Tuesday, January 15, 2019

My Dialogue with Jeff Lowder Concerning his Arguments for Nnaturalism

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Lowder summarizes his debate with  Frank Turek [1] "what best explains reality: naturalism or theism?" He defines his terms: “naturalism” "the physical exists and, if the mental exists, the physical explains why the mental exists. If naturalism is true, then there are no purely mental beings which can exist apart from a physical body and so there is no God or any person or being much like God." He defines supernaturalism: "...the mental exists and, if the physical exists, the mental explains why anything physical exists. If supernaturalism is true, then there is no purely physical matter which can exist without some sort of ultimate mental creator."

He has three contentions but I will only deal today with matters pertaining to the definitions, I will deal with the contentions in days to come. Lowder defines Naturalism as "the view that the physical exists and, if the mental exists, the physical explains why the mental exists.[1] If naturalism is true, then there are no purely mental beings which can exist apart from a physical body and so there is no God or any person or being much like God." Then Supernaturalism is just the reverse, if it exists then mental explains physical.[2] 

This asserts that God is a being one among many, ("...no purely mental beings"). The theological trajectory developed by Tillich, John Macquarrie, (and others) voiced at Vatican II, indicates God is not a being but being itself. Moreover we have a problem in understanding what "mental" is when divorced from the physical process involving brain. I guess I don't mind your definition in principle but it is kind a metaphysical constrict to assert that we can see into the black box deeply enough to know that God's mental process well enough to critique it. I just assume that is part of what is meant by "God transcends our understanding."

If I were to say the physical is only a form of energy and matter is not the primary state or the primordial state of energy, you would probably say I am being too literal about the physical. It's not matter per se that makes something physical, such that energy is a from of the physical. I assume you might say something like that? I say we don't know all forms of energy. We don't know all that is involved in reality. Thus since the mental is a form of energy how do you know all physical doesn't reduce to the mental? Why make this sharp distinction between physical physical ?

  • Apart from the Being itself thing I wish you would address what I said about energy
    We don't know all that is involved in reality. Thus since the mental is a form of energy how do you know all physical doesn't reduce to the mental? Why make this sharp distinction between physical physical and mental especially when dealing with the ultimate ends of existence?

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      Sorry, Joe. With all due respect, I have no idea what you are talking about.

    Don't worry about it man, No one else does why should you? Look you say SN = physical depends upon the mental. right? You say N = mental depends upon the physical. My question is assuming that I can assert rationally that mind is a form of energy (I can't think what else it would be), since we know that matter is just another form of energy how do we know that the N and SN don't meet at some point where they are both energy?

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        If mind is a form of energy, then "naturalism" as I have defined it, a/k/a "source physicalism," is true. In fact, in that case, I think eliminative materialism might even be true. Welcome back to atheism, Joe! 😂🤗

    I suppose you are assuming there's only one kind of energy and we know all about it? I don't think we actually know what energy is. For example what is it made of? Most scientists will say charges but charges are comes out to be more charges. If Mind is energy it could as easily be that your view reduces to a form of idealism.;-)

    The reductionst/materialists and phsyicalists assume and often argue that there is no proof of anything not material and not ‘physical” (energy is a form of matter).  The hard tangible nature of the physical is taken as the standard for reality while the notion of something beyond our ability to dietetic is seen in a skeptical way, even though the major developments in physics are based upon it. Is the physical world as tangible and solid as we think? Science talks about “particles” and constructs models of atoms made of wooden tubes and little balls this gives us the psychological impression that the world of the very tiny is based upon little solid balls. In reality subatomic particles are not made out of little balls, nor are these ‘particles” tangible or solid. In fact we could make a strong argument that no one even knows what they are made of. 
    We keep talking about "particles", but this word doesn't adequately sum up the type of matter that particle physicists deal with. In physics, particles aren't usually tiny bits of stuff. When you start talking about fundamental particles like quarks that have a volume of zero, or virtual particles that have no volume and pop in and out of existence just like that, it is stretching the everyday meaning of the word "particle" a bit far. Thinking about particles as points sooner or later leads the equations up a blind alley. Understanding what is happening at the smallest scale of matter needs a new vocabulary, new maths, and very possibly new dimensions.(quoting me from my article)
    This is where string theory comes in. In string theory fundamental particles aren't treated as zero-dimensional points. Instead they are one-dimensional vibrating strings or loops. The maths is hair-raising, and the direct evidence non-existent, but it does provide a way out of the current theoretical cul-de-sac. It even provides a route to unifying gravity with the other three fundamental forces - a problem which has baffled the best brains for decades. The problem is, you need to invoke extra dimensions to make the equations work in string-theory and its variants: 10 spacetime dimensions to be precise. Or 11 (M-theory). Or maybe 26. In any case, loads more dimensions than 4.9 (my article fn 9)

    Particles are not solid; they are not very tiny chunks of solid stuff. They have no volume nor do they have the kind of stable existence we do. They “pop” in and out of existence! This is not proof for the supernatural. It might imply that the seeming solidity of “reality” is illusory. There are two kinds of subatomic particles, elementary and composite. Composite are made are made out of smaller particles. Now we hear it said that elementary particles are not made out of other particles. It’s substructure is unknown. They may or may not be made of smaller particles. That means we really don’t know what subatomic particles are made of. That means scientists are willing to believe in things they don’t understand.10 While it is not definite enough to prove anything except that we don’t know the basis of reality, it does prove that and also the possibilities for the ultimate truth of this are still wide open. To rule out “the supernatural” (by the wrong concept) on the assumption that we have no scientific proof of it is utterly arrogance and bombast. For all we know what we take to be solid unshakable reality might be nothing more than God’s day dream. Granted, there is end to the spinning of moon beams and we can talk all day about what ‘might be,’ so we need evidence and arguments to warrant the placing of confidence in propositions. We have confidence placing evidence; it doesn’t have to be scientific although some of it is. That will come in the next chapter. The point here is that there is no basis for the snide dismissal of concepts such as supernatural and supernature.[3]

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      With the caveat that I'm not a physicist, I'm going to stipulate that anything "physical" has a spatial location. So, when you ask, "what if minds are a form of energy?", my reply is, "Do minds, on your view, have a spatial location?" If yes, then they're what I would call "physical." If no, then they're an example of what I would call something "mental" existing without something "physical" supporting or causing it.
    Joe Hinman 

    Good point but unfortunately it makes the same fallacy as the solidity argument. Look, take a solid object it seems clearly physical. At the subatomic level,however, its mostly nothing. Go down to the level of the particles that make up the object, they are not little balls. In order to explain what they are we have to enter into a recursion and pretend it's not not recursive. Solidity is an illusion.
    In the same way location is an illusion as well for the same reason, places are just points amid objects and space. Everything is mostly space and objectives are not really that solid,so places are not where they seem. Now the mental aspect of our lives is highly dependent upon physical apparatus. But since that is illusory it's more parsimonious to assume that the whole rests upon some basic formation that not dependent or illusory.
    • Just because life that emerges within the complicity of physical depends upon the illusion of solidity for the production of the mental doesn't mean that the ultimate foundation of reality would be as well, That would not be physical since that is illusory. Nor would it be dependent upon the physical, it would have to be some third thing we don't understand.
      As for cation if we assume,for the sake of argument,that a universal mind produced all of reality where would the mind be located? It would not be in it;s owns thoughts except as an object reason.

    [1] JEFFERY JAY LOWDER,  Opening Statement from My Debate with Frank Turek, Secular, Outpost Blog, (Dec,29, 2018)https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/2018/12/29/opening-statement-from-my-debate-with-frank-turek/

    the debate is also on You tube.

    [3] J.L. Hinman, "Can Sciece Really  Prove The Basis of Modern Physics,"   Metacrock's Blog (APR 30,2017)

    I am quoting my fn 4 and 9 in that article:

    STFC “are there other dimensions,” Large Hadron Collider. Website. Science and Facilities Council, 2012 URL: http://www.lhc.ac.uk/The%20Particle%20Detectives/Take%205/13686.aspx


    Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...


    Kristen said...

    I think the idea of mind as some kind of energy makes sense. Spiritual energy, if you will-- or what some Eastern worldviews call "chi."