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View Diary: Let's Teach the Controversy of Evolution vs Intelligent Design **Updated with Poll question** (365 comments)

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  •  Illegitimate requirement. (0+ / 0-)
    When somebody can demonstrate that consciousness can exist without a physical substrate or that substantial deterioration of the physical substrate doesn't lead to deterioration of consciousness...
    You cannot demand physical 'proof' of anything non-physical. To do so abandons science altogether and enters the realm of metaphysics - philosophy. At which point you're arguing beliefs, not evidence and/or facts. And since you don't believe that there is anything non-physical, the exercise would be entirely pointless.

    That said, the existence of base-level rudimentary consciousness in the fabric of reality (given a presumption that there must exist a "Totality of Reality" even if we don't yet know what it is or looks like, or even how many dimensions it encompasses) is certainly conceivable, cannot be ruled out arbitrarily simply because we don't yet know what it is or looks like.

    I rather like Penrose's theory of Orchestrated Objective Reduction [Orch-OR] attempting to explain the objective existence of the reality we perceive, expanded beyond the simpler "observer effect" actuating the subjective reality of concentrated (embodied) consciousness. It involves a separation of space-time itself which collapses a wavefunction once it reaches Planck 'distance' via the quantum of gravity ['graviton']. Does away with the apparent need for a universal observer, a problem for anyone who doesn't want to subscribe to deific ideas. Penrose is a Platonist.

    It has its issues (we will probably never 'see' a graviton, for one), but it does propose a physical substrate that cannot be arbitrarily dismissed as you have attempted to do here.

    •  bad logic using science terms is still bad logic (0+ / 0-)

      Just using the words "graviton", "wave function" and "Planck length" does not make what you said reasonable nor logical.  Sorry, doesn't fly.  

      Of course anyone can and should demand proof that what you call non-physical even exists.  We can prove that photons exist, and they do not have mass.  Black holes, which do crazy things to space-time, have theories which make predictions.  Your word salad?  Not so much.

      •  Sorry, not your hypothesis. (1+ / 0-)
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        Joieau

        I still don't agree with Penrose's hypothesis, but I can't lay it on you.  I do regret calling something I do not fully understand a word salad, and apologize for doing so.

        •  I don't guess there are more (0+ / 0-)

          than a handful of people on this planet who 'understand' Penrose's hypothesis, but at least he's not shy of formulating it and putting it out there for discussion/criticism. I personally am highly skeptical of gravitons existing at all - and am semi-amused every time a team of researchers claim to have established that erstwhile "gravity waves" travel at the speed of light, only to find in the end that all they've managed to measure is the speed of light. Again. Duh...

          But they are trying, which is laudable. More experiments coming this year, we shall see if those end up measuring the speed of light too, rather than the speed of gravity. Which I suspect (because I care to suspect) is more like magnetic flux - instantaneous throughout space-time. But then again, that has the little problem of monopoles, and Lord knows those are as hard to find as gravitons! §;o)

          I also suspect that the most fundamental component /operative /phenomenal process of what we call consciousness is inherent to the Totality of Reality itself. Thus I find it entirely non-surprising that life - and the evolution of life - serves to concentrate this quality in our experiential reality. I suspect that for lots of reasons that seem very good to me, but probably wouldn't convince anybody else. Still, if one can consider that consciousness is somehow a fundamental quality of the universe itself, it is entirely rational to then suspect that it does not cease to exist when the physical structures which concentrate and express it in living organisms cease to function and are dissociated/recycled. Because nothing we know of that fundamentally exists can be created or destroyed. It can only change form...

          •  while I would _like_ to believe this idea, (1+ / 0-)
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            Joieau

            I cannot.  It is a hope, a wish-fulfillment fantasy, not science.  We all want to leave something behind that endures.  We all want to not stop living, death is scary.  That does not make any of these ideas true.  Given that consciousness cannot be defined very well in words, never mind described in scientific or even mathematical terms, we're not even close to having a science of what we loosely call being conscious.  For right now, we just "know it when we see it".  :)

            •  Speak for yourself. (0+ / 0-)

              I am not scared of death. But I've lived a pretty long time, and I've met death more than once. Dying is scary, but death is not. In fact, it's a lot surer an outcome than [live] birth ever was. Of course, that's philosophical, a rumination of consciousness and conscious experience of life and death on planet earth.

              So in my investigations of the subject of consciousness, it is not my "wishes" or "wants" that dictate what avenues appear to be the most promising to me. It's a genuine curiosity about the Totality of Reality. I'd love to know. Don't expect I ever really will. Just curious that way, I guess.

              I'm not a big believer in magic. Can't help it, just know way too many magicians to believe in any of it as anything more than clever sleight-of-mind. And even that presupposes there's a mind to be fooled. I do have some experience in the fields of biophysics and quantum physics, so I am at least able to follow the gist of the most interesting arguments and hypotheses in this quest. In that vein, I'd have to say that Sir Roger Penrose and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff have fairly described their theories - both physical and biological - with some pretty darned good scientific and mathematical terminology.

              Why, they even have precise boundary limits for when rudimentary process crosses the line into actually measurable consciousness. That's a lot more than simple denial ever has or ever will produce.

              P.S. I've said nothing about "left behind," haven't broached the subjects of ghosts and goulies, afterlives, heavens, hells, or even reincarnation. I have approached the subject of Hilbert Spaces and the so-far indeterminate number of dimensions there may be in the Totality of Reality.

              Fact: So far, all attempts to unify the few forces we know of/experience in our reality require the mathematical addition of "extra" dimensionalities (to do away with those pesky singularities that keep rearing their ugly heads). Anywhere from 7 to infinity - favorite so far has 22. If indeed there are more than 3+1 dimensions in the Totality of Reality, it is impossible - a fatal fallacy - for us to arbitrarily rule out the existence of consciousness in any or all of them.

              Worse, we do not yet have a decent handle on the true nature of time, do we?

              •  Way ahead of me, Joieau. (1+ / 0-)
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                Joieau

                You're far ahead of me in thinking about these matters.  
                "I are jest a simple biochemist."

                •  LOL! Well, to tell the truth, (0+ / 0-)

                  I've been at it for quite awhile now. Even worse than that, one of my favorite "Theories of Everything" - lots and lots of those out there these days - has a mere 8 dimensions, but applies to a multi-sheeted space-time (at least one more than Penrose's, though Sir Roger did give Matti credit where credit is due for in OR theory). Unlike Penrose's 'graviton', Pitkaanen's extremal has a hedgehog vector. Like a monopole. Requires more than one collapse of wavefunction to become 'real'...

                  I've always figured that if a "Theory of Everything" can't account for consciousness and all the very odd phenomena of consciousness, it's not worth the paper it's printed on - or the memory in which it's stored.

                  Nobody's got the answers at this point in time and space, so it's all good brain-exercising fun!

                •  And because I am enjoying (0+ / 0-)

                  the exercise, I'll say that in truth, there's no irrefutable physical evidence out there to establish that ANYTHING ever exists apart from the present moment - which we always experience with a time-delay of several microseconds, so we're not really 'here now' either. The entire universe could be recreating itself completely in between 'instantons' of time as everything moves through space (trajectory-driven, ever-evolving coordinates). If we had a decent handle on time, that is, and we don't.

                  Personally, I think reality is mostly habit. You could spontaneously fly apart to opposite ends of the universe one moment to the next. Or find yourself being a crow instead of a human, or walk through walls, or... But our atoms are "used to" being what they were in the moments past, so tend to be the same in moments future. Sort of a 'sum of histories' probability thing. With occasional oopses, that is. Given that matter is cheap, but spontaneously decays on occasion for no apparent reason. §:o)

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