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Thread: My problems with religion

  1. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by fudgetusk View Post
    If the brain is not a machine then we will never understand it or replicate it in this world, which is made up of logical things and logical ideas. if it is not a machine then what is it? what is a 'mind'? I tend to think pragmatically about the function of the mind/soul. Yet believe that the existence of the mind is impossible and yet is. I cannot still get around the idea that free will exists. in the end there is only ever one best choice in any given situation. And is it coincidence that we always take it?
    You are making some assumptions here that I will list just to clarify them. I don't think any of them are true, but they are more or less believable given whatever social mood influences us.

    1) We can never understand something if it is not a machine.
    2) The world is made up of logical things and ideas.
    3) There is only ever one best choice in any given situation.
    4) We always make the best choice.
    5) Free will does not exist.

    The opposite of a machine would be something capable of making a choice. We would be examples of that. Given indeterminism, quantum reality could be interpreted as making choices as well. Given quantum physics, number 5 is false at least at the quantum level.

  2. #92
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    I do not find a necessity for free will. Some people obviously feel this necessity personally and strongly, however. This could be left over belief from their religious hangover.

    I do not have incontrovertible evidence that there is or is not free will. My philosophy does not depend on it and is not supported by one notion over the other. At an experiential level, having free will and having asymptotic approximation are the same thing. Additional differentiation judgements beyond normal experience would be required to determine if one had free will or merely possessed asymptotic approximation. The human being could absolutely not tell the difference between the two states. Whether human beings would be capable of devising tests to answer the question definitively is itself an interesting question.

  3. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    You are making some assumptions here that I will list just to clarify them. I don't think any of them are true, but they are more or less believable given whatever social mood influences us.

    1) We can never understand something if it is not a machine.
    2) The world is made up of logical things and ideas.
    3) There is only ever one best choice in any given situation.
    4) We always make the best choice.
    5) Free will does not exist.

    The opposite of a machine would be something capable of making a choice. We would be examples of that. Given indeterminism, quantum reality could be interpreted as making choices as well. Given quantum physics, number 5 is false at least at the quantum level.
    1 When I say we cannot understand a non mechanical soul I am saying there is nothing to understand. If we are just a blob of consciousness with no physical presence then what is there to test and know about? All we know about is the side effect of personality. How do you examine something when it is not there?

    2 I see no reason to think otherwise. Sure weird unexplained stuff happens but it is surely logical to assume there is a logical explanation. ockham's razor. I only turn to a metanatural explanation when all else fails.

    3 No I have talked about options that are equally good. Then we turn to being random. or do we? I would suggest we simply rely on something like superstition to make a choice like that.(I prefer left to right)

    4 I haven't said that. I've said that being wrong is still logical to the person making the decision. All depends on how much info we have.

    5 Haven't heard anything to dissuade me from that viewpoint. Why is quantum reality proof of free will?

  4. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by fudgetusk View Post
    1 When I say we cannot understand a non mechanical soul I am saying there is nothing to understand. If we are just a blob of consciousness with no physical presence then what is there to test and know about? All we know about is the side effect of personality. How do you examine something when it is not there?
    The problem is you are assuming in spite of empirical evidence, “the side effect of personality”, that consciousness is not there but unconscious physical reality is. All we know of physical reality is that it is susceptible to measurement. I admit that the measurements are unconscious and they can be manipulated mathematically to obtain predictions, but that is just the surface of reality and the predictions are only about the next measurement.

    Quote Originally Posted by fudgetusk View Post
    2 I see no reason to think otherwise. Sure weird unexplained stuff happens but it is surely logical to assume there is a logical explanation. ockham's razor. I only turn to a metanatural explanation when all else fails.
    To believe that the world is made up of logical things and ideas may be a cultural illusion. An alternative would be that the world is made up of volitional reality at many levels, that is, stuff that can make choices which need not be dependent on logic nor having a brain.

    Quote Originally Posted by fudgetusk View Post
    3 No I have talked about options that are equally good. Then we turn to being random. or do we? I would suggest we simply rely on something like superstition to make a choice like that.(I prefer left to right)
    An AI machine would behave this way, but I don’t think we do. We are not even aware of all the options available to us and still we make a choice even before we know which is the best one, even before we flip a coin to choose one option from the set of best options.

    Quote Originally Posted by fudgetusk View Post
    4 I haven't said that. I've said that being wrong is still logical to the person making the decision. All depends on how much info we have.
    That is how I understood what you meant by “best choice”. It is the best choice to the one making the decision even though it may not actually be the best choice. What I am saying is that our choices are made prior to the brain coming in to justify the choices, or rationalize them. When we use logic we are not interested in finding the best choice, but justifying the one we have already made. I don't see this as a bad thing. We reach better answers faster this way because we are motivated although partially blinded. I would reference Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind" to support the position.

    Quote Originally Posted by fudgetusk View Post
    5 Haven't heard anything to dissuade me from that viewpoint. Why is quantum reality proof of free will?
    It is not proof, but indeterminism can be interpreted as volitional activity. What makes quantum indeterminism so powerful in support of free will is that quantum theory claims there are no “hidden variables” to explain this indeterminism. All one has is a wave probability distribution to estimate what the likely outcomes will be. That this indeterminism exists at all suggests that indeterminism at all levels may exist as well. There may not be any laws of nature but only probabilistic answers to base predictions on.

  5. #95
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    >>The problem is you are assuming in spite of empirical evidence, “the side effect of personality”, that consciousness is not there but unconscious physical reality is.

    I never said that either. I'm talking about consciousness and/or physical reality. A 'machine' doesn't denote being unconscious in this context. I'm simply making the distinction between a soul that can be studied and worked out and a soul that cannot be. Both would be bound by internal logic and have no free will.

    >>To believe that the world is made up of logical things and ideas may be a cultural illusion. An alternative would be that the world is made up of volitional reality at many levels, that is, stuff that can make choices which need not be dependent on logic nor having a brain.

    if the world is not bound by logic then it is not making much of an impression on me because it is painfully logical to me. I experience very weird coincidences but I don't see it as proof that the world is alive. That's way down the list of possibilities.

    >>An AI machine would behave this way, but I don’t think we do. We are not even aware of all the options available to us and still we make a choice even before we know which is the best one, even before we flip a coin to choose one option from the set of best options.

    AI would behave superstitiously? Maybe if it had gathered enough data(memories) I believe the subconscious makes a pretty good go at making a decision in a very short time. Do you know how many operations the human brain makes per second? 38 thousand trillion. So when you are wondering if to have an egg sandwich or a ham, what is actually going on is millions of calculations that we experience as the mundane act of choosing a filling. We experience next to nothing of what is going on. So who is to say we do not think superstitiously? Mentalists make a living on the fact we do. The subconscious mind has access to much more data(memories) than the conscious mind. This is proved through hypnosis. In a trance we can recall things that the conscious mind never could. We have drawn a link between emotion and making decisions. Surely emotions ARE subconscious. do you consciously decide to be angry when someone insults you? no. it just happens. We would struggle not to have these emotions. Add it all up and the subconscious mind is way better at making decisions than the conscious mind. The conscious mind is making decisions with very little data.

    >>When we use logic we are not interested in finding the best choice, but justifying the one we have already made.

    Our ability to monitor the brain has not come to a point where we would be able to know this. are you going to cite some practical macro sized experiment to show this? I find such tests a little dubious. They are all open to suggestion by the tester. But none of this proves we have free will in the end. Retroactive thinking is still logical. Logic decides what we do. Not us.

    >>All one has is a wave probability distribution to estimate what the likely outcomes will be.

    if you are talking about the double slit test and the photon becoming a wave then I am with you. I do not see indeterminism as proof of free will. Rather it is proof of our ignorance.
    Last edited by fudgetusk; 11-27-2017 at 11:10 AM.

  6. #96
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    You could say, metaphorically, that quantum indeterminism is “proof of our ignorance”, but ignorance usually means we are ignorant about something that we could know but don’t at the moment. In the quantum physics case there are no hidden variables. That means our ignorance is permanent. There is nothing to know. In order to get around that some people propose “many worlds”, many universes where each possible option occurs so one can avoid saying that some quantum reality made a choice when we measured it.

    I agree: “Add it all up and the subconscious mind is way better at making decisions than the conscious mind.” However, I don’t think these are “logical” decisions that we are unaware of.

    When you write, “I'm simply making the distinction between a soul that can be studied and worked out and a soul that cannot be. Both would be bound by internal logic and have no free will”, the assumption I hear is “Both would be bound by internal logic”. The alternative is they could be making choices perhaps influenced by constraints.

    When we study something we do two things: (1) We make observations about some measurable aspect of reality; and (2) we create a model from those observations. The model allows us to predict future observations. In the model, there is determinism and no free will. The model, however, is not reality. It is only a way to make a prediction about a future measurable aspect of reality.

  7. #97
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    >>but ignorance usually means we are ignorant about something that we could know but don’t at the moment. In the quantum physics case there are no hidden variables.

    We thought we had gravity down, then we didn't. Now we have dark matter. We thought we knew how the expansion of the universe went down, then we didn't now we have dark energy. We cannot detect them but we do see their effect on reality. So we cannot say there are no hidden variables. You cannot rule out something you cannot sense. Scientists have created negative mass. When you push it it moves towards you. Madness. There would have been a time when that was thought impossible. But let's suppose you are right and there IS indeterminism. Doesn't mean it is proof of free will. I have said the creation of the universe/God/consciousness is an impossible act. Doesn't mean it is an act of free will. That requires a mind and choices. There was nothing before creation took place. No mind. Just madness. The indeterminism of particles could be part of that madness. It could pervade all of reality to some degree. Madness is not free will. It is movement without reason. Like the creation of the universe. This unreason could inflict our own minds. It could explain insanity and genius inspirations.

    >>I agree: “Add it all up and the subconscious mind is way better at making decisions than the conscious mind.” However, I don’t think these are “logical” decisions that we are unaware of.

    We are aware of these decisions as a feeling. The mass of calculations(millions, billions, trillions) adds up to an emotion or a vague thought. And I see no reason to believe they aren't logical, if that's what you are saying. Why not? because they are so quick? if I tap a difficult sum into a calculator it will figure it out in microseconds. Is that not logical? because it's quick? It would take a person minutes to work out, probably making a few mistakes on the way. I think you are entranced by the experience of your own mind as all people are. THAT plodding tool of logic which allows you to see the decision process, to include you in the game. You've become convinced it is you doing the thinking. Because you cannot see the trillions of calculations under the surface. You say we are aware of these decisions. Trillions of them? Per second? Of course not. The human experience is a dream and we are not the dreamer, we are an extra in the dream.

    >>the assumption I hear is “Both would be bound by internal logic”. The alternative is they could be making choices perhaps influenced by constraints.

    Logic is restrained by data.

    >>When we study something we do two things: (1) We make observations about some measurable aspect of reality; and (2) we create a model from those observations. The model allows us to predict future observations. In the model, there is determinism and no free will. The model, however, is not reality. It is only a way to make a prediction about a future measurable aspect of reality.

    The model may be accurate. Still waiting for more data.

  8. #98
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    When I read logic and madness I think of determinism (logic) and uniform randomness like flipping a coin (madness). I agree with the following statement:

    If something is determined or uniformly random then that something does not have free will.


    I use this argument to claim that an AI machine has no free will and cannot be conscious.

    However, I don’t agree that reality in general is determined or subject to uniform randomness. Quantum indeterminism and our own experience of our choices do not suggest this is true. To get past these two objections one would have to claim two things: (1) A future quantum theory will remove indeterminism, and (2) Our experience of our choice making ability is a delusion. I don’t think either of these are reasonable to assume today.

    The idea of “indeterminism” is in the quantum theory model. It need not be in reality. I don’t think reality is indeterministic. Rather I see reality as making choices, hence conscious. The quantum indeterminism just means that quantum theory does not offer an objection to my claim. As far as quantum theory goes, reality might be conscious. That is one valid interpretation of what its model shows as indeterminism.

    When you write, “The model may be accurate”, I wonder what you mean by “accurate”. If the model works to give predictable results about future measurements, then I would agree that model is accurate enough for our prediction purposes today. I don’t think we should ever assume that a scientific model is an accurate description of reality because our models change and what we are measuring are only some aspects of reality.

    When you write, “I see no reason to believe they aren't logical”, I would refer you to Jonathan Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind” and his moral foundations. These moral foundations are, according to his research, “innate” and they contradict each other. This suggests to me that logic will not solve moral issues. Here is a video of Haidt talking about the “Rationalist Delusion”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kI1wQswRVaU&t=309s

    Last edited by YesNo; 11-28-2017 at 04:30 PM.

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    Oh I'm not saying for definite that I am right. Just that what I'm saying is more logical. I have said that the creation of the universe has to be illogical. But that does not mean anything else is. Some people look for the most obvious answer(scientists/doctors/police/reporters/) some look for the second or third likeliest answer. There's room for both. But the first group should have more power than the second, logically.

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    I don’t see any use of logic in the argument. However, I also think that the creation of the universe is “illogical”. Basically it has nothing to do with logic being a choice.

    Now, it might be worth asking which position corresponds best the current social mood. Your position would correspond to a bullish social mood. People believe in their individual rights and abilities and think they are rational. A bearish social mood would switch to the opposite position.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    I don’t see any use of logic in the argument. However, I also think that the creation of the universe is “illogical”. Basically it has nothing to do with logic being a choice.

    Now, it might be worth asking which position corresponds best the current social mood. Your position would correspond to a bullish social mood. People believe in their individual rights and abilities and think they are rational. A bearish social mood would switch to the opposite position.
    Logic would dictate that we are machines. Surely. That is what we must consider first. We are cause and effect. We are it and it binds us. Cause creates effect. We make(cause) the right choices(effect) as far as we are able to tell(logic).

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    If people like Jonathan Haidt disagree, it is not “surely” the case. I do admit if we project aspects of reality on a set of measurements we can use logic to manipulate those measurements. That logic would be deterministic. However, what that logic is working with are measurements, projections of reality, and not reality itself.

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    If we are not machines then what are we? If consciousness does not have a mechanism then how does it function? The brain is clearly a machine or device because it uses electricity and we can see parts of the brain light up when we do certain things. You could argue it is a medium through which soul interacts with the body. But if the soul has no mechanism then what is it?

    >> I do admit if we project aspects of reality on a set of measurements we can use logic to manipulate those measurements. That logic would be deterministic. However, what that logic is working with are measurements, projections of reality, and not reality itself.

    Not sure what you mean about projecting aspects of reality on a set of measurements. Surely we just measure reality.

    I would argue that is reality. We measure it and we understand it.

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    We would be agents with the ability to make limited choices.

    I don’t know if the brain is a machine or not. One can describe the brain as a machine, but that doesn’t mean it is a machine. Although I like the “radio analogy” in showing the relationship between mind and body, the radio is a machine and that is where that analogy may break down.

    When we measure something we obtain data. The data is what is analyzed mathematically and logically, not reality. The theories that are useful are able to predict future data values like the ones we have already collected. These data values are projections of reality. They are not reality itself.

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