-annunciate everything he says? How can anyone listen to this? Inane D, seriously man, just talk like a normal person, but I digress.

I highlighted this claim on purpose because it implies something very important. What he does throughout the video is assume physicalism is already true and therefore no evidence can lead to idealism because he already knows physicalism is true so all the evidence I present cannot possibly mean idealism is more probably true for reality. He basically assumes his conclusion and argues in a circle, which is why he is only arguing I fail to make my case and does not offer positive evidence for physicalism. It is common for many materialists, atheists, physicalists (people who tend to believe these or related ideas) to just assume their worldview is the default and when a theist or an idealist tries to offer evidence of an alternative worldview they simply say “you’ve not made your case.” What that shows is they assume their conclusion, and then attempt to explain the data away by any means necessary, and reveal how circular their argument is. In reality, agnosticism is a default position and we offer theories to explain the data we have available, then debate on which theory is the most parsimonious and plausible (given our current data). Inane D doesn’t want to do that. Instead, he spends his time just assuming physicalism is already true.
At 2:44 Inane D says, “Am I alone in seeing how dishonest claiming that neurons are essentially the same as liver cells.” He also accused me of claiming this without a source. The ironic thing is if he would have actually looked at all my sources, he would see this very statement came from the opening pages of Jeffery Schwartz’s book, “The Mind and the Brain.” All he had to was read the first page of the first chapter. Allow me to quote Schwartz directly:

“Of all the thousands of pages and millions of words devoted to the puzzle of the mind and the brain, to the mystery of how something as sublime and insubstantial as thought or consciousness can merge from thee pounds of gelatinous pudding inside the full, my favorite statement of the problem is not that of one of the great philosophers of history, but of a science fiction writer. In a short story first published in the science and sci-fi magazine Omni in 1991, the Hugo-winning author Terry Bisson gets right to the heart of the utter absurdity of the situation: that an organ made from basically the same material ingredients (nucleated, carbon-based, mitochondria-filled cells) as, say, a kidney, is able to generate this ineffable thing called a mind.” (1)

As you see the opening of my video is a paraphrase of Schwartz’s opening lines from chapter 1. I was literally parroting what an actual neuroscience said. The point myself and Schwartz were making is the brain is built of the same material as your other organs, yet according to physicalists, it is able to magically generate consciousness.

One of my favorite line from Inane D comes right after this, “When you open your argument with such a misrepresentation of anatomy it really begs the question of how well you have thought this out and whether or not you are a lying SOB.” Despite the fact he committed the modern error of misusing the phrase “begs the question,” the irony of this statement is astounding considering he did not check my sources. On a side note, he clearly is following the dogmatic tendencies of other new atheists. Researcher Jonathan Haidt points this out. Watch this video and then listen to Inane D talk and you can clearly see the dogmatic tendencies associated with Harris and Dawkins:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8so_FSpJ17I&feature=youtu.be

Again, back on point, the issue is how can matter produce an entire subjective conscious experience when organized as a brain. There is no evidence matter (in the form of brains) is able to do this, and Inane D has to admit this, because after going on about how could I open my video by stating the hard problem of consciousness, he says right after this, “Now, I agree. We don’t know precisely how consciousness arises from the brain. We don’t know if it does.”

Yeah, Inane D, that was precisely my point, but because I stated the same idea (that he just admitted to) in my own words (paraphrasing Dr. Schwartz ) I am either ignorant or a lying SOB. Haidt’s psychological analysis is really ringing true here.

At 3:20, Inane D says, “What we do know is we have a lot to learn about the human brain and consciousness works. So I prefer not to stotafy the amazing research being done in this field of neuroscience by abandoning investigation in favor going, “we have souls.”

First, I am not sure what word he used. I think I heard ‘stotafy,’ so I am not sure what he was trying to say. But here we presuppositional argument in full bloom: Physicalism must be true, so all research must confirm physicalism, otherwise it must be wrong or currently incomplete. First, who said we are abandoning research and further investigation? I advocate that, and what I have found is it seems the more evidence that comes out leads to an idealist picture of reality, as the evidence from neuroscience in my series shows. Inane D seems to suggest unless the research leads to a physicalist’s conclusion it must not be science. What if the data does lead to the existence of an immaterial mind? Then is it not amazing research at that point? Again, as we see through his video, all he does is assume his conclusion, namely physicalism, so the evidence has to confirm physicalism and if it does not it is not real evidence.

Second, you’ll see one of the things he does is if evidence (like what I go over in my series) does lead to an idealistic picture of the mind that just means it’s a gap in our understanding and future humans will provide us with a physicalist explanation. This is nothing more than arguing for a ‘future human of the gaps.’ How does he know people in the future will not simply give us more evidence for idealism, instead of confirming physicalism? Well, again, because Inane D just assumes physicalism is true, so all the evidence has to infer physicalism and if it does not, that is because future humans will do it for us.

This is pretty clear because after this he says that I am arguing “science fails and we need to assert souls.” Here we see a typical physicalist equating science with physicalism. That is not how it works, kid. I’m not arguing science fails and therefore souls. I’m clearly arguing scientific data leads to an idealistic picture of reality. It is the height of irrationality to equate your metaphysical views with science. It is quite Inane.

In the next section, he tries to take apart Wilder Penfield’s research and is quite funny what he does here. First, he gives two citations for this section of his video, one is Penfield’s book (which we will show he did not read) and a short PBS biography on Penfield. Neither of these sources back up the claims he is about to make.  I am also highly skeptical that he even bothered to read Penfield’s book.

At 5:00 he says, “Dr. Penfield was relating his opinion and his conclusions based on what was known from his active work during the 1940s and the 1950s.”

Now what you expect to follow from a statement like this would be a paper showing how a later neuroscientist reversed some of Penfield’s conclusions or how someone did show you could stimulate the will through the brain, but Inane D does not. He basically implies, ‘Penfield’s work is old therefore we should be skeptical.’ That doesn’t show us Penfield’s conclusions, based on his research, were incorrect. No one has overturned his point that you cannot stimulate the will through electrical stimulation on the brain. The fact that this was from the 1940s and 1950s doesn’t somehow refute his point unless of course Inane D can provide more up-to-date research to overturn this and he does not.

I wonder if he applies this logic elsewhere? Should we doubt special relativity since Einstein proposed it over 100 years ago? Erwin Schrödinger proposed the Shrödinger almost 100 years ago, should we doubt these theories because they are old? Of course not, because later research has only confirmed this early research. Likewise, nothing has been demonstrated to overturn Penfield’s conclusions (even looking at the region of the brain called the Diencephalon), which is probably why Inane D cannot cite any papers to refute Penfield’s inference. He just seems to say, “well this stuff is old, so it cannot be trusted.” Well if that is true back it up with some more recent data.

Next Inane D says “[Penfield’s] conclusions were based on personal incredulity.” And he says this clearly is seen on page 79. I thought it was odd that Inane D didn’t just read us what page 79 says. Well luckily, I own Penfield’s book and could easily look for myself to see what utter nonsense this is. Not only that, I can provide a screenshot of what page 79 says:

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 11.07.51 AM

As you can see Penfield never says he is arguing from incredulity or his opinion. What he seems to say is he is proposing a hypothesis based on his data, not asserting his opinion without data to back it up. An argument from incredulity would be saying he can’t imagine it any other way, therefore, it must be true the mind exists and is not a product of the brain. In reality, Penfield is drawing this hypothesis (substance dualism) based on his own data. As he says earlier, “As I visualize it, a reasonable, explanatory hypothesis can be constructed as follows: because I had asked the patient to do so, he turned his attention to the naming of cards, programming the brain to that end through the highest brain-mechanism. I can say only that the decision came from his mind. Neuronal action began in the highest brain-mechanism. Here is the meeting of mind and brain. The psychico-physical frontier is here. The frontier is being crossed from mind to brain. The frontier is also being crossed from brain to mind since the mind is conscious of the meaning of the neuronal succession that determines the content of the stream of consciousness. The neuronal action is automatic as it is in any computer. In conformity with the mind’s decision, the highest.” (2)

Penfield has not asserted his hypothesis from own incredulity but from his research and logical arguments. It is an inference from his data. Calling his hypothesis an argument from incredulity is a quote mine, or worse yet, it shows you did not read what he said in context. Ironically, Inane D says I quote-mined Penfield, while at the same time not showing how any quotes from his book on how I did this. It amazes me he doesn’t want to provide any quotes from Penfield’s book to demonstrate the quote mine. I wonder why that is?

Inane D says this cannot be used to support the existence of the immaterial mind or soul. However, he completely ignored the main point. Obviously, we do ‘will’ things to happen in our conscious experience, yet there has never been any data to show you can do this to an individual through physical stimulation. If the will is an emergent product of the brain, then we ought to be able to force the will through physical stimulation, yet we cannot and no experiment has ever shown this to be possible. Yet, we know we do ‘will’ things to happen in our conscious experience. We cannot deny this. So if it is not in the brain, then (as Penfield inferred) it existed in the immaterial mind and is beyond the physical. In other words, if we know something exists (our wills) and there is no evidence this is physically in the brain, then the most likely explanation is it is immaterial, as Penfield inferred, “For my own part, after years of striving to explain the mind on the basis of brain-action alone, I have come to the conclusion that it is simpler (and far easier to be logical) if one adopts the hypothesis that our being does consist of two fundamental elements.” (3)

Now, even I disagree with his inference to dualism, as I am a monistic idealist, but I do agree with him if the will cannot be found in the brain then there is no reason to suggest it is physical. Inane D’s only arguments seem to be to say his work is old, call him prejudice, and say Penfield only suggested his opinion (which we have shown was not the case). I suspect he did not read the book, as he did not read Schwartz’s book. As it is, unless someone can show the will can be physically controlled in the brain there is no evidence to suggest it is physical, and thus, the best explanation is it is not physical or emergent from the brain.

He then goes on to argue his philosophical presupposition at 6:50 when he says, “…consciousness should ultimately have a simplistic, local origin. Inspiring Philosophy is looking a for a tree we could call the seed of consciousness while ignoring the possibility we might need to be looking for a forest.”

I really don’t know what say about this statement. He clearly doesn’t understand idealism. First off, no, I am not looking for a seed of consciousness. I believe consciousness is fundamental and everything happens in consciousness. As even Sam Harris has said one of the things we cannot deny is that we are conscious. I am not looking for a seed, I’m pointing out we are in the forest, itself.

Second, why should consciousness have a simplistic, local origin? Again, I’m not a substance dualist. I am not positing consciousness is in another realm or far from our understanding. I don’t think he understands idealism so he created a straw man version of it, where he seems to think we believe consciousness is a mysterious substance far away. This is wrong on so many levels. Again, idealists argue consciousness is fundamental. We are not looking for a seed of consciousness because we don’t think such a concept would exist, as that assumes physicalism and consciousness would need to be emergent from some other thing. If you are going to attack idealism, at least understand what we are claiming, because if you don’t you will look rather foolish.

Next, we finally get to the first study he decides to cite and we already 7 minutes in. Inane D says this study shows general anesthetics induces unconsciousness and shows changes in brain activity. First, what on earth is talking about? We have known for decades you can induce unconsciousness using general anesthetics. That doesn’t show the brain creates consciousness and even substance dualists recognize this fact. Of course, you can induce unconsciousness using physical means. You can hit me over the head with a baseball bat and if I don’t die I’ll probably be unconscious for several hours. This is not a challenge to idealism and we have known about this for centuries. I addressed these types of arguments at the end of my video, and basically pointed out the physical universe is mental information that obviously can alter and change our conscious experience. As for inducing unconsciousness, I’ll quote Bernardo Kastrup on this:

“Let us consider this more carefully. Imagine that you wake up in the morning after hours of deep sleep. You may remember nothing of what happened during those preceding hours, concluding that you were unconscious all night. Then, later in the day, you suddenly remember that you actually had a very intense dream. So you were not unconscious all night, you simply could not remember your experiences. Indeed, all we can assert with confidence upon coming round from episodes of seeming unconsciousness is that we cannot remember phenomenality occurring during those episodes. The actual absence of phenomenality is impossible to assert with confidence. As a matter of fact, many things we have traditionally associated with unconsciousness are now known to entail intense experiences. For instance, fainting caused by e.g. asphyxiation, strangulation or hyperventilation is known to correlate with euphoria, insights and visions (Neal 2008: 310–315, Rhinewine and Williams 2007, Retz 2007). G-force-induced loss of consciousness (G-LOC) is also known to correlate with “memorable dreams” (Whinnery and Whinnery 1990). There is even evidence for “implicit perception” during general anesthesia (Kihlstrom and Cork 2007).  Sleep, of course, is known to correlate with dreams. But even during phases of sleep wherein electroencephalogram readings show no dream-related neural activity, there are other types of activity that may correlate with non-recallable phenomenality distinct from dreams. Indeed, this is precisely what a recent study points out: “there are good empirical and theoretical reasons for saying that a range of different types of sleep experience, some of which are distinct from dreaming, can occur in all stages of sleep” (Windt, Nielsen, and Thompson 2016: 871, emphasis added). The authors identify three different categories of sleep experiences distinct from dreams: (a) non-immersive imagery and sleep thinking, (b) perceptions and bodily sensations, and (c) “selfless” states and contentless sleep experiences that may be similar to those reported by experienced meditators. As such, what the empirical data shows is that episodes of seem- ing unconsciousness are associated with an impairment of memory formation or access, but not necessarily with absence of phenomenality. As a matter of fact, there are strong indications, as mentioned above, that the opposite is true. (4)”

Full paper here so you can check sources.

Nothing in the study Inane D cited shows how physical activity can create consciousness. So once again, if you are going to attack idealism take a few minutes to study what our claims are. Don’t just build a straw man, and inadvertently reveal how little research you did.

For the rest of the video Inane D attempt to attack this paper I citedThis paper shows there is place in the brain that gives rise to united perceptions, like what we experience. However, his response can be described metaphorically, as thinking, he has scored a touchdown but hasn’t realized he ran into the wrong end zone. Inane D starts off by saying at 8:25, “And again, you make this about the ignorance we currently have about the brain, or at a minimum, the ignorance you have about what science can tell us about the brain. The answer is we aren’t sure.”

Okay, this is quite a hysterical and contradictory response. So here I am in my original video, citing a paper on the neural binding problem and Inane D responds by claiming I am ignorant about science then goes on to agree with me we cannot explain how the brain could create unified perceptions in conscious experience. He admits we aren’t sure how this could be explained, which is precisely my point. Again, I go right back to Jonathan Haidt’s psychological assessment of New Atheists, like Inane D. He is following along with the dogmatic pattern quite well.

He goes on to recommend some books that explore possible answers (that pre-date the paper I cited). Now, I never denied there are possible answers physicalists have come up with on how to explain united perceptions. They have all ultimately failed to find any neuroscientific evidence to support them, as even Inane D just admitted when he said, “The answer is we aren’t sure.”

Next, he then suggests, “… that the most likely answer is that there isn’t a single place in the brain that produces a comprehensive field of vision. It’s far more likely to be a distributed process. That doesn’t rely on some location within the brain. So asking the question, “where in the brain…” is to miss the point!”

Ironically, he seems to have missed the point. Whether it is a region or the entire brain no evidence has shown how the brain creates unified perceptions. As Jerome Feldman even admits in his conclusion, “Similarly, general coordination across areas is a necessary condition for a unified subjective experience, but says nothing about the hard qualia problem.” So again, there is no evidence with all our current data the brain can explain unified perceptions. The fact that some physicalists have proposed some solutions doesn’t mean they are sound in their attempts. You need to do a little more than note there have been possibilities proposed. Possibilities are not probabilities.

He goes on for several minutes about this and seems to have missed the point, yet again. He agrees there is no specific place in the brain that unites perceptions, which is good but keeps harping on about the hypotheses that perhaps total brain function unites perceptions. Well, again, that hardly challenges the issue. If the whole brain has been mapped and we cannot find something in the brain (or the brain as a whole) that unites perceptions it is likely not the brain that is doing this.

Let’s explain with an analogy: imagine you and I see a white rabbit go around a corner. We chase after it and see a field and a house with an open door. We enter the house to search for the rabbit. We tear the house apart looking for it, we move around all the furniture, check every closet and drawer, we spend several hours searching for this rabbit. How long before we determine the most probable explanation is the rabbit is not in the house and probably ran into the field? Sure, we cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt that the rabbit has not simply found an excellent hiding spot in the house, but given we have searched every square inch of the house several times over it is most likely not there.

Likewise, given we have scanned and searched the brain for how perceptions are unified it is likely the answer will not be found in the brain. Yet we cannot deny we experience united perceptions in our conscious experience, so it is likely this is happening in consciousness and it is not a creation of the brain.

Inane D telling us there really are unified perceptions in the brain is like when a proponent of A theory of time tell us the aether is really there. We have looked for aether in space, we have performed several experiments in an attempt to find it. We cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt it does not exist, but given how intensely we have searched for it, it likely does not exist. Likewise, given how extensive we have looked into the brain it is likely the brain cannot be the cause of unified perceptions. Inane D is really saying, “Trust me, it’s there, we will find it one day,” which is about as convincing as when William Lane Craig tells us the aether really is there, even though every attempt to find it has failed. Inane D is looking for is own aether to rescue physicalism.

Inane D then commits a genetic fallacy at about 12:00 where he attacks the Templeton Foundation, even after he just admitted that Feldman’s work should be taken seriously. He seems to contradict himself a lot. Should we take Feldman’s paper seriously, or can we not trust it because of his genetic fallacy? Am I ignorant for noting no neuroscientist has found evidence of the brain unifying perceptions or does he agree, as he said early, “the answer is we aren’t sure”? I am not sure what he is arguing, but he seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth.

Next, he thinks he has found a ‘gotcha’ moment but actually revealed how little research he did. I had quote in my original video from the Feldman paper, “There is now overwhelming biological and behavioral evidence that the brain contains no stable, high-resolution, full field representation of a visual scene, even though that is what we subjectively experience (Martinez-Conde et al., 2008).” (5)

Inane D thought he found something clever and focused in on the “Martinez-Conde et al., 2008” citation from the quote. He found the link to it and displayed it on-screen at 13:54 and said, “It’s a fucking single page, a full three paragraphs. Well, should make for easy reading, odd! It’s not even talking about what the brain does or does not possess.”

Feldman was not citing the one page he pulled up. That one-page Inane D pulled up was essentially the abstract for the entire journal from October 2008. Feldman was citing the entire special issue of the journal, which was on the perceptions and the visual world. This single page is just the abstract for the entire issue, and it even implies so, as it says, “This special issue of Journal of Vision offers a broad compilation of recent discoveries concerning the perceptual consequences of eye movements in vision, as well as the mechanisms responsible for producing stable perception from unstable oculomotor behavior.” (6)

This single page is clearly an introduction to the entire month’s issue in the Journal of Vision. I really am confused on how Inane D missed this, because he says right after this, “In fact, the article is nothing more than the introduction to a special issue of the journal. It’s not a research paper!”

Yeah kid, exactly! Feldman was citing the whole journal, not just page. Why didn’t you realize that?

Next, he contradicts himself, yet again. He says, “I checked the other papers published in that same special issue. It’s not likely Feldman meant to reference one of them or even the issue as a whole because they don’t make the case that he would need them to do either.”  So he seems to be suggested the special issue doesn’t talk about issues related to neural binding problems, but then he follows this line up by saying, “If anything, several of them do the opposite, offering testable hypotheses, or explanations of part of how we can create a stable representation of our vision as is often the case in this young field of research. The ultimate answer is, “we don’t know yet, but here is a path towards learning.”

Okay, so at first Inane D says, the special issue doesn’t make the case Feldman claims, but then he admits the special issue does deal with this topic and offers hypotheses on the issue. Then he admits the special issue doesn’t have an answer to the neural binding problem. So then, in reality, the special issue does acknowledge the issues related to the neural binding problem and does imply there has not been an answer on how this can be solved in a physicalist framework. So why is Feldman incorrect, exactly? Didn’t Inane D have to acknowledge the special issue does deal with the issues of the neural bindings problem and does not provide an answer to the issues surrounding it? I don’t think he realizes how much his own words betray him.

Next, Inane D reverts right back to the claim that the neural binding problem has not been solved but we will one day and when we do it will definitely confirm physicalism. After all, he did just say, “the ultimate answer is, “we don’t know yet, but here is a path towards learning.” Again, Inane D is assuming his conclusion. In reality, we do not assume there is an answer for this unless we have the data with us. We don’t assume it will just be there in the future. What if more evidence for idealism comes out? Will Inane D just say they will be explained away in the future until the day he dies, constantly assuming physicalism? That’s not how it works. We have to work with the data we have now, and just like all experimental evidence reveals, the best explanation is there is no aether (based on our current data) the most probable explanation is the brain alone cannot solve the neural binding problem. Inane D acknowledges there is no data that can support this physicalist’s notion, yet he also reveals he is committed to it, in light of the evidence.

Here are the links to the journal and you see for yourself.

Next, at 15:33 he notes the next citation Feldman offers is to a book he referenced earlier and I fail to see how this changes anything. The book, “The Primate Visual System” also does not offer an explanation on how to deal with the neural binding problem within a physicalist paradigm. No doubt the researchers throughout the book speculate on possible explanations, but once again, possibility is not probability. I fail to see what his point is here. Feldman is actually using their words against them, sort of like how Georges Lemaître once used Albert Einstein’s own work against him to show that space-time did have an absolute beginning. Kaas and Collins (Inane D even acknowledged this earlier in the video) note there is no current explanation for how the brain unifies perceptions, even though it has been completed mapped. Sure, I acknowledge (as does Feldman) that perhaps in the future this could change, However, we could also find out in the future the planet Nibiru really does exist, Atlantis really was an ancient city, the aether is real, and Elvis just went back to his home planet. Anything is possible, but it is not probable. And Feldman’s point is given the data he cites there is no evidence to suggest the brain alone can solve the neural binding problem (despite the speculation of some researchers).

But Inane D keeps going because he thinks he scored a touchdown. He tries to quote from the book, “The Primate Visual System” to debunk Feldman when he says in his paper, “The structure of the primate visual system has been mapped in detail (Kaas and Collins, 2003) and there is no area that could encode this detailed information.”

First, he quotes from page 153 and Inane says the page states, “But this understanding is of only the broad outline of the system… a continuation of studies focused on identifying visuals areas and resolving discrepancies and differences is proposals is greatly needed.”

What he does not tell you is the full context, so let me write it out for you “But this understanding is of only the broad outline of the system. What is disappointing is that we do not know exactly how visual cortex is divided into functionally unique areas or processing stations, and thus we cannot know the connections, the properties of neurons within areas, or the histochemical characteristics of the areas. Without knowing the extents of areas for certain, the results from all such studies are likely contaminated by mixtures of results from more than one area, and descriptions of projections from one to another area are confounded by uncertainties about boundaries of areas and the validity of proposed areas. For now, we can be fairly certain about the existence and extents of the visual areas, V1,V2, and MT. At least eight or more visual areas (V3, DM, MST, FSTd, FSTv, DLr, Dlc, and MTc) appear ready to join this list, but a continuation of studies focused on identifying visuals areas and resolving discrepancies and differences is proposals is greatly needed.” (7)

Okay, so once we see the full context of the quote we can see how quote mining is happening on  Inane D’s part. First, it does say, “we can be fairly certain about the existence and extents of the visual areas…” So Feldman is correct, they have mapped out the visual areas of the brain. Interesting how Inane D skipped over that line. Second, if read the full quote in context we can see it says the visual cortex has been mapped, but we have not understood fully how the “visual cortex is divided into functionally unique areas or processing stations.” They are pointing out we do not fully understand the areas we have identified, but we have a broad understanding of what is going on and there is no neural binding area or process. Finally, the last one is about resolving discrepancies and differences in what has already been mapped and indentured. Again, they literally admit, right in between the two lines Inane D quote mined that, “we can be fairly certain about the existence and extents of the visual areas…”

See, Inane D has accused me a lot throughout his video of quote mining. In reality, quote mining cannot be asserted it has to be demonstrated as I have just done. That is how it works.

Next Inane D says that page 387 says, “We haven’t fully mapped or understood visual feedback connections.” There is just one tiny problem with this. This quote doesn’t exist. I am not sure where he pulled this from, but it is definitely not on page 387. I’ll even screen capture what the page says:

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 6.43.01 PM.png

Ironically, page 387 does say, “The general organization of the corticocortical connections was mapped by extensive tract tracing studies especially during the last this of the 20th century.”  The author then notes this is the first step but does not suggest there are other visual areas to identify, but instead the focus now is on how these different areas interact and the outcomes that result from them but does not suggest a physical answer has been found to the neural binding problem. (8)

I am very curious where he got this quote from because it is definitely not on page 387. Maybe he stated the wrong page number. But we need to see where it came from so we can check the context, because based on his track record so far, I doubt he got it right there as well.

Ironically, he then says I failed to do proper research. I’ll let this reply speak for itself on that one. Inane D seems to only rely on mockery and insults as he admits. Now Inane D, I have a serious question for you. What do you hope to accomplish with such obvious mockery? To make yourself look smart or mature? Is it to help me understand the error of my ways? Or is just stroke your own ego and talk down to me? This video comes across as nothing more than a sad attempt at cyber bullying. If you really wanted to give me the benefit of the doubt (as you say you do at the end of your video) then I would suspect a bit more respect, not the childish attitude. Also, you accused me of quote mining and lying, yet lo and behold based on my sources and screen captures you seem to be then quote mining. However, I am not going to stoop so low as to accuse you of lying. I am actually willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and suggest you are simply mistaken on certain things, did not do enough research, and simply failed to understand the claims of idealism. Unfortunately for you, Haidt’s psychology rings true once more with the accusation of lying.

The rest of the video is nothing more than insults, accusations, and genetic fallacies against Feldman and Penfield. All of which are clear markers of a mature and intellectual giant, someone who doesn’t let his emotions get the best of him, but someone who clearly just wants to help correct scientific errors, but I digress. If Inane D goes forward and publishes more response videos to my series I’ll have to seriously consider if it will be worth it. Based on his attempt in this video I suspect it will be more quote mining, circular reasoning, and misunderstanding sources. I may respond again just for the fun of it, but we shall see.

 

Notes:

(1) Jeffery Schwartz and Sharon Begley (2002), The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force, Page 21; New York: HarperCollins Publishers

(2) Wilder Penfield (1978), Mystery of the Mind, A Critical Study of Consciousness and the Human Brain, Page 53; Princeton: Princeton University Press

(3) Wilder Penfield (1978), Mystery of the Mind, A Critical Study of Consciousness and the Human Brain, Page 80; Princeton: Princeton University Press

(4) Bernardo Kastrup (2017), On the Plausibility of Idealism: Refuting Criticisms, BIBLID [0873-626X (2017) 44; pp. 13–34]

(5) Jerome Feldman (2013), The Neural Binding Problem(s), http://www.icsi.berkeley.edu/pubs/ai/ICSI_NBPs12.pdf

(6) Susana Martinez-Conde Rich Krauzlis, Joel M. Miller,Concetta Morrone David Williams, Eileen Kowler (2008), “Eye movements and the perception of a clear and stable visual world,” http://jov.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2193393

(7) Jon H. Kaas, Christine E. Collins (2004), The Primate Visual System, Page 153; CRC Press Web LLC

(8) Jon H. Kaas, Christine E. Collins (2004), The Primate Visual System, Page 387; CRC Press Web LLC

RationalityRules Does Not Understand Philosophy

Most of the time you can tell when you are watching an atheist’s youtube channel due to the lack of maturity and respect in the video. Take the channel, “Rationality Rules” (RR) who recently did a response to me on free will: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctbPamkfCQg

He decided to take the low road and refer to me as SP, for “Shit Philosophy.” How cute! I’ve never heard that one before. . . It is like most internet atheists have just fully accepted they cannot engage in a conversation without insults or revealing how low their maturity is. But let’s put that aside and ask if he actually gave a decent response. Well no, and typically I don’t waste my time responding to bad videos like this, but this one was too easy.

The first thing he does is he says I “demonstrably lie.” However, he never proves this. Later he admits  I either intentionally misrepresent Harris, or unintentionally misrepresent Harris, which RR goes onto call “cognitive bias and irresponsibility”. However, the second category (which is a possibility) is not lying, nor could it even be held as irresponsible (without contradicting Harris, funnily enough, since it would be considered an uncontrolled unconscious cognitive activity). So how can he say it is a fact that I lied, but never actually show this? This is a minute issue compared to the huge philosophical errors he later makes in the video.

Next, he accuses me of a black and white fallacy because in the beginning of my video I note there is a debate over the existence of free will between libertarians and determinists. He claims I act as if there is only one school of determinism and one school of libertarianism, but this is arguing from silence. I never said these are the only schools of thought or denied there are various other forms. I am simply highlighting one particular debate between two different groups in a general sense. I did not go into details because the video would be over a half an hour long. Likewise, he could do a video on the general disagreements between Christians and atheists without noting the existence of Catholics or Protestants. He is assuming an awful lot in a simple statement of mine.

It is like he thinks if I do not begin my video by briefly mentioning every belief about free will out there I must not think they exist. Why is it a problem if I decide to highlight one particular debate and not deal with other forms? The fact that I am doing this doesn’t imply I am saying these are the only two views. I am merely highlighting one particular debate in the issue of the existence of free will. A black and white fallacy (false dichotomy) would only happen if I said these were the only two options, which I did not.(1)

If RR decides tomorrow to do a video on why one should reject Christianity and become an atheist, could we accuse him of committing a black and white fallacy because he has not discussed Islam or Hinduism? Of course not! His hypothetical video would only be highlighting a particular debate and it would not mean he is automatically denying there are other views out there. The fact that he confuses this basic informal fallacy shows he is not off to a good start. You can’t just throw around informal fallacies and expect people to take you seriously.

The next thing he does is start accusing me of not understanding fatalism and determinism and ironically only reveals he doesn’t understand these terms because he says, “but one minute later he conflates Harris’ views, and indeed the views of all determinists, with one specific type of determinism, called fatalism or Newtonian determinism.” Here is the problem. The reality is fatalism is not the same as Newtonian determinism. It is not really a type of determinism, in the strictest sense. Some have called it a teleological form of determinism, but they are different in what they claim and you wouldn’t put it on a chart with soft or hard determinism like it was a sub category of determinism. It is a little more complicated. This should have been obvious because the chart he just put up prior to this, which lists the various forms of determinism, doesn’t mention fatalism.

 

Determinism and fatalism are different in various ways and the fact that he doesn’t realize this means he has been reading too much Sam Harris and not enough of actual philosophers. Determinists believe as I said in the video, “free will is an illusion and everything we think and believe has been determined by prior causes, so we are not responsible for our actions because everything we do is simply the effect of past causes.” This is a broad definition of the various forms out there (Let me put that in there so he understands since context doesn’t seem to matter in his brain).(2)

Fatalism only makes sense if there is an author or controller of reality, which is why it usually is something more like a theistic idea. Fatalism is the belief everything is the result of the control of gods or God. To back this up, I’ll borrow this infographic from the blog, “Breaking the Free will Illusion” to show it is a huge error for RR to suggest fatalism is a type of determinism. They are not the same thing:

Source of graphic: http://breakingthefreewillillusion.com/determinism-vs-fatalism-infographic/

So basically, determinism is a belief past causes determine our choices and future; free choices are an illusion. Fatalism is the belief the world is destined by higher powers (whatever they may be) that are beyond our control and we are powerless to change outcomes. There are important differences and to say one is a type of the other is simply false. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says it like this, “Fatalism is therefore clearly separable from determinism, at least to the extent that one can disentangle mystical forces and gods’ wills and foreknowledge (about specific matters) from the notion of natural/causal law.” But unfortunately, RR continues with this confusion throughout the rest of the video. (2)

Next, RR says that Harris is not advocating a form of Newtonian Determinism. Now, this might be true, and the reason I say it is because if you read Sam Harris he never comes right out and says what he holds to. He is very inconsistent and jumps all over the place. For crying out loud, Alvin Plantinga had to explain to him (in a review of Harris’ book) that free will did not mean maximal autonomy (this was the main reason I decided to respond to Harris, which RR did not even bring up). Harris is trying to write a book on free will and couldn’t even get this simple fact straight. To point this out let me show that there are times Harris is definitely espousing causal (Newtonian) determinism:

“We can pursue any line of thought we want–but our choice is the product of prior events that we did not bring into being.” (3)

“The choice was made for me by events in my brain that I, as the conscious witness of my thoughts and actions could not inspect or influence. Could I have “changed my mind” and switched to tea before the coffee drinker in me could get his bearing? Yes, but this impulse would also have been the product of unconscious causes” (4)

“The brain is a physical system, entirely beholden to the laws of nature–and there is every reason to believe that changes in its functional state and material structure entirely dictate our thoughts and actions.” (5)

Now compare this the basic definition of Causal (Newtonian) determinism, “Causal determinism is, roughly speaking, the idea that every event is necessitated by antecedent events and conditions together with the laws of nature.” (6)

So if the brain is beholden to the laws of nature (as Harris says) and our choices are the product of prior events that we did not bring into being (as Harris also says) then what else is causing us to act but prior material causes? It doesn’t take a lot of reasoning to infer what this means. If Harris and RR are rejecting this then they are being inconsistent. Again, if our choices are the product of prior events and we are beholden to the laws of nature then I don’t see how you can escape Newtonian determinism.

What RR does next is to continue with his error in equating Newtonian Determinism with fatalism. Again, these are not the same thing and I never said Harris was a fatalist. This would be unlikely since Harris is not a theist or even remotely close to that. One can be a Newtonian determinist and not a fatalist. When RR equates these two things he is really showing he doesn’t understand what fatalism is.

Newtonian Determinism would simply say the future is causally determined by prior causes. Fatalism is not dependent on causality, and this would have been pretty easy to know if he would have looked up the terms. The fact that he thinks fatalism is Newtonian determinism is a pretty bad error and it is pretty embarrassing. The ironic part is he spends a lot of time in the video with passive aggressive comments attacking my intelligence. To paraphrase Romans, professing himself wise he has become a fool.

Moving ahead, he then surprisingly suggests the double slit experiment doesn’t show the quantum world is indeterministic. He doesn’t go into much detail and I doubt he has watched my videos on quantum mechanics. Yes, the double slit experiment does show the quantum world is indeterministic. The wave function cannot collapse unless a measurement happens, which even Laurence Krauss admitted. The wave function may be deterministic, but our observations are indeterministic and collapse cannot occur unless a measurement happens.

Krauss says this in the debate here at 52:00: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7vEB6FXtbs

The next thing he does is quote Neil Degrasse Tyson on the measurement problem in quantum mechanics. I already addressed this in another video, so I won’t repeat myself and simply refer people there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qB7d5V71vUE

The next thing RR attempts to try and quote Harris on quantum theory and argue indeterminacy in quantum mechanics does not get you to free will. This is true and he is completely misunderstanding my point. The point is quantum mechanics shows observers are necessary to collapse the wave function, so the choice of the observer on how to measure is a crucial step in quantum mechanics. The universe is not fully deterministic, it requires outside observers for the final step in the collapse of the wave function. This is essentially what Ian Hutchinson was trying to point out to Krauss in the debate I linked above.

The point is this infers that observers are not causal determined physical processes or objects, but outside the quantum laws and are not determined like physical objects. I go over this in more detail here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C5pq7W5yRM

am not saying indeterminism means free will. I am pointing out the very nature of the universe infers the need for observers that are not determined or part of the world that is governed by quantum laws. No one is saying a combination of determinism and randomness gets you to free will. I explain this in the follow-up video I did on free will:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMp30Q8OGOE

Finally, RR tries to cite the Libet experiments as evidence free will does not exist. But, once again, I already did a video where I debunked these experiments:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GB5TNrtu9Pk

So he is wrong to say I didn’t address them. I simply saved them for my series on the evidence for the soul. The main reason I did this was that the debate over free will always seems to collapse to questions of philosophy of mind. The video on free will was a precursor to my series on quantum mechanics and philosophy of mind. I was sort of setting the stage and didn’t want to go into extreme detail, as I was saving this for future videos. If RR would have looked over my channel more instead of finding one video to pick apart he would have known I addressed far more than he lets on in his response video.

So to wrap this up, RR doesn’t really give a lot of evidence for determinism. He only cited the heavily debunked Libet experiments and reveals he knows very little about philosophy since he equated fatalism with Newtonian determinism. He doesn’t realize a lot of the objections he presented were tackled in other videos on my channel. So he should not be claiming I did not address these things. All he had to do was ask, but it seems to be beneath him to have a respectful conversation with me, and it is far easier to pretend you know what you are talking about than to actually do proper research.

 

Sources:

1. https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/black-or-white

2. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/determinism-causal/

3. Sam Harris, Free Will (Free Press, 2012), p. 40

4. ibid, p. 7-8

5. ibid, p. 11-12

6. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/determinism-causal/

The Messianic Manic’s Razor is Not so Sharp

Recently, The Messianic Manic (TMM) attempted to debunk my 6 part  resurrection series with a lengthy two minute video (He made another short response video prior to this one, but I essentially debunked that during part 5 of my series). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goN12ufWkLU

Normally I don’t prefer to waste time in responding to him because the errors in his videos speak for themselves, but this one is too easy and I had a little extra time during a recent flight I was on.

*As an update, unfortunately someone who asked to read this an early draft of this reply mistakenly posted it to his page and TMM posted a response to an early draft I had. This is one instance where it is clear patience is always the best approach, since what he responded to was early notes and I was still working on the section he took the most issue with. The final draft (as you will read below) is something other than what TMM responded to. 

So moving on, despite only being two minutes there are numerous errors I want to highlight. First of all, being that in any of his responses there isn’t a moment devoted to the historical data, just philosophical beliefs about how one ought to view the idea of a resurrection. This tactic is not too different from what young earth creationists do. Instead of debating the scientific evidence for the age of the earth, they instead propose philosophical views about how one interprets data and evidence. This was seen in the Bill Nye and Ken Ham debate. Ken Ham said very little about supposed evidence for his theory the earth is only 6000 years old, but instead insisted the only reason we disagree was that evolutionists are looking at data through evolutionary glasses and really it is just their philosophical presuppositions that allow them to accept evolution.

TMM’s tactics are not too different. He is not debating the historical evidence for the resurrection but simply imposing his philosophical belief about how we ought to view a potential resurrection, and that we should be skeptical before any evidence is given, instead of being neutral. It is fine if he wants to think that, but your philosophical presuppositions about resurrections only blind you from being as unbiased as possible in studying the evidence. As I pointed out in part 5, there is nothing in history, science, or logic that says we should begin by thinking resurrections should be seen as the most improbable hypothesis. Nor does TMM give good reason to think the resurrection of Jesus is less parsimonious, other than he just thinks it is improbable. More on this in a moment.

Secondly, TMM actually gets the definition of Occam’s Razor wrong when he defines it as,

“…the idea that explanations that make more assumptions are less likely to be correct than ones that make fewer assumptions.”

This is almost correct but there is a key word missing which completely changes the definition of Occam’s Razor. What TMM should have said was that Occam’s Razor is,

“the idea that explanations that make more unnecessary assumptions are less likely to be correct than ones that make fewer assumptions.”

Occam’s razor is about being sure you are not making additional unnecessary assumptions, not making addition assumptions. For example, if we went on a theory of the universe by only going on the theory that makes the least amount of assumptions we would have to go with the Aristotelian view of the universe, “It just exists.” But due to what we know in modern cosmology and physics we have to make more assumptions in order to explain all the data. The extra assumptions in modern theories of the universe are necessary, and therefore are not shaved off by Occam’s Razor. TMM’s misuse of Occam’s Razor becomes a straw man definition that no historian or philosopher holds to. From his misunderstanding of Occam’s Razor we can see where he makes an error in understanding the resurrection.

Basically, he thinks hypotheses that are naturalistic are superior to the resurrection hypothesis because the resurrection hypothesis involves (as he puts it), “elements we don’t know to exist” (more on this later). However, the problems I pointed out in part 2 and part 4 still remain. Namely naturalistic theories fail to explain all the data presented. If a naturalistic theory could explain all the data then I agree it would be preferred. But they cannot, and since we have an abundance of data that needs to be explained we necessarily have to posit more in order to account for the evidence. This is why the resurrection theory triumphs. It can explain all the data whilst making the least number of unnecessary assumptions in order to account for all the data. Naturalistic theories fall dead in the water because they cannot begin to account for all the data without piling unnecessary assumption after assumption. As Louis de Wohl stated, “That’s the trouble with miracles, Sebastianus — in order to explain them away you have to introduce theories so nonsensical that they are less believable than the miracle itself.(1)”

The hallucination theory, for example, essentially becomes a miracle in itself when it tries to account for all the data and starts to posit mass, multi-sensory group hallucinations happening multiple times over long periods of time.

This is also why TMM’s comparison, with trying to explain the wealth of a rich man, doesn’t work. He tries to compare explaining the data for the resurrection with an example of a rich man. He says, “If you meet a rich person, you would probably be making fewer assumptions if you infer that they got rich by winning the lottery than if you inferred their wealth comes from decades of many profitable investments, but is that really a more parsimonious inference?” The problem with this comparison and why it doesn’t compare to the resurrection is there is simply not enough data offered to make a conclusion on anything. How wealthy is this supposed man? What is his education level? What was he doing 5 years ago with his life? In reality if you met someone rich, you would probably investigate further before making any kind of general inference.

When it comes to resurrection this analogy doesn’t compare, because Christians are not saying “Jesus’ body went missing, therefore resurrection.” Through parts 2 and 3 I listed eight different facts that allow us to infer a resurrection. This is a far larger field of data that allows us to make a reasonable inference. TMM’s analogy simply just doesn’t compare to what we have for the resurrection and therefore is an invalid comparison.

The third point I wish to make is that TMM’s epistemology disallows scientific hypotheses. TMM says, “I pointed out that explanations involving elements that have been established to exist can be more parsimonious than explanations involving elements we don’t know to exist, even if those explanations are more complex.” First I am glad TMM at least admits competing theories to resurrection theory are far more elaborate and complex. It seems we are making progress if he can admit it is the simplest explanation of the data. However this reasoning fails when compared to what happens in science and history.

There are many things we have that have not been established to exist, yet we infer they exist because it best explains the data. Quarks, for example have not been established to exist. They most likely exist because they best explain the effects we see in modern experiments. We essentially see certain effects happening and infer the best way to explain these effects is with inferring the existence of an unobserved sub-atomic particle called a quark. In history, technically speaking, no famous person from the past has been established to exist. We infer that their existence is probable from data and written accounts of them in manuscripts we may find. So we often infer the existence of entities of which we cannot empirically verify because they are necessary in order to account for points of data we encounter.

When it comes to resurrection this one is quite simple because we are doing the same. We have a wealth of data that can only be explained by inferring the existence of an entity that can raise Jesus from the dead. This is the same as when a scientist infers the existence of a quark in order to explain the data.

As philosopher Michael Beaty says,

The confident belief that many practicing scientists have in the reality of electrons (which are not visible) seems inappropriate if evidentialism is true. Thus it seems that this version of evidentialism does not intellectually measure up. It’s too restrictive. Moreover, we might discover that what scientists assume to be adequate evidence for their assumptions are compatible with what counts as good reasons in religious matters. For example, belief in God can be treated as an explanatory hypothesis, like belief in electrons. In both cases, the evidence may be persuasive if not determinant. In both science and religion, tenacity of belief is common and often a good thing. A scientist’s tenacity in a belief, despite paucity of evidence and doubt from peers, may lead her to develop a radically different conception of some aspect of our world, but one that is nonetheless true and significant. (2)

Once one realizes this, one can see that the necessary addition of the entity to raise Jesus from the dead (in order to explain the data other theories fail to) is not an extreme or an unparsimonious assumption. It is quite normal to do this in practices of science and history.

However, TMM is aware of this response and tried to respond to my example of quarks. He says, “Yes, but we still infer that quarks consist of matter. God however, is described by apologists as being “wholly other”.” Okay, there are so many errors in this one statement it is hard to know where to start. First, you can’t say quarks consist of matter… Quarks are sub-atomic particles and therefore they are matter (as he even says in his response to my early draft). Likewise, you can’t say quarks consist of matter, because that would be circular reasoning to say quarks consist of matter. That would just be saying quarks consist of quarks.

Second, just because they are bits of matter that doesn’t mean they are different as a postulate. I can postulate quarks are made of tinier particles called blougoens. Does that mean they are likely, just because they would also be matter? Of course not, and scientists have postulated many things that were presumed to be matter throughout the past 200 years from ethers to super strings, and unless they can explain the data we do not assume they likely exist just because they would be material substance. Is TMM really suggesting something is more likely to exist just because it is theorized to be material? If this reasoning was valid we would have to assume Phlogiston most likely exists just because it was postulated to be material. In reality something likely exists because the evidence infers so, not because of its hypothetical composition.

TMM is just presupposing naturalism to be already true. On his view, therefore, postulating a material substance is fine, but nonmaterial substances are unlikely; and he knows this because naturalism is already true in his mind (so nonmaterial substance are unlikely). So this is just circular reasoning.

In reality a postulate is most likely true (material or nonmaterial) if it can account for the data, not just because of a presupposition that something is more likely to exist if it is material. Quarks, as they stand are totally an unobserved extra postulations. They cannot be observed and we are not entirely sure if they exist. They most likely exist because they account for the data. Likewise God is a necessary postulate invoked in order to explain events (like the events that happened after Jesus’ body went missing) and effects we observe and cannot account for without an extra necessary postulate. So theism is not hard to arrive at or absurd to postulate. It is the simplest explanation that can account for all the data without unnecessary assumptions.

*As you can see TMM, in his video response to an early draft of this, took what I said out of context. That is not entirely his fault since it was an early draft, but his video response to this is useless since it doesn’t address what I actually said. We should always remember patience is a virtue for a reason.

Third, is he really citing a presuppositional apologists on his definition of God? Why not just go to the experts, philosophers of religion? There are entire books written on the attributes and ontology of God. To name a few:

“The Coherence of Theism” by Richard Swinburne

“The Nature of Necessity” by Alvin Plantinga

“Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview” by William Lane Craig and JP Moreland

None of these extensive works describe God as complete unknown or “wholly other.” In fact they note over and over again, there are things we can know about God, like that He is conscious, an entity, benevolent, omniscient, etc. Why doesn’t TMM actually read what real experts have to say on this topic instead of finding a one paragraph article on CARM, written by someone who is not a philosopher of religion. The author, Matt Slick, is a Calvinist and presuppositional apologist, who I disagree with on plenty, especially if he says God is “wholly other” meaning unknowable in any way.

But if you read his tiny one paragraph on CARM we can also see TMM has taken him out of context. Slick is not saying God is completely unknowable but that he believes God is wholly other in relation to physical things; like how we are finite, whereas God is eternal. God is immutable while we change. Slick even says, “It means that we must relate to Him by His self-revelation in the person of Christ Jesus and through the Bible. (3)” This should be obvious to anyone who reads it. Slick is just saying mankind can only know about God from what He reveals about Himself, not that we know nothing at all about God. God is not like a natural object we can study on our own. Slick is suggesting we can only learn anything about Him because of revelation.

Now I disagree with Slick due to my commitment to natural theology. However, the point is TMM only read one paragraph on CARM and didn’t even get it right. If he was really interested in the philosophical work on the nature and ontology of God he could pick up a book by an academic philosopher instead of doing a short internet search, cite a non-expert, take him out of context, and call it a day. This just shows poor research and ignorance on theism, especially for one who creates videos on the topic in order to teach others.

Most importantly, I never advocated this definition. This is important because TMM claims to be responding to my videos, not Matt Slick’s article. So he should go after what I believe and argue for, not what someone else says who I do not entirely agree with. This is a bait and switch at best and a poor attempt to dodge the real issue. TMM should know better.

In conclusion TMM has not offered a better explanation of the data to overtake the resurrection argument. He has only peddled the same atheistic presuppositions about resurrection while combining it with some poor commentary on philosophical concepts. As you can see, this is why I normally do not waste time with TMM’s videos. Errors like this throughout his videos speak for themselves. But simply telling us he doesn’t think resurrections are likely doesn’t mean he was able to overturn all the evidence which inferred what happened to Jesus. He needs to try a bit harder, rather than thinking he can rush through a two minute response that doesn’t even address the historical evidence.

Furthermore, if TMM would like to discuss more on this topic I would be glad to engage him and talk with him more for a public discussion online, we can post to our channels. I think it would be good to get more of what he thinks of this topic since he has barely scratched the surface, yet has already done two short responses to by series on the resurrection, so the invitation is open.
Sources:
1. Louis de Wohl,  Citadel of God (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1959), p. 90.

2. Michael D. Beaty, God Among the Philosophers (Christian Century, June 12-19, 1991)

3. https://carm.org/dictionary-wholly-other

A Response to “The Reference Frame” on Miracles

I recently posted a video explaining why, philosophically and scientifically, there is nothing impossible about miracles occurring:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hQAi0u5Rs0

Afterwards, I received a response from a physicist and supporter of mine that I feel is necessary to address:

http://motls.blogspot.com/2015/12/are-all-arguments-against-miracles.html?m=1

First let me say, I have a great amount of respect for Luboš Motl, and the work he does on his blog, “The Reference Frame.” In the past I have referred people to his work and he has supported my videos on quantum theory, so I don’t want people to think I am attacking him, only his response to my video. He is a very intelligent physicist and a great writer, however, even the smartest of us can make mistakes and his response to my video on miracles was nothing more than a bait and switch. So in this blog entry I’ll point out why miracles are still logically and scientifically possible and the error that occurred in his rebuttal.

First, he doesn’t really address my points as to why miracles are not logically impossible, and he simply dismisses them and says they are, “cute and make me smile but they are just totally silly.” It is one thing to poke fun at an argument, it is another to actually address it. You can poke fun at an argument all you want, but not before you actually dismantle it. Motl has not, and has simply brushed over my main points, then simply followed this with something I do not even dispute.

His main point seems to be that miracles cannot happen because natural processes do not allow them to. He explains Jesus could not have turned water into wine by going over how this naturally cannot occur. But this is nothing I or any other Christian would disagree with. Of course, Jesus didn’t naturally turn water into wine. Motl spends a large section of his blog explaining why this is naturally impossible, but no one argues Jesus turned water into wine through natural processes. This is why we call it a miracle: because it is not caused by the regularities of natural, but by an agent with powers beyond the natural; one that changes something in the system. Miracles are not bound by natural laws or caused by natural forces, which is why they are not violations of natural laws. They are caused or created by powers beyond the natural system. So if Jesus turned water into wine, he did not do it by natural processes, but by heavenly processes, meaning it cannot be explained or prohibited by natural laws, because it was never a natural event to being with. So why argue that Jesus did not naturally turn water into wine – a point Christians agree with. No one has ever claimed such a thing! Jesus would have done it by heavenly powers, and therefore not explained by natural processes.

Next, Motl says it is far more likely the story of Jesus turning water into wine is a lie than it actually happening. Well first off, this was not the claim of my video. My argument in the video was that miracles are logically possible, not that they have definitely occurred. I’ll argue in upcoming videos that at least one miracle has occurred, due to the evidence it is far more likely such an event happened instead of people making it up, but that was never the topic of this particular video, which means this point is nothing but a red herring.

Miracles should be judged on a case by case basis, not dismantled outright from sweeping dismissals, because of a philosophical bias towards naturalism. Let’s be open to the evidence and do our best to allow the evidence to sway us, instead of dismissing evidence that doesn’t agree without philosophical presumptions.  But I digress.

However, prior to this section of his blog he basically rehashes Hume’s old argument, as he says:

“Has Jesus been turning water into wine? Now, let me destroy your Sunday before the Christmas: He hasn’t. How do I know that? I haven’t observed Him. His daily life was as inaccessible to me as ice is inaccessible to the aforementioned poor Saudi prince.” 

Well, there is not much to say here, since we have already shown in the video you cannot assume your subjective experience somehow shows certain things cannot happen. Especially if Motl agrees with me that the laws of nature are only our approximations of the regularity of natures, to the best of our ability. This means our approximations do not exclude an event, just because it is beyond our personal experience. For example, everything beyond the boundary of the singularity point before the big bang is beyond our experience, but that doesn’t mean it did not happen. Many things are beyond our experience, as Philosopher Michael Beaty says:

“The confident belief that many practicing scientists have in the reality of electrons (which are not visible) seems inappropriate if evidentialism is true. Thus it seems that this version of evidentialism does not intellectually measure up. It’s too restrictive. Moreover, we might discover that what scientists assume to be adequate evidence for their assumptions are compatible with what counts as good reasons in religious matters. For example, belief in God can be treated as an explanatory hypothesis, like belief in electrons. In both cases, the evidence may be persuasive if not determinant. In both science and religion, tenacity of belief is common and often a good thing. A scientist’s tenacity in a belief, despite paucity of evidence and doubt from peers, may lead her to develop a radically different conception of some aspect of our world, but one that is nonetheless true and significant.”

There are many things in science beyond our observation, but that doesn’t mean they do not account for the evidence. In the same way, just because the study of history or the life of Jesus is beyond our experience that does not mean the evidence points away from something that has happened beyond the explanatory power of naturalism. I’ll argue the evidence indicates this in my series on the resurrection.  But I digress again.

The point remains the same though: just because you, personally, have never observed a miracle, that doesn’t mean they can never happen or are logically impossible. One cannot say Jesus did not turn water into wine merely because it is out of your immediate experience.

However, his main argument just seems to be it is not scientifically possible that water cannot be turned into wine, and I agree with this, which is why Christians have never said Jesus was doing scientific experiments when he performed miracles, because they were not natural processes at work, but heavenly. If that is his main argument, then it boils down to a bait and switch, and is nothing that really addresses my video.

Another thing I agree with Motl on is that although quantum mechanics does allow for insanely improbable things to occur, they are pretty much forbidden by the approximate regularities of nature. As Motl says:

“But quantum mechanics still predicts many things to be so wonderfully improbable that for all practical and most impractical purposes, we may say that they’re forbidden. For example, if the probability of something is much smaller than 10^-125, we may say it will never happen in our Universe.”

I could not agree more, and I don’t know why he is bringing this point up. I practically said the same thing in my video:

“…even scientifically speaking, there is nothing that violates a natural law in causing an miraculous event, they are extremely improbable and would not happen on their own in a 1000 lifetimes, but still possible within the quantum nature of the universe..” 

Such improbable events would only be likely if God wished to use them to fulfill a purpose of His.

So of course, according to the approximate laws of nature such events will not come about on their own. However, if there is a God, who wants to cause something irregular to happen, there are opportunities built right into the laws of nature that can be acted upon. Of course, they would not come about on their own, and practically have a 0% probability of naturally occurring. There needs to be a powerful outside agent in this equation for them to even be possible, let alone happen. No theists denies that, and nothing in my videos disagrees with Motl’s conclusions on this issue. Only if there is a God are miracles possible. Combine that with this improbabilities in the quantum nature of the universe and miracles are not impossible, according to the quantum nature of the universe.

Finally, there is one more thing that needs to be addressed. Motl doesn’t seem to like the fact that I mentioned the main philosophical theories of the laws of nature (regularity, comic necessity, and causal dispositions theory) and says, “By the laws of Nature, I imagine string theory – or the Standard Model combined with general relativity in some way – and their derivable implications for numerous “more mundane” situations. The three “parts of the laws of Nature” listed above sound like some philosophers’ superstitions.” Well, no. They are not “philosophical superstitions”. They are formal philosophical views about how the laws of nature would work and how theories, like string theory or the standard model are explained philosophically. We must remember one cannot do science until they have worked out philosophy of science. The scientific method is a philosophical construct, and there is debate in philosophy of science as to how science is even suppose to be done. For more on this, I recommend the book, “For and Against Method: Including Lakatos’s Lectures on Scientific Method and the Lakatos-Feyerabend Correspondence”

But basically my point is this: one should not dismiss philosophy of science without first understanding what is going on. We all have philosophical constructs about how nature works and the relationships that happen in the natural world. Philosophy of science helps us to understand what we believe regarding these things so we can study science in a more efficient way. These three different philosophical definitions of natural laws do not contradict the standard model other scientific theories.  They are ways in which we understand such theories. So it seems that Motl, although a very intelligent scientist, doesn’t understand philosophy of science quite well, and his attack on philosophy is only as childish as he calls my Christian beliefs.

In conclusion, I don’t think his critique is a challenge to Christianity or shows miracles are impossible. It seems he agrees with me that miracles cannot be caused by natural processes. If we agree on that, then there is no challenge to my claim that miracles are possible events that would need to be caused by heavenly powers, and thus, there is no real disagreement. The only real disagreement is he does not think God probably exists or that miracles have occurred. But we would probably agree that if a miracle has happened there needs to be good evidence to infer its truth, which is what I will embark to do in my next few videos, and with that, there is nothing more I can say until I publish them.

Fin.

41 Facts Confirmed in the New Testament, from William Paley

In William Paley’s book “A View of the Evidences of Christianity,” Part II, chapter 6, he lists 41 facts confirmed in the New Testament. Of course, it is not an exhaustive list of every fact brought to light over the years, nor was it an exhaustive list in his time either. However, it is a nice sample size of eternal facts they were able to get correct. When combined, they demonstrate a cumulative case the New Testament authors where intimately familiar with the culture of 1st century Judea. Later imposters would surely not have been able to get this many facts correct. The writers of the New Testament possessed local knowledge which could belong only to an inhabitant of that country and to one living in that age.

 

  1. Matthew 2:22  “But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee
    1. In this passage it is shown that Archelaus was ruling over Judea, but implied that he was not ruling over Galilee.
    2. Josephus tells us that Herod the Great, who ruled over all of Israel, appointed Archelaus to rule over just Judea
    3. Matthew said that Archelaus reigned, as king, which is backed by Josephus telling us that Herod the Great gave him the title of King. The same word the apostles used to describe Archelaus as king, Josephus used also
  2. Luke 1:3 “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.”
    1. Herod the great decreed that his two sons were to be tetrarchs. One, Herod Antipas, to be over Galilee and Peraea, and the other, Philip, to be over Trachonitis.
    2. Josephus tells of how Herod Antipas was removed by the successor of Tiberius and that Philip died in the twentieth year of Tiberius
  3. Mark 6:17 “For it was Herod who had sent and seized John and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her.”
    1. Josephus tells of how Herod the tetrarch visited his brother, also Herod. He then fell in love with his brothers wife and wanted to marry her
    2. Josephus also says that Herodias was married to Herod, son of the Great, had a child, but then left him to be with Herod the tetrarch.
  4. Acts 12:1 “About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church.”
    1. Herod in this, addressed as Agrippa by Josephus, had not been referenced as a king until, as Josephus tells us, in the last three years of his life, Caligula crowned him King over the tetrarchie of Philip
  5. Acts 12:19-23 “And after Herod searched for him and did not find him, he examined the sentries and ordered that they should be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and spent time there.Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.”
    1. Josephus affirming quote: (Paraphrased)
      1. “He went to the city of Caesarea. Here he celebrated in honor of Caesar. On the second day of the shows, early in the morning, he came into the theatre, dressed in a robe of silver. The rays of the rising sun, reflected from such a splendid clothes, gave him a majestic appearance. They called him a god.The king neither reproved these persons, nor rejected the impious flattery. Immediately after this he was seized with pains in his bowels, extremely violent at the very first. He was carried his palace. These pains continually tormenting him, he died in five days’ time.”
  6. Acts 24:24 “After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus.”
    1. Josephus affirming quote: (Paraphrased)
      1. “Agrippa gave his sister Drusilla in marriage to Azizus, king of the Emesenes, when he had consented to be circumcised. But this marriage of Drusilla with Azizus ended when Felix, procurator of Judea, having had a sight of her, he loved her. She broke the laws of her country, and married Felix.”
  7. Acts 25:13 “Now when some days had passed, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at Caesarea and greeted Festus.”
    1. Agrippa here is the son of Herod Agrippa, who was king over Judea. Agrippa was going to succeed his father when he died, but when that was going to happen, he was only seventeen and the emperor was persuaded not to allow it.
    2. Agrippa wasn’t king over Judea but he had many territories bordering it. He was referred to as king because of his exercise of power and his father. This is why he saluted Festus as king over Judea
  8. Acts 13:6 “When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence…”
    1. This verse shows that this false prophet was with the proconsul of Cyprus, Sergius Paulus, who was under Claudius
    2. The Roman empire was in control of Cyprus until it had given it over to the proconsul
    3. That is why the apostles talk about how they went to the proconsul of Cyprus and are correct  
  9. Josephus also tells of how the power of life and death resided in the hands of the governor. However the Jews also had magistrates and councils.
    1. This idea is found in all gospels to the crucifixion of Jesus
  10. Acts 9:31 “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up.”
    1. This peace comes from the fact that Caligula was trying to put his statue in the temple, so all the churches diverted their attention to this problem.
  11. Acts 21:30 “And they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple; and forthwith the doors were shut. And as they went about to kill him, tidings came to the chief captain of the band that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. Then the chief captain came near, and took him and commanded him to be bound with two chains, and demanded who he was, and what he had done; and some cried one thing, and some another, among the multitude: and, when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle. And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people.”
    1. In this passage there are soldiers at the castle, the stairs, adjoining to the temple
    2. Josephus’ affirming quote:
      1. “Antonia was situated at the angle of the western and northern porticoes of the outer temple. It was built upon a rock fifty cubits high, steep on all sides. On that side where it joined to the porticoes of the temple, there were stairs reaching to each portico, by which the guard descended; for there was always lodged here a Roman legion; and posting themselves in their armour in several places in the porticoes, they kept a watch on the people on the feast-days to prevent all disorders; for as the temple was a guard to the city, so was Antonia to the temple.”
  12.  Acts 4:1 “And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them.”
    1. Here we have a person who has the title Captain of the Temple who, along with the priests and the sadducees, apprehended the apostles
    2. Josephus affirming quote:
      1. “And at the temple, Eleazer, the son of Ananias the high priest, a young man of a bold and resolute disposition, then captain, persuaded those who performed the sacred ministrations not to receive the gift or sacrifice of any stranger.”  
  13. Acts 25:12 “Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, ‘To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.’”
    1. Festus conferring with a council of other Roman officers was very usual in the situation according to Cicero’s speech against Verres
  14. Acts 16:13 “And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer…”
    1. The noteworthy phrase of this passage is when it says that the riverside was where they were suppose to pray
    2. Philo talks about how early in the morning, many people flocked to the shores and, “lifted up their voice in one accord.”
    3. Josephus also tells of how there was a decree that any Jews that wanted to observe the sabbath must do so on the sea-side
  15. Acts 26:5 “They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the straightest part of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee.”
    1. Josephus says that, “The Pharisees were reckoned the most religious of any of the Jews, and to be the most exact and skilful in explaining the laws.”
    2. The greek word for straight (found in Acts), and exact (said by Josephus) are the same.
  16. Mark 7:3-4 “For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.”
    1. Affirming quote of Josephus:
      1. “The Pharisees have delivered up to the people many institutions, as received from the fathers, which are not written in the law of Moses.”
  17. Acts 23:8 “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.”
    1. Affirming quote of Josephus: (Paraphrased)
      1. “They (the Pharisees) believe every soul is immortal, but that the soul of the good only passes into another body, and that the soul of the wicked is punished with eternal punishment.” On the other hand, “It is the opinion of the Sadducees that souls perish with the bodies.”
  18. Acts 5:17 “But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with indignation.”
    1. Josephus’ affirming quote:
      1. “ High priest of the Jews, forsook the Pharisees upon a disgust, and joined himself to the party of the Sadducees.”
  19. Luke 9:51 “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem.”
    1. Josephus’ affirming quote: (Paraphrased)
      1. “It was the custom of the Galileans, who went up to the holy city at the feasts, to travel through the country of Samaria. As they were in their journey, some inhabitants of the village called Ginaea, which lies on the borders of Samaria and the great plain, killed many of them.”
  20. John 4:20 “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”
    1. Affirming quote of Josephus:
      1. “Commanding them to meet Him at mount Gerizim, which is by them (the Samaritans) esteemed the most sacred of all mountains.”
  21. Matthew 26:3 “Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas…”
    1. Account of Josephus:
      1. “Gratus gave the high priesthood to Simon, the son of Camithus. He, having enjoyed this honour not above a year, was succeeded by Joseph, who is also called Caiaphas.”
    2. Account of the removal of Caiaphas:
      1. “And having done these things he took away the priesthood from the high priest Joseph, who is called Caiaphas.”
  22. Acts 23:4 “Those who stood by said, ‘Would you revile God’s high priest?’ And Paul said, ‘I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest…’”
    1. Upon questioning why Paul wouldn’t know that Ananias (who is the one spoken about) isn’t the high priest, it’s because he isn’t.
    2. Josephus tells us that he was rid of office and then when his successor was murdered by order of Felix, Ananias brought upon the responsibilities of High priest while not being one
  23. Matthew 26:59 “Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony…”
    1. It is very strange to see Matthew say high priests in the plural form because there was only suppose to be one high priest.
    2. However, Josephus agreed:
      1. “Then might be seen the high priests themselves with ashes on their heads and their breasts naked.”
    3. This is because the high priest at the time, Caiaphas, and others (Annas) shared many of the same powers making them seem equal (Acts 4:6)
    4. Even in Luke 3:1 says that, “Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests…”
      1. This aligns with Josephus in saying, “Quadratus sent two others of the most powerful men of the Jews, as also the high priests Jonathan and Ananias.”
  24. John 19:19-20 “And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross.”
    1. Quote from Dio Cassius:
      1. “Having led him through the midst of the court or assembly, with a writing signifying the cause of his death, and afterwards crucifying him.”
    2. “And it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.”
      1. This was also usual for the Romans to do. Josephus’ quote: “Did ye not erect pillars with inscriptions on them, in the Greek and in our language?”
  25. Matthew 27: 26 “When he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.”
    1. Josephus writes about this by saying:
      1. “Being beaten, they were crucified opposite to the citadel.”
      2. “Whom, having first scourged with whips, he crucified.”
  26. John 19:16 “And they took Jesus, and led him away; and he bearing his cross went forth.”
    1. Quote pertaining to Rome
      1. “Every kind of wickedness produces its own particular torment; just as every malefactor, when he is brought forth to execution, carries his own cross.” -Plutarch
  27. John 19:32 “So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him.”
    1. A secular writer notices the circumstance of breaking the legs
      1. “Eo pius, ut etiam vetus veterrimumque supplicium, patibulum, et cruribus suffringendis, primus removerit.” Note: This was translated to roughly for me to discern its meaning.  
  28. Acts 3:1 “Now Peter and John went up together into the temple, at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.”
    1. Josephus:
      1. “Twice every day, in the morning and at the ninth hour, the priests perform their, duty at the altar.”
  29. Acts 15:21 “For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”
    1. Quote of Josephus:
      1. “He (Moses) gave us the law, the most excellent of all institutions; nor did he appoint that it should be heard once only, or twice, or often, but that, laying aside all other works, we should meet together every week to hear it read, and gain a perfect understanding of it.”
  30. Acts 21:23 “Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads.”
    1. Josephus’ affirmation:
      1. “It is customary for those who have been afflicted with some distemper, or have laboured under any other difficulties, to make a vow thirty days before they offer sacrifices, to abstain from wine, and shave the hair of their heads.”
  31. 2 Corinthians 11:24 “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.”
    1. Affirmation from Josephus:
      1. “He that acts contrary hereto let him receive forty stripes from the officer.”
    2. Affirmation in Deuteronomy 25:3:
      1. “Forty stripes he may be given but not exceed”
    3. This shows that the author of Corinthians wasn’t guided by books but rather facts because his statement aligns with the customs with the time
  32. Luke 3:12 “Then came also tax-collectors to be baptized.”
    1. It is generally accepted that tax-collectors were Jewish even though they were under the Roman rule
    2. This is proven by a quote by Josephus:
      1. “But Florus not restraining these practices by his authority, the chief men of the Jews, among whom was John the publican, not knowing well what course to take, wait upon Florus and give him eight talents of silver to stop the building.”
  33. Acts 22:25 “And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman and uncondemned?”
    1. Referenced was latin that translated into:
      1. “This crime, it is a Roman citizen to be bound; crime beaten.”
      2. “Was beaten with rods, in the middle of the forum at Messana, a Roman citizen, so I judge no one at the same time groans, no other expression of that wretched man amid his sound of the blows, but the these things, I am a Roman citizen. “
    2. While somewhat applicable, Paley leaves it up to the reader to make the connection
  34. Acts 22:27 “Then the chief captain came, and said unto him (Paul), Tell me, Art thou a Roman? He said Yea.”
    1. The Roman citizenship was at one point a very high honor because of its great value, however Jews were becoming Roman citizens because its value was rapidly declining
    2. Quote:
      1. “This privilege, which had been bought formerly at a great price, became so cheap, that it was commonly said a man might be made a Roman citizen for a few pieces of broken glass.”
  35. Acts 28:16 “And when we came to Rome the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself, with a soldier that kept him.”
    1. Josephus explains that after Caligula came to the throne, Paul was made to be prisoner, in his own home, with one other guard
  36. Acts 27:1 “And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul, and certain other prisoners, unto one named Julius.”
    1. This passage hints at boating prisoners to Rome to be tried is a normal practice due to the fact that Paul is with other prisoners
    2. Josephus’ Affirmation:
      1. “Felix, for some slight offence, bound and sent to Rome several priests of his acquaintance, and very good and honest men, to answer for themselves to Caesar.”
  37. Acts 11:27 “And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch; and there stood up one of them, named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be a great famine throughout all the world (or all the country); which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.”
    1. Josephus affirmation:
      1. “In their time (i. e. about the fifth or sixth year of Claudius) a great famine happened in Judea.”
  38. Acts 18:1-2 “Because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome.”
    1. Latin quote translation: (Severely paraphrased)
      1. “Jews causing many disturbances, and provoking Claudius, were expelled them from Rome.”
  39. Acts 5:37 “After this man, rose up Judas of Galilee, in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him.”
    1. Quote of Josephus
      1. “He (Judas of Galilee) persuaded not a few to enrol themselves when Cyrenius the censor was sent into Judea.”
  40. Acts 21:38 “Are you not the Egyptian, then, who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?”
    1. Confirmation by Josephus:
      1. “But the Egyptian false prophet brought a yet heavier disaster upon the Jews; for this impostor, coming into the country, and gaining the reputation of a prophet, gathered together thirty thousand men, who were deceived by him. Having brought them round out of the wilderness, up to the mount of Olives, he intended from thence to make his attack upon Jerusalem; but Felix, coming suddenly upon him with the Roman soldiers, prevented the attack. — A great number, or (as it should rather be rendered) the greatest part, of those that were with him were either slain or taken prisoners.”
  41. Acts 17:22 “Then Paul stood in the midst of Marshill, and said, men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious; for, as I passed by and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore you all ignorantly worship, him I declare unto you.”
    1. Pausanias tells us that there was in fact in alter to the Unknown god of the Romans in saying:
      1. “And nigh unto it is an altar of unknown gods.”

 

Defending Idealism against KnownNoMore

One thing I am proud of is that I know my videos are a bit of a challenge to atheists. If that were false, then YouTube user KnownNoMore (NKM) would not feel the need to do an almost 2 hour response to two of my videos that are no more than half an hour. The fact that he felt the need to go on for so long is flattering, as it hints that my videos are presenting a bit of a challenge to atheists. But perhaps I am speculating too much.

It should also be noted Derezzed83 did a small video response to one of his objections as well:

However, despite the long response, there is not much of a challenge here, other than the time it takes to respond to all his points. This is because it is based on severe misunderstanding of what specific idealists, like myself, claim. So this response, for the most part, will be pointing out why his objections do not threaten our form of idealism. There are several problems, so it will take a bit of space to unpack this whole thing. His later arguments are built on his initial misunderstandings, which doesn’t help his cause. I will address his main points. At places in his video when he reiterates the same points later, I will not respond, since I did so when he first made his case.

Quickly, before we get started I need to point I reject subjective forms of idealism and hold to scientific realism. My view is not that the mind creates all of reality, just the appearance of physical reality. There is obviously an underlying fundamental reality from which the physical emerges from that we do not create. A good way to look at it is something like Brian Whitworth’s Virtual Reality theory or Quantum Information Theory. Obviously there is fundamental reality underneath which we do not control. The reason I point this out is some people have been assuming we accept subjective forms of idealism, which entail scientific anti-realism. We actually prefer not to pick one of the forms of idealism and argue for that, but let the scientific evidence build us our worldview. It is about following the evidence, not picking a view and trying to make the science fit that. It is like what Henry Stapp says, “once the physics assumptions are rectified the philosophy will take care of itself.1

Also, I need to make a disclaimer before I go on. I am going to quote the physicist Amit Goswami to help explain idealism and how we answer the problems. Now, since certain several materialist seem to have this crazy idea that when I quote someone, that must mean I agree with them 100% on everything, I need to point out that that is not the case. I suspect some are just looking for any way to discredit my argument, but I digress. The point I want to make here is that just because I agree with Goswami on idealism that doesn’t mean I agree with him on other subjects. If you read some of his books, he goes off into areas I disagree with. We are both idealists however, and he does a good job of articulating his defense of basic idealism in “The Self-Aware Universe.” So he will be a helpful ally in this case.

Before I get to the meat of it:

Ending at 5:31, this is a minor point. I never directly said that naive realism is a reduced form of realism. Although I understand the confusion. I merely brought it up to clarify confusion with the upcoming studies I would cite. The point was that naive realists can’t discount the input of the observer from the studies which were presented afterwards in my video.

Now, if KNM has theory of metaphysical realism that is compatible with the scientific experiments I cite then I am interesting in hearing it. However, I wonder if he will fall into the same problems of Colln McGinn with his mysterian naturalism. What ends up happening is the metaphysical theory becomes so akin to theism or idealism that we actually like it, minus the name. If there is some fundamental material building block of all things from which consciousness emerges, then I want to see some evidence to support, not just a hypothetical possibility.

So at almost 30 minutes into the video, KNM finally starts to get to his objections and claims he can show that consciousness/mind can be reduced and corrupted. This would mean that it is not fundamental and can reduce to smaller parts, which he believes is brain chemistry (in so many words). However, this is a bait and switch. He doesn’t show the mind can be corrupted, but that the information the mind processes can be corrupted. The mind is not perceptions; the mind can perceive and have perceptions. The mind is not thoughts, but has thoughts. The mind is not memories, but processes memories, etc. In idealism, the mind is a fundamental substance with the ability to have these things. The mind should not be confused with the information is acquires.

This is a slight switch he has pulled. Idealists would agree that you can corrupt the information that the mind processes. Mind, however, would be a fundamental substance with the ability to process and have these things. Showing you can corrupt, thoughts, perceptions, etc., doesn’t show the mind is corruptible, just that the information the mind processes can be. The point idealists make is this information is contingent on there being a mind, or minds there to process these things. Information cannot exist objectively. I’ll point this out by going through his points:

Ending at 28:56 – He starts by trying to show that perceptions are corruptible, but if you reduce perceptions, it is really just information feed to the mind. How is that a problem for idealism? Perceptions are really just qualia, and the mind experiences quaila. The mind is not qualia. Information comes in and the mind processes it. The ability the mind has is to process incoming information to one definite experience of it, not that actual perceptions are the ability of the mind.

Yeah, I see where this is going…

Ending at 29:25 – he says memories can be corrupted. But aren’t memories also information? Processing information is what the mind does, and if the information is lost or altered, then the mind will not be able to process it anymore through the brain. That is not a problem for idealism. If the brain is damaged, then the information the mind can process is lost or damaged. Amit Goswami says, speaking of the brain, “The classical system is necessary to form memories, to make records of collapsed events and to create a sense of continuity.2

I’ve been dealing with these same objections on my channel for some time now, and I always end up repeating myself. Basically, nothing changing for all practical purposes, from realism to this form of idealism. It is only the fundamental nature of what reality is. We can still be scientific realists and metaphysical idealists (more on that later).

Ending at 34:27 – He moves on to personality, but again, same basic idea here. Everyone accepts that no one is born with a personality. This is something we come into over time throughout life. Information we acquire builds up into who we want to be, and with this new information we have, we become someone more than what we were during our infant stage. If the information is damaged or lost, it will change what the mind processes and becomes. I hope you realize what I am getting at: a soul building theodicy. The mind is given a life to obtain experiences where they become an adult through choices, experiences, and living. A personality is information of who someone is, and this is something we become, not an unchangeable, incorruptible thing.

Ending at 35:29 – Ne moves on to thoughts, but same idea still applies. The mind has the ability to think, but it obviously requires information to process in order to think. An ability is useless without information, and thoughts are the information we can process. Amit Goswami says, “Without the immanent world of manifestation, there would be no soul, no self that experiences itself as separate from the object it perceives.3 So in other words, without any information to process, the mind would have no thoughts, no personality, nothing. We would just be beings without anything to be aware of. To reiterate, the mind needs information to be what we call being human, but the mind itself is not just that information, just the processor, so to speak.

Ending at 37:12 – He goes after free will or as he phrases it “intentionality.” So I have to say: no one argues that free will doesn’t require inputs to decide between. Again, information is essential to do anything, but not in the basic ability, just in using the ability. All he can show is the removal of the availability to use free will. If there is no information to decide between then, all that is lost is the availability for free will, not the potential ability.

I’ll skip his short section on belief and knowledge because the same criticism I have already given applies here as well.

Finally ending at 39:00 he makes it to awareness. Now despite his argument this far, I’ve already identified that we agree that the mind must be aware of something, and that it must be aware of information. So this is not an attack on idealism, but one giant bait and switch from mind, to information, which the mind processes and gathers. But he then just makes a non-sequitur that this means awareness is emergent from brain processes. This is assuming that all the incoming information can become the ability of awareness somehow. I fail to see how he reached this conclusion. How does all this incoming information become an ability and process itself? How does information become aware of itself? Naturalistic experts in the study of philosophy of mind accept this is a difficult, if not impossible problem (quotes below). KNM doesn’t even try to explain how awareness/consciousness can emerge from information or chemical processes. He just assumes emergence. More on this a little further down.

So ending at 39:36, he argues that we can become unconscious, and that this is supposed to be a problem for idealists. But being disconnected from the information we process through sleep or being knocked out is hardly an issue for the idealist. If the mind becomes disconnected from the information one can process, then we are not aware of it. Again, information is obviously required to do anything. No one denies that. The mind can be disconnected from its information by either losing consciousness for momentarily recharging (sleep), to better process information and live in the experience of reality. A good analogy is turning off a computer to prevent it from overheating.

Ending at 40:04, he says we can observe someone asleep, who would be unconscious of the information of reality. Well, yes, we would observe the information of a body, without the mind consciously experiencing reality at that time. But how is that solipsism? I would not argue as he assumes I would, so this is another non-issue for idealists. As I pointed out at the end of my original video, we are not absolutely in control of everything in this collective physical experience. We only participate in it. My mind is not creating the information construct of reality. Ironically he seems to challenge this later by suggesting that idealists cannot be scientific realists, but I address this further down.

Ending at 42:09 – he touches on quantum mind theory. He brings up the fact that I agree with Henry Stapp (that the mind is non-local and collapses states, not that collapsed states are consciousness as Hameroff and Penrose argue). Now the interesting thing he tries to claim is that quantum mind theory would be materialistic. I find this hard to believe because it would not fundamental matter, but quantum information. He also needs to realize that quantum mind theories argue that the quantum information can become detached from the brain, and can continue on in an entangled state. So it would start in the brain but then move on elsewhere, you’d just have a “soul building theodicy.” We live this life to develop into the person we become, and then become detached from this experience for something greater. This is a side note obviously.

Ending 42:30 – Ok, so to wrap up that section, the information the mind processes can be corrupted and KNM has only shown that in particular. He hasn’t shown that the substance of the mind itself is reducible to these things. If thoughts and perceptions exist, there must be something thinking them or perceiving them. So this has been nothing but a bait and switch so far.

Even naturalistic philosophers recognize the difference between awareness/consciousness, and the information we are aware of and process, like Ned Block in “Consciousness”. KNM has equated the substance of mind/consciousness to the information it processes, which makes his argument a non-issue for idealism so far. It is a shame that he wasted so much time up to this point, especially since he hasn’t explained how consciousness can emerge from chemicals in the brain. It is crucial for a materialist to argue that consciousness can be fully explained by the brain, but it was the one area he brushed over and didn’t show.

As I mentioned above, how does information become aware of itself? KNM needs a theory of emergence, not just assume it is there. But there is no theory of reducing consciousness to information processing inside the brain. As Ned Block says, “We have nothing – Zilch – worthy of being called a research program… researchers are stumped.4” John Searle says this is the “leading the problem in the biological sciences.5 David Papineau says, “to this question physicalists theories of consciousness seem to provide no answer.6

Now, for idealism, the important thing to remember: is if idealism is true, then monism is true. So meddling with the brain is not a separate substance from the mind. Brain damage and alteration makes sense in idealism. There is mind and the experience of reality, which is information, and an information loss or alteration will affect how the mind processes and functions in the experience of reality. For example, if I see a car coming at me, I’ll move. I won’t say it is just information and will not affect me. The information is real to the mind and affects how we function in our experience. Think of that line from “The Matrix” when Neo is bleeding from his training:

Neo – “I thought it wasn’t real.”

Morpheus – “Your mind makes it real.”

So basically, we agree that the parsimonious answer seems to be that the mind and body are one in some way. You affect one, you affect the other, because they are interconnected. Not because they just appear that way. But KNM’s entire argument so far is that these should be major problems for idealists, which is clearly false. I like the way Amit Goswami explains this:

“Thus in every quantum event the brain-mind state that is collapsed and experienced represents a pure mental state that the classical brain measures (amplifies and records), and there is a clear definition of and justification for the identity. The recognition that most of the brain is a measuring apparatus leads to a new and useful way to think about the brain and conscious evens. Biologists often argue that consciousness must be an epiphenomenon of the brain because changing the brain by natural damage or drugs changes the conscious events. Yes! says the quantum theorist, because changing the measurement apparatus does certainly change what can be measured, and therefore, change the event.7

Ending 53:20 – Ok, now he is redefining terms, which comes across as dishonest. He has said that the belief in a fundamental entity that is conscious is realism. Well, I don’t know where he is getting this definition from, and it is really a shame since he did a good job of defining terms in the beginning. But now he has broadened the definition of realism to practically include several forms of idealism. Saying realism is the belief that there is a fundamental entity/substance is false. Idealists and Material realist both agree that there is a fundamental entity/substance; we just disagree on what that substance is, whether it is mind or matter.

In idealism, the mind is the fundamental substance that is aware of information. If the belief one has is that there is a fundamental substance, which is the mind – which is self-aware and can process information – then you have idealism. But what KNM has actually done is say that metaphysical realism is the belief that there is an entity that is self-aware. But we both agree that is the case. Where we differ is if that is mind or matter.

Actually, something here can bee seen as an equivocation fallacy. He is switching here from what idealists mean when they say consciousness – the substance of mind – to consciousness meaning the ability of awareness. What KNM is trying to say is that idealists believe that the ability to be aware is fundamental, but this is false and an equivocation fallacy. Amit Goswami says, “Beware of possible semantic confusion: Consciousness is a relatively recent word in the English language. The word mind is often used to denote consciousness, especially in the older literature8 (Although I disagree with Goswami’s following theological and philosophical beliefs after this quote).

When we say consciousness is fundamental, we mean that the substance mind is fundamental, not the ability to be aware is fundamental. Both material realists and idealists (like myself) agree that one substance is fundamental, but we disagree whether that is mind or matter. All he has done is just define consciousness as an ability to be aware, so it must be a contingent ability. If you are defining terms that way, then we agree, but that is not what I’ve argued. Obviously an ability cannot exist on its own, and since he defines consciousness as just an ability here, of course I agree. But am disappointed in that reasoning.

Ending at 58:58 – he argues something odd. He seems to get upset that idealists describe reality as dream-like. I don’t see why this is a necessity section. When we say reality is dream-like, it is meant to be a practical tool for explaining, for the layman to understand. If he is asking how we can differentiate from a dream and the experience, then I would say the same way a realist does. Unless there is a mental illness, we know the difference between the information the mind acquires from beyond it and the information the mind processes from in itself. To reiterate, nothing for practical purposes changes from idealism to realism, just the truth of what reality is.

Ending at 59:09 – I have to stop here with a question. KNM said, “Now it is true that every image we see is part of an internalized model, as our brain interprets data to form an imperfect simulation, so to say, of what is actually out there.” Well, if all we know is the internal model, then why posit extra external entities or substances to explain reality? It is unnecessary, which is why forms of idealism is able to explain more with much less.

KMN accepts that we acquire data and form an internal model. So we can ask why assume it has to be anything other than data/information we acquire, which then becomes the appearance of a physical reality. It is far simpler to say that all we get is information, which becomes the perceptions and qualia we experience, instead of positing extra entities from which the information would come from. This is one reason why idealists say, “all is mind”, and there is no independent objective reality of physical objects apart from that. All we get is information, which becomes our experience. Why posit extra entities to rescue realism? I’ll come back to this, because the fact that he admits this is important for his later objections.

Ending at 59:52 – I know I have hit this point so many times, but KNM keeps bringing it up, so to reiterate: he has again misunderstand idealism. We don’t deny that we acquire information that is beyond our individual minds, so to speak.

Ending at 1:05:19 – he tries to argue against theistic idealism. He starts by actually suggesting that idealists cannot distinguish between the collective experience of reality (which we say is virtual and not objectively real), and our private mental experience. I honestly can’t believe he is suggesting this. His first objection is that God would be observing our private mental realm jut as much as the shared mental realm. This he calls the “omnipresence objection.”

So my response: And God observing the private realm means what? The fact that we can imagine things somehow means our imagination should be just as real? Why? There is a difference between information the mind becomes aware of (through reality), and the information the mind builds from experience in its imagination. Everyone intuitively knows that. Again, there is nothing changing for all practical purposes from realism to idealism, just the fundamental nature of what reality is. These objections are not a threat to idealism. God knowing our thoughts doesn’t pose any problem, and KMN fails to explain why this is a problem.

Ending around 1:06:33 – I am not trying to be mean but I have to wonder if he thinks that idealists ever think. Does he really think that we have not thought about these things? The reason I say this is because he suggests idealists cannot explain the fact that it appears that external things affect us when we are secluded from others. He calls this “the seclusion objection.” First, we obviously have a private mental realm, which can be our thoughts: information we have reconstructed from the information we have previously acquired beyond ourselves. God just knowing about our thoughts doesn’t make them the identical to the virtual reality (or shared mental realm). Again, the argument between idealists and realists is not over distinctions like this, but what the nature of what we call external reality is.

Secondly, if I get hit with a rock, then the information construct of reality has changed around me to experience that. I don’t need to posit an external entity change, just that new information I do not control is affecting me. Go back to the line from The Matrix above: “Your mind makes it real.” What he is building up to saying is that idealists have to reject scientific realism, which is something else entirely. But I’ll address that a littler further down.

Ending around 1:09:11 – KNM argues that the subconscious works behind the scenes when we are not consciously aware, and that this should be a problem for idealists. He calls this “the subconscious objection.” I fail to see why this is a problem. No one argues we have total control over the information we get or process 100% of the time. Thoughts can arise unintentionally in the mind. So what? No one said that being conscious means total control over all the information we have acquired. Amit Goswami goes into this more in depth from page 206 to page 207 of his book “The Self-Aware Universe.” I’ll quote a short snippet of that, but to get the full context one should read that section of the book, because some people may not be able to follow him from just this:

How does personal unconscious arise according to the quantum theory? It arises as follows: The subject is conditioned to avoid certain mental states; consequently, the probability becomes overwhelming that these states are never collapsed from coherent super positions that include them. Such coherent super positions, however, may dynamically influence without apparent external cause the collapse of subsequent states… Similarity, Jung suggested that many of our transpersonal experiences are influenced by repressed archetypal themes of a collective unconscious–universal states that we usually do not experience.9

The subconscious is part of the mind that we are not aware of at all present moments. Since I have already distinguished between the ability of consciousness and the mind (sometimes called consciousness as a substance) we do not always have to be always aware of information we have in the mind. No one denies subconscious activity. On a side note, Penrose and Hameroff also make use of this in their quantum consciousness model.

Ending at 1:15:01 – KNM has finally made it to where he says that idealists cannot be scientific realists. He tries to explain this with an example of a world with only one scientist. He asks how a scientist can know the difference between the real world and the dream world. Since I have just responded to this above, I will not go over it again. But he suggests that science is based off of the idea that there has to be a physical reality beyond what we observe. But any philosopher can readily point out that being an idealist doesn’t entail anti-realism or the rejection that science works. Some forms, like subjective idealism would, but forms like Hegelian idealism, or similar forms based of quantum theory implications or based Whitworth’s virtual reality theory (which idealists like myself hold to), would be objective idealistic forms.

One can easily argue that the information we acquire is objectively true independent of what we think, and we would be discovering the mind of God – so to speak – while maintaining that it is ontologically not an objective physical reality, but a virtual emergent reality. What KNM is doing is assuming what he said not to do in the beginning of his video. Which is to say that idealists argue that we create the reality and the information we process. The scientist in his example should and would know of the difference between the information acquired beyond himself, and the information reconstructed in his own mind. Again, the debate between idealists and realists is over the fundamental nature of reality. Here are some quotes to back me up:

Brian Whitworth says in speaking of the difference between VR theory (which idealists like myself hold to) and OR theory (realism):

Since both are untestable science favors neither view. To postulate the world is virtual does not contradict science, but rather engages its spirit of questioning. Science is a method of asking questions, not a set of reality assumptions. Scientists are entitled to ask if what could be actually is so. The only constraint is that the question be decided by feedback gathered from the world by an accepted research method. Science does not require an objective world, only information to test theories against, which a VR can easily provide. Not only can science accommodate the virtual world concept, a virtual world could also sustain science.10

Amit Goswami says:

“Both views can be right if we have two heads, with the empirical object inside one but outside the other. An empirical object would be outside what we might call our small head, and thus realism is validated; the object would simultaneously be inside our being Head and thus be a theoretical idea in this big Head, which would satisfy the idealist.11

Ernan McMullin says:

Does the fact that quantum systems are partially indeterminate in this way affect the realist thesis? Not as far as I can see, unless a confusion is first made between scientific realism and the “realism” that is opposed to idealism, and then the measurement-dependence is somehow read as idealist in its implications.12

Henry Stapp explains all this by saying:

I have stressed just now the idea-like character of the physical state of the universe, within vN/W quantum theory. This suggests that the theory may conform to the tenets of idealism. This is partially true. The quantum state undergoes, when a fact become fixed in a local region, a sudden jump that extends over vast reaches of space. This gives the physical state the character of a representation of knowledge rather than a representation of substantive matter. When not jumping the state represents potentialities or probabilities for actual events to occur. Potentialities and probabilities are normally conceived to be idea-like qualities, not material realities. So as regards the intuitive conception of the intrinsic nature of what is represented within the theory by the physical state it certainly is correct to say that it is idea-like.

On the other hand, the physical state has a mathematical structure, and a behaviour that is governed by the mathematical properies. It evolves much of the time in accordance with local deterministic laws that are direct quantum counterparts of the local deterministic laws of classical mechanics. Thus as regards various structural and causal properties the physical state certainly has aspects that we normally associate with matter.

So this vN/W quantum conception of nature ends up having both idea- like and matter-like qualities. The causal law involves two complementary modes of evolution that, at least at the present level theoretical development, are quite distinct. One of these modes involves a gradual change that is governed by local deterministic laws, and hence is matter-like in character. The other mode is abrupt, and is idea-like in two respects. This hybrid ontology can be called an information-based reality.13

So some forms of idealism are compatible with scientific realism. Idealists, like Johanan Raatz and I do not argue that we control and create the experience of external reality with our minds, just that it is fundamentally mental, depending on a larger mind.

Also, remember that point I said I would come back to ending at 1:05:47? If KNM accepts that we acquire data and form an internal model, then if realism is true, how can his scientist in his example know the difference between his dream and internal model from acquired data? His own criticism applies to realism as well. This is why I said that nothing changes between idealism and realism for all practical purposes.

Ending around 1:20:18 – KNM tries to turn the hard problem of consciousness back on idealism. He suggest that idealists need to explain how consciousness emerges from the mind. But what he fails to realize is what we empirically know verses what we philosophically infer. The problem for materialists is that matter is not consciousness. We know this, because we study it constantly. No one can show how matter can possibly give rise to consciousness. As I ready quoted Ned Block, “We have nothing – Zilch – worthy of being called a research program… researchers are stumped.” So dualists and idealists infer this means it is not emergent from matter but irreducible, since all the evidence shows it cannot emerge from matter through brain processes.

Materialists have a harder burden in saying matter produces consciousness. Since we experience what we call matter and can study it thoroughly. So why can’t we find consciousness in it? Idealists and dualists infer it must come from another entity (mind), because nothing about matter contains any hint or properties of what consciousness is. The dualist JP Moreland notes that this cannot just be a brute fact in a materialist universe. If there are going to be any brute unexplainable facts in a materialist universe it must be that the physical facts themselves, not some odd unexplainable of interlevel emergence. He writes:

Naturalists have the very same kind of problem that they claim as a difficultly for the Cartesian. And given the philosophical constraints that follow from accepting the naturalist epistemology, etiology, and ontology, it is more difficult to see how a naturalist could accept metaphysical supervenience than it is to understand how a Cartesian without those constraints could accept mental/physical interaction.14

Idealism avoids this interaction problem though. In idealism, entities would not be reducible in their abilities. So thoughts arise from information being processed by the mind, which we are aware/conscious of as is. The conscious mind would not be reducible to smaller parts like the theory that consciousness would be emergent from smaller parts in materialism.

In fact, this objection is question begging. This is assuming that the structure of idealism must be like a materialist theory, and we know that it’s fallacious to assume that. One cannot assume reductionist materialism as the structure for a completely different view of reality. So idealism does avoid the problem of emergence, by arguing that it doesn’t reduce past the ability of the mind. Minds are self-aware entities, and would not reduce to non-conscious substances. It is materialism that has to argue for emergence, not idealism.

Ending at 1:28:00 – I actually agree with the points he is making here, except for his claim that it is compatible with materialism. KNM points out that there is something unique about ‘first person experience.” You cannot experience my first person experience, just your first person experience through my eyes. I agree with this, but he tries to claim that materialism is compatible with first person experience. But the problem is: if materialism is true, then all of this emerges from brain processes. Qualia and first person experience should have the same properties as matter, and should be accessible for study the exact same way matter is. They are not however. These things, like first person experience, are inaccessible and beyond material properties and empirical experimentation. But if materialism is true, then why don’t they just reduce to matter and chemical processes? Why are they so unique?

KNM agrees they are, but if that is the case, then it would not be compatible with a reductionist view like materialism. This is what the atheist philosopher Thomas Nagel points out in “Mind and Cosmos” reductionist materialism must be able to reduce these things to material processes. In admitting this KNM has bitten off more than he can chew. This is not compatible with the view that all is reducible to matter. If one cannot reduce “first-person experience” or qualia because they are inherently private and irreducible, then this is a problem for materialism, despite KNM’s claim that it isn’t.

Ending at 1:33:19 – he continues with the assumption that irreducible things like qualia are compatible with materialism. Now he tries to refute the knowledge argument known as “Mary’s room”, one in where Mary is stuck in a black and white room, and cannot go out and study color. However there are better ways to formulate the argument: namely that Mary is a scientist who lives in a world of color, but can only see black and white. This way Mary is surrounding by color and able to study it. So if Mary is able to study everything about color, then if materialism were true, she should be able to know everything about what color is, without the experience. If everything is reducible to material processes, then color should be reducible as well. In other words, someone who could only see black and white should be able to know everything about it, without a mental experience.

If KNM accepts that experience is something different or extra to studying matter then doesn’t that show that these mental experiences are not reducible to material things? Things like qualia cannot be studied like we study chemicals. They have to be mentally experienced. They are completely and fundamentally different because of this. One cannot know about qualia through reductionist studies, only through experience. This poses a problem for materialism since they are not reducible to the material, and thus, evidence strongly favors that they are not material.

Ending at 1:33:52 – KNM admits something interesting. He says that color is not a property of any material object? Then how is that compatible with materialism? If color is not material, or reducible to material processes in the brain then how does materialism explain this emergence of something fundamentally not matter?

KNM tries to suggest that we need eyes and brain to acquire color, but as Goswami has already pointed out, the brain and eyes would constitute as the measuring apparatus for the mind. So how we acquire the information of color is not an argument for materialism, because if you take away the eyes, then you lose the way the mind acquires information in our collective experience of reality. Anyway, I’ve already dealt with this above.

Ending at 1:37:02 – KNM has done something I wouldn’t expect. He seems to have forgotten a very important point I made in my video on the Introspective Argument. He points out just because solipsism is conceivable, that doesn’t make it metaphysically possible. Right, which is why I said in my video, “Thus this argument is not a mere a priori logical possibility or, in other words, an interesting thought but in fact predicts the philosophical implications of quantum mechanics, taking this beyond a mere logic world game.15

I rely on metaphysical possibility from the argument from quantum theory. So he ignored this important fact, and because of this took me out of context. But it is a long response, so it is possible that he just forgot. He is not a bad guy, so I don’t think he did it on purpose. However, I specifically put that in there to avoid this very objection he is bringing up. So I love it when a preemptive plan comes together.

On a side note: ironically after KNM’s quote of Plantinga, he uses the same argument Alexander Pruss uses to distinguish between logical and metaphysical possibility. It is a good argument that is excellent for defending theistic arguments, and refuting opponents of the PSR. So we should thank KNM for the excellent articulation of this argument.

Ending at 1:46:39 – I want to back up Platinga because I feel KNM has misunderstood the whole picture. The main point is that if all the properties of the mind are identical to the body, then why do the properties of the mind seem to be able to be separate from the body? Why we can place them in different scenarios? The conceivability doesn’t stem from imagination but from the fundamental nature of what we know about them through a posteriori research. The argument from conceivability stems from this difference in the fundamental nature of mind and matter, not that it is just imaginable. Perhaps, Plantinga should have pointed this out, but that is beside the point. My argument from solipsism stems from the first part of the video “The Introspective Argument” and the philosophical implications of quantum physics, not that we can just imagine it.

I agree that imagination doesn’t qualify as metaphysical possibility. I can imagine something coming into existence without a cause, but that doesn’t make it possible or come with a reason to back it. However, Plantinga’s argument does, even without quantum physics.

Ending at 1:47:41 – I know he sad he would save this for another video, but he had to say possible world semantics is useless as a tool for metaphysical arguments. This is false. We need to remember Kripke’s distinction between metaphysical and logical possible worlds. Metaphysical possible words are based on a posteriori evidence. So I agree with him that arguing from imagination is useless for finding out what is metaphysically possible, but that is not what we argue when we use metaphysical possible worlds. We are using possible world semantics in a metaphysical sense, so they are based off of a posteriori arguments for possibility, not a priori. That is an important point to remember, and that Kripke demonstrated that possible worlds semantics is useful in metaphysics. It just needs to be done right and rely on a posteriori reasoning.

Ending at 1:48:36 – KNM says that I cannot confirm the argument that solipsism is conceivable in a metaphysical sense, because I argue that God is metaphysically necessary. Well this is true, but hardly a problem. First off I agree with David Deutsch that solipsism is unsustainable on it’s own. Logically it must just collapse to something else. Deutsch argues this is realism, in that because the solipsist didn’t create his own mind or can control what he experiences. Therefore the solipsist just says the external world is the uncontrolled part of the mind the “I” or conscious agent is exploring. He writes:

The solipsist, who believes that nothing exists other than the contents of one mind, must also believe that that mind is a phenomenon of greater multiplicity than is normally supposed. It contains other-people-like thoughts, planet-like thoughts and laws-of-physics-like thoughts. Those thoughts are real. They develop in a complex way (or pretend to), and they have enough autonomy to surprise, disappoint, enlighten or thwart that other class of thoughts which call themselves ‘I’. Thus the solipsist’s explanation of the world is in terms of interacting thoughts rather than interacting objects. But those thoughts are real, and interact according to the same rules that the realist says govern the interaction of objects. Thus solipsism, far from being a world-view stripped to its essentials, is actually just realism disguised and weighed down by additional unnecessary assumptions — worthless baggage, introduced only to be explained away.16

Now, I agree solipsism collapses to something else, but I disagree it collapses to realism. I argue it collapses to theism. If Solipsism is true then the external world is illusionary, but that doesn’t mean it would qualify as realism. All it agrees with realism is that the thoughts are real and governed by rules the “I” cannot control. But it denies there is something other than mind and thought processes. Therefore the aspects of experience the solipsist cannot control are still mental and non-physical. Therefore in saying, the solipsist “must also believe that that mind is a phenomenon of greater multiplicity than is normally supposed” these uncontrolled other things would come from a larger mind in control of the experience, since all is mind.

So when I say in my video solipsism is conceivable it is same as saying the belief that only my mind exists as well as the larger mind, which is necessary anyway.

Ending at 1:49:08 – he tries to modify the Introspective Argument to support materialism/physicalism. Well this is wrong because his mental experiences (like qualia) could be contingent on information processing, which the mind acquires. He has not established his premise 2, or even shown how they can emerge from matter.

So in conclusion, KNM has not shown how mental things like first-person experience or qualia can reduce to a mental substance. Thus, the Introspective Argument stands.

Fin

Notes:

  1. P. Stapp (1999) “Attention, intention, and will in quantum physics,” J. Consciousness Studies Page 4 http://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/9905054v1.pdf
  1. Amit Goswami (1993) The Self-Aware Universe. Page 168.
  1. ibid. Page 188.
  1. Ned Block (1994) A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind. Page 211.
  1. John Searle (1995) The Mystery of Consciousness: part II. Page 61
  1. David Papineau (1993) Philosophical Naturalism. Page 119.
  1. Amit Goswami (1993) The Self-Aware Universe. Page 170.
  1. ibid. Page 51.
  1. ibid. Page 207.
  1. Brian Whitworth (2007) “The Physical World as a Virtual Reality,” Page 6 http://arxiv.org/abs/0801.0337

11. Amit Goswami (1993) The Self-Aware Universe. Page 143.

  1. Ernan McMullin (1984) A Case For Scientific Page 13. http://fitelson.org/290/mcmullin_acfsr.pdf
  1. P. Stapp (1999) “Attention, intention, and will in quantum physics,” J. Consciousness Studies Page 26-27. http://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/9905054v1.pdf
  1. JP Moreland (1988) Should a Naturalist Be a Supervenient Physicalist? Page 57
  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4l1lQMCOguw
  1. David Deutsch. (1997) David Deutsch on Solipsism. http://jake.freivald.org/deutschOnSolipsism.html

AntiCitizenX’s Maximally Great Field of Straw men

It seems a large amount of internet atheists do not know how to voice objections without revealing their immaturity and intellectual dishonesty. AntiCitizenX has decided to respond to the modal ontological argument with exactly this mentality. It is fine if you disagree, but why must respect be thrown out the window? When they do this, it really only reveals intellectual dishonesty, immaturity, and a pure lack of philosophical knowledge.

It should be quickly noted that AntiCitizenX put forward a large amount of objections that were straw men. This actually creates more damage for his case than aids because all he does it set up his viewers for failure. They are given objections by AnticitizenX, which do not work and are based on terrible reasoning like equivocating the property of necessity with existence. Instead of debunking the ontological argument he only succeeds in assuring his viewers will not only misunderstand how theists actually present the argument, but teach them objections to that do work and make them look philosophically ignorant. If one wants to have a conversation on natural theology that is fine, but quote mining and misrepresenting your opponents doesn’t do you or your viewers any favors. It actually hinders their growth for knowledge. So all AnticitizenX does is make his viewers truly ignorant on how the argument works and that is setting them up for failure.

 

AntiCitizenX’s video is by far one of the worse I’ve seen, which is quite funny because he has such an arrogant attitude about how right he knows he is. Allow me to explain:

 

Ending at 0:47 – So right off the bat we have a straw men. Never once did I say the ontological argument (OA) proves facts about the external world (by external I mean physical). In fact, I concluded “Answering Objections to the ontological Argument (Part 2) by quoting Plantinga and saying:

 

Plantinga is not saying the argument is a waste of time. It actually does exactly what it is suppose to do. The point he is making is that this argument cannot and should not be used to prove God exists like one can prove earth is round. But as he says at the end of this quote, the argument shows that the belief in God is completely rational. The ontological argument is not a way to prove God exists, in fact, no argument in natural theology can be said to prove God exists like one proves a scientific fact. The aim of this argument and natural theology is to show that the best inference, and most rational conclusion we can come to is that God exists.1

 

So we have our first straw man, and this is pretty much what the rest of his response is, but you’ll see why below.

 

Ending at 2:07 – AntiCitizenX shows his ignorance on philosophy by bringing up a common point he tries to state often is a proven fact – the analytic/synthetic distinction. First, he presupposes this is proven somehow (which is self refuting and I’ll get to in a second). It is not a proven fact, in fact, most philosophers accept the analytic/synthetic is controversial and blurred, since the philosopher Quine demonstrated this in his paper, “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” This has been pointed out to him before:

 

 

He just presents it like a proven fact, yet fails to mention it is really a controversial philosophical claim. This shows a lack of philosophical knowledge.

 

Second, he bases his objection on this presupposition, that analytical claims have no bearing on claims about the external world. The obvious problem is the analytical/synthetic distinction is claimed to speak about what is true about the real world and must therefore be a synthetic proposition. However, where is the empirical evidence to demonstrate this distinction is true? The fact is he doesn’t have any, so by his logic the analytical/synthetic distinction must be false and is therefore self-refuting.

AntiCitizenX wants to have his philosophical cake and eat to, that claims about the real world can only be empirical, but he presents this exact claim through analytical presuppositions, not empirical evidence. Where is the synthetic evidence of this analytic/synthetic distinction? Well, he doesn’t have any. It is obvious his distinction is analytical, so by his own logic it has no bearing on the real world.

Third, what does he mean by “real world”? Does he mean the physical world? If so, that is not a fact of what the real world consists of. Several philosophers, like Thomas Nagel, would argue the real world includes the objectively of abstract logic, as well as the physical world. In fact, if logical claims are separate from the ‘real world’ how can AntiCitizenX’s logical claims and ‘made up distinction’ have any bearing on the real world? This should alone refute the rest of his video, since he continually makes analytical and logical claims about what can and cannot be true of the real world. So his entire reasoning is – “do as I say, not as I do.”

When it comes to the ontological argument it is already assumed logic is objectively true, so if the real world is logical then what is discovered to be logically true will have an objective bearing on the whole real world. The only way out of this is to deny logic has any relation to the real world, which is self-defeating. Because to argue logic has no relation to the real world is to assume your claim is logically coherent about the real world. So does AntiCitizenX think his claims are logically true statements about the real world? If so then he accepts the same reasoning foundational for the OA and has refuted himself, again.

 

Ending at 2:26 – Again another straw man (that makes two so far) I never said I can prove God exists… Did he even watch my videos or he is more interested in creating propaganda?

 

Ending at 3:14 – AntiCitizenX claims the concept of God is logically incoherent. So my reply is: what professional philosopher in their right mind says that the concept of God is logically impossible? These supposed objections that the properties of God create logical absurdity have been overwhelming rejected by professional philosophers due to theistic responses to show they do not lead to any logical absurdities, once they are property understood. In fact, in my four part series on the OA I demonstrated why this is the case. Now if AntiCitizenX wants to redefine the concept of God in a way to debunk it then he is being ad hoc and not actually addressing the theistic definition. No one has to accept his absurd definitions, which is why this objection fails.

If he thinks religious apologists have not properly defined God then it shows he has never read any theistic philosophers. He should start here: “The Coherence of Theism” by Richard Swinburne. The concept of God is logically coherence and his past objections do not hold any water.

 

Ending at 4:58 – The ignorance is astounding. AntiCitizenX argues just because something is logically possible that doesn’t mean it exists in the real world, which is another objection I already addressed in “Answering Objections to the Ontological Argument Part 2. Of course logical possibility alone doesn’t mean it has evidence in the real world. He is confusing metaphysical and logical possibility. So the objection is answered by the simple point that I already addressed it in “Answering Objections to the Ontological Argument (Part 2).”

 

 

Ending at 7:57 – Yeah, this is sad and pathetic. AntiCitizenX continues his immaturity by taking what I said out of context. Apparently if I state premise 3 that means I didn’t actually defend premise 3. However, I do in a later part of the video. I explain why premise 3 is sound. Instead AntiCitizenX has continued his immaturity and dishonesty by magically pretending I never did this in my video. If that is the best he can do, then it shows he is not interested in having a real conversation but creating propaganda. I do actually show why premise 3 is sound, unlike what AntiCitizenX implies… So this section of his video is propaganda, and reveals his motives are not pure…

 

Ending at 9:01 – Again, another straw man. I never said definitions transfer into empirical proof. I never claimed the definition means God exists in the physical world. In fact, if God did exist in the physical world He would not be God. No Christian theist would ever claim God exists in the physical world. Did he even watch my videos or just hear what he wanted to hear? The dishonestly is pathetic and really shows it is just another piece of propaganda.

Second, once again, he has limited the real world to the physical, which is not proven and is highly controversial, as philosophers like Nagel argue logical truths are objective but not physical. If the real world is only the physical then his own logical claims are not real or true and have no bearing on what is real. I thought it would be obvious the real world would include objective logic, but apparently that it too much to consider for some Internet atheists. Yet the irony is they insist their logical claims are true about the real world, like this analytic/synthetic distinction. It is an excellent example of terrible logic. If you are going to make logical claims about the real world then you already accept logic is objectively true and has a bearing on reality. But some Internet atheists, want it both ways. They want to tell theists their logical claims have no truth-value, why making logical claims about what is true. It is embarrassing and AntiCitizenX is a prime example of this.

Third, the OA never claims from a definition alone you get to existence. It claims the definition is logical coherent and then asks if it is metaphysically possible. You can have a definition, but that alone doesn’t make it metaphysically possible. I can define a tree as necessary, but that will not show it is metaphysically possible based on a posteriori reasoning. So he dishonestly attacks the OA and demonstrates he doesn’t understand it.

 

Ending at 10:28 – This is just plain wrong, as even David Hume points out centuries ago. The only way something can be proven logically if its negation is logically impossible, and Robert Maydole’s Modal perfection argument does in fact show the negation of maximal greatness is impossible, which I went over in “Answering Objections to the Ontological Argument (Part 1). Even if you deny the MPA, no one is saying the definition alone gets you to existence. It must also be metaphysically possible. It must be easy to attack an argument when you consistently take everything out of context.

 

Ending at 10:52 – AntiCitizenX asks for examples of things that exist necessarily, which doesn’t address the argument. That wouldn’t work because he is asking for physical things in the universe, which by definition are not necessary. So this question is a setup. Second, it is matter of metaphysics to explain the physical universe and is the basis of contingency arguments. The obvious logic follows – if there are contingent things, like the physical, where did they originate? This obvious chains goes back to the need for a necessary substance so contingent things can exist, which theists argue would have to be a necessary being. Asking for extra examples would be absurd because logically there would only be a need for one necessary substance/being. Also the mere lack of other necessary things doesn’t imply there are is not one necessary substance obviously… That would be an association fallacy.

 

Also, his ignorance on the nature of necessity outstanding. The definition of ontological necessity does not mean existence by definition, it means “cannot fail to exist if possible.” It is a way for something to exist, not existence by definition. In other words, it describes a type of existence, in the same way something can exist contingently. I doubt he has ever read anything on necessity like, “Naming and Necessity” or “The Nature of Necessity”? If you are going to redefine terms to debunk an argument you only show your ignorance and you end of debunking a straw man, not the argument itself. Necessity doesn’t equal existence; it is a property of something that can exist, if possible…

 

Ending at 11:29 – AntiCitizenX says truth doesn’t exist, it is label. So the obvious question which follows: It that is a truth about reality or just a label? It is true that no truth exists? By his own logic is that not just a label? In other words if all truth is a label, then so is this claim so why would it be anything but a label? This is why his entire position is self-defeating. He wants to say there is no truth, but that itself is truth claim. As Thomas Nagel says:

 

“Claims to the effect that a type of judgment expresses a local point of view are inherently objective in intent: They suggest a picture of the true sources of those judgments which places them in an unconditional context. The judgment of relativity or conditionally cannot be applied to the judgment of relativity itself. To put it schematically, the claim “Everything is subjective” must be nonsense, for it would itself have to be either subjective or objective. But it can’t be objective, since in that case it would be false if true. And it can’t be subjective, because then it would not rule out any objective claim, including the claim that it is objectively false.2

 

Ending at 12:02 – This is false dichotomy. It is not true that in saying if some claims are true, then you are necessarily agreeing in a raw essence of truth. You can think truth exists while not thinking it is a thing of itself, but simply an abstract objective fact of logic like in nominalism and true. Some claims are objectively true and some are objectively false. We do not create the label, we simple discover what is true or not. So even if you reject platonism that doesn’t entail fictionalism. Many philosophers agree in the objectively of logic while rejecting platonism.

 

Ending at 12:33 – This doesn’t make any sense. No one is saying the definition of a square means it exists in the real world. This is once again another terrible straw man. The point is a raw definition of a square entails necessity of four sides. There is no scenario where a square could be without 4 sides. It is a necessary truth of what a square is. No one is therefore claiming it must empirically exist. The dishonestly from this guy is astounding.

 

Ending at 13:33 – This is getting sad and AntiCitizenX only continues the pathetic propaganda. First, I noted in the beginning of my video I am trying to simply the OA, meaning the formulation used is meant to teach, not be a rigorous formation. Second, I already addressed this in a different video, where I point out the OA doesn’t beg the question and gave a more rigorous formulation:

He also continues with his straw man of a definition of necessity. Once again, necessity doesn’t mean existence, that should have been obvious. I can definite a tree as necessary, but that doesn’t make it logically possible or even metaphysically possible.

Ending at 14:42 – Another straw man. Does this guy even try or does he just hear big words and assume the rest without any thought? I never once said “greatness” or “betterness” are objective quantifiable things. This is dishonestly at its finest. ‘Great-making properties’ is a title for properties that are ontologically beneficial in all possible worlds. No where did I say greatness is a property itself. I can’t tell anymore is he is really this ignorant and lying on purpose.

Ending at 15:03 – AntiCitizenX has tried to say he can out define a MGB by defining a being that is maximally great, but can beat the other MGB in an arm wrestling contest. Does he even try? If that was the case then the first being is not maximally great and is just another lesser being. We are not asking for degrees of power but one who would be all powerful and if a being could be all powerful then no other being could be more powerful. So just saying there is a greater being is meaningless. If that was the case then that would be the MGB and the other would not be.

Ending at 15:45 – It is evident AntiCitizenX is not even trying. I never said God is necessary because I said so, but because a MGB must entail all great-making properties. It is not accepted ad hoc, but because all GMPs must be entailed, which includes necessity by definition. Asking why is a MGB necessary is like asking why does 2+2=4. It is by definition. If you think the definition is incoherent then you must explain why, not just get upset because you do not like the definition. When I see parodies of the OA, I explain why the definition is logically incoherent, that is how logic works.

Ending at 18:15 – This is once again self-refuting. If you cannot demonstrate something empirically that means it doesn’t exist? I’ve yet to see AntiCitizenX empirically demonstrate the truth of this claim he insists is true. If the truth of the real world is determined by empirical claims then the claim, “empirical claims determine truth” requires empirical evidence as well, but it has none.

Also, once again, I never said definition alone means it exist in the real world. Something must be metaphysically possible for it to be considered to exist in the real world (and yes, I am making a distinction between real and physical world since the real world is more encompassing than the physical). And I’ve already given evidence for why a MGB is metaphysically possible in the real world. So we have more examples of AntiCitizenX taking things out of context.

Ending at 18:44 – I think this may be the worst lie yet. We have no empirical evidence for God? Notice the switch from empirical proof to empirically evidence. Because in reality, we have plenty of evidence, which we infer to the best explanation of theism, but we never claimed proof:

With this empirical evidence William Lane Craig then explains what the OA does:

The theistic arguments need not be taken to be like links in a chain, in which one link follows another so that the chain is only as strong as the weakest link. Rather, they are like links in a coat of chain mail, in which all the links reinforce one another so that the strength off the whole exceeds that of any single link. The ontological argument might play its part in a cumulative case for theism, in which a multitude of factors simultaneously conspire to lead one to the global conclusion that God exists. In that sense, Anselm was wrong in thinking that he had discovered a single argument which, standing independent of all the rest, severe to demonstrate God’s existence in all his greatness. Nevertheless, his argument does encapsulate the thrust of all the argument together to show that God, the Supreme being, exists.3

So now that we do have evidence in the other arguments of natural theology we then have metaphysical possibility from a posterior reasoning and from there we have all we need for the conclusion of the ontological argument. Even if you deny the conclusions from these other arguments, you cannot deny the minimal metaphysical possibility. From there the OA follows and shows that to simply accept the metaphysical evidence that a necessary being is possible means one the most logical conclusion about the actual world is one exists. The only way out of the conclusion is to deny logic has any bearing on the real world, and which is kind of what it seems AntiCitizenX is implying. Which makes me wonder if he thinks his logical claims have any bearing on the real world.

In conclusion AntiCitizenX did an excellent job debunking the straw man he built. He wrapped himself up in a self-defeating case of nonsense and demonstrated he doesn’t understand the OA or how logic works. If he really thinks logic has no bearing on the actual world, then I expect him to through out all the logical claims he made of the real world. He cannot have it both ways.

 

 

 

 

Notes:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JRsHIN5ATY
  2. Nagel (2001). The Last Word, Page 14-15.
  3. Craig and Moreland (2003). Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, Page 449.

ThePolyMath, Quantum Bayesism, Wave Functions, and more

He’s back… ThePolyMath actually did a video reply to my blog post reply, to his video reply, of my original video. This is getting long… But he uses the exact same tactic he used the first time: a retreat to vagueness, personal attacks, and bouncing around from different interpretations. All he has succeeded in doing is showing idealism is a pretty solid understanding of reality if this is the best he can offer.

He starts out by replying that it was not an ad hominem to dismiss certain physicists as quacks because as he says, “Well, actually it is, if the person you are citing is spewing fringe quackery.” Now, if he thinks this constitutes as a reply then I have more to question then just his arguments. Naming-calling people who disagree with you and then dismissing them as quacks is not an argument. The reason certain people are quacks is because their arguments are terrible and based off bad or no evidence. That is why some people are labeled as quacks. If ThePolyMath thinks some of the physicists I cited are quacks then it is his duty to explain why, not just say they are quacks because they are quacks.

I believe Benny Hinn is a quack because he makes doctrines up based on his “so-called” personal revelations he claims to receive, and doesn’t provide objective evidence or support for his claims. That is why he is a quack, not because I can just label him one. ThePolymath fails to demonstrate these things about the physicists he labels as quacks. He seems to imply, “they don’t agree with me, therefore they must be quacks.” It doesn’t work that easily. If you want to call someone a quack then back it up with reasons as to why, do not just say they are quacks because they are quacks…

Ending at 3:18 – ThePolymath tries to refute the von Neumann chain and in doing so demonstrates he doesn’t understand the philosophical implications. He argues that physicists accept the photo detector causes collapse and thus the observer is not necessary. But this is not the point. Advocates of the von Neumann chain agree the photo detector causes collapse, obviously. It is part of the chain and interacts and no one denies this. What we then ask is what caused the photo detector to collapse? If the answer is the environment, then what caused the environment to collapse? Hence you get a chain, a von Neumann chain of several things causing collapse. Trying to say the photo detector causes complete collapse doesn’t address the von Neumann chain.

What he seems to be doing is arguing from the Copenhagen Interpretation alone. Well, of course in the Copenhagen Interpretation the photo detector can fully explain collapse, but it is only a pragmatic interpretation. Of course the von Neumann chain is not necessary in a pragmatic understanding alone. But it doesn’t take any metaphysical conclusions into account, so it can hardly give a complete description of reality. If we are talking from a pragmatic standpoint, then yes, the photo detector causes collapse and I have never denied that. However, it completely misses the real issue of what that would entail, namely a following von Neumann chain to initiate ultimate collapse. So despite “the PolyMath’s claim, the von Neumann chain does take into effect the environmental decoherence effects on particles. But decoherence alone cannot fully explain collapse beyond a pragmatic understanding, and the debate is over the truth of reality. So this appears to be a bait and switch: announce interaction/decoherence can fully explain collapse, but fail to mention that it only applies in the pragmatic Copenhagen Interpretation, which doesn’t address the truth of what reality is.

Also where are these physicists he speaks of that say the photo detector can entirely explains collapse? He claims this all physicists accept this is true, but he seems to leave out the fact that I quoted several physicists in my previous reply to him, which showed interaction/decoherence cannot fully explain collapse. However, he seems to have simply ignored all those quotes and say the exact opposite of what they overwhelmingly agree on – that interaction cannot fully explain collapse. As E Joos said and I previously quoted, “Does decoherence solve the measurement problem? Clearly not. What decoherence tells us, is that certain objects appear classical when they are observed. But what is an observation? At some stage, we still have to apply the usual probability rules of quantum theory.1

There are far more I could of used, like this one from Maximilian Scholosshauer, “…decoherence arises from a direct application of the quantum mechanical formalism to a description of the interaction of a physical system with its environment. By itself, decoherence is therefore neither an interpretation nor a modification of quantum mechanics.2 In fact I could keep going on, but the point is physicists do not say the interaction/decoherence can fully explain collapse other than from a pragmatic standpoint. So ThePolyMath needs to back up his claim, and not just assume something that is obviously true, without evidence. That is intellectual dishonesty at its finest.

Ending at 4:11 – Ok, he did this last time and I skipped over it because it was not an issue. He quotes Lawrence Krauss who says quantum mechanics is deterministic, but our measurement is not what is deterministic. I agree and is why I never addressed it. I fail to see how this is supposed to be shattering for my argument for idealism. We agree the Schroedinger equation is deterministic. As Henry Stapp says:

The Schroedinger equation, like Newton’s and Maxwell’s equations, is deterministic: given the motion of the quantum state for all times prior to the present, the motion for all future time is fixed, insofar as the Schroedinger equation is satisfied for all times. However, the Schroedinger equation fails when an increment of knowledge occurs: then there is a sudden jump to a ‘reduced’ state, which represents the new state of knowledge. This jump involves the well-known element of quantum randomness.3

Of course nature is deterministic, but it is incomplete without our input. This is Henry Stapp’s point, who I quoted in my last reply and ThePolyMath ignored. As I already said in that reply:

Interaction stems back from an observer’s “Heisenberg choice” (to use Henry Stapp’s terminology) which derives a “Dirac Choice” from nature. That is how we can derive the Born Rule and get one actual outcome from the possibilities of the wavefunction. Only the observer has the ability to ‘choose’ between possibilities. Non-conscious measuring devices cannot. As Henry Stapp says, “The observer in quantum theory does more than just read the recordings. He also chooses which question will be put to Nature: which aspect of nature his inquiry will probe. I call this important function of the observer ‘The Heisenberg Choice’, to contrast it with the ‘Dirac Choice’, which is the random choice on the part of Nature that Dirac emphasized.4

 So I fail to see what this is suppose to accomplish in pointing out the evolving wave function by itself is deterministic. No one denies that and neither have I.

Ending at 6:02 – Okay, now I am confused about his position. Prior to this he seemed to argue decoherence theory or from a pragmatic Copenhagen view. In his last video he did that as well, but also implied hidden variables. But now he is advocating quantum bayesism? First thing to note, he seems to be jumping between different ways to avoid idealism, which doesn’t seem reasonable, but instead is an attempt to avoid the most logical explanation. Second, I don’t think quantum bayesism is a good way to save materialism. It seems to be more akin to a scientific anti-realist view of quantum mechanics. Scientific American did an article on this interpretation titled, “Quantum Weirdness? It’s all in your mind: A new version of quantum theory sweeps away the bizarre paradoxes of the microscopic world. The cost? Quantum information exists only in your imagination.5

Now if ThePolyMath is actually an antirealist then it is his right to hold to this view, but I don’t think he has been advocating it up until this point and he doesn’t seem to be elsewhere, which is why I am confused of his position. QBism argues the wave function is just a description of what the observer believes. We are detached from reality and can never know what is taking place and the mathematics is all in our imagination, so to speak. As they say in the Scientific American article:

By interpreting the wave function as personal degrees of belief, it gives precise, mathematical meaning to Bohr’s intuition that “physics concerns what we can say about nature.” And proponents of QBism embrace the notion that until an experiment is performed, its outcome simply does not exist. Before the speed or position of an electron is measured, for example, the electron does not have a speed or a position. The measurement brings the property in question into being. As Fuchs puts it, “With every measurement set by an experimenter’s free will, the world is shaped just a little as it participates in a kind of moment of birth.” In this way, we become active contributors to the ongoing creation of the universe.5

This doesn’t sound like the salvation of materialism (And ThePolyMath fails to demonstrate how this rescues materialism). It sounds like a scientific anti-realist position and more close to subjective idealism. If ThePolyMath wants to hold to QBism, that is his right, but he never demonstrated how this rescues materialism or what the interpretation implies. It seems to lead more towards idealism, which defeats his argument.

It is also a fairly new theory and is unable to explain macroscopic phenomena, so I don’t see it is competing with interpretations based off of standard quantum theory. When I pointed these things out in the information section to ThePolyMath, he simply jumped to Bohmian Mechanics. I’m sorry, but I must ask: are we following the data to where it leads or starting with a presupposition that materialism must be true and then finding anyway to explain the data to save that presupposition? Bohmian Mechanics is incomplete as physicsts have noted.6,7 But also becomes ad hoc due to problems with contextually and over complicates things, causing it to lack parsimony.

However, that is besides the point. This is not how we do science. We don’t start with a metaphysical belief, like materialism, and do everything we can to save it in the face of new evidence. I’ll let the evidence lead me. As Henry Stapp says, “…once the physics assumptions are rectified the philosophy will take care of itself.8 We do not start with a set belief. We start with science and build a philosophical worldview that fits what science has given us. This is why I am idealist now and wasn’t when I started my channel. Scientific evidence converted me.

Ending at 6:48 – Ok he seems to be jumping back to a neo-Copenhagen Interpretation or a hidden variable interpretation now. I wish he would just pick a position to argue from. ThePolyMath is not holding to an interpretation he feels best fits the data, but it simply trying to do anything he can to avoid idealism. When I pointed out the environment cannot choose between different possibilities he responds by quoting something from his last video, where he argues “the wave function doesn’t have a physical reality, it is just a mathematical model that describes the expectation values of particular observables of a quantum particle or system.” To which I reply: why on earth would I disagree with this? Of course it doesn’t have a “physical reality”. Seriously, is he even trying or has he been listening to me up until this point? I argue it is real, just as something nonphysical from which physical reality emerges from upon collapse. So his argument is a straw man. I never said the wave function had a “physical reality.”

He then tries to argue the Neo-Copenhagen view of the wave function, that it is just, “…a mathematical model that describes the expectation values of particular observables…” Well that is fine, but not everyone agrees as he implies. In fact the ThePolyMath fails to explain why this view of the wave function is the only view one can hold to. The problem is ThePolyMath fails to explain why this is the most logical way to view the wave function or even demonstrate that it is not an actual thing (non-physical that is).

Rosenblum and Kuttner in “The Quantum Enigma,” argue the wave function is a real nonphysical thing:

Quantum probability, waviness, on the other hand, is mysteriously objective; it’s the same for everyone. The wavefunction is the whole story: The standard quantum description has no atom in addition to the wavefunction of the atom. As a leading quantum physics text would have it, the term “the wavefunction of the atom” is synonym for “the atom. If someone looked in a particular spot and happened to see the atom there, that looked “collapsed” the spread out waviness of that atom to be wholly at that particular spot.9

If you read the surrounding the context, they keep iterating the point “Observing the particle creates it being there,” “the atom’s widely spread out wave function to be concentrated at that spot on the screen.” Now the reason I bring this up is because later in his video ThePolyMath comes back to this point and tries again to say that no physicists thinks the wave function is a real thing. Which is clearly false. I could name several.

Here is another recent paper which also makes a similar argument: http://arxiv.org/abs/1311.7127

He can call “The Quantum Engima” a book of far-out ideas, but he has yet to demonstrate why this is. If particles have properties prior to measurement and the wave function is only a mathematical model that describes what we can know about the system, then how does that not collapse to scientific anti-realism or hidden variables? And if it is hidden variables then where is the evidence for it? Perhaps I am misunderstanding his position, but he is jumping all over the place making it is impossible to follow or know what his position actually is.

He then goes on to say, “…It is not as if the particle did no have any properties prior to measurement” (and later quotes Stenger who says the same thing, so I address that here as well). As before, I reply – what evidence suggests they do? If hidden variables have been ruled out and the Kochen-Specker shows us the experimental context is essential for the outcome obtained how does this show particles had physical properties prior to measurement? Where is this hidden variable that can give a particle it’s physical properties prior to measurement that he speaks of? As Rosenblum and Kuttner say, “We can never rule out “undetectable things.” But a theory with no testable consequence beyond what is was invented to explain is unscientific”10. If ThePolyMath wants to argue particles can have properties prior to measurement he better get some data to back it up. If he cannot he is being unscientific, because all the data I’ve presented in my blog and videos suggests hidden variables do not exist. He has failed to present evidence for hidden variables so far or explain how particles obtain properties without an observer’s measurement. Until he does that, simply repeating the same assertions in a new video will not change that and I’m sick of repeating myself. So I’ll just ignore his sad attempts to pretend hidden variables exist until he presents evidence.

Ending at 7:13 – ThePolyMath directly lies, literally. There is no other way to put it. He implies I am only quoting some of the early pioneers of quantum mechanics, and we have moved past their ideas so they do not hold any power today. This is incredibly dishonest and he should be ashamed. It is pathetic propaganda. I have quoted early pioneers, but I’ve also quoted recent physics like Paul Davies, John Gribbin, Bruce Rosenblum, Fred Kuttner, Bernard Haisch, Anton Zeilinger, Eaun Squires, Maximilian Scholosshauer, etc. (and Henry Stapp, since he is still alive today and still contributing work). I’ve quoted both early and modern physicists and for him to dishonestly leave out that detail demonstrates his video is a piece of propaganda. Perhaps he is getting desperate at this point and why he feels he has to resort to these types of tactics.

Also why is it wrong to quote the early pioneers of quantum theory? Here is a recent paper Anton Zeilinger co-authored that directly uses a Neils Bohr quote that I have also used – http://arxiv.org/pdf/1206.6578v2.pdf

Is ThePolyMath going to whine about modern physicists quoting early pioneers as well, or only when I do it? The point is their ideas have not been kicked to the wayside as ThePolyMath dishonestly implies. Quantum theory is the most accurate scientific model ever developed. The work of the early pioneers still has an impact and is used by physicists today. If ThePolyMath doesn’t realize this, then he once again has demonstrated poor research on his behalf.

Ending at 14:07 – We finally get to my favorite part. He first tries to claim something I already addressed last time. Yes, Zeilinger doesn’t ever say mind or consciousness, and I addressed this in my last post, so I won’t repeat it here. Did ThePolyMath conveniently leave out that this little fact in his video reply? That is adorable… Just repeating an argument I already addressed is not a counter.

He then say the second half of my response is just a hissy fit and to just ignore it. Yes, the old ‘pay no attention to the man behind the curtain’ act. So just ignore the parts where I pointed out his error on the Kochen-Specker theorem, quote mining of Zelinger, his errors surrounding the Leggett-Garg inequality, etc. If that is what he thinks works as a reply, then it only reassures myself that my arguments are sound, to which I owe him thanks.

He ends the video by resorting back to his ways of childish of insults and then quotes Matt Dillhaunty who is trying to argue you can’t test God, because God is not a variable. This is so much of a misunderstanding I don’t even no where to begin. First, I never said there was a God variable, because God is not a natural process that can be studied. If He were, He would not be God. That much should have been obvious to anyone who tries to debate theism. So that is a straw man. Second, you can’t test any metaphysical view of reality. All we can do is study the data in the natural physical word and reach a metaphysical conclusion of what that data means. To just call a metaphysical inference a conjecture doesn’t make it one. The skeptic needs to show why. There is no materialism variable either. Materialists study reality and feel the data infers the philosophical belief of materialism. So shall we kick materialism to the side since it cannot be tested in the same matter as well?

That is all for now. At this point if I get another response I doubt I’ll respond. ThePolyMath has advocating the hidden variables idea for a second time – that a particle can have properties prior to measurement, but he has yet again failed to offer evidence for it. If he can come up with something better I’ll take another crack at it, but I doubt he will. Furthermore, he seems to just be bouncing around from interpretation to interpretation, trying to find anything to save materialism. If that is his tactic it is pointless to converse with him. Apart from acting like a 5th grade bully who insults people he doesn’t agree with, he doesn’t seem to make coherent sense. He claims I misrepresent physics and that is the cause of his anger but he can’t seem to justify it. So what is the real cause of his childish anger? What he seems to actually be angry about is I offer an interpretation and argue it best fits the data. He doesn’t like the presented interpretation because it doesn’t fit with his philosophical beliefs, so he is angry people disagree with him, which again is childish.

Look, I don’t agree with Many Worlds interpretation but I would never say Everettians are misrepresenting science. They just have different metaphysical beliefs, and I argue they are wrong. But to say either of us is misrepresenting science shows us ThePolyMath doesn’t know what that means and just throws out these lines to further is propaganda work.

Since he doesn’t give evidence or an account of which interpretation he is arguing from it is pointless to keep pointing this out. All he has done is demonstrated that if this is the best reply materialists can come up with then he has assured me idealism and the argument from quantum mechanics is pretty strong and cannot be refuted.

Notes:

  1. Joos (2000). Decoherence: Theoretical, Experimental, and Conceptual Problems, Page 14.
  2. Schlosshauer (2005). Decoherence, the measurement problem and interpretation of quantum mechanics, Page 8. http://arxiv.org/abs/quantph/0312059
  3. Stapp (1999) “Attention, intention, and will in quantum physics,” J. Consciousness Studies, Page 17 http://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/9905054v1.pdf
  4. https://inspiringphilosophy.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/quantum-physics-still-debunks-materialism-refuting-thepolymath/
  5. Von Baeyer, “A New Version of Quantum Theory Sweeps Away the Bizarre Paradoxes of the Microscopic World. The Cost? Quantum Information Exists Only in Your Imagination.” Scientific American June 2013: 49-53. Web.
  6. Schlosshauer (2005). Decoherence, the measurement problem and interpretation of quantum mechanics, Page 31-33. http://arxiv.org/abs/quantph/0312059
  7. Gao (2011). Why the De Broglie-Bohm Theory Goes Astray. http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/8956/
  8. Stapp (1999) “Attention, intention, and will in quantum physics,” J. Consciousness Studies, Page 4 http://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/9905054v1.pdf
  9. Bruce Rosenblum & Fred Kuttner (2011) The Quantum Enigma 2nd Edition, Page 81.
  10. Bruce Rosenblum & Fred Kuttner (2011) The Quantum Enigma 2nd Edition, Page 110.