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The evolution of religion

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What I would like to do is treat religion as a behavior, and look at this behavior in the context of evolution, to see if this new behavior brought selective advantage. Instead of treating religion as pro or con, I am treating religion as a new human behavior that suddenly appears.

 

Here is the scenario; it is 10,000 years ago or so and humans are an extension of the apes and evolution, things moving slowly forward. Suddenly a new behavior appears in some of the pre-humans. Did this bring these humans a selective advantage?

 

As someone noted, this is not an original idea. Several atheistic scientists are playing around with it.

 

Your time frame is way off. H. sapiens appeared at least 100,000 years ago. Species as modified apes go back at least 3.6 million years (A. afarensis). By 10,000 years ago people were starting agriculture and having societies larger than the extended family tribe. So your selective advantage has to go back at least 100,000 years.

 

One way to answer this is to compare the two states of mind. The one with the religion or god effect will begin to see some version of divine subjectivity overlaying reality. For example, if his god was of the forest, that god could be in any tree or behind any bush. This would add something extra to his awareness beyond the cause and effect of the sensory systems.

 

You need to develop this and show how "something extra" would be added. Basically what you have is that the religious person would miss the material cause and effect because he would be looking for a divine cause and effect. This would be a selective disadvantage. Anything that interferes with correctly perceiving the objective physical world is going to be, in the long run, disadvantageous.

 

For instance, if you have a religious person thinking gods set fires, then that person is going to miss the correlation between lightning and fires, thus exposing himself to being caught in a prairie fire after a thunderstorm.

 

Let me throw out an alternative evolutionary scenario:

 

This one is based on the existence of deity. It relies upon the fact that any supernatural being is going to have to communicate with humans thru their material brains. So, a new variation appears with a new set of neural pathways such that they can receive communication from deity. Call it a "deity detecting module" in the brain, and it is genetically based.

 

This module has immediate selective advantages:

1. A source of information not available to the senses of the individual: "there's a large predator in the tall grass over there; unless you change your direction it will see you and eat you."

2. A source of support in the face of mental anguish such as grief, depression, loss, etc. Instead of being incapacitated by these emotions, and thus less able to cope with new problems, a person with the module is more functional.

3. There may be other selective advantages, but let's work with these two.

 

So now the module spreads by normal natural selection. Because of the social nature of humans, people without the module can also reap the benefits of those with the module, thus slowing penetration. There may also be linked benefits to not having the module. At any rate, the module today is not fixed in the population, but has 90% penetrance. That explains the 10% of people who are atheists.

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You need to develop this and show how "something extra" would be added. Basically what you have is that the religious person would miss the material cause and effect because he would be looking for a divine cause and effect. This would be a selective disadvantage. Anything that interferes with correctly perceiving the objective physical world is going to be, in the long run, disadvantageous.

 

For instance, if you have a religious person thinking gods set fires, then that person is going to miss the correlation between lightning and fires, thus exposing himself to being caught in a prairie fire after a thunderstorm.

When you have to deal with large amounts of information, having explanations that are wrong but work can be a net advantage. They have a cost - reduced chances of learning the real reasons - but an efficient simplified model often is preferable to a complex and highly incomplete one.

 

The belief that gravity exerts a force of 9.8m/s^2 towards the ground is entirely false. It breaks at any real distance and fails to account for other planets, or non-trivially massive objects being dropped on the Earth.

 

However, it is a lot easier to remember than calculating the masses of both bodies and distance - especially when the lighter body is going to be negligible, as will be the distance for most observations.

 

Let me throw out an alternative evolutionary scenario:

 

This one is based on the existence of deity. It relies upon the fact that any supernatural being is going to have to communicate with humans thru their material brains. So, a new variation appears with a new set of neural pathways such that they can receive communication from deity. Call it a "deity detecting module" in the brain, and it is genetically based.

 

This module has immediate selective advantages:

1. A source of information not available to the senses of the individual: "there's a large predator in the tall grass over there; unless you change your direction it will see you and eat you."

2. A source of support in the face of mental anguish such as grief, depression, loss, etc. Instead of being incapacitated by these emotions, and thus less able to cope with new problems, a person with the module is more functional.

3. There may be other selective advantages, but let's work with these two.

 

So now the module spreads by normal natural selection. Because of the social nature of humans, people without the module can also reap the benefits of those with the module, thus slowing penetration. There may also be linked benefits to not having the module. At any rate, the module today is not fixed in the population, but has 90% penetrance. That explains the 10% of people who are atheists.

 

The module could spread by natural selection, but wouldn't it have to be the result of intelligent design, at least being seeded by intelligent design? It may be spreadable by natural selection, but if it's inclusion in the human genome (whether to emerge at a time, or always reside from early ancestors) was an act of volition, it's not exactly fair to call it an evolutionary process. Evolution could be the delivery mechanism, but that would be it.

 

 

Also, why is the number of atheists be on the rise if this module is advantageous?

Why do the messages seem to conflict between different people within different religions?

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What does "capable" mean here? If it is predictable through prior cause, it is deterministic. If it is not and there is no particular reason this "capability" activates in one way over another, then it is random.

 

On the other hand, since it is self evident that this capability involves choice with purpose/intent thus it is neither. Intent is a well defined tradition of our legal system and pretending not to understand it is a very transparent trick.

 

I should bring up statistical determinism, which resembles that supposed requirement and is in fact how the universe appears to operate. If you flip a 1 billion coins, any combination of heads and tails is technically possible, though you have an extremely high confidence that it will be very close to 50% heads and 50% tails. A decision engine based on statistical determinism could definitely function coherently, but would have the ability to surprise.

 

Indeed it would but would it have ability to exhibit forethought, intent, planning or purpose? Of course not.

 

I'm not sure how that fits in this discussion except perhaps to show a way in which a choice might be based on "you" without being strictly deterministic, contrary to ydoaps' initial claim. I don't believe that randomness is incompatible with free will or with individuality.

 

Only by eliminating intentional planned activity from the equation. Please devise a way for deterministic and random processes working together to exhibit clear characteristics of design.

 

 

How about you define "contingency" and "purpose" in the context of this discussion? Right now I'm not following you.

 

You don't really expect me to believe that you don't understand. The "purpose" of your statement is both clear and obvious.

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On the other hand, since it is self evident that this capability involves choice with purpose/intent thus it is neither. Intent is a well defined tradition of our legal system and pretending not to understand it is a very transparent trick.

 

Where did I say I didn't understand intent? Why do you keep accusing people of "tricks?"

 

I'll reiterate. Is the choice predictable by prior circumstance (including unknowable hidden variables)? Yes or no? If yes, it is deterministic. If no, it is random, by definition. Take note, either way it's still a choice.

 

Indeed it would but would it have ability to exhibit forethought, intent, planning or purpose? Of course not.

 

Why of course not? I'm convinced it could.

 

Only by eliminating intentional planned activity from the equation. Please devise a way for deterministic and random processes working together to exhibit clear characteristics of design.

 

Why do you need to eliminate intentional planned activity? My example is the human brain. I obviously don't understand the complexities of its workings, but I don't need to. Unless you can explain how it can be both not deterministic and not not deterministic (i.e. random), then I'm going with it falling into one of those categories. And the human brain obviously is capable of intent.

 

You don't really expect me to believe that you don't understand. The "purpose" of your statement is both clear and obvious.

 

I know how I would use those words, but I don't know how you're using them, because using my definitions you're not making any sense. So rather than guessing what your argument was or throwing accusations around, I was just asking for clarification.

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Where did I say I didn't understand intent? Why do you keep accusing people of "tricks?"

 

In your previous post you said you "were not following me" As I review all your previous responses I find that doubtful. You seem to be following just fine, but hold to an opinion that is at the very least incomplete.

 

I'll reiterate. Is the choice predictable by prior circumstance (including unknowable hidden variables)? Yes or no? If yes, it is deterministic. If no, it is random, by definition. Take note, either way it's still a choice.

 

This seems incorrect. A choice that involves intent is certainly not random since it is driven by intent to accomplish a purpose. While it may be predictable by prior circumstance (though even this is doubtful), we would have to trace the entire line of prior circumstances back to the root causes because any prior circumstance that also involved purposed choice represents another event with the same question so we would have to first evaluate this circumstance. Only after all of these prior choices have been recursively examined, can we evaluate if this is actually a deterministic cause.

 

Why of course not? I'm convinced it could.

 

Uniform experience informs us this is not the case. Designed systems are one outcome of intent with choice. Yet we have no examples of any system that have the characteristics of design but are known to be derived solely from deterministic and random causes.

 

Why do you need to eliminate intentional planned activity? My example is the human brain. I obviously don't understand the complexities of its workings, but I don't need to. Unless you can explain how it can be both not deterministic and not not deterministic (i.e. random), then I'm going with it falling into one of those categories. And the human brain obviously is capable of intent.

 

We don't know the original cause of life on earth and therefore don't know the original cause of the brain and mind. Because it is unknown, we cannot currently reduce it to deterministic and random causes so it has the same issue as I described above. Your challenge is to provide an example that has, as its root causes, only known deterministic and random events with no intentional choice involved in the entire path. If you can do this then I would agree you are correct in your assertion that choice can be derived by a combination of deterministic and random causes.

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This seems incorrect. A choice that involves intent is certainly not random since it is driven by intent to accomplish a purpose. While it may be predictable by prior circumstance (though even this is doubtful), we would have to trace the entire line of prior circumstances back to the root causes because any prior circumstance that also involved purposed choice represents another event with the same question so we would have to first evaluate this circumstance. Only after all of these prior choices have been recursively examined, can we evaluate if this is actually a deterministic cause.
... alright, assume you have a base cause that is either A) a natural event resulting in the emergence of the universe as we know it, or B) an equally, or to be realistic, drastically more unexplained conscious phenomenon of unknown origin and nature somehow directed the world into being; either way, the ensuing process would be no different. Different sources set off the same reaction. We're no less or more free for the universe having been made by a god than by a quantum fluctuation of hyperdimensional brane collision. Either way, everything anything does is predetermined by a preceding series of events with a degree of uncertainty provided by the random elements of our universe.

 

 

 

Uniform experience informs us this is not the case. Designed systems are one outcome of intent with choice. Yet we have no examples of any system that have the characteristics of design but are known to be derived solely from deterministic and random causes.
well the only designed systems we have are those designed by us, so for once i agree with you. Generously assuming that you're not implying life of course. Which would just be stupid :)

 

 

 

We don't know the original cause of life on earth and therefore don't know the original cause of the brain and mind. Because it is unknown, we cannot currently reduce it to deterministic and random causes so it has the same issue as I described above.
we can rationalize that it is quite nearly certain deterministic and random because that's all we know there to be, and there's nothing to suggest anything else is needed. So we make the fewest assumptions, leaving us with the current interpretation. Which may change. But hasn't needed to yet.

 

 

Why do you need to eliminate intentional planned activity? My example is the human brain. I obviously don't understand the complexities of its workings' date=' but I don't need to. Unless you can explain how it can be both not deterministic and not not deterministic (i.e. random), then I'm going with it falling into one of those categories. And the human brain obviously is capable of intent. [/quote'']Your challenge is to provide an example that has, as its root causes, only known deterministic and random events with no intentional choice involved in the entire path. If you can do this then I would agree you are correct in your assertion that choice can be derived by a combination of deterministic and random causes.
Sigh... to reassert this; what do you mean by intentional choice? you seem to be re-implying something other than random or deterministic. Which would be.... ?

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... alright, assume you have a base cause that is either A) a natural event resulting in the emergence of the universe as we know it, or B) an equally, or to be realistic, drastically more unexplained conscious phenomenon of unknown origin and nature somehow directed the world into being; either way, the ensuing process would be no different. Different sources set off the same reaction.

 

Do they? In your example you assume that different causal modes can have the same result, but I object to that assumption and previously have asked for a real example of natural causes (deterministic and random) producing an outcome that has elements of design or intentional/purposed choices. At this point your claim that either explanation is possible is a tautology that only follows from your assumption.

 

We're no less or more free for the universe having been made by a god than by a quantum fluctuation of hyperdimensional brane collision. Either way, everything anything does is predetermined by a preceding series of events with a degree of uncertainty provided by the random elements of our universe.

 

Again you call on the same assumption that you would have to demonstrate first before w accept the conclusion.

 

well the only designed systems we have are those designed by us, so for once i agree with you. Generously assuming that you're not implying life of course. Which would just be stupid :)

 

It is unknown how life arose from non-life so we can't say if implying life was designed is stupid or not. For the record, I am not making any implication about the origin of life, though it does contain many elements only found in things that are known to have been designed.

 

This is why it is critical for you and sisyphus to show that deterministic and random processes are capable of mimicking design in order to offer the human brain and mind as something capable of generating purposed choice as deterministic and random causation.

 

we can rationalize that it is quite nearly certain deterministic and random because that's all we know there to be, and there's nothing to suggest anything else is needed. So we make the fewest assumptions, leaving us with the current interpretation. Which may change. But hasn't needed to yet.

 

That would depend entirely on your metaphysical view and the assumptions that follow from it.

 

Current interpretation that is favored by the majority is that free will is a fundamental mode of causation at the same level as deterministic and random cause. I have asked that someone demonstrate that free will is not fundamental and instead is a combination of and therefore can be reduced to determinism and randomness but I realize that this demonstration cannot be done. This is exactly what we would predict if indeed free will/intent is fundamental.

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In your previous post you said you "were not following me" As I review all your previous responses I find that doubtful. You seem to be following just fine, but hold to an opinion that is at the very least incomplete.

 

Ok, if you won't clarify, then I'll have to go with my guess, that you don't actually have a coherent meaning in mind when you use the word "contingent."

 

You seem to be calling it something that is neither predetermined nor not predetermined. I'm just trying to point out that that is literally nonsense.

 

This seems incorrect. A choice that involves intent is certainly not random since it is driven by intent to accomplish a purpose.

 

Why certainly not? I see no problem with that whatsoever.

 

While it may be predictable by prior circumstance (though even this is doubtful),

 

Then it is determined. You see?

 

we would have to trace the entire line of prior circumstances back to the root causes because any prior circumstance that also involved purposed choice represents another event with the same question so we would have to first evaluate this circumstance. Only after all of these prior choices have been recursively examined, can we evaluate if this is actually a deterministic cause.

 

What? Why does it matter what caused the prior circumstances? Take the state of the universe at time X. Based on the totality of information contained therein, including all hidden variables, is there more than one possible state for time X+1, or no? If yes, then there is an element of randomness. If no, it is completely determined. Can I prove which? No. Why should I? I'm saying either one or the other is the case, which is actually a tautology. You're saying neither is the case, which is nonsense.

 

Uniform experience informs us this is not the case. Designed systems are one outcome of intent with choice. Yet we have no examples of any system that have the characteristics of design but are known to be derived solely from deterministic and random causes.

 

Look. You're a creationist. That's a belief that's contrary to whole realms of science, and I think it's silly. However, that doesn't matter. It's a complete red herring. Suppose the universe was designed. Suppose evolution is a lie, that the universe is geocentric, whatever. Suppose the brain is just a sponge, and thought is really the realm of immortal, immaterial souls. Grant all that. It doesn't change the argument. Was there a reason your soul decided to come troll this forum, or could it have happened differently? Yes or no? Determined or random?

 

Now, just to be extra clear, I'm not denying free will, so stop saying things like "prove there's no intent" or whatever. There is intent. I intend to do things all the time. What I am saying is that intent is necessarily compatible with determined or non-determined processes, out of logical necessity. Events are A or not A. B is an event. B is A or not A. QED.

Edited by Sisyphus

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What I would like to do is treat religion as a behavior, and look at this behavior in the context of evolution, to see if this new behavior brought selective advantage.

 

Natural selection is definitely at play with regard to religion.

For example, before the great flood there was maybe 1,000,000 people on the earth.

After the great flood, there was only maybe 20 or 30.

 

So, ignore Yahweh, be a vile sinner, poke fun at Noah for building boat and your genetic branch gets waterlogged.

 

Listen to Yahweh, build a boat, then you, your offspring and your genetic branch continues.

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Ok, if you won't clarify, then I'll have to go with my guess, that you don't actually have a coherent meaning in mind when you use the word "contingent."

 

You seem to be calling it something that is neither predetermined nor not predetermined. I'm just trying to point out that that is literally nonsense.

 

Wow! Not sure how you came to that conclusion. I had no idea that contingent had more than one meaning as it applies to causal modes. A causal mode can be either contingent (more than one outcome is possible) or fixed (deterministic).

 

Contingent modes can either be random having no end in mind or they can be intentioned, that is be made with an end in mind or purpose.

 

Why certainly not? I see no problem with that whatsoever.

 

Yes I understand you don't, but it follows from the definition of what something means when we say it is random (no purpose or end in mind) as contrasted with intentional choice which has a purpose.

 

Then it is determined. You see?

 

No I don't, as I explained previously.

 

What? Why does it matter what caused the prior circumstances? Take the state of the universe at time X. Based on the totality of information contained therein, including all hidden variables, is there more than one possible state for time X+1, or no? If yes, then there is an element of randomness. If no, it is completely determined.

 

Not correct again as I previously explained. Your description seems intentionally incomplete.

 

Can I prove which? No. Why should I? I'm saying either one or the other is the case, which is actually a tautology. You're saying neither is the case, which is nonsense.

 

No, I am not. You are changing my words when you remove the third fundamental mode of explanation namely intentional choice. It is transparent why you want to remove it.

 

Look. You're a creationist.

 

You don't know me and you don't know what I am. There are any number of reasons to argue against you including that you are simply wrong or at least short sighted, or simply don't make good or valid arguments an I am attempting to correct them while holding to your worldview. I may have a worldview distinct from both creationism or yours.

 

That's a belief that's contrary to whole realms of science, and I think it's silly.

 

I can see that you think it is silly however the vast majority of successful scientist past and present don't hold your worldview. Furthermore the idea that the universe was created is no more contrary to science than the idea that it had a natural cause. Neither idea is at present testable.

 

However, that doesn't matter. It's a complete red herring.

 

Indeed.

 

Suppose the universe was designed. Suppose evolution is a lie, that the universe is geocentric, whatever. Suppose the brain is just a sponge, and thought is really the realm of immortal, immaterial souls. Grant all that. It doesn't change the argument. Was there a reason your soul decided to come troll this forum, or could it have happened differently? Yes or no? Determined or random?

 

I had a reason to come here. I came here with a purpose. It was a contingent event. I didn't have to linger and participate, I could have moved on, but I made a deliberate plan to do so. Do you often insult people you disagree with?

 

Now, just to be extra clear, I'm not denying free will, so stop saying things like "prove there's no intent" or whatever. There is intent. I intend to do things all the time. What I am saying is that intent is necessarily compatible with determined or non-determined processes, out of logical necessity. Events are A or not A. B is an event. B is A or not A. QED.

 

You mischaracterized the issue I raised. First off I do not believe you have denied free will, but I do believe you have improperly described it as a combination of necessity and chance as is clear from your postings. I have asked you to demonstrate that free will can be reduced to these other two modes and you have not been able to do so. It is self evident that free will is unique from necessity (determinism) because we recognize that we have choices, it is unique from random chance because we make choices with purpose while random chance by definition is without purpose.

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Ah, sorry, I hadn't noticed you responded.

 

Wow! Not sure how you came to that conclusion. I had no idea that contingent had more than one meaning as it applies to causal modes. A causal mode can be either contingent (more than one outcome is possible) or fixed (deterministic).

 

Thank you. "Contingent" in my mind means an outcome that is dependent on unknown factors, which themselves may be deterministic or random. e.g., the output of a computer is contingent upon the input in a strictly deterministic system, or the truth value of a logical conclusion is contingent upon the truth value of the premises.

 

If, however, all you mean by it is "not deterministic," then that simplifies things.

 

Contingent modes can either be random having no end in mind or they can be intentioned, that is be made with an end in mind or purpose.

 

The latter is not a valid alternative. Not that it doesn't happen, just that it doesn't make sense as an answer to this particular question. It is akin to saying that events can either be deterministic, random, or the result of the wind. I'm not saying there's no such thing as the wind, just that there isn't anything about it that makes it exempt from the "other" two options.

 

So, a decision is made with an end in mind. Is there a reason this end was in mind? If yes, it is deterministic. If no, it is random. No matter one twists it, it always comes back to that basic dichotomy.

 

Yes I understand you don't, but it follows from the definition of what something means when we say it is random (no purpose or end in mind) as contrasted with intentional choice which has a purpose.

 

That's not what I mean when I say random. The extreme majority of deterministic events are without purpose or end in mind. Random just means that there is no reason the event happens one way and not another.

 

Why does the U-235 atom decay at one moment and not another? There is no reason. It is random. If it had consciously "decided" to decay, that would be the reason, true, but then why did it decide? Was there a reason that decision was made, and not the opposite decision? Deterministic or random.

 

Not correct again as I previously explained. Your description seems intentionally incomplete.

 

Where is it incomplete?

 

"Given the totality of information in the universe, including hidden variables, at time X, is there more than possible state at X+1?"

 

If there is a reason for one possible X+1 over another, then the other wasn't a possible X+1 in the first place. It was determined.

 

If there is no reason for one possible X+1 over another, then that is the very definition of a random event.

 

No, I am not. You are changing my words when you remove the third fundamental mode of explanation namely intentional choice. It is transparent why you want to remove it.

 

"You are changing my words when you remove the third fundamental mode of explanation namely the wind."

 

This is how that statement sounds to me.

 

[Defense of creationism.]

 

I brought it up merely because it seemed like that was the reason you were arguing with me, and I wanted to get it out in the open. Not to debate it, but to explain that it doesn't matter one way or the other - in other words to avoid debating it.

 

You seemed to be implying with demands for examples of things with "characteristics of design" that I would be wrong if the arguments for intelligent design were valid. However, I would not. If the Earth were 6000 years old and designed by Yahweh and Eve was made from Adam's rib and the material world was just a temporary prison for our immortal souls and it truly was impossible for us to exist through physical laws alone...

 

I would still be right. Was there a reason we were designed this way, or was His decision a divine flip of the coin? Most theologies have God as a kind of perfect decision maker, which necessitates that He be perfectly deterministic. He will always act in whatever the ideal manner is. There is only one X+1. Note that this need not be in accordance with physical laws. Note also that He is certainly exercising will. There is no contradiction.

 

I had a reason to come here. I came here with a purpose. It was a contingent event. I didn't have to linger and participate, I could have moved on, but I made a deliberate plan to do so.

 

Sounds deterministic.

 

Do you often insult people you disagree with?

 

Never just because they disagree with me. Which part do you consider an insult? When I called you a troll? Alright, I'm sorry. But I should remind you that you've been accusing me of charlatanism, stupidity, and ulterior motives throughout this whole thread. I figured you would be ok with that kind of frankness.

 

You mischaracterized the issue I raised.

 

I know that I characterize it differently than you, but I believe that it is you who have mischaracterized the issue.

 

First off I do not believe you have denied free will,

 

Thank you.

 

but I do believe you have improperly described it as a combination of necessity and chance as is clear from your postings.

 

It and everything else, yes.

 

I have asked you to demonstrate that free will can be reduced to these other two modes and you have not been able to do so.

 

I think I've made a very straightforward argument that events are either determined or not determined, by logical necessity. I should think the burden of proof would be on the one who asserts that free will is somehow an exception to logic.

 

It is self evident that free will is unique from necessity (determinism) because we recognize that we have choices,

 

It is self evident that it is not self evident, because I disagree completely. Even a simple AI makes choices. Those choices are deterministic, contingent upon inputs.

 

it is unique from random chance because we make choices with purpose while random chance by definition is without purpose.

 

No, random chance by definition is without necessity. Suppose an AI chooses to go left or right contingent upon the result of a true random number generator. The choice is made, but it was not necessary that it be one way and not the other. (If it was, it would be deterministic.)

 

Anyway, it seems that we hold contrary views that we both feel are self-evident. If you think you have something more to add that wouldn't be repeating yourself, then by all means I'd be interested to hear it. But if you still think I'm being intentionally obtuse or whatever, then I'm fine with agreeing to disagree.

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The latter is not a valid alternative. Not that it doesn't happen, just that it doesn't make sense as an answer to this particular question. It is akin to saying that events can either be deterministic, random, or the result of the wind. I'm not saying there's no such thing as the wind, just that there isn't anything about it that makes it exempt from the "other" two options.

 

You are simply denying what is obvious. Your analogy is false because intentional choice is not deterministic since choice requires that multiple outcomes are possible and deterministic outcomes are fixed regardless if the outcome is known. Contingency means more than one outcome is possible prior to the causal event. We are back to the original point that you are indeed claiming free will is an illusion.

 

So, a decision is made with an end in mind. Is there a reason this end was in mind? If yes, it is deterministic. If no, it is random. No matter one twists it, it always comes back to that basic dichotomy.

 

Just because a causal agent has a rationale for a choice does not mean that there was no choice (more than one possible outcome) to be made and that in reality the outcome was fixed. Most often, each possible choice has competing rationales, and the intelligent agent guides the outcome based on the favored choice. Once the choice is made it many of the follow on events could be deterministic, but I know by introspection that the outcome of my choices are not fixed prior to making the choice. Since they are not fixed, and more than one outcome is possible prior to making the choice it is simply false to claim the outcome is deterministic.

 

I think I've made a very straightforward argument that events are either determined or not determined, by logical necessity. I should think the burden of proof would be on the one who asserts that free will is somehow an exception to logic.

 

You have failed to show that all contingent events are random. Uniform experience and introspection demonstrates they are not. The burden is on you to show that experience and introspection is wrong on this point.

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The chess program I play against is capable, at any point in the game, of making any legal move. It must explore possible options, and then pick one.

 

Your claim seems equivalent to stating that because there were multiple possible outcomes considered, that the end result was not deterministic. However, I suspect you will agree with me that my chess program is, in fact, entirely deterministic.

 

The difference, then, is not that there are multiple possible choices. It is "introspection." I'm not really sure how to respond to that. Yes, we are aware of multiple possibilities. We consider multiple options, and we don't know which we will eventually choose until we do, else there wouldn't be any need to consider them. So?

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The chess program I play against is capable, at any point in the game, of making any legal move. It must explore possible options, and then pick one.

 

Your claim seems equivalent to stating that because there were multiple possible outcomes considered, that the end result was not deterministic. However, I suspect you will agree with me that my chess program is, in fact, entirely deterministic.

 

If there is more than one outcome possible then it is not deterministic by definition. Deterministic outcomes are "determined"; they are fixed with no other outcome possible. Sometimes when causal modes are not understood, it may seem as if the outcome is not fixed, but that is due to lack of data.

 

The chess program was designed by an intelligent agent who inserted information into the program. It is a product past design. This is why we must be able to trace out past causes so we can understand what modes are actually in play. As you indicate, the chess program makes fixed moves based on evaluation of the information and the rules provided by the designer and since it is fixed, there are no choices being made by the program. The computer and program is not capable of making any choices at all, rather it is constrained to the fixed moves determined by the rules, the information and the choices of the human competitor.

 

The difference, then, is not that there are multiple possible choices. It is "introspection." I'm not really sure how to respond to that. Yes, we are aware of multiple possibilities. We consider multiple options, and we don't know which we will eventually choose until we do, else there wouldn't be any need to consider them. So?

 

No that is incorrect. Deterministic outcomes do not have multiple possible choices available. Only one outcome is possible from deterministic causes; there are no choices and no other possibilities. The difference is that you seem to be mixing terms. Introspection, on the other hand, provides the means and the data to allow us to know that intelligent agents with free will are capable of and do make purposed choices. Introspection informs us that there are at least three modes of causes, namely necessity, chance, and design.

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Sometimes when causal modes are not understood, it may seem as if the outcome is not fixed, but that is due to lack of data.

 

I think that you should ponder this statement some more, and think about what exactly "introspection" is actually telling you.

 

The chess program was designed by an intelligent agent who inserted information into the program.

 

What does that have to do with anything?

 

The computer and program is not capable of making any choices at all, rather it is constrained to the fixed moves determined by the rules, the information and the choices of the human competitor.

 

It is absolutely making choices. It considers different options, evaluates them, and picks one. That's what a choice is. That's what you or I do.

 

No that is incorrect. Deterministic outcomes do not have multiple possible choices available. Only one outcome is possible from deterministic causes; there are no choices and no other possibilities. The difference is that you seem to be mixing terms.

 

Of course there were multiple choices available. The program spent time evaluating them. It is true that, being deterministic, the choice that the program eventually made could have been predicted, given all the relevant data.

 

Introspection, on the other hand, provides the means and the data to allow us to know that intelligent agents with free will are capable of and do make purposed choices. Introspection informs us that there are at least three modes of causes, namely necessity, chance, and design.

 

I agree with the first sentence. That's what I would call "free will:" self-consciousness coupled with the act of choice. The second sentence is still nonsense, though.

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pioneer; "The evolution of religion" and your OP comments were misleading and what I believe has got you few if any related replies. Rather than starting another thread, having some interested in the title statement, I'll offer my brief comment...

 

First Homo Sapiens (modern man) and or Neanderthals go back 100k years or more

and it's been suggested, lived simultaneously up to at least 30k years ago. IMO, ancient religion (worship of gods) formed as the brain/mind/reasoning developed, communes formed and life became more than survival. In the process good and bad became apparent and reasons sought out, which led to super natural powers (so to speak). Example; If rain was needed and it came (good thing) or if it had not (bad thing) then something must have caused either, in what was, the infancy of reasoning. To the point of 'Evolution' and my research long ago and over years, this led to Philosophy, separating into Religions/Science over the years, the single higher power (one god), over everything the current most accepted idea.

 

One way to answer this is to compare the two states of mind. [/Quote]

 

I'm not sure what YOU had in mind with this, but there are really only two relevant in my mind, those being the conscience and subconscious minds, where you seem to be indicated stages of development and unrelated to you topic. This exist today exist in everything and acceptance or denial a simple learning process. I have no idea, what 'free will' or lack of it is implied in your post.

 

At the very least, this will exercise his imagination more, until the ancient cause and effect of instincts starts to break down; new man. [/Quote]

 

Instinctive behavior in humans is less pronounced, for the most part because those instincts can be reasoned, then in accordance to the society they live in. I don't think they break down or are non existent in humans anymore than in Animals, however all animals hold different levels of practiced instincts, humans for the most part never have the need to practice inherent traits/instincts, today.

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Religion is a behavior that is uniquely human. Animals do not have religion. I have never seen anyone prove that they do.

 

What this all means is, when religion first appears, a new behavior appears but only within humans. This new behavior must have created a selective advantage since it persisted and spread. Isn't persistence against other behavior a definition of selective advantage?

 

Science defines humans in terms of genetics. This can be traced backs a few million years. Religion appears to define humans in terms of when this unique human behavior first appears. Before the behavior appears, biological humans had more commonality with the apes. Once religion appears, there is a unique divide. Civilization is close by.

 

The next logical question is what was the advantage over no-religion?

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Religion is a behavior that is uniquely human. Animals do not have religion. I have never seen anyone prove that they do. [/Quote]

 

pioneer; I totally agree and as the mind/brain/reasoning formed or developed control over those natural instincts, did as well. IMO, whatever was is still there...

 

What this all means is, when religion first appears, a new behavior appears but only within humans. This new behavior must have created a selective advantage since it persisted and spread. Isn't persistence against other behavior a definition of selective advantage? [/Quote]

 

I think your misunderstanding (my opinion) where Religion of today and where it came from, they have little in common, while the why's may still be there. No doubt for most whatever time period you use, previous species of the human like species, lived very much like all primates do today other than your "modern man". Sometime in human existence or between species, the "Hyoid Bone'' only found in humans, detached allowing speech and the brain began to evolved into the art of reasoning. As this happened, it's my feeling, along with forming little communes (societies of the day), they would naturally fix blame or praise on the unexplainable, which would have been practically everything.

 

Science defines humans in terms of genetics. This can be traced backs a few million years. Religion appears to define humans in terms of when this unique human behavior first appears. Before the behavior appears, biological humans had more commonality with the apes. Once religion appears, there is a unique divide. Civilization is close by. [/Quote]

 

I'll be happy to discuss this, but for now am trying to explain the transfer/process from those apes into what became modern man, with religious like thought. Those primitive humans had no idea who or what they were appeasing or praising, but it was certainly nothing like today's religions, this basically no older than 6 thousand years.

 

The next logical question is what was the advantage over no-religion? [/Quote]

 

This gets a little tricky; There is no answer to your question, the process was from Reasoning, TO Philosophy, TO Religion/Science. Otherwise said, it's just the way it happened in my opinion. The better question might be what if the brain never evolved, just as the other primates apparently have not or the detached Hyoid Bone, which some other primates have but not detached or floating. If humans continue to evolve, certainly seems likely, then the species might also evolve their apparent needs to explain our current existence, explain it differently or science may form a whole new version of the human, I don't know....

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It is absolutely making choices. It considers different options, evaluates them, and picks one. That's what a choice is. That's what you or I do.

 

You are conflating choice where more than one outcome is possible, and a search for the deterministic selection where the outcome is fixed. Computers make fixed selections.

 

Of course there were multiple choices available. The program spent time evaluating them. It is true that, being deterministic, the choice that the program eventually made could have been predicted, given all the relevant data.

 

Again you are redefining choice to favor your presuppositions. It is clear that you want to reduce free will an illusion, a trick of the mind whereby we think we are making choices but in reality we are making fixed selections based on bast conditions. It is a metaphysical belief you hold with not objective support. This was the original claim I made and after several replies it is now clear that I was correct in that claim.

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I'm not redefining anything. A choice is made. Options are considered, and one is selected. How else can you possibly define choice? You're insisting that it's not a true Scotsman choice because it is deterministic, or because it is random. But you've only offered negative definitions - not this and not that. To make matters worse, in this case "that" just means "not this," and so even the negative definition is logically incoherent. The only "metaphysical belief" I'm expressing is the Law of the Excluded Middle. But if it is not bound by logic, then there's no point in discussing it, is there?

 

Meanwhile, all you've offered in support is that "introspection" tells you you're right.

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The question I posed was what about the new behavior called religion (back in the day) created a selective advantage? Science indirectly answers this question. Religions have been accused of causing repression of natural instinct. The modern push is to define and reintroduce natural instinct. But back in the day, the same repression of natural instinct created an advantage, since this would make room for new behavior, for which there is no instinct; civilization.

 

For example, if we assume apes are our nearest biological relative, their instinctive package does not make provisions for civilization. They are designed for smaller family groups. To get from there to civilization, we would need to alter those instincts. Religion provided the means.

 

Religion is considered irrational. In this case, the irrational was fighting fire (irrational instinct) with fire. Repression, in turn, still means will power and choice apart from natural compulsion. It can also lead to sublimation and altered behaviors. Regardless, one had to learn to think before acting in a natural way. Those without religion were more predictable via their instincts with thought not as essential.

Edited by pioneer

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I'm not redefining anything. A choice is made. Options are considered, and one is selected. How else can you possibly define choice?

 

to say "a choice is made" in your sense is using "choice" to mean "fixed selection, based on deterministic factors where no other outcome is possible". However in context with this thread, when we say there is a choice to be made we mean that the outcome is not fixed until after the contingency is executed.

 

 

You're insisting that it's not a true Scotsman choice because it is deterministic, or because it is random. But you've only offered negative definitions - not this and not that.

 

When only one outcome is possible, it does not involve choice because no choice can be made since only one possibility exists. In addition, I have provided a positive definition. Choice is deliberate (planned/intentional) contingency. Design is an excellent example of planned contingency. In contrast, random events are unplanned.

 

To make matters worse, in this case "that" just means "not this," and so even the negative definition is logically incoherent.

 

Nonsense again I note that a positive definition was offered from near the beginning of this discussion and has been repeated. What is logically incoherent is for someone to redefine terms as an attempt to make points as you have done. Deterministic causation is clear and so is random causation, so you have no need to redefine choice to fit these causes except to serve your ill fated argument. I have asked you numerous times to demonstrate that planned contingency is reducible to determinism and chance but you are not able to do so. You cannot because it is not reducible and that is the trouble you are having. The balance of your argument seems nothing more than an attempt to shift the burden away from you.

 

Meanwhile, all you've offered in support is that "introspection" tells you you're right.

 

It is self evident that humans choose and execute planned contingent outcomes. Even you know this. If this were not factually accurate then we would have to believe that computers and airplanes and every other system humans have ever planned developed constructed and employed are reducible to, and an inevitable outcome of physical laws of nature and dumb luck

 

But this is not the only support. In addition, uniform experience and repeated observation informs us that intelligent agents with the ability to make planned choices can and do design information rich systems (computers for example). We also do not observe natural physical laws and chance conspire to do anything of the sort.

 

In contrast, I remind you that you have offered nothing to support your position and I also will state again you have not because you cannot.

Edited by cypress

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My choices are planned, yes. I consider options, then choose one. So does my chess program. Which option it chooses is contingent upon circumstance. As far as the positive part of your definition goes, I'm not disagreeing with it at all, so I don't know why you keep insisting on it. Choices occur. Intelligent beings plan things - imagine future scenarios and make choices accordingly. In fact, so does my chess program, though in a vastly simpler fashion, that lacks the self-awareness we possess. Still, I'd say it's pretty clearly a choice reduced to a clear deterministic chain of events.

 

It's the negative part - "not deterministic and not random" - that is incoherent, despite your claims that it is "self evident." That's the reason you're insisting the chess program is not making a choice, right? Because it doesn't satisfy that part of your definition of choice? But then you say, reduce choice to determinism or randomness, i.e. show that choice doesn't satisfy your definition of choice. Obviously that is impossible, by the definition you insist on. If I show that something is deterministic, you'll just say it's not a choice then. I'm "unable" to satisfy your request because it's logically impossible. Aside from being an argument from ignorance ("my explanation must be right unless you can prove yours"), that's also begging the question. It is impossible for the argument to go anywhere.

 

So... agree to disagree, then?

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I see no reason to agree to disagree. We are not at a stalemate where neither argument provides a more parsimonious explanation. Your argument is based on a logical fallacy held together by carefully redefining contingency and choice and by improperly assigning the contingency to the wrong causal agent. Perhaps I did not describe your error accurately enough. In your final post you repeat the error when you claim a chess program makes choices when in reality its moves are fixed, they are predetermined by the game engine, the software designer, and your past moves. The computer software function entirely on deterministic laws whereas the contingent portion of the computer's moves (if that is the way you choose to describe it) are a product of the software designer and the human competitor. So if you want to continue to assign the choices that the software designer and the human player made to the computer as you have done, then you will need to regress their choices as well. Either way you are in need of a new example.

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