Science and the supernatural

by Neil Rickert

Victor Stenger has written about science and the supernatural in a Huffington Post blog, and Jerry Coyne has further commented at his site.  Toward the end of his piece, Stenger says:

So, scientists and science organizations are being disingenuous when they say science can say nothing about the supernatural.

And that’s where I disagree with both Stenger and Coyne.  I see it as entirely correct to say that science can say nothing about the supernatural.

To be fair, Stenger’s post is titled “Scientists and Religion.”  I have no objection at all to the idea of scientists criticizing religion.  However, I want to distinguish between what scientists say, and what science says.  The two are not identical.

From Stenger’s post, we read:

In recent years, right under the nose of the NAS, reputable scientists from reputable institutions have vigorously pursued several areas of empirical study that bear directly on the question of God and the supernatural.

He then mentions a study on the efficacy of prayer.  But that study does not directly concern itself with God and the supernatural.  There might be such implications, but those would be very indirect and uncertain implications.

The prayer study concerned itself directly with natural phenomena.

Teams of scientists from three highly respected institutions — the Mayo Clinic and Harvard and Duke Universities — have performed carefully controlled experiments on the medical efficacy of blind, intercessory prayer and published their results in peer-reviewed journals. These experiments found no evidence that such prayers provide any health benefit. But, they could have.

There’s nothing supernatural about providing health benefits.  The studies might have undermined the claims of religious groups, but they did not study the supernatural itself.

Suppose that the result of the study had been that prayer was efficaceous in providing health benefits.  I doubt that scientists would have been proclaiming that the supernatural exists and that it works like magic.  It is far more likely that they would have been looking for natural explanations.

If a positive result would not have proved anything about the supernatural, then the actual negative result should also not be seen as refuting the supernatural.

Jerry Coyne says that people like me, who disagree with him about this, are accomodationists, are appeasers of religion.  But that’s just wrong.  In my case, I have no interest in appeasing religion.  I think religion is nonsense.  But I do think it hurts science to overstate what science can say.  Science, at present, has nothing to say about the supernatural.  By contrast, scientists ought to be skeptical of supernatural claims.

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65 Comments to “Science and the supernatural”

  1. Neil,

    Did you miss these bits?

    “However, while supernatural entities may not be directly observable,..”

    “any effects these entities might have on the material world should manifest themselves as observable phenomena.”

    “Now, I am not saying that these negative results prove conclusively that the supernatural does not exist, although a good case can be made that the absence of evidence that should be there can be taken as evidence of absence.”

    That doesn’t sound like he’s making claims about the supernatural, only objecting to claims made about the effects the supernatural have in the natural world. He’s addressing the supernatural by the absenece of evidence for it.

    You say, “The studies might have undermined the claims of religious groups, but they did not study the supernatural itself.”

    But I don’t see him claiming that it does. Seeing as the supernatural is supposed to be outside the natural, except for the effects it’s supposed to have on the natural how could it be any other way.

    “If a positive result would not have proved anything about the supernatural, then the actual negative result should also not be seen as refuting the supernatural.”

    The negative result isn’t being seen to refute the supernatural, it’s being used to refute the claims that there are observable natural effects of the supernatural. It’s not even attemting to refute natural effects of the supernatural, only observable natural effects.

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  2. Yes, I saw those. But that’s still no basis for asserting that scientists are being disingenuous. And it’s no basis for Jerry Coyne’s charge of appeasing religion.

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  3. Let’s look at something a little more basic here. What is supernatural exactly? I’ve seen various definitions that seem to come back to:
    “That which is attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature”

    If something is beyond scientific understanding, then science can’t really say much about it — period. On the other hand, if something claimed to be “supernatural” has scientific grounds for explanation, then it ceases to be supernatural, by definition.

    So I also disagree with the statement in question:
    “So, scientists and science organizations are being disingenuous when they say science can say nothing about the supernatural.”

    It is true, they can’t say anything about it — nothing scientific anyways. If they do have something unscientific to say about it, then the fact that they are scientists is irrelevant.

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    • It is true, they can’t say anything about it — nothing scientific anyways.

      Right. And that was the point of my post, to point out the distinction between what scientists say and what science says.

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      • “I doubt that scientists would have been proclaiming that the supernatural exists and that it works like magic. It is far more likely that they would have been looking for natural explanations.”

        Yes, and there is something else to think about. We think about and label the “currently unexplainable” as “supernatural”. Technically, if science can’t explain something — such as the force of gravity, then the force is only explained by supernatural means (that is non-scientific means). If later a theory was developed that could explain the force of gravity in scientific terms, then it would cease to be “supernatural” and would thus become “natural”. This happens all the time as science progresses; from the time before we knew that the earth revolved around the sun to the time we could explain electricity. Most things we consider “supernatural” change to “natural” after enough time has passed and we feel comfortable enough with the scientific explanation.

        Some “spooky” things such as quantum entanglement, non-locality in general, etc., are largely unexplained by science, yet still fall in the realm of science (e.g. quantum physics) because there are scientific experiments being performed to try to learn more about those processes. Any scientific discovery resulting from those experiments furthers the notion that it is “natural” (this only applies to the observable aspects of the phenomenon). The pieces of the puzzle that science has yet to explain/prove (currently unobservable or unfalsifiable like “non-locality”) is what we can still consider to be “supernatural”. I think the word “supernatural” is often used to mean “is and NEVER will be scientifically explainable” (like “miracles”, etc.), but science illustrates the flaws in that assumption every century. Even in the case of quantum physics, scientists realize that they must accept certain levels of indeterminism and uncertainty. When something can’t be explained physically with a cause-effect relationship that is repeatable, falsifiable, etc., then we can only speculate with theories (like extra dimensions, etc.).

        One question I think we should ask is: where do we draw the line for what is considered natural (scientific) or supernatural? Does it have to be explained in 3 spatial and 1 time dimensions? If so, then string theory and even non-locality in quantum entanglement will never have “natural” or “scientific” explanations (unless other laws of physics are violated like the speed of light in special relativity, and then we realize that it wasn’t really non-local after all — which I find highly unlikely).

        In the case of prayer, some studies have shown that mental states can affect health. If prayer induces a state of positive thought and beneficial hormone production, it could have health benefits — but this would be scientifically explainable and thus “natural”. Prayer and it’s effects seem to be more scientifically explainable than non-locality in quantum physics. This is quite ironic. It goes to show that certain topics in science are ignored in favor of others that seem to be further separated from religion. Also ironically, the direction that quantum physics has led us in (holistic view of the universe via our inseparability from the “observation”) reflects many religious views that have been around for centuries including Pantheism, Panentheism, Taoism, etc.

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  4. Hi Lage,

    “Technically, if science can’t explain something — such as the force of gravity, then the force is only explained by supernatural means (that is non-scientific means).”

    *super*natural has always been used to mean something beyond the natural, more than the natural, *super*, unexplainable in terms of the natural.

    Gravity is not explained by supernatural means, unless one is specifically claiming that a supernatural force, such as God, is actually causing it. Instead of saying gravity is explained by supernatural means it is more correct to say it remains unexplained. I think it confusing to say that something that is unexplained is being explained by supernatural means, unless a religious person is specifically claiming that.

    “The pieces of the puzzle that science has yet to explain/prove (currently unobservable or unfalsifiable like “non-locality”) is what we can still consider to be “supernatural”.”

    Very specifically not. The whole history of the term ‘supernatural’ does not mean unexplained. The term ‘supernatural’ is very specific in meaning it is not natural, never will be natural, and can never be explained in terms of the natural.

    That some people have called some event ‘supernatural’ and it later turned out to have a natural explanation simply means they were mistaken in calling it supernatural. It never was supernatural. It was always natural, just unexplained.

    “I think the word “supernatural” is often used to mean…” – It has always been used to mean that, not just sometimes. Unless you are referring to the misuse of the term.

    “One question I think we should ask is: where do we draw the line for what is considered natural (scientific) or supernatural?”

    That’s easy. The natural is what we can experience, or can experience given the time and the sceince to do so. The supernatural is fiction. By its very definition the supernatural is beyond our senses, and this is the whole point of criticising it. If some that is supposed to be supernatural is also supposed to have natural effects then it has a natural element and it is not totally supernatural. Keep peeling back the details and what we thought of as being supernatural turns out to be natural.

    If it ever turns out that we find there is indeed a creator of the universe and matches what we think of as God, including all the miracle stuff, then there will be an explainable mechanism by which God does his miracles. It will be a quite natural mechanism – certainly it will be natural to God.

    The significant point here is that there is a difference. This is reality:

    1) The natural that we experience and can explain in terms of other natural phenomena.
    2) The natural that we experience but yet can’t explain to some satisfactory detail. This includes some of the ‘other’ natural phenomena in (1).
    3) The natural phenomena that we speculate may exist yet of which we have no experience of or good theory to explain. An example here would be other dimensions, or stuff outside our local universe.
    4) The natural that we don’t even have any concept of right now. By definition we haven’t a clue what this might be. DNA might have been an example of this to people a millenia ago, since theey hadn’t the foggiest idea such detail might exist in the human body and that it might explain how we are related to other animals, and even plants. A concept so totally alien to them it wasn’t on their radar. But natural all the same.

    The supernatural, by contrast, is fiction, imagination. Sometimes it is used to attempt to explain (2) and (3), by imaginatively inventing *super*natural causes and creatures: gods, goblins, faires. But that is a mistake. It does not mean (2) and (3) are supernatural.

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    • Ron,

      “*super*natural has always been used to mean something beyond the natural, more than the natural, *super*, unexplainable in terms of the natural. Gravity is not explained by supernatural means, unless one is specifically claiming that a supernatural force, such as God, is actually causing it.”

      I believe you are incorrect. You just said that supernatural is “unexplainable in terms of the natural”. We can’t completely explain gravity nor non-locality in terms of the natural — because the mechanisms needed for the explanation lie outside the observable universe. So by definition, if something can’t be explained by natural means, any other explanation would have to be supernatural. I see no distinction between the “naturally unexplainable” and “supernaturally explainable” because they are one in the same. The key thing to remember here is that we can’t ever prove or disprove a supernatural explanation — unless a natural explanation is discovered. In the case of non-locality, this can’t happen without violating laws of physics because the theory of special relativity along with countless experiments has determined the speed of light to be a constant — yet non-locality violates this speed of information transfer if we were to explain the phenomenon in terms of natural means (i.e. something in our observable universe like the 3 spatial dimensions).

      “The whole history of the term ‘supernatural’ does not mean unexplained.”

      I think it does ultimately. If someone sees a phenomenon and science or the currently accepted natural law can’t explain it, then it can only be explained supernaturally.

      “That some people have called some event ‘supernatural’ and it later turned out to have a natural explanation simply means they were mistaken in calling it supernatural.”

      I agree with you, and I think that this is the case most of the time ever since the origin of the term. I think people often called things supernatural when science couldn’t yet explain it (like rainbows, planetary motion, or the origin of life). Once the scientific paradigm changed or new developments arose, many things that people once considered to be supernatural became natural — thus illustrating that at that moment of discovery, they would be mistaken to continue to label the phenomenon as supernatural. In other words, I believe that there are less things that exist today that people consider “supernatural” then there was several centuries ago when the term first arose.

      ” “One question I think we should ask is: where do we draw the line for what is considered natural (scientific) or supernatural?” That’s easy. The natural is what we can experience, or can experience given the time and the sceince to do so. ”

      But generally speaking, scientists don’t consider non-locality to be supernatural, yet it is. It is not something explainable with the current known laws of nature, and the mechanism is something that we can’t experience (because it would have to lie in another dimension in order to preserve certain laws of physics). This is how you answered my “easy” question, and as you can see it isn’t cut and dried like you think it is. Which is why I asked the question. Because there isn’t an easy answer, as there appear to be exceptions.
      We probably aren’t going to agree that the line is to be drawn in the same spot, because we disagree on the definition of supernatural — which is fine. Life goes on.

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      • Lage,

        “We can’t completely explain gravity nor non-locality in terms of the natural”

        You don’t know that. All you know is they can’t be explained yet.

        ” — because the mechanisms needed for the explanation lie outside the observable universe.”

        You don’t know that either. But even so, if we do discover that this universe is not infnite, that it does have some boundaries (in 4-D spacetime, or in extra dimensions) this does not mean they are not natural. And it doesn’t mean we will never be able to explore them.

        At one time people thought that anything off the surface of the world was ‘supernatural’, in the traditional theistic and mystical sense, not in the sense of simply being not yet udnerstood. Clearly they were wromg. Those ‘heavenly bodies’ the stars are clearly natural phenomena.

        “So by definition, if something can’t be explained by natural means, any other explanation would have to be supernatural.”

        But you’ve now introduced the condition “*can’t* be explained”. It’s true the supernatural *cant’* be explained in natural terms, because its fiction. *Super*man can’t be explained in natural terms because he’s fictional, as is any other *super* hero that is supposed to have *super* powers.

        But in gravity and nonlocality we are not talking about something that can’t be explained because it is supernatural, we are talking about something that can’t *currently* be explained bacause we don’t curretnly happen to have an explanation.

        Your interpretation of ‘supernatural’ is quite wrong.

        http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/supernatural?s=t

        It’s all about the supernatural supposedly violatiing the laws of nature. If there is some phenomenon that some people think is supernatural, and then it turns out that if (a) falls within the current laws of nature, or (b) we adapt the laws of nature to accommodate it, then it was always naturala, but we just mislabelled something that was merely not understood as being supernatural.

        Can you point me to some reputable definitions that use your understanding of supernatural to mean simply the unexplained.

        “But generally speaking, scientists don’t consider non-locality to be supernatural, yet it is.”

        On what scientific basis do you know that? Can you direct me to any theory of experiemnt that shows that?

        “It is not something explainable with the current known laws of nature” – Then it is unexplained so far. Simple as that.

        “and the mechanism is something that we can’t experience (because it would have to lie in another dimension in order to preserve certain laws of physics).”

        You don’t know that.

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        • Ron,

          ” “We can’t completely explain gravity nor non-locality in terms of the natural” You don’t know that. All you know is they can’t be explained yet. ”

          It ultimately comes down to how we define “natural”. If it is something that is outside the scope of science to understand or measure, and you want to call that “natural” — that’s fine. I’m choosing to define “natural” as “within the dimensions of our existence” at the very least.
          I do agree with you that in the most basic sense of the word, anything that happens in the universe, regardless of HOW it happens, is natural (including non-locality). However, in the case of our discussion regarding supernatural vs. natural, this is where I diverge.
          My view of “natural” in this sense is presuming that “supernatural” is something that exists. If we assume that there isn’t anything “supernatural” that exists, then I agree with you, that everything is “natural”. I just believe that the term from it’s origin has been used to describe phenomena that were unexplainable when in so many cases later on, they became “natural”. It all comes down to how we define the term and my definition differs from your in the context of supernatural vs. natural. Even if you describe “God” as supernatural, it may turn out that what people think of as “God” has scientific explanation and then it would cease to be “supernatural”. The same thing goes for ghosts. People may see something, call it a “ghost” and say that it is supernatural. Later on, if it turns out that science can explain what they saw or what they label “ghost” it will cease to be supernatural. This could eventually be the case for EVERYTHING that people call supernatural (in which case the word will only be used in fictional sense). Right now the word is not used in ONLY a fictional sense. There are people that label concepts (like God or ghosts or what-have-you) supernatural — and they don’t think of those things as fictional. They believe that they exist. We need to realize this when think about how we define the terms. There’s no point in arguing this because on many basic levels we are in agreement. I think that we both agree that everything that we experience or find in the universe (including non-locality) is ultimately “natural” because I think that anything that exists is “natural”. It’s just in this specific context where we disagree simply on the basis of how we define these terms in this situation. In many different topics, I temporarily change or modify definitions based on assumptions relevant to the topic discussed. It just allows me to think about the topic on more levels (even if they are hypothetical).

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          • Lage,

            “If it is something that is outside the scope of science to understand or measure”

            But you can’t say gravity is outside the scope of science to understand or measure, only that we don’t understand it *yet*. To define it outside the scope of science is the same mistake many people made about the celestial sphere.

            “I’m choosing to define “natural” as “within the dimensions of our existence” at the very least.”

            But we don’t know the extent of those dimensions, so we can’t say we are excluded from them, only that our current experience doesn’t tell us anything about them, other than the space-time we are familiar with.

            “..*presuming* that “supernatural” is something that exists.”

            Why would you presume something exists that we cannot detect or experience? On that basis it is legitimate for me to presume that fairies exist, that in my projection into the fifth space dimension I appear much like a jelly fish, or that there is in fact a fifth space dimension, or that there are society of Gods manipulating our universe, or that solipsism is reality and I’m just a free floating mind imagining my corporeal self. This is the very real and specific problem with making claims about the supernatural that are not based on evidence – you can make up any old guff, and the religious have been doing so for millennia.

            “If we assume that there isn’t anything “supernatural” that exists, then I agree with you, that everything is “natural”.”

            No, we don’t have to even *presume* there is no supernatural, we only have to say that since there is no experience of it, we act *as if* it doesn’t exist until we discover otherwise. In this respect I really don’t have a problem with religious attempts to discover God, for example, only with their claims that they have, that there is in fact a God, or that there is in fact the supernatural.

            “I just believe that the term from its origin has been used to describe phenomena that were unexplainable when in so many cases later on, they became “natural”.”

            Yes. Mistakenly so. Why continue to make that same mistake.

            “It all comes down to how we define the term and my definition differs from yours in the context of supernatural vs. natural.”

            It also seems to differ from all definitions I’ve seen, particularly if you’re going to include phenomena that we experience but can’t yet explain, such as gravity.

            “Even if you describe “God” as supernatural, it may turn out that what people think of as “God” has scientific explanation and then it would cease to be “supernatural”.”

            No. If there is an entity that created the universe and science discovers, or makes contact with, that entity, then that entity was natural all along. The case is that no supernatural entity called God exists, or that an entity called God exists that is natural but was mistakenly labelled supernatural. Just like the celestial sphere was never a supernatural realm, it was always natural but mistakenly thought of as supernatural.

            “…if it turns out that science can explain what they saw or what they label “ghost” it will cease to be supernatural.”

            No. It never was supernatural. It was always a natural phenomenon that they mistook for a supernatural one.

            “Right now the word is not used in ONLY a fictional sense.”

            Only because some people, the religious in particular, insist on claiming, or presuming, that there are some phenomena that are supernatural, without any good reason for making that presumption. It’s a God of the gaps move. We can’t explain it, so it must be supernatural. That has turned out to be an unsatisfactory presumption for many phenomena and continues to be so.

            “They believe that they exist.”

            I’m sure they do. Believing in fairies was once quite normal. Do you think fairies did exist at that time, or that people were simply mistaken?

            “We need to realize this when think about how we define the terms.”

            I do realise this [that they believe this stuff]. And we do need to be clear when defining our terms. You seem to be distorting the definition of ‘supernatural’. To include gravity under its scope? To include as yet poorly understood phenomena? Please, point me to a definition that explains the supernatural this way.

            “on many basic levels we are in agreement.”

            Yes, we are. But on the definition and meaning of ‘supernatural’ we are not.

            “In many different topics, I temporarily change or modify definitions based on assumptions relevant to the topic discussed.”

            But I find that only confuses discussions. Many terms, particularly ones that have a long philosophical and theological history, are distorted by re-use and abuse. But over the last century or so as science has advanced its methods, and as philosophy has had to adapt from its favoured role of pure reason to come to accept more empirically grounded knowledge, critical thinking has become essential. And that requires clarity and consistency of definitions to avoid misunderstandings. One of the biggest problems in dealing with the religious is the way they twist meanings of words.

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          • Ron,

            “But you can’t say gravity is outside the scope of science to understand or measure, only that we don’t understand it *yet*. To define it outside the scope of science is the same mistake many people made about the celestial sphere.”

            You are missing the point here. I’m not saying that science won’t be able to explain gravity sufficiently (as I don’t believe anything is fully explainable due to the holism), but what I’m saying is what CURRENT science says. CURRENTLY, we science can’t fully explain it. What part of this don’t you understand? We can never know if science will or will not find answers to the currently unexplainable — and so we have no reason to assume that science eventually will find all the answers to the currently unexplained.

            ” “I’m choosing to define “natural” as “within the dimensions of our existence” at the very least.” But we don’t know the extent of those dimensions, so we can’t say we are excluded from them, only that our current experience doesn’t tell us anything about them, other than the space-time we are familiar with.”

            Science currently suggests that we are excluded from them because we can’t fathom what other dimensions really would look like or mean, and we are unable to experiment outside of our time and 3 spatial dimensions. If you disagree with this, point me to some evidence that suggests irrefutable proof of other dimensions. If you can’t provide that, then it is safe to assume that for all practical purposes, we have 4D-spacetime as our limitations for experimentation. We’ve defined the dimensions that we have access to (according to current concensus in science) to be 4D-spacetime. Anything lying outside that limit is something we can’t run experiments on because our experiments and their results are created/measured in this 4D-spacetime. If you want to assume that there are more dimensions, that’s fine, but science has been unable to experiment in those dimensions.

            “Why would you presume something exists that we cannot detect or experience?”

            I’m doing so just for the purposes of this topic, otherwise “supernatural” is almost completely pointless to talk about (if it is 100% fiction). You don’t seem to think it’s completely pointless, or you wouldn’t have commented on this post. Personally, I don’t think that “supernatural” exists, because in my opinion everything that does exist is by my definition “natural”. However people that use the word (many of them anyways) don’t just use it as a word representing things that don’t exist. On the contrary, many people think that “supernatural things” exist. This precludes that people treat the term as 100% fiction and that is why I am presuming that “supernatural” exists. Only hypothetically for the purposes of this discussion.

            ” “Right now the word is not used in ONLY a fictional sense.” Only because some people, the religious in particular, insist on claiming, or presuming, that there are some phenomena that are supernatural, without any good reason for making that presumption.”

            You are assuming that they have no good reason to, and I presume that you feel that way only because their reasoning falls outside the scope of science. Just because it falls outside the scope of science does not mean that they are lying or that they haven’t experienced something that they deem supernatural. This is the problem we face with psycho-structuralism (or more specifically introspection) and personal anecdote. Again, the “supernatural” is not universally defined as “things that don’t exist”. That may be one definition, but ultimately, many people use that term to describe the “currently unexplainable”. You have to accept this, that there are multiple uses of the word, and people can make as many definitions of the word as they want. All words did not exist in the past, including every multiple definition of those words. You are having an issue with how everyone defines the word (if only one of the definitions). I am accepting of that, while you are not. You must realize that we don’t ultimately disagree on how we personally define supernatural — but for the purposes of this conversation, I’m broadening the definition so that I have something to contribute to the conversation. You are focusing on your definition of the term, not considering that it is used in multiple ways (even if you disagree with them). Nobody is right or wrong here. The main point is that once we agree on a common definition (even if temporarily modifying it for the purposes of discussion), then we can refine and discuss the concepts associated with it. Prior to agreeing on a common definition, arguments are futile and inevitable.

            “It also seems to differ from all definitions I’ve seen, particularly if you’re going to include phenomena that we experience but can’t yet explain, such as gravity.”

            I chose gravity, because it is a subject of interest in the scientific community that isn’t full explained.
            Pretend that I chose EMF fluctuations measured by “ghost hunters” instead. If the fluctuations can’t be explained, and they are not even studied by science because the scientific community doesn’t take the field seriously (this is part of the tunnel vision that science promotes), where do we draw the line for what we call supernatural. It comes back to how we define the term. People define the term differently and that’s something we have to accept.

            “Do you think fairies did exist at that time, or that people were simply mistaken?”

            I don’t think that fairies exist, but I also don’t know that they don’t exist. As for them being mistaken, this brings me back to how we define facts.
            If something is believed to be a fact by the scientific community and later turned out to be mistaken, do we say that they didn’t really have a fact back then? If so, then how can we ever call anything a fact if the possibility exists for it to later be disproven (some cases). We do so because we broadly define a fact to be proven insofar as much as science has been able to do so. If new evidence is presented that forces us to re-examine the issue and change the fact, then that is what we do. We still call them “facts” in the now however, even if they later turn out not to be so. The same thing is true for how many people define supernatural. I define it the same as you do, and ONLY in this conversation am I considering a broader definition that many people use.

            “Please, point me to a definition that explains the supernatural this way.”

            Surely. How about Merriam Webster’s dictionary. One of the definitions is: “of or relating to an order of existence beyond the VISIBLE OBSERVABLE universe.”
            Also “attributed to an invisible agent”. We do not yet know the source of gravitational force (even though we find a correlation with mass). In this case the source appears to be an invisible agent (a means by which something is done or caused) of some kind.
            The mechanism for non-locality do not appear to exist in the observable universe, as there don’t appear to be any visible mechanisms for this anomaly.
            Also from the Oxford dictionary: “Attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature”. This means that anything beyond scientific understanding (even if science can later understand it) qualifies by this definition. We can’t know that science will or will not eventually be able to understand it, but since we can’t assume it will, if it hasn’t yet, then currently there is no scientific understanding. So there’s a few definitions. I’m sure you will try to take issue with every one of those definitions and that’s fine. The definitions exist for both of our purposes, so we should deal with that. More importantly than the definitions in the dictionary, is how PEOPLE define the term. If I asked everyone in the country what they think of as supernatural, I guarantee you I’d get millions to say that supernatural things DO exist — which means they are calling “natural” things “supernatural” more than likely because they haven’t yet been explained by science.

            “One of the biggest problems in dealing with the religious is the way they twist meanings of words”

            They may also just have alternate definitions of the words, which may on first glance appear to be a twist of meaning.
            Keep that in mind. I can create or define any word, any way I like. It is arbitrary. The only thing that matters is that people know what my definition is (or I know theirs) before discussing the word.

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  5. “Also ironically, the direction that quantum physics has led us in (holistic view of the universe via our inseparability from the “observation”) reflects many religious views that have been around for centuries including Pantheism, Panentheism, Taoism, etc.”

    These holistic view points are coincidental. The reductionism of science has never set out to specifically say there is no connection between the stuff of the universe, that it is not holistic in some way. It has always been an attempt to get to the detail of how stuff works, and in doing so for many if not most scientists there has always been the hopeful goal that science will explain all the connections – a theory of everything.

    The main disputes in science over broader principles that might be classed as holistic have been over the details. So, for example, James Lovelock and his Gaia principle. Some mistake this for the New Age holistic mumbo jumbo of Mother Earth. But Lovelock very specifically did not mean that. He was explaining real physical natural connections between the various aspects of planetary atmospherics. The idea clicked for him while disputing with biologists at NASA on the atmospheric mechanisms could be used to say whether a planet currently harboured life (Mars specifically). It dawned on him that this more ‘holistic’ veiw could explain why Earth had a relatively stable atmosphere in spite of significant changes in the Sun’s radiation.

    But this was a very specific scientific dispute. It had nothing to do with the guesses that were made in earlier times, as good as some as those guesses might be.

    Let’s take an example. There has always been, and continues to be, curiosity over whether the ultimate nature of the universe (and the extra universe we might speculate about), that is the ultimate nature of reality, is continuous (analogue) or discrete (digital). It was thought by some that if you continue to divide something it will eventually reach some indivisible terminal point – it will be ‘atomic’. Others thought, no, you can go on dividing forever.

    Now thought this may be interesting it would be a mistake to think this is great foresight. There are only two possibilities, for goodness sake. It’s not rocket science, it’s just the musings of people with brains.

    But some people are inclined to think, wow, those Greeks that thought of atoms, they were so spot on, so prescient. No they were not, because their notion of atomic, the atom, bears no relation to the atom humans discovered in the early 20th century, and much less the one that broke apart into first electrons and protons and neutrons; and far much less than the current model.

    There are gods, or there are not. There is something outside our universe or there is not. Reality is continuous or it is discrete. These are simple options that we can specullate about, and until we know more we can guess at. But just because someone has come up with some idea, spotted a gap in our explanations and filled it with a vague concept, it does not make them presient.

    So, our current science ‘reflects’ other ancient traditions only in as much as shattered mirror reflects our own image – in vague pieces, some of which have some degree of recognizable similarity.

    Human brains haven’t changed much over the last few millenia, as far as we know. they are pattern recognition systems. That an ancient brains spotted some mysterious pattern and gave it a name, which we later adopt (atom, Gaia, holistic) only reflects that those minds see simialr patterns. It doesn’t mean they had the foggiest clue about whether their particular point of view might or might not turn out to match what we understand today.

    It’s like betting on the roll of a dice being a six, it turning out to be six, and then everyone exclaiming in amazement, wow, he sure ‘knew’ it was going to be a six.

    It is a mistake to mistake irony for coincidence: http://dragreduction.blogspot.co.uk/2005/11/irony-vs-coincidence.html

    Like

    • Ron,

      “These holistic view points are coincidental. The reductionism of science has never set out to specifically say there is no connection between the stuff of the universe, that it is not holistic in some way.”

      I highly disagree. They are not coincidental. The reductionism of science, by definition, has set out to reduce everything to some fundamental substance or constituent parts and that is contradictory to the idea of holism. So you are mistaken here. The modern view in quantum mechanics is that the object and the observer are no longer separable, which means there can’t be any constituent parts fundamentally. The parts are an illusion just as the particle itself is an illusion (particle-wave duality). Everything is a whole and is connected as one. This is completely contrary to what science is primarily set out to do — and that is, reductionism. This same holism is represented in many of those ancient religions. You need to realize that reductionism is the opposite of holism ultimately. Reductionism relies on the belief that every event, phenomenon, or thing can be reduced down to the sum of it’s parts, whereas holism sees that whole as being greater than the sum of it’s parts — as well as the idea that there are no real “parts”, there is only the whole. After the scientific revolution occurred, Newtonian mechanics, the atomic model, etc., were all set out to fundamentalize the parts of the universe and predict things with 100% certainty. Now that quantum mechanics has shattered these old views, science has ironically led us back to those ancient religions that shared the same ideals of holism. If you can’t see that then you simply aren’t looking in the right place.

      Like

      • “The reductionism of science, by definition, has set out to reduce everything to some fundamental substance or constituent parts and that is contradictory to the idea of holism.”

        You are quite wrong here. The purpose of reductionism is precisely to explain the whole, but by better understanding the detail. The whole point of studying DNA, even Crick and Watson’s purpose in trying to discover the mechanism of heredity, was to understand the whole life process. What would be the point od investigating DNA if, once discovered, they said, “Well that’s interesting, our reductionism has found DNA, but let’s not bother trying to figure out what the implications are for life, heredity, health, etc.”

        “Everything is a whole and is connected as one.”

        Yes. Can you point to any science, even reductionist science, that disputes that?

        “This is completely contrary to what science is primarily set out to do — and that is, reductionism.”

        No, No, No. Name me one scientist who simply wanted to go all reductionist for the sole purpose of reducing. What would be the point? Newton? He wanted to understand God’s works – by using reductionism. Reductionism is a tool, and all scientists know this.

        “This same holism is represented in many of those ancient religions. You need to realize that reductionism is the opposite of holism ultimately.”

        The real distinction you should be considering is as follows.

        Science recognises that just looking at the big picture misses lots of details. By looking at the details you better figure out how the whole works.

        Religion doesn’t do this. It takes grand ideas, and instead of trying to figure out how things work it makes even grander imaginary gestures about what it thinks is the cause of some event or other. It looks for even more inexplicable entities to explain what they can’t explain already. It’s a hopeless fiction.

        “Reductionism relies on the belief that every event, phenomenon, or thing can be reduced down to the sum of it’s parts”

        No it does not. There is no need to discount the notion that some proerties emerge at some higher level that are very difficult to explain in terms of the lower level.

        When I write programs for a computer I don’t worry about the detail state of individual electrons in each transistor on every chip in the computer. The reductionst approach of the electronics and materials scientists that discovered how to make nano-scale transistors work allows me to use the whole to achieve my goals. Could a branch of theism have invented the microchip, discovered DNA?

        Reductionism is just one tool available to science for understanding the universe. Theism has added no understanding whatsoever, only fiction piled on fiction.

        “holism sees that whole as being greater than the sum of it’s parts”

        Holism in a scientific sense is just another tool of science, a complementary tool to reductionism. They are used together. The deatail of reductionism explains how the holistic whole works at detailed levels.

        “were all set out to fundamentalize the parts of the universe and predict things with 100% certainty.”

        Well, a fine goal. What’s wrong with that?

        “Now that quantum mechanics has shattered these old views…”

        It hasn’t. It has only made clear that our level of understanding has much further to go. You speak as if quantum machanics is the last word on particle physics. It was discovered over the last century. Science has been making progress for several centuries. Come back in another hundred, 500, 1000 years and tell me quantum mechanics is the last word.

        “…, science has ironically led us back to those ancient religions that shared the same ideals of holism.”

        Only for non-scientist woo believers, who never really got science anyway.

        I happen to agree with this, in some respects, though I don’t know that we’d agree on the details.

        We see separate objects merely as a classification process where there are apparent boundaries due to distinctions in small detail. There’s a sense of information theory that hypothesises that it all starts out as very low level distinction, data, information, at some fundamental level. What we see as particles are really just variations in something, for want of a better term, a field, of ultimate reality.

        But the distinctions, the classifications into particles, atoms, molecules, cell walls, organs, bodies, etc., are real organisational phenomena that we are sensitive to to varying degrees.

        Like

        • Ron,

          “You are quite wrong here. The purpose of reductionism is precisely to explain the whole, but by better understanding the detail.”

          Nope. The definition of reductionism is to explain larger complex interactions by breaking them down into smaller and smaller parts or more simple. The Holism suggested in quantum physics refutes this ability (for complete explanation of the universe) as there are no fundamental “parts” but only an illusion of such. There is only an illusion of particles, etc. (when in fact they are a wave function collapsing upon measurement to appear as something located in a particular position with a particular velocity) and there is an illusion that we can break things down to objects when there are no objects.
          The definition I found in the dictionary says “the analysis of complex things, data, etc., into less complex constituents”
          There are no real constituents (only the illusion of such), which means reductionism is null and void in a holistic universe. It doesn’t mean that we can’t use reductionism to produce something productive or to learn some new information or relationship that may exist. But it does mean that we can’t use it to explain the entire workings of the universe, and that is what science has set out to do using reductionism. Science wants to explain everything. Look at the number of scientific fields and experiments and tell me otherwise.

          “Holism in a scientific sense is just another tool of science, a complementary tool to reductionism. They are used together.”

          Holism goes against reductionism, and if you want to call that complementary that’s fine (I certainly think that both views are useful for different reasons) — but in the end, it is the holism that trumps reductionism in the ultimate workings of the universe (according to the current view in quantum physics). Reductionism is an incomplete way (however convenient and helpful it may be) of describing the universe because the universe isn’t ultimately reducible. That’s the bottom line and quantum physics is in agreement with this. You don’t have to agree, but that’s what the science has suggested. Does this mean that we forget everything we’ve gained from reductionism? Not at all. It just means that if you have to pick one overall view of how the universe works (reducible interactions or holism), holism is the view currently standing.

          “Name me one scientist who simply wanted to go all reductionist for the sole purpose of reducing.”

          I’m not sure what you’re asking me exactly. The sole purpose of reductionism is to reduce things to simpler components to better understand the larger system. This does not mean that a scientist’s sole purpose is to reduce, but that is the method that science has taken to fundamentally explain things. This is evident when you think of any explanation — let’s take your example of DNA. If someone asked from top down, how does heredity work? A scientist would say that genes are the mechanism for heredity and DNA contains those genes. They would say that DNA is composed of atoms, and those atoms are composed of…..etc. You’d have to use a reductionist approach to fully explain the workings of the DNA this way, and this is what scientists do. It does not mean that they don’t ALSO focus on the larger complex systems of those smaller “parts” as you suggested. I’m not arguing that. Different scientists are focusing on different ranges of complexity — but I’m concerned with those focusing on the simplest range of complexity (particle physicists and quantum physicists). I’m simply saying that in order to know how things work, science tries to expose what’s in the black box and this is what physical reductionism has been doing. Now that they reduced things down to a certain scale, it became evident in quantum physics that how we are looking at matter in the first place is merely for convenience and not the way it really is. So I’m not saying that scientists don’t also focus on the macro-effects resulting from DNA (different scientists are focusing on different ranges of complexity even though they are still using reductionism within that range). I’m talking about the general underlying explanation/description for all matter and energy in the universe at the smallest scale. As I mentioned before, as scientists were using a physical reductionist approach to go smaller and smaller, they hit a wall which changed the paradigm to something not reducible (the limit of reductionism). On top of this the “things” we’ve been trying to reduce, were also arbitrary convenient ways of labeling probabilities of location, etc. (in the quantum world anyways). There are no “things” to reduce in the first place and that is the illusion. This is why reductionism is ultimately null and void in a holistic universe. It may serve as a convenient tool to describe things in a way that is intuitive, etc., and still provides SOME way of looking at things in science — but that’s all it is.

          ” “were all set out to fundamentalize the parts of the universe and predict things with 100% certainty.” Well, a fine goal. What’s wrong with that? “Now that quantum mechanics has shattered these old views…” It hasn’t.”

          Yes it has shattered these views. We now have shown that we can’t predict everything with 100% certainty (Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is a most obvious example of this). The inability to separate the observer from the observed means that there are no fundamental parts. What part of this “shattering” do you not see here because I can’t make it much clearer.

          “Could a branch of theism have invented the microchip, discovered DNA?”

          I’m not sure why you’re asking this question. Who knows and why is it relevant?

          “Come back in another hundred, 500, 1000 years and tell me quantum mechanics is the last word.”

          I never said that it was the last word. I’m just saying that this is where science has led us so far and it is looking very familiar when we compare it to some concepts of holism seen in older religions — that’s all.

          Like

          • Let me clarify, though I thought I made it clear in what followed.
            “The purpose of reductionism [as used in science] is precisely to explain the whole, but by better understanding the detail.”

            Yes, reductionism is reductive by definition, but the purpose scientists put it to is to better explain the whole.

            “The Holism suggested in quantum physics refutes”

            Quantum physics does not suggest holism. You might infer holism from it, but that’s just your interpretation. I infer from quantum physics, and what people like Brian Greene, is that this is the story so far. There is a corroberation between theory and experiment, as far as it goes. There’s still lots of work to do.

            ““the analysis of complex things, data, etc., into less complex constituents”
            There are no real constituents…”

            But that’s not a problem, because he reduced ‘constituents’ and the ‘holism’ of the whole are just models that we invent. We have no real way of saying what is illusory and what isn’t. We can’t refute solipsism. So to critices reductionism as an illusory model of reality while giving a pass to the holisitic rantings of old rreligions that coincidentally have some similarites to current science seems a bit unreasonable.

            Your view seems to favour classifying any old holistic woo as superior in some way to reductionism – an anti-reductionist stance. I don’t have a problem with holistic models, if they are founded on good science. I see both holism and reductionism as compatible tools. We use what we can that get results, and I don’t give a free pass to that holism that is imaginative clap trap, unless I’m evaluating its artistic value rather than its scientific value.

            “There are no real constituents (only the illusion of such), which means reductionism is null and void in a holistic universe.”

            Then much holism is null and void too, since it is a bland representation of a complex whole by some trivial woo sentiments.

            On the other hand, a scientific reductionist-holistic model, of wholes constituted of parts that explain in detail how the whole works, is a very useful model that works.

            “But it does mean that we can’t use it to explain the entire workings of the universe, and that is what science has set out to do using reductionism.”

            No it hasn’t. Early philosopher scientists set out to explain the holistic workings of God’s universe. The attempts to combine gravity and quantum physics in a unified theory is pretty holistic, in that it expects a unified whole, it very specifically does not expect gravity to apply at large scales and quantum physics at the small with nothing in between.

            “Science wants to explain everything.”

            So does holism, but unfortunately too often by airy-fairy means.

            “Look at the number of scientific fields and experiments and tell me otherwise.”

            That is a consequence of the real complexity discovered, as opposed to some of the holistic woo that posits very general causes to explain everything, whether it’s the religous nonsense of God did it, or the cosmic consciousness of the likes of Deepak Chopra.

            “but in the end, it is the holism that trumps reductionism in the ultimate workings of the universe (according to the current view in quantum physics)”

            Quantum physics does nothing of the kind. Holism does not trump reductionism in the workings of the universe because holism alone can’t explain the workings of anything. Would you like to suggest some holistic theories that don’t rely on reductionism.

            “Reductionism is an incomplete way (however convenient and helpful it may be) of describing the universe because the universe isn’t ultimately reducible.”

            Reductionism and holism are incomplete methods. And, we don’t know if the real univerese is reducible or not. What we do know, and what works, is that our models are reducible. Don’t mistake our very human models for actual reality.

            “You don’t have to agree, but that’s what the science has suggested.”

            No it isn’t. It’s what some people have inferred from the science and there’s no way of checking their inferences without more science.

            “The sole purpose of reductionism is to reduce things to simpler components to better understand the larger system.”

            Now you’re restating what I’ve been saying all along.

            “As I mentioned before, as scientists were using a physical reductionist approach to go smaller and smaller, they hit a wall which changed the paradigm to something not reducible (the limit of reductionism).”

            We don’t know it’s the limit of reductionism. It’s the limit of current science.

            And even if it is the limit, that means reductionism is complete, it’s done its job – which contradicst what you said eearlier in claiming it is incomplete.

            “Yes it has shattered these views. We now have shown that we can’t predict everything with 100% certainty”

            But we never could anyway, even in a classical deterministic world. Only some hypothetical entity like Maxwell’s Demon that could measure wothout interaction would be able to actually determine the state of the universe. But for all entities within a system, within our universe, even if it were deterministic, would still be indeterminate to us.

            Quantum physics challenges the assumption of determinism, but it doesn’t refute it conclusively. There are unsolved issues. We don’t for example really understand randomness. Sure, we understand our model of what we think is randomnes, our model of probability. But really, what is randomness? What actually causes a random event to occur ‘randomly’. If there is a cause of a random event, then we need to understand the cause. If there is no cause, then it is an uncaused event, and that opens even mroe questions. Quantum physics does not close the door on science or reductionism, it simply poses more questions.

            ““Could a branch of theism have invented the microchip, discovered DNA?”
            I’m not sure why you’re asking this question. Who knows and why is it relevant?”

            Because they are some of th holistic systems you referred to earlier, as if they have some merit in what they can tell us about the universe. They tell us nothing other than ficticious stories.

            “I’m just saying that this is where science has led us so far and it is looking very familiar when we compare it to some concepts of holism seen in older religions — that’s all.”

            But holism in this vague conceptual sense (as opposed to a real scientific sense) is familiar with regard to everything and nothing. This is why many critics of religion say that using a God that is mysterious to explain anything explains nothing. It’s just poetic gloss. It doesn’t actually explain anything.

            Like

          • Ron,

            “But hey, some scientists still believe in God. What can you do, they are only human.”

            I am a scientist myself, and I believe in “God”. However, I believe “God” to be simply all the energy in the universe.
            Other scientists may believe this too, and it falls within the realm of science because they are just defining the concept of “all the energy in the universe” as “God”. I do not believe in an anthropomorphic/anthropocentric “God” as most theists do. This may be the “God” you are referring to in your commentary above. You must realize that people define things differently — even words like “God”.

            “They are not limited to the reductionist approach now, since science uses both reductionism and holism among its methods.”

            Yes but ultimately, the idea that objects are illusions means reductionism is futile in ultimate understanding. I believe that this is going to be a large paradigm shift because scientists (eventually) will start to realize their limitations based on this convenient illusion of objects and parts. They will realize that asking certain questions like “what is this composed of?” is an invalid question. It does not mean that they don’t get something out of it. It just means that Holism creates a brick wall for reductionism. You may think that they are compatible, but I think that they are contradictory. This also more than likely comes down to the varying nuances in our definitions of the term “Holism”. That’s ok too.

            “OUR brains interact with the world through senses that are reliable only to a point, as far as we can tell. OUR brains observe and reason only with a consistency only to a point. The purpose of the objectivity of science isn’t some alternative to subjectivity but just one more methodology for counteracting the flaws of subjectivity, a means of making OUR subjective experience more consistent with the reality WE think is out there.”

            The continuity in the universe suggested by Holism (specifically that Holism suggested by Quantum mechanics, as opposed to analyzing the “whole” as you are thinking about) means that there is no OUR, and there is no WE, and there is no THIS or THAT. There is only one “IT”.
            The holism that you are referring to is not what I’m arguing about. I will also mention that the holism you have been referring to as being complementary to reductionism is not an ultimate holism but only an analysis of a “collection of parts”. That “whole” that we analyze in holistic science is still an illusory part because it isn’t everything. We’ve arbitrarily defined the “whole” in the holism of which you speak. That’s part of the problem here with our debate. You are not understanding what I’m saying about holism. I’m talking about real holism, not arbitrary holism (an arbitrary “whole”). The only ultimate “whole” that exists is the entirety of the universe. The “whole” you refer to science as considering is just another “collection of parts”, albeit with new properties that couldn’t be explained by the parts themselves. The key thing to note here is that I’m talking about what Quantum Physics has discovered with regards to ULTIMATE HOLISM. It is contradictory to reductionism. The holism that you refer to IS NOT contradictory to reductionism, but it is also not compatible with ULTIMATE HOLISM either.

            The holism that I refer to in ancient religions is also the ULTIMATE HOLISM, not your idea of holism (you are thinking more of Gestalt holism which is something different entirely).
            Quantum physics has led us to this ULTIMATE HOLISM that I’ve been referring to which is why I made it explicit that it was Quantum Physics that led us here. You are referring to studying different levels of organization and their resultant properties — and I’ve not disputed that they are contradictory with reductionism. Only that ULTIMATE HOLISM is contradictory to reductionism.

            -Peace and Love

            Like

    • “So, for example, James Lovelock and his Gaia principle. Some mistake this for the New Age holistic mumbo jumbo of Mother Earth. But Lovelock very specifically did not mean that. He was explaining real physical natural connections between the various aspects of planetary atmospherics.”

      I want to add that what people may consider to be “New Age holistic mumbo jumbo of Mother Earth” may just be a way to ascribe deeper meaning to the natural connections and occurrences. For example, when we think of a human being, we can try to break it down into natural explanations and parts (through the fallacious reductionism that contradicts holism), but there are new complex qualities that emerge from this large sack of organic matter including emotions, love, etc. — the qualities that give people’s lives meaning and purpose. This illustrates that just because people can ascribe a “natural explanation” to why something is the way it is or to describe “how it works”, doesn’t mean that it has no other deeper meaning. When people think of the Gaia hypothesis, the idea that the Earth is like a super-organism that has it’s own feedback loop to remain stable even with an ever-changing environment — we are comparing a planet to an organism, such as ourselves — and if we can ascribe more meaning to human beings than just calling us a sack of molecules (due to the whole being greater than the sum of it’s parts), then we can do the same thing with “Gaia” (I did enjoy Lovelock’s book). So the “New Age holistic mumbo jumbo of Mother Earth” does not need to exclude science or it’s explanations. It is a mixture of science and spirituality (which I consider to be the extra “meaning” people tag on to whatever topic is being discussed). I just wanted to throw that out there because people tend to think in exclusive terms, where New Age is anti-science or mistakenly believing that there are no compatibilities between the two (the same thing applies between many religions and science). One school of thought or philosophy may just be another aspect or way of describing what something is, just as what we think of as “human” is far more meaningful than the description of our illusory constituent molecules. We think of humans as being able to experience so many things, capable of so many possibilities, and a form of macro-control over those constiuent molecules. I tend to think of non-reductionist qualities as being spiritual and so there is plenty of room for both science and spirituality. Spirituality is what gives my life purpose after I realize that I have no free will. One could say that life is pointless if we have no free will, but I see my ability to live life, to love, and to find meaning in things as the spiritual component that drives me. I’ve mentioned this quote from Einstein before with Neil and I’ll say it again: “Religion without science is blind, and science without religion is lame”. Just because we can describe something one way (scientifically) does not mean there aren’t other ways of describing things (unscientific). The difference is that many people feel better when they can prove or disprove something and scientific explanations and descriptions are the only one’s that are falsifiable. This is why we as a society try to use science as some reliable form of common ground. We just shouldn’t limit ourselves to science alone.

      Like

      • “may just be a way to ascribe deeper meaning to the natural connections and occurrences.”

        It may have personal emotional meaning, but it has no factual meaning. It’s just poetic expression.

        “through the fallacious reductionism that contradicts holism”

        Simply restating this isn’t good enough. Show me how it contradicts holism rather than complementing it. Show me any scientists who are not both reductionist and holistic in their methods.

        “new complex qualities that emerge from this large sack of organic matter including emotions, love, etc.”

        You really think the emotions are not explainable in materialist terms? Love is a behaviour of the brain that makes us behave in a particular way towards other people. the ruch of love, lust, and other emotions is due to specific electro-chemical activity in the brain.

        “doesn’t mean that it has no other deeper meaning” – – Doesn’t mean it does either. ‘deeper meaning’ is a human invention, something we make up and ascribe to stuff, whether there’s any factual basis for doing so or not.

        “So the “New Age holistic mumbo jumbo of Mother Earth” does not need to exclude science or it’s explanations.”

        I doesn’t have to, but it often does. You can take Lovelock’s very scientific idea and paste all sorts of poetic pretty pictures on top, and imagine that Mother Earth is somehow communicating with us, or that there is some more essential consciousness in the universe.

        “It is a mixture of science and spirituality (which I consider to be the extra “meaning” people tag on to whatever topic is being discussed)”

        Now you’re being more specific. I agree that spirituality is stuff tagged on, that doesn’t require any evidence, just the imagination. The problem is, as you might imagine something wonderful, so someone else might imagine something dreadful. It’s all in the mind of the beholder.

        “Just because we can describe something one way (scientifically) does not mean there aren’t other ways of describing things (unscientific).”

        And just because we can use other ways of describing something doesn’t mean they represent that something in any way but imaginary. That’s what scice is good at, figuring out the difference between good working descriptions and nonsense. Spiritual language can’t make that distinction.

        Like

        • Ron,

          “It may have personal emotional meaning, but it has no factual meaning. It’s just poetic expression.”

          While it is true that it wouldn’t have meaning that we can prove with science, in terms of calling it factual or not — that depends on your definition of what a fact really is. One definition commonly used is:
          “Knowledge or information based on real occurrences.” People have to decide what they consider to be facts, as those change over time as well. A long time ago, there were many scientific “facts” that have since been disproven. We can say now that those aren’t “facts” now, but during the time that science accepted them as true, they were “facts” (because they were not opinions and the evidence available pointed to it being a true state of affairs). If we want to define “facts” as a state of affairs that has always and will always be true — then that’s a different story. The only facts that would fall under this definition would be based on simple logical application of definitions. If we define something to be a certain way, and we see something that is that way, by definition, we’d have a fact. Unfortunately not everyone defines facts the same way. If a pile of evidence suggests that something is a fact (like the speed of light being 300,000 km/s in a vacuum) and it later turns out to be wrong by 1% — then what do we do? Do we say that NOW we know the speed of light as fact and before we didn’t? Or do we just agree that facts can change as the evidence changes? It’s not a black and white issue, even if YOU have your own strict definition like the aforementioned one I listed. On the flip side, if the speed of light wasn’t officially measured yet, and I said “Oh, it’s 300,000 km/s”. Even if I guessed it, would what I said be a fact in that case? Some people would say yes, and others would say no. Ooh, it’s oh so exciting when we run into these issues with definitions.

          One main point to consider is that there can be many types of meaning ascribed to something that are un-scientific. It is another form of knowing and another way of looking at things. Science is basically limited by the scientific method, definitions, and falsifiability. “Meaning” is unfalsifiable, which is perfectly fine with me. Limiting ourselves to only science in our thought is just that — a limitation of thinking. It prevents us from thinking about things in new ways that would allow us a more complete understanding of the universe. “Understanding” is not limited to science — that is merely “scientific understanding”.

          “Simply restating this isn’t good enough. Show me how it contradicts holism rather than complementing it.”

          I’m not sure what more you need for an explanation. I believe that holism contradicts reductionism, because they are incompatible. I think the disconnect here is that you define holism in a different way than I do. I believe that holism is the only “truth” and that it contradicts reductionism because one is universally applied where the other is not. Holism can describe the fundamental “one-ness” of the universe, where reductionism tries to break up the whole into illusory parts that don’t really exist (the parts are merely a convenient and intuitive representation because we have egos and see ourselves as well as everything else in the universe as separate objects). That is why I think they contradict one another — due to this incompatibility. If you need something more specific for an answer, you need to ask a more specific question.

          “You really think the emotions are not explainable in materialist terms?”

          They are only physically explainable in materialist terms (down to a certain scale), but materialism can’t explain everything about emotions. Materialist terms can only explain emotions from a scientific perspective — one form of knowing and a reductionist approach at that. Also, since we can’t explain all the way down to fundamental building blocks to the aforementioned indeterminisms and randomness in quantum mechanics, even a complete physical explanation is impossible in materialist terms because materialism assumes that discrete objects exist.
          That’s been the whole purpose of discussing Holism here.

          ‘deeper meaning’ is a human invention, something we make up and ascribe to stuff, whether there’s any factual basis for doing so or not.

          So is science. Science is a human invention, a system we’ve made up and picked arbitrary rubrics of measurement and descriptions to ascribe to stuff, whether there’s any epi-factual basis for doing so or not.

          “It’s all in the mind of the beholder.”

          Yes and this is true for humans in comparison to other forms of intelligence to. We see reality in one limited way due to human mental limitations. It is the spiritual seekers that try to transcend these day-to-day limitations that most people fall prey to in order to experience something atypical and new.

          “That’s what scice is good at, figuring out the difference between good working descriptions and nonsense. Spiritual language can’t make that distinction.”

          Science had many views in the past that are now seen as non-sense and because of this evolution we have no idea how close or how far we are from actual “truth”. Science changes just as religion does. People put their faith in science just as others do in religion. They have faith that it will lead them to truth, just as religious followers do. The laymen have faith that the scientific community isn’t lying to them, and to trust in science — just as laymen have faith that religious leaders aren’t lying to them or trying to manipulate them. The difference is what society accepts as proof or not. A long time ago, religion trumped science and it is only the last several centuries that this has reversed. We could go back to a religiously dominated world in the future (far more than it is now) and we’d never know it at this point. We are evolving too as well as our brains so who knows what is “true”.

          Like

    • “That an ancient brains spotted some mysterious pattern and gave it a name, which we later adopt (atom, Gaia, holistic) only reflects that those minds see simialr patterns. It doesn’t mean they had the foggiest clue about whether their particular point of view might or might not turn out to match what we understand today.”

      That’s part of my point. They didn’t need to have the foggiest clue about what thoughts would match that of today’s. The point is that in the era’s prior to the scientific revolution, ways of describing things weren’t limited to a reductionist approach — as this didn’t come formally until “science” came into the picture. Prior to science, this tunnel vision didn’t exist, yet, ironically science has led us back to similar points of view on the holistic nature of the universe. It’s funny because even when science tried to replace subjectivity with objectivity, it has now eliminated objectivity (with the holistic ideas in quantum physics), leaving only subjectivity. It’s amazing that a reductionist approach led us to refute reductionism. This is a part of the irony.

      Like

      • Lage,

        “The point is that in the era’s prior to the scientific revolution, ways of describing things weren’t limited to a reductionist approach”

        They are not limited to the reductionist approach now, since science uses both reductionism and holism among its methods. The problem with many philosophies and religions pre-science was that they didn’t use reductionism at all, they just made up holistic stories and presumed they were true if they liked the sound of them.

        “Prior to science, this tunnel vision didn’t exist”

        Yes it was a tunnel vision, a tunnel vision of thinking you can just make stuff up and it will be true.

        You seem to have this impression that science rejects everything but reductionism now, and that we have lost something of the naive holisms and imagined stories of the past. But you’ve got it quite the wrong way round. The ways of the past were wrong most often, and demonstrably so, and often cruelly so. Science has expanded our horizons, deep down into the small, and wide open into the heavens – and reductionism has played a significant role in achieving this.

        The anti-reductionist stance that many dreamers take today, out of some false nostalgia for more poetic and mysterious times is as woolly thinking as one can get before resorting to pure fantasy.

        “yet, ironically science has led us back to similar points of view”

        Science never lead us away from holistic views, except in the minds of people who misunderstand science. I agree that such a misunderstanding has been made by some scientists. But hey, some scientists still believe in God. What can you do, they are only human. But to complain about the reductionism of science completely misses its point.

        “it has now eliminated objectivity (with the holistic ideas in quantum physics), leaving only subjectivity.”

        Again this misses the point. We are stuck with subjectivity because we have evolved brains that are not some magical truth trapping mechanisms. Our brains interact with the world through senses that are reliable only to a point, as far as we can tell. Our brains observe and reason only with a consistency only to a point. The purpose of the objectivity of science isn’t some alternative to subjectivity but just one more methodology for counteracting the flaws of subjectivity, a means of making our subjective experience more consistent with the reality we think is out there. It’s not as if it’s one or the other. We have to use subjectivity, because that’s how we roll – we are not Maxwell’s Demon, or some imagined God with perfect knowledge. We are experiential beings that experience the world subjectively. Objectivity is an additional tool, not an alternative.

        It is true that in many arguments proponents of science will make statements about objectivity that sound like they are opposed to subjectivity as an alternative. This is a mistake. The dichotomy is using subjectivity alone on the one hand as in religion and some philosophy; and on the other hand using subjectivity enhanced by objective methods, as in science.

        “It’s amazing that a reductionist approach led us to refute reductionism.”

        It has not. Reductionism isn’t some end point, some truth to be refuted. Reductionism is just a methodology. And it has proved to be such a great addition to our tool set that it makes all systems of belief that reject it as a tool, based on some dreamy nostalgia for holistic mysticisms of the past, look like foolish fantasies.

        Like

        • “They are not limited to the reductionist approach now, since science uses both reductionism and holism among its methods.”

          Yes, but it is using a form of Gestalt holism, not ULTIMATE holism which quantum physics has led us to. They are two different things. One is concerned with properties of different levels of organization, where the other (the one I’m talkin’ bout’) is only concerned with there being ONE whole, not arbitrary “wholes” that we see in Gestalt holism.

          “Again this misses the point. We are stuck with subjectivity because we have evolved brains that are not some magical truth trapping mechanisms.”

          Nope. You are missing the point. We are talking about two different holisms here. I’m not arguing that we have any other way of ‘being’ other than subjective. I’m arguing that ULTIMATE holism refutes objectivity, because there are no objects — thus science has led us back to subjective ways of describing things as objects. It’s all because of the illusion of separateness which is obviously difficult to part with. I’ve accepted it, even though I “give in to the illusion” and treat things around me as separate objects (in most ways, in other ways I see me and other things as one in the same). Just as I give in to the illusion of free will even though I believe that free will is an illusion. It’s more convenient to give in to the illusion and think I’m making choices everyday — but it doesn’t change the fact that ultimately I have no free will. Science works the same way. Science isn’t going to come to a screeching halt even after these quantum physical findings and I find this analogous to “fulfilling the illusion of free will” despite the actuality of having no free will. We still live our lives and science still continues. We’ll see what happens during the next paradigm shift. It seems we’ve gone from a focus on “spirit” (thousands of years ago until the scientific revolution) to “matter” (scientific revolution) and now we’re heading back to “spirit” (quantum physics). Scientists are going to oppose this paradigm shift once it becomes more obvious, but until then they will try to make it “fit” into what they’ve been doing thus far. That’s my prediction for the future. But it’s only my opinion.

          Like

  6. “but what I’m saying is what CURRENT science says. CURRENTLY, we science can’t fully explain it. What part of this don’t you understand?”

    I understand that well. In fact I said the same earlier:

    “But in gravity and nonlocality we are not talking about something that can’t be explained because it is supernatural, we are talking about something that can’t *currently* be explained because we don’t currently happen to have an explanation.”

    But that’s not what you’ve been saying. Here’s what you said:

    “Technically, if science can’t explain something – such as the force of gravity, then the force is only explained by supernatural means (that is non-scientific means).”

    You not only say nothing about *currently*, but that the force is *only* explained by supernatural means. This is what the religious say about God: God is a supernatural entity that can’t be explained by science.

    Then:

    “We can’t completely explain gravity nor non-locality in terms of the natural – because the mechanisms needed for the explanation lie outside the observable universe. So by definition, if something *can’t* be explained by natural means, any other explanation would have to be supernatural.”

    Again, no hint of currently, and a very specific claim to the supernatural.

    Then:

    “I see no distinction between the “naturally unexplainable” and “supernaturally explainable” because they are one in the same.”

    But they are not. Being unexplained is simply being unexplained – and in that sense there could be unexplained natural phenomena, or, as something claimed to be quite distinct, unexplained supernatural phenomena. That they are both unexplained does not make them the same. The important distinction is that the supernatural is supposed to be forever beyond the natural, in some quote difference realm, and not, for example, just some part of or some dimension of the natural that we have yet to explore.

    “If you disagree with this, point me to some evidence that suggests irrefutable proof of other dimensions.”

    I think you miss the point of ‘irrefutable proof’, which isn’t much help in this regard. Irrefutable proof needs true premises, and we have no assurance that any are true, so this is a pointless request.

    “If you can’t provide that, then it is safe to assume that for all practical purposes, we have 4D-spacetime as our limitations for experimentation.”

    Though for all practical purposes I agree we have 4D-spacetime as our limitations for experimentation, it’s not a consequence of not providing irrefutable proof of other dimensions, it’s simply because that’s all we can currently test. Irrefutable proof has nothing to do with this.

    “If you want to assume that there are more dimensions, that’s fine, but science has been unable to experiment in those dimensions.”

    I don’t assume there are, I just allow for the possibility, and that if there are they will become part of our natural explanation. It is you that is actually making claims about the supernatural.

    “”supernatural” is almost completely pointless to talk about (if it is 100% fiction). You don’t seem to think it’s completely pointless, or you wouldn’t have commented on this post.”

    Not so, because my comments do have a point: objecting to your use of the term supernatural to refer to unexplained natural phenomena.

    “Personally, I don’t think that “supernatural” exists, because in my opinion everything that does exist is by my definition “natural”.”

    But this is the opposite of what you *have* been saying:

    “Technically, if science can’t explain something – such as the force of gravity, then the force is only explained by supernatural means (that is non-scientific means).”

    Well, if you think something is explainable by supernatural means you must think there is something that is supernatural in order to be used in the explanation of gravity.

    “Just because it falls outside the scope of science does not mean that they are lying or that they haven’t experienced something that they deem supernatural.”

    1) There is no reason or evidence to think anything falls outside the scope of science. Science is merely the application of our senses and reason in a more rigorous way, using methods that compensate for the fallibility of our unaided senses and reason. There is nothing special about science, other than it is the application of improved methods of discovery. It is not some different ‘scientific way of knowing’ that in some way is of a different realm from ‘other ways of knowing’ that comes out of religious claims.

    2) The fact that someone isn’t lying, i.e. they believe what they say is true, doesn’t mean it s true.

    3) Just because someone deems something to be supernatural doesn’t mean it is, and so far nothing that has been claimed to be supernatural has any evidence to support it.

    “many people use that term to describe the “currently unexplainable””

    And they are wrong to do so, and have been shown to be wrong to do so, so many times. There is a very significant logical difference here. It’s one thing to speculate that there might be supernatural phenomena and to say that because they are supernatural we can’t discover them or experience them – that’s fine as speculation, but pretty useless in practice. It’s quite a different thing to identify some unexplained phenomena and attribute it to the supernatural simply because we currently have no explanation for it. Since we have only ever experienced natural phenomena, then any phenomena we have experienced and can’t yet explain (e.g. gravity) should parsimoniously be presumed to have a natural explanation. The ‘God did it’ or any other equivalent claim to supernatural woo just isn’t good enough.

    “You have to accept this…”

    I fully accept that some people believe in the supernatural and other dumb stuff.

    “that there are multiple uses of the word”

    No, there’s one pretty clear use of the word, which is found in all good dictionaries, and in the link to a definition I gave you.

    “and people can make as many definitions of the word as they want.”

    Yes they can, if they want to be misunderstood, or if they want to muddy the waters with woo.

    “I’m broadening the definition so that I have something to contribute to the conversation.”

    How can broadening the definition of ‘supernatural’ to include the unexplained natural possibly not muddy the waters?

    “You are focusing on your definition of the term”

    No, I’m focusing on the standard definition.

    “Pretend that I chose EMF fluctuations measured by “ghost hunters” instead.”

    OK, give me some references. I have A PhD in electronics and computing. I know what an electromotive force is. It’s got nothing to do with ghosts – or more correctly, the fantasy concept of a ghost has nothing to do with the very natural phenomena of EMF. And people do investigate spooky phenomena, and find it to be bunk. Try this link:

    http://www.pointofinquiry.org/joe_nickell_the_other_side/

    Follow Joe Nickell links anywhere. Also James Randi. They’ve both consistently shown the paranormal to be nonsense.

    What your missing is that there are many physicists who have the full resources of science behind them in their understanding of physical phenomena, such as EMF. But a few cranks ‘invent’ a few bogus detectors and claim they have something?

    “this is part of the tunnel vision that science promotes”

    No. The problem lies in the ignorance of people who think they can invent some spooky explanation with no data to back it up and expect serious science to pay attention. Science is very open. What many people see as tunnel vision is actually good scepticism being applied to claims that don’t stand up to inspection. So the woo peddlers, instead of seeing where they are going wrong turn their ire in the scientific establishment; and if they make enough noise about ‘tunnel vision’, unfair treatment, cover ups, and so on, then a gullible public will sometimes believe them.

    “People define the term differently and that’s something we have to accept.”

    Yes. But you have to accept they are wrong when thy misuse it.

    And now you are being disingenuous with your dictionary reference.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/supernatural:

    1: of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil

    So, this “beyond the VISIBLE OBSERVABLE universe” that you state is *especially* about the classical supernatural: Gods

    “attributed to an invisible agent”

    Again you didn’t give all the detail:

    a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to *transcend the laws of nature*
    b : attributed to an invisible agent (*as a ghost or spirit*)

    How clear can this be. The supernatural

    So, again, this is the traditional definition.

    Oxford?

    “(of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature: a supernatural being. Manifestations or events considered to be of supernatural origin, such as ghosts”

    So, again traditional spooky stuff, not simply unexplained natural stuff. You were being selective in what you quoted from the dictionary.

    “This means that anything beyond scientific understanding (even if science can later understand it) qualifies by this definition.”

    No. It means anything beyond scientific understanding full stop.

    “So there’s a few definitions. I’m sure you will try to take issue with every one of those definitions and that’s fine.”

    Well if you are prepared to misquote to make your point then of course I will take issue with them.

    “The definitions exist for both of our purposes”

    They do not. The definitions, if given completely and not just selectively make it very clear:

    Supernatural = spooky
    Unexplained natural supernatural

    “I guarantee you I’d get millions to say that supernatural things DO exist – which means they are calling “natural” things “supernatural” more than likely because they haven’t yet been explained by science.”

    Yes, and they will be making what at least for them is a genuine mistake. They will be thinking that there are genuinely supernatural forces out there that cause some of the unexplained phenomena they know of. In your case you seem to be intentionally misuing the word.

    “I can create or define any word, any way I like. It is arbitrary.”

    Yes you can. But that’s the route to Wonderland:

    “I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.
    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t-till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ ”
    “But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.
    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean-neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master that’s all.”
    Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. “They’ve a temper, some of them-particularly verbs, they’re the proudest-adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs-however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!”

    If you want to spend a lot of time being misunderstood, and having to explain your own particular use of a word that is at odds with common definitions, then that is your privilege.

    Like

    • Ron,

      As I’ve said countless times now, the only reason we are debating is because of my temporary broadened use of the term “supernatural”.
      You and I agree on how we actually define natural, but others use the term in a different way — and you saying that their usage is incorrect, while many people may agree with you, misses the point. What matters most is how people use the term, and what they mean by it. I don’t think that “ain’t” is a word”(at least it didn’t used to be), but I’m guessing you know what it means and that’s all that matters. How do you define “magician”?
      Some people think it’s a person who performs illusions or magic tricks, and others think it is someone who CAN perform magic (hence the term “magician” as opposed to “illusionist”). There’s a big difference between the two interpretations of the term and that’s just something that happens with many different terms. It’s all in how people use the word. “Supernatural” is the same way, and people have every right to use it the way they do. I just humored some of those masses by considering how they use it. I personally use the term that same way you do, and I believe that everything in existence is by definition “natural”. All of my arguments regarding gravity and others, falling under the realm of “supernatural” are because they are currently unexplainable and appear to be outside the realm of our observation (outside of 4D spacetime). Sorry if you feel I’ve muddied the waters, but I still feel that this discussion was productive. I understand your feeling to uphold a strictness in the definition, whereas I was willing to abandon that same strict definition just for the purposes of this topic.

      “And now you are being disingenuous with your dictionary reference.”

      As for the relevant definitions I looked up in the dictionaries, I figured you’d take issue with them. I figured there’s no way that you’d let that fly and if I were in your shoes, I would act the same way to try and prove myself correct. I am very analytical and often times focus on tiny details that pull me away from the larger scheme of things. Let’s look at the first issue you had with the definitions I listed.

      “this “beyond the VISIBLE OBSERVABLE universe” that you state is *especially* about the classical supernatural: Gods “attributed to an invisible agent””

      Yes, but “especially” doesn’t mean ONLY. Anything lying outside the “especially” clause would still qualify. The “especially” is the very reason we are having the debate. If it said “exclusively” then we’d have less of an issue.

      “Again you didn’t give all the detail: a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to *transcend the laws of nature*”

      I left out that detail because I thought that part of the definition was redundant. “Supernatural” is supposed to transcend the “natural” in one way or another (hence the word being SUPERnatural). Anything that can’t be explained, may or may not transcend the laws of nature. The only laws of nature that we can call “laws of nature” are the ones we are aware of. Anything outside of that scope (i.e. outside of our understanding or outside the current laws of physics, etc.) for the purposes of this discussion, can be considered to transcend the laws of nature that we are aware of. I think you should have emphasized “so as to APPEAR TO transcend the laws of nature”. Don’t worry though, I won’t label you as disingenuous for emphasizing differently.
      All things have to do to qualify is appear to transcend the laws of nature. Non-locality and or the unexplainable do APPEAR to transcend these laws (hence the scientists scratching their heads), even if they aren’t — and that qualifies under that definition.

      ” “So there’s a few definitions. I’m sure you will try to take issue with every one of those definitions and that’s fine.” Well if you are prepared to misquote to make your point then of course I will take issue with them.”

      And yet, I’ve explained myself now as well as those parts you think I removed to be disingenuous (not a great assumption). So we’re back to where we started. Let’s move on now.

      “I have A PhD in electronics and computing. I know what an electromotive force is. It’s got nothing to do with ghosts – or more correctly, the fantasy concept of a ghost has nothing to do with the very natural phenomena of EMF”

      You have no way of knowing that an EMF has “nothing to do with ghosts”. That is your assumption, because for one, science hasn’t yet proven or disproven the existence of “ghosts”, and two, science hasn’t proven or disproven that there is a relationship between the two, because the former hasn’t been proven to exist yet so the latter relationship is beyond the scope of science. Your PHD in electronics is irrelevant to relate an EMF with a “ghost”. All your training has given you is the scientific community’s definition of the term and application of it in the field of electronics. You have no proper training studying if “ghosts” exist or not, and we can’t say we know everything about EMF regardless. All we can say is “what we know so far about EMF is” — which doesn’t disprove the relationship between “ghosts” and an EMF.

      “1) There is no reason or evidence to think anything falls outside the scope of science”

      Actually there is. All around us. Anything that can’t currently be explained by science falls outside it’s CURRENT scope (we can’t assume it will eventually be found to have been in it’s scope, if we have no reasons for doing so). Also, in theory, any mechanism outside the observable universe falls outside the ultimate scope of science, since science depends on our observations. Lastly, the ultimate holism I mentioned earlier, that is non-separability between observer and object, means that certain findings in quantum physics appear to have demonstrated a limit in how we’ve been looking at things (scientific method, “objects”, “observers”, etc.). Anything lying outside our dimensions of experience, in theory, falls outside the scope of science. We can only speculate about any possible dimensions outside our experience, with no concrete SCIENTIFIC evidence to support those speculations. Hence, “outside the scope of science”. Any epistemological indeterminisms fall outside the scope of science as well. Anything that science will never be able to explain falls outside the scope of science. Since there are currently an infinite number of concepts that science hasn’t even considered, as well as plenty that we’ve tried to consider but have left to explain — it’s safe to say that epistemological indeterminisms fall outside the scope of science. Here’s a post I read that mentions this indeterminism. You may find it familiar.

      http://ronmurp.net/2012/01/13/re-running-the-universe-determinism-indeterminism-quantum-stuff/

      You said something that stuck out when I read it:
      “Quantum Indeterminate Universe. In such a universe, even with identical starting conditions, the re-run would produce a different universe, because of the truly indeterministic nature of quantum events. This seems to be how some scientists view the consequences of quantum physics in our particular universe. But this seems to require some knowledge of FACTS OUTSIDE OUR SCOPE.”

      By the way, I love your usage of Alice in Wonderland quotes. It is a great story that brings back feelings of nostalgia.
      I always took that story, and all the logical issues that Alice runs into as a result of her child-like view of the world, without realizing that an adult is more aware of exceptions to rules (harder to justify through the eyes of babe which is why they seem silly to Alice), as well as the ability for certain rules to change over time.
      Heck, words get added and removed from the dictionary all the time, which shows that one year you could be “correct” as to what definition is “common” and a few years later you could be wrong. In topics such as philosophy and those related to her, there may be quite a few definitions used for various terms (even if they aren’t all in the dictionary as we try to keep dictionaries around 100,000 words or less in most cases) which is important to realize. There is no “right” or “wrong” definition. There are either different definitions or misunderstood definitions. You musn’t confuse the former with the latter. I’m aware of the definitions you are familiar with, so there is no misunderstanding on my part — the issue here is the use of different definitions. I only humored certain masses for the purpose of this discussion. It opens up new ways of thinking. You mustn’t limit yourself to the dictionary nor to science. There are many creative ways of thinking that fall outside of the scope of both. Keep that in mind.

      -Peace and Love

      Like

  7. “ULTIMATE holism”

    Well, you’ve stumped me on that one because I don’t understand what you mean by it. Can I ask you for two linsk so that I can compare the meanings:
    1) Holism as applied to science where by things can be understood on multiple levels, some using reduction to better understand the details that drive the higher levels, and some using higher level concepts that we say ‘emerge’.
    2) ULTIMATE holism.

    Like

    • Ron,

      Certainly. I kind of figured that was why you were disagreeing with me, so I’ll explain the Ultimate holism. Ultimate holism is the belief that the universe is one entity (not a collection of smaller entities), thus there is no way of separating it into parts to understand it. It is one whole, and the only whole. Since we are also that whole, with the illusion of separateness and objectivity — I believe that we’ve run into this property of ultimate holism with quantum physics. We are unable to separate the object from the observer because the state of every thing that we think of as an “object” is dependent on the state of everything else in the universe. It isn’t just connected through causality, but rather everything is ONE. Science in general doesn’t abide by these principles because there is always an observer and something to observe. That’s what the entire scientific method is based off of — observers (and their hypotheses) and observations. The illusion of separateness is another property of the universe observed by it’s conscious beings (such as ourselves). Some people believe that the purpose of the universe is to try to eventually know itself, but it will never manifest that “knowledge” through any illusory “part” of it (including us). To use more philosophical terms, think of the Kantian philosophy, where the “eye can not see itself”, or more appropriately in this case “the I can’t know itself”. A very similar principle here. We are an illusory “part” of the “I”, that is, the “whole”, and so any illusory “part” can’t know anything else because everything else is also the “I”.
      Another analogy is to pretend that the universe is the letter “A”. We can pretend that we are “parts” of this letter “A” (like humans in our universe), try to break it up into parts to better understand it, but the letter “A” can’t be broken up into parts because it’s already a fundamental concept. We could say that it’s composed of this line and that line, etc., but that wouldn’t be true, because the only single thing that exists is the “A” in it’s entirety. There are no lines, or angles, etc., constituting the “A” (those are all human constructs anyways), because the only thing the universe is (in our analogy) is the letter “A”. It isn’t composed of anything, rather, it simply “is”.

      What is most amazing in this ultimate-holistic universe is the fact that the illusion of separateness exists. It’s quite fascinating to me.
      Another view that goes inline with this ultimate holism is the illusion of time. In a universe that is “one”, there is no past, present, or future because time does not exist either. The illusion is that time is something with a direction, when in fact it is really “all time at once”. For whatever reason, we experience a flow of time and that’s another wonderful property of the universe. Stephen Hawking, Einstein and others demonstrated some of the issues with the concept of time. When you approach the outer event horizon of a black hole, in theory, your motion/time stops to an outside observer. Again in theory, you passing through the black hole, would feel nothing unusual in terms of time passing and you’d go right on in past that horizon. Which is true? Has time stopped or hasn’t it? We have no answer because we’re asking the wrong question. It would be more correct to say that both have happened. Time has stopped and hasn’t stopped, which is a logical contradiction — also indicating the limits of logic in understand this concept. Logic is just another human construct.

      Your definition of holism, which I would say is a kind of “Gestalt” holism, whereby higher level concepts emerge due to different levels of organization and their resultant properties — is something I’m also very familiar with and is the definition I’ve seen used time and time again in the scientific community. I thought I made it clear what I meant by holism earlier, but perhaps this clears things up? It is a somewhat foreign idea to most people (as well as hard to believe just like not having free will is hard to believe when we seem to experience free will everyday), so I completely understand if it is confusing or difficult to understand.

      Like

      • Ultimate holism is the belief that the universe is one entity (not a collection of smaller entities), thus there is no way of separating it into parts to understand it. It is one whole, and the only whole.

        I’m not sure how that is supposed to change anything. Or perhaps you are just implying that we should drop ontology. And I agree with dropping ontology.

        Like

        • Exactly. Dropping ontology has quite an impact on how we view science (and it’s goals to discover “truth”, “how things are”, “how things work”, “what things are composed of”, etc.), and the direction it takes in a future society that’s accepted this realization.

          Like

  8. Lage,

    I’ve been disagreeing with you on these points

    1) The meaning and use of ‘supernatural’.

    2) Your characterisation of reductionism in science, using phrases like ‘tunnel vision’, which do not apply at all. Your implication that ‘there is more to this universe than our science can tell’ is satirised by this Tim Minchin poem: http://youtu.be/ujUQn0HhGEk. The New Age or spiritual notion that just because science can’t know everything (and does not claim to know anything, though these people often miss that) that there must be greater insight into reality by these bogus world views.

    3) Your understanding of holism, how various spooky and/or vague holisms of ancient belief systems are somehow vindicated by modern science, specifically quantum physics.

    4) Your understanding of holism and the implications for the reality that science describes with its models – e.g. particles are an illusion and are, some how, contrary to this whole holism, this ultimate holism.

    The problem with your holism is a big fat so what? Are you saying that, because our models of reality are somehow not the rock bottom real nature of the universe that they are of no use? Are you claiming that your ultimate holistic universe is absolutely dead flat uniform? I suspect not.

    Let’s suppose that your speculation about holism (and it is speculative) is the case, that down there deep in the as yet unseen basement of reality, everything is one whole thing. Well fine. But then what we experience as reality, what we describe as particles, are fluctuations in this reality, variation, distinctions, which form patterns of data that we label as particles, which form patterns we label as humans and human brains, which in turn fluctuate dynamically causing patterns in brains that we understand as thoughts and concepts, one of which is your holism. So, even if your holism is a representation of reality, you can’t be sure of that, because all you know of that reality consists of fluctuations in that reality that make up your brain, its cells, its molecules atoms and subatomic particles, its fluctuations.

    The reason you can’t be sure is that some other speculative hypothesis, say one that claims everything is ultimately not holistic but particulate, could result in the same consequential concept of your holism appearing in your head, except in that case your holistic concept is just wrong.

    To quote Tim Minchin, this vague and simplistic holism is vacuous crap. It’s vacuous because it isn’t telling us anything useful. All the nonsense about the tunnel vision of reductionism is just more vacuous crap.

    And as for quantum physics, well, it really doesn’t tell us the slightest thing about whether there is some ultimate holism of not. In fact quantum physics leaves us with a big problem, something as yet unexplained. The problem that quantum physics presents is that though it tells us there is a very good match between the theoretical models and the experimental results it doesn’t tell us one little bit about what we should infer from that about ultimate reality. It leaves us puzzled. It remains an unexplained natural phenomenon.

    The most common inference is that the universe is random. But what does that mean? Sure, we can model it with probability models. But the mathematical models of probability are one thing; the claim that reality is random is quite another. I’ll ask again, what ’causes’ a random event? Why does a random event occur just when it does, or why does it occur with the probabilistic outcome it does? Are we saying this is magic? Are we saying randomness comes about because there is no ultimate cause – i.e. random outcomes are uncaused causes? We really don’t have a grasp of what randomness is in reality, what explains it. We can only describe it with our probabilistic models.

    Like

    • Ron,

      “Lage, I’ve been disagreeing with you on these points 1) The meaning and use of ‘supernatural’.”

      We’ve discussed this enough I believe. It’s a question of different definitions (my perspective), rather than misunderstood definitions (your perspective). Keep in mind that we do agree on the definition of “natural”, and my broadened use of the term “supernatural” is not limited to fiction (for the purposes of this conversation). Hypotheticals in our conversation can be rewarding and allow us to think in new ways (helps eliminate the tunnel vision as well as allows us to play the devil’s advocate once in a while).

      “2) Your characterisation of reductionism in science, using phrases like ‘tunnel vision’, which do not apply at all.”

      Sure they do. The premise that “things can be reduced to parts” in the first place, produces barriers and places SOME limits in any subsequent thought resulting from that premise. Pretend that we live in a universe where the smallest item is a concrete ball. It can be broken down no further. If I, a creature composed of many of these concrete balls, have discovered one of these balls and assume that I can break it down further, and then continue experiments with that assumption, it will lead me down a limited direction based on a false premise to begin with. After all, I didn’t know that I couldn’t break it down further, so I just assumed that I could. It’s really not that hard to understand how “tunnel vision” can result from a misguided way of thinking (however “useful” it may be, which I don’t argue).

      “Your implication that ‘there is more to this universe than our science can tell’ is satirised by this Tim Minchin poem: http://youtu.be/ujUQn0HhGEk. The New Age or spiritual notion that just because science can’t know everything (and does not claim to know anything, though these people often miss that) that there must be greater insight into reality by these bogus world views.”

      Science has limitations of it’s own by it’s very design. It only allows us to explore the observable universe and try to understand it in certain ways, and with limited thinking.
      Religion is the same way. It also, only allows us to explore the universe and understand it in certain ways. That’s all there is to it.
      As for “bogus world views”, believe me, as a scientist myself (although not exclusively so), I realize that a lot of views seem “bogus” but it is only because they fall outside of the scope of science. It appears that this is how you are defining the term and science is how you “test the bogusness” of any view. It is that very “tunnel vision” that hinders exploration of the universe from other points of view (non-scientific). I don’t think that science is completely useless (far from it), as I utilize it everyday in my laboratory as well as some of the logic and rationale it is based on in my day-to-day reasoning. I’ve just come to accept it’s limitations and have decided to add on new lines of thought and ways of looking at things to more fully understand things from various points of view (not just scientific). Believe me, it has expanded my horizons greatly and promoted a form of growth that I had lacked in the past — both, when I was limited to religious views (years ago) which denied the weight of science, and after dropping those religious views FOR science. I realized that I can have both without scientific contradiction (because the “unfalsifiable” lies outside of science’s scope and thus can’t be contradicted by it).

      ” 3) Your understanding of holism, how various spooky and/or vague holisms of ancient belief systems are somehow vindicated by modern science, specifically quantum physics.”

      Yes, I find it ironic and interesting which was why I brought it up. Science is leading us back to where we came from in terms of how we’re looking at the world (albeit slowly and only in SOME ways). This does not mean that I expect you to see this correlation as I see it. I do see it however and find this “turnaround” to be a result of science asking the wrong questions or better yet, looking at the world with some reductionist premises.

      “The problem with your holism is a big fat so what? Are you saying that, because our models of reality are somehow not the rock bottom real nature of the universe that they are of no use?”

      No, in fact, I’ve mentioned numerous times now that I still think that our models do have use and various applications exist to use them (this is obvious).
      I just thought it relevant to point out the limitations of science and the interesting result we’ve obtained by trying to pry deeper and deeper into the fabric of the universe (quantum realm specifically). I think that this will drastically change the fabric of society in the next century as more and more people accept these new findings and see their implications. Their implications aren’t fully known, and this is where my opinion lies. I think it implies that we’ve been asking the wrong questions with science because we’ve been blinded by materialism (physicalism) and the illusion that science has created — that of the “observer” and the “object”.

      “Let’s suppose that your speculation about holism (and it is speculative) is the case, that down there deep in the as yet unseen basement of reality, everything is one whole thing. Well fine.”

      Excellent. Yes it is speculative, just as our assumption that science allows us to reach “truth” is. It’s all speculation, I do agree on that.
      We’ll never know what minds will think like in 1000 years. We may drop science altogether and realize how foolish we “scientists” were. We can only speculate (even if we want to arbitrarily grade levels of speculation — everything we think we’ve learned is all speculation to some extent). The scientific community has chosen to use science as a way to sift through speculation and obtain “facts”. These are only “facts” in so far as science has defined them to be. It is still speculation on many other levels (ontologically, what it means in terms of objective properties of things, etc.).

      “To quote Tim Minchin, this vague and simplistic holism is vacuous crap. It’s vacuous because it isn’t telling us anything useful. All the nonsense about the tunnel vision of reductionism is just more vacuous crap.”

      Just because it isn’t telling us anything that science considers to be “useful”, doesn’t mean it isn’t telling us anything useful. Think outside the box. What about complete human understanding rather than merely scientific understanding? It could be telling us that science is useless in terms of the best way to understand the universe. Who knows? As for the “tunnel vision of reductionism” being more vacuous crap — I see that I’ve hit a nerve here and you’ll have to deal with that. The premise that things can be reduced, will limit your subsequent thinking — unless you change the premise. If you change the reductionist premise, then you lose the reductionism. I find that realizing the tunnel vision exists is very useful (not vacuous at all if you know where to look). It reminds us to be careful with certain lines of reasoning, as we can come to illogical conclusions if our premises are wrong from the beginning.

      “The most common inference is that the universe is random. But what does that mean?”

      It is “causa sui”, which to me is the same as “uncaused”. If we accept it to be uncaused, one could argue that there is only an illusion of cause and effect, since cause and effect would be inconsistent. This line of reasoning could lead us to the conclusion that time is an illusion, just as our separateness is (due to the ultimate holism of the universe). If time is an illusion, then cause and effect are not necessary because the universe just “is” (inseparable and timeless) rather than composed of states that “are a result of” other states. We perceive time (cause and effect) just as we perceive separateness but if these are illusions, than the questions are “answered”. I think that it can take a lifetime to fully appreciate what these illusions imply, and science (scientists) will try to label things as “unexplained” when in fact there may be an explanation, but it’s scientifically unsatisfactory (an unscientific explanation). This is the recipe for an unanswerable question. Much like: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”. Science could spend a history of several centuries trying to answer this question, only to find that the question had no answer. Obviously science wouldn’t try to answer this particular question, but I chose it to prove a point — that we may be asking the wrong questions due to a misguided way of looking at things. It’s not our fault. It’s just what has happened thus far in our quest for understanding the universe. If we at least accepted an answer that is unfalsifiable, whilst not simultaneously dropping what we think we’ve learned thus far, it may guide us in a new direction that’s more productive than having scientific blinders on all the time. If science has rules that it abides by, just as a religion does — like having to base everything you “know” off of the bible, then what results is tunnel vision. Just as a person that’s limited form of knowing is due to the adherence to a bible (and rejection of other sources of knowing), science operates the same way (rejecting non-scientific things, the bible, etc.). You can try to talk to a Christian (I used to be one), and no matter what “evidence” you present to them, they will refute it with their “evidence” because they don’t take the scientists’ evidence seriously compared to their “divine evidence”. One is scientific evidence, and one is unscientific evidence.

      Like

  9. Lage,

    “All your training has given you is the scientific community’s definition of the term and application of it in the field of electronics. You have no proper training studying if “ghosts”… ”

    But with the same degree of scepticism I can’t say it doesn’t apply to fairies (I could hypothesise that fairies are a particular result of electric fields that form what we understand to be fairies, and that the fairy brains are not biological brains like ours but complex arrangements of electrical fields). I can make up any old bunk and say, “Well, all your training as a, whatever, can’t refute my claim.”

    The problem with this extreme scepticism is expressed by the saying often attributed to Feynman: be open minded, but not so open minded your brain falls out. While it’s good to be open minded enough to be able to take on board new ideas it’s quite natural that science should not only be sceptical about its own established claims, but also about claims that contradict established science.

    The scepticism toward ghosts, for example, is because no one has provided the slightest evidence they exists. Add to that lack of evidence the whole concept of what life after death implies: it means that there is something residual that exists beyond the natural death of a human being. In a very real sense there is no clear distinct moment of death, but a series of process that start to fail over a period of time. You have to invent all sorts of notions, like a soul, to justify even the notion of a ghost before you can make any claims about ghosts, before you can even suppose there is something to measure. So, sure, there may be some circumstance when there is an unexplained EMF detected; but why attribute it to ghosts and not fairies, the flying spaghetti monster waving an appendage, or any baloney you might come up with. Again, I refer to the work of Joe Nickell.

    “Actually there is. All around us. Anything that can’t currently be explained by science falls outside its CURRENT scope (we can’t assume it will eventually be found to have been in its scope, if we have no reasons for doing so).”

    No, it falls outside our current ability to answer it, and maybe outside the scope of our ability to even frame the right questions. But there is nothing to suggest anything is outside the scope of science. When considering this bear in mind you are only thinking about current science anyway. Since you have no idea what future science might become available. Think of nuclear physics to people of the Dark Ages. Think Arthur C Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” This doesn’t mean it is magic, or supernatural. It means that the people of the time may not be able to tell the difference. All current natural phenomena explained by science never was magic or supernatural, it was mistakenly thought to be so.

    “Also, in theory, any mechanism outside the observable universe falls outside the ultimate scope of science, since science depends on our observations.”

    No! Not *ultimate*. Only current. You have no way of knowing anything about any ultimate at all.

    “Any epistemological indeterminism fall outside the scope of science as well.”

    No they do not. Much of our empirical science relies on statistical models to represent what is epistemological indeterminate. The ideal gas laws for example have served us very well empirically, but we have no idea what individual gas molecules are up to – their detail is indeterminate to us.

    “Anything that science will never be able to explain falls outside the scope of science.”

    That is true by definition. The problem is that neither you nor I know what science will never be able to explain, and so we cannot know that anything is outside the scope of science. The very nature of science, as a human empirical activity, means we can only show what science shows. You might want to speculate about what is beyond science, but since it is beyond science it’s all hypothetical fantasy: fairies, goblins, ghosts, gods, take your pick.

    “Since there are currently an infinite number of concepts that science hasn’t even considered, as well as plenty that we’ve tried to consider but have left to explain – it’s safe to say that epistemological indeterminism fall outside the scope of science. ”

    I agree, but that means we can’t say anything about it at all. It does not mean we are free to pontificate about what magic is out there and expect to be taken seriously. It’s even a guess that there is anything beyond science. At any time we might reach some barrier and never get beyond it; but that could be for one of two reasons: there is nothing beyond it; or we are just prevented from getting beyond it. The trouble is we won’t be able to tell the difference, by definition of it being a boundary. We won’t be able to look beyond the boundary to see if there is anything we are missing. That’s why all the speculative fantasy is vacuous crap.

    “You said something that stuck out when I read it:… my post”

    This is exactly my point above. Some are inferring stuff from quantum physics that quantum physics itself does not tell us. My specific point is that these claims are being made about something that is *currently* beyond our scope – not that it will always be so. The problem is the one I referred to earlier: we don’t really understand what ‘randomness’ means metaphysically. We only have a probabilistic model that seems to fit experimental results.

    Like

    • Ron,

      “I can make up any old bunk and say, “Well, all your training as a, whatever, can’t refute my claim.” ”

      Yes, that is true. I’m not arguing that it’s any other way. So at least we agree that you are not qualified to talk about ghosts and how (if they exist) they would relate to EMF. So we are in agreement. The reason I mentioned it, is because you listed your degree in electronics as if that was somehow relevant.

      “The problem with this extreme scepticism is expressed by the saying often attributed to Feynman: be open minded, but not so open minded your brain falls out.”

      If by “so open minded your brain falls out” — you mean you lose the tunnel vision of science then I hope all of our brains fall out. Science is useful but only for looking at things in certain ways — and only for a certain limited level of understanding.

      “While it’s good to be open minded enough to be able to take on board new ideas it’s quite natural that science should not only be sceptical about its own established claims, but also about claims that contradict established science.”

      Yes. But being scientifically open minded (and skeptical) is different than being open minded in general. That’s the whole point here. Science only directly explores the falsifiable. Which means that any testimony based on experience, any introspection, etc., are not taken seriously in science. In order to be truly open-minded, you have to be open to explore possibilities outside the scope of science.

      “But there is nothing to suggest anything is outside the scope of science.”

      Yes there is. Anything not currently explainable — we can’t assume will be inside this scope. On top of this, any concepts or mechanisms lying outside our observable universe is outside the scope because science is limited to things that are observable. Nothing is outside the scope of “nature”, but there are things outside the scope of science. I’m not sure how to make that any clearer, as you appear to just be in denial. Not much I can do about that.

      “When considering this bear in mind you are only thinking about current science anyway. Since you have no idea what future science might become available.”

      Right. All we have is the current science to say what is fact or not. If that has the possibility to change, do we always have doubt in every experimental result? It doesn’t matter what science will bring us, it is how we define science. We need to measure, observe, and experiment in science. We can’t do this with things that are immeasurable, unobservable, etc. Nor can we perform experiments with the mentality of discrete objects when there are no objects. Concepts such as non-separability, and the illusion of objects and observers can’t be covered under the scope of science because it is assuming that there are objects and observers in the scientific method. What part of this don’t you understand exactly?

      “No! Not *ultimate*. Only current. You have no way of knowing anything about any ultimate at all.”

      By that same rationale you have no idea that everything ultimately falls under the scope of science. Yet that is what you’ve stated.
      The difference is I have examples of things outside of the scope of science, and your cop-out is to say that they are simply “unexplained”. If it turns out to be unexplainable (ever, until the end of the human race and thus science as we know it is gone since there would be no humans to study it) than the explanation lies outside the scope of science. I can try to draw a picture to make this clearer, but simple logic will work. Science is a set of concepts/explanations derived from “observations” made by an assumed “observer” — let’s call this set of falsifiable explanations and concepts “Set A”. Let’s call everything else including that which is unfalsifiable — “Set B”. If there are concepts including that “neither observations nor observers exist”, this would belong to “Set B”, because science depends on these two things to progress. The very fact that there is anything in Set B, implies it is outside the scope of science. Do you need something else from me to explain this more or do you have it now? I hope so, as I think you are a bright guy and should be able to see this with simple sets.

      “Since there are currently an infinite number of concepts that science hasn’t even considered, as well as plenty that we’ve tried to consider but have left to explain – it’s safe to say that epistemological indeterminism fall outside the scope of science. ” I agree, but that means we can’t say anything about it at all.”

      You agree! Finally! You said that there isn’t anything that lies outside the scope of science, and now you see that I wasn’t just tootin’ my own bagpipe. Yay, the headache is starting to pass… As for “but that means we can’t say anything about it at all”. I disagree with that notion. We can say whatever we want — it just won’t be scientific (which is fine). Sigh…

      Like

  10. “The premise that “things can be reduced to parts” in the first place, produces barriers and places SOME limits in any subsequent thought resulting from that premise.”

    This is nonsense. There is nothing inherently barrier creating about reductionism as a tool.

    “I just assumed that I could. It’s really not that hard to understand how “tunnel vision” can result from a misguided way of thinking.”

    Since scientists use many methods, including reductionism, and a constructivism that builds a bigger picture from what they learn, there is nothing inherently tunnel visioned about using reductionism. The contrary case, that reductionism is a problem and that holism is a way to go is particularly tunnel visioned since centuries of holism have been so unproductive and has taken us down many nonsensical paths.

    “Science has limitations of its own by its very design.”

    Not by its design. By our human nature. Science is only a bunch of methods to improve on the fallibilities of our natural capabilities. It specifically counters the methods of imaginative holisms that rely more on our flaws to create more flawed thinking.

    “It only allows us to explore the observable universe”

    Holism, as a methodology, doesn’t even allow that. It’s all fantasy with no means of verification, let alone falsification.

    “I realize that a lot of views seem “bogus” but it is only because they fall outside of the scope of science.”

    As all ‘holistic’ systems do. Can you give me some holistic sciences, theories, that have actually discovered anything. And don’t suggest quantum physics. You can’t get any more reductionist than that.

    “It is that very “tunnel vision” that hinders exploration of the universe from other points of view (non-scientific).”

    There no other points of view. There are only human points of view acquired by using our senses and reason together the best way we can. This is all science is. All holisms that are considered to be a means of knowing, a ‘way of knowing’ are just speculations out of fantasy. Please, by all means direct me to a body of holistic knowledge that is at all useful, informative, or increases our knowledge, as opposed to our imaginative fantasies.

    “I’ve just come to accept its limitations and have decided to add on new lines of thought and ways of looking at things to more fully understand things from various points of view (not just scientific).”

    OK. Can you give me some concrete examples that have actually provided any knowledge?

    “Believe me, it has expanded my horizons greatly and promoted a form of growth…”

    What horizons? Your imagination? Fine. What growth? Can you be more concrete, more specific, because these words sound much like those of Storm of the Minchin story.

    “Science is leading us back to where we came from in terms of how we’re looking at the world”

    No it isn’t. All previous ‘holisms’ were fantasy nonsense. As I explained earlier, if you have just two options, a holistic whole, or a particulate collection, then guessing or fantasising about either isn’t particularly insightful. Add all the other fantasies surrounding the ancient holisms and it’s obvious they are just making stuff up.

    “I do see it however and find this “turnaround” to be a result of science asking the wrong questions…”

    Science has not been asking the wrong questions. The different is that science isn’t just making stuff up and passing it off as insightful. There is no turnaround. Science is still doing the stuff it has always done, except better as it progresses. This is quite the opposite of fantasy holism.

    “I just thought it relevant to point out the limitations of science… ”

    You’re doing more than pointing out the limitations, which all scientists are aware of since they are human limitations applicable to us all. The holisms you seem to prefer do not accept these limitations since they presume that very limited human beings can, by the use of their imagination, gain insights into what makes the universe tick.

    “I think that this will drastically change the fabric of society in the next century as more and more people accept these new findings and see their implications.”

    And that will be learned by using reductionism. Holism alone has had millennia and produced nothing but fantasy.

    “Their implications aren’t fully known, and this is where my opinion lies.”

    Yes. As yet unexplained. And holism won’t tell us any more, will not add to this because holism as you portray it is vacuous. Unless again you can offer some specific holistic theory, experiment, understanding, that has stood up to the test of time.

    “I think it implies that we’ve been asking the wrong questions with science because we’ve been blinded by materialism (physicalism)”

    Then offer something else. But be specific, not vacuous.

    “These are only “facts” in so far as science has defined them to be.”

    Yes, but you’re not offering anything else but vacuous words. Give me something specific.

    “doesn’t mean it isn’t telling us anything useful. Think outside the box. What about complete human understanding rather than merely scientific understanding?”

    Again, you’re just spouting woolly words. Anything specific?

    “It could be telling us that science is useless in terms of the best way to understand the universe. Who knows?”

    Apparently not you, otherwise you’d be offering something concrete.

    “The premise that things can be reduced, will limit your subsequent thinking – unless you change the premise.”

    You’ve changed that premise, but what’s your new premise, and what follows from it?

    “I find that realizing the tunnel vision exists is very useful”

    How can it be useful, because you’ve offered nothing useful as a consequence of changing your premise. You have nothing, except a vague notion that science is wrong to rely on reductionism to the extent that it does. You offer no new holistic theory. OK, I’m not expecting one from you personally. But please, give me some references to holistic practitioners that have actually done anything except fill books with their vacuous ideas.

    “not vacuous at all if you know where to look”

    Then give me pointers. Who are the leading lights of this holism that is changing the world for the better?

    “causa sui” = Religious crap. “If we accept it to be uncaused” – Why should we? Just because we can’t get any further at the moment? Should the mystery of the celestial spheres been accepted as a causa sui? How about if Priestley had of thought, ah well, the air is just what it is, let’s not bother investigating it. This is the biggest case of we don’t understand it so God did it move and is entirely hopeless.

    This line of reasoning could lead us to the conclusion that time is an illusion

    Try reading this next link. It’s from Roy Fielding, a significant contributor to software for the internet. It explains why specialisation, an aspect of reductionism, is necessary, and not some faulty methodology that fails to account for holism.

    http://roy.gbiv.com/untangled/2008/specialization

    In it Roy refers to an old series by James Burke. Try this part of the series (about 5 min in):

    This but expresses the problem with holism, how futile it is as a philosophical approach without reductionism. Holism certainly doesn’t trump reductionism. Without reductionism holism is just a fantasy game that leads to all sorts of vacuous crap.

    Here’s Burke:

    “The thing that surprises us in the West, because we use everything we get hold of the cause change to happen, is that the Chinese had so much, yet changed so little. What I mean by so much is this. They had gun powder, and look what we did with that, and then two thousand years ago they used to spin magnetic spoons on pictures of the Earth and the sky and depending on which way the spoon pointed when it stopped they made a political prediction. When we got hold of that in the form of a compass needle we used it to conquer the world, to set up empires, aided in our voyages by a Chinese rudder. Chinese looms capable of making complex patterns helped to set up the great 13th century textiles industries. A thousand years before us the Chinese had blast furnaces, steel, pistons, cranks and paper.”

    “Part of the reason why, in spite of all this, change didn’t come in China the way it did when all this came to the West, was the word ‘Tao’. It means the ‘universal way’, the ‘fundamental order of nature’ (a holism). The Taoist scholars were a group who looked for rational order in things, to see how the universe worked. And because of their investigations gave China what we would call technology.”

    “And yet, explosive change, the kind we in the West went through when we got hold of what China had invented, didn’t happen in China. And to explain why I’m going to have to hit you with a bit more inscrutable Chinese philosophy. The Chinese believed that the universe was filled with Shen, a spirit that was in everything. All you could do was contemplate it. Trees, mountains, birds, rivers, were all one (a holism again) and so you couldn’t reproduce a model of a bit of the universe and examine it because you couldn’t fill it with Shen.”

    “In the Christian West we reckoned that the universe was made of rational bits and pieces by a rational God, and if you were a rational human being you could make a model (note the concept of a model) of a bit of the universe and then take it apart to see how it works and use what you learned.”

    “The anti-reductionism inherent in some holistic views is their very downfall.” – Who, exactly, concludes time is an illusion. Last I heard we were still trying to figure out what it is. Our current understanding of it may be illusory, in the sense that what we think it is isn’t quite the best model for it. But it seems to be something.

    “The sound of one hand clapping…Science could spend a history of several centuries trying to answer this question, only to find that the question had no answer.”

    It already knows there is nothing to answer because it’s a dumb question constructed by abusing language to give the wrong impression. Clapping of hands is, by definition, the coming together of hands to make a sound due to the compression of the air in a confined space – the ‘clap’ or ‘crack’. To speak of one hand clapping raises the question of clapping against what, since clapping by definition requires the hand to clap against something. This really is the finest example of vacuous crap you can come up with.

    “If science has rules that it abides by, just as a religion does – like having to base everything you “know” off of the bible, then what results is tunnel vision. ”

    But science already is a system that adapts to new knowledge, rewrites its rules as it goes along, in the face of theory and evidence. Science is quite contrary to religion. Your holism is closer to religion than science in that it consists of nothing but imaginative stories. Please, tell me of some holistic systems that actually inform us.

    Like

    • Ron,

      “The premise that “things can be reduced to parts” in the first place, produces barriers and places SOME limits in any subsequent thought resulting from that premise.” This is nonsense. There is nothing inherently barrier creating about reductionism as a tool.”

      The main issue I have is that it is used as more than a tool. It has affected the scientific community’s direction since we began using it. It has “greased the groove” of physicalism. Pretend that we never used reductionism as a tool. Wouldn’t you agree that the path science would have taken would be drastically different? Had we not ever considered the premise that things can be reduced to parts, we would undoubtedly think about the world differently. This is the barrier I mention, and if nothing else, you can consider the barrier to be the new problems that emerge given reductionist assumptions of how things work or are related to one another. We can never know if a non-reductionist path would have led us to better understanding of the universe than the path we took. If things aren’t reducible (but they appear to be) and then we hit a brick wall (like in Quantum physics), it may indicate that our interpretation of everything prior to that brick wall needs to be revisited (had we not had that reductionist view in the first place, we wouldn’t have hit that brick wall, rather that same result would have seemed to fit). This is what I refer to when I talk about tunnel vision and barriers. If we had no choice but to use reductionism to finally end up here then what is most important is what we do NOW that we are seeing the universe at a smaller scale, and discovering these new properties. Nobody had any choice but to do what they’ve done as nobody had any free will. You have no choice either but to defend an important part of your religion/philosophy (science and reductionism in this case). Science had no choice but to progress as it did (or if anything it would be randomly different). The question is where will it take us from this point forward.
      You can argue that it can be used with other lines of reasoning that are non-reductionist — and I agree with that, but any assumptions on “how to look at the universe” that we make from this point forward will limit where we end up. Will we continue to try and make reductionism work even after hitting a wall? Will we continue to try and study things as we have been (as objects that are infinitely divisible)? What we choose to do will determine which barriers reductionism has helped to create. Yes, we can use it as a tool, but ultimately, the information that we get from it may turn out to be meaningless when we consider the universe as a whole, single entity. The fact that science depends on objects and observations will mean that science will do nothing to evaporate the view of objectivity. Reductionism furthers that view of objectivity and separateness, rather than dissolving it. These are all assumptions based on the premise that there can be no reductionism in an ultimately holistic universe. This is my premise even though I continue to fulfill the illusion in trying to understand “how things work” (I’ve always been curious and had a mechanical aptitude — which has limited my thinking for a long time in a physicalist sense and as a scientist). I am in the process of drastic changes mentally where I am still trying to figure out for myself what it all means. So I don’t have all the answers, but I still enjoy sharing my points of view with you. It’s extremely difficult for a scientist to realize the limitations of science, and so my views may seem heretical — but where else should I share them then on “The Heretical Philosopher”. It would seem like the last place to see common scientific views reinforced without further exploration. That’s all I’m doing. Pondering new forms of knowing.

      ” “Science has limitations of its own by its very design.” Not by its design. By our human nature.”

      Nope. By it’s design. Science uses the scientific method which requires observations — thus any introspection or non-observable experiences themselves are limited to a realm outside of science. Science is limited to the falsifiable and no more. If you disagree with this and think that science is not limited to the falsifiable and the observable then give me an example.

      “Can you give me some holistic sciences, theories, that have actually discovered anything.”

      The whole point of talking about science’s limitations is so we can try and think about Holism outside of science as well as inside. The holistic science that you may refer to is not what I’m talking about (i.e. Holistic medicine, etc., as these are just other forms of Gestalt Holism). On the side of science, quantum physics has made observations that further my view of a holistic universe. That would be the best scientific field that’s encountered the properties of non-separability and “one-ness” that I refer to. This is the field that sparked this topic of ultimate holism. If it had no scientific grounds, I probably wouldn’t have mentioned it on this forum because of my assumption that many here are limited to scientific forms of knowing. The fact that quantum physics is just emerging the last few decades is why this idea I’ve been discussing is so new. It’s my take on quantum physics as there are numerous interpretations as to what the findings mean. This is my take on it. It conflicts with science in so many ways (mainly the lack of conceptual separation between observer and observation which is a requirement for science). I don’t expect you to understand but I’ve tried to make myself clear. A couple years ago, I would have been in the same boat you are — defending science over new ideas (non-scientific ideas). So I know exactly where you are coming from. No need to fret. The fact that we used reductionism to eventually lead to quantum physics, does not mean I can’t refer to quantum physics’s findings of the limits of the reductionism that got us there. That’s part of the irony.

      ” “It is that very “tunnel vision” that hinders exploration of the universe from other points of view (non-scientific).” There no other points of view. There are only human points of view acquired by using our senses and reason together the best way we can. This is all science is.”

      Yes there are other points of view. Religious points of view, introspection about unfalsifiable ideas, human revelations achieved without reason. Any points of view that are unfalsifiable qualify as other points of view. You are mistaken here that there are no other points of view. To say that all human points of view are scientific would negate the existence of any non-scientific beliefs, including religion. You are definitely mistaken, as there are many other points of view.

      ” “Believe me, it has expanded my horizons greatly and promoted a form of growth…” What horizons? Your imagination? Fine. What growth?”

      A way of understanding the universe more completely. What growth? My spiritual and intellectual growth.

      ” “Science is leading us back to where we came from in terms of how we’re looking at the world” No it isn’t.”

      I think that it is leading us back to where we came from in SOME ways, not all. It’s my opinion, just as it is your opinion that it isn’t. This is a nice example of the cyclical nature of the universe, even in how we obtain knowledge about the world around us. It’s fascinating! While the view of non-separability and one-ness may go against science, it doesn’t mean that science isn’t useful. It’s all a part of the game of understanding. Science is leading us there regardless (in my opinion) and I think it will form a drastic change in how we operate as a species, and how we treat epistemology. I don’t have the faintest ideas as to what this change will precipitate as it is speculation. It’s just my view on things. Off the top however, thinking that we are one and inseparable, eliminates the concept of “property”, the “ego” or “I” or “me” or “this” or “that”. It changes how we look at the world, because we are the same as everything else. It instills the belief of finding overlap rather than looking at differences. It allows us to go with the flow and just “be”, rather than constantly striving for some specific goal. Ultimate Holism has no goal other than the personal discovery of its implications. There are no rules to follow. No specific knowledge to gain or structured principles to obey. The key here is that unlike science, this belief needs no “usefulness” to measure it by. It’s beyond that. It’s about personal discovery of it’s implications which go beyond language and words. It transcends reasoning and science because those are just human constructs fulfilling the illusion of being separate from everything around us. You don’t have to accept it, in fact, I’d be a little worried if you did so soon. You need to discover this for yourself and contemplate the idea of one-ness and non-separability (realizing that it goes outside the scope of science). You have to transcend science to understand it better. Adhering to science when trying to contemplate this creates a barrier to understanding it. It’s a paradox. Which is why I don’t expect you to agree with me at this time. Perhaps one day you will, and you’d have no way of knowing whether you will one day agree with me or not. If you can look back in time and see yourself with different beliefs, then there’s no reason to think the future will be static. Beliefs change and some can’t be changed no matter how many arguments are provided. Especially when the concepts are beyond the scope of communicating effectively with language.

      -Peace and Love

      Like

  11. “So at least we agree that you are not qualified to talk about ghosts and how (if they exist) they would relate to EMF. So we are in agreement.”

    No we are not in agreement. You misunderstand. I am saying that the extreme scepticism you are requiring, that prevents comment on ghosts, is flawed. Because it allows any old nonsense to prevail. I am saying that current science, in not having any evidence of ghosts being related to EMF, and yet has evidence of the effects and sources of EMF so well understood so far, on top of the inanity of the concepts of ghosts in the face of an understanding of basic biology and chemistry, what life consists of, means that ghosts are so far removed from plausibility that they are a joke.

    My understanding is relevant to the extent that I know enough of the physics of electricity to know that any claims made about the relationship between ghosts and EMF are bogus. Perhaps you can point me to some scientific papers produced by people you think are specialists in the matter of ghosts and EMF that might show me to be wrong?

    “If by “so open minded your brain falls out” – you mean you lose the tunnel vision”

    No, I mean so open minded you take any old crap to be worthy of consideration. What’s your position of fairies? How about the flying spaghetti monster? The resurrection of Jesus?

    “Science is useful but only for looking at things in certain ways ”

    The only way humans know how: senses and reason. And you can do it to the best of our ability, with science, or you can make stuff up without any requirement to justify it. Simply use vacuous language without backing it up, and you think that constitutes an useful ‘way of knowing’?

    “Science only directly explores the falsifiable.”

    So, how exactly do you explore the unfalsifiable? When some shaman tells you some crap you take it seriously without investigating it?

    “Which means that any testimony based on experience, any introspection, etc., are not taken seriously in science. ”

    Because people are known to make crap up. So, with all the crap that’s made up, how do you discriminate the crap from the good stuff?

    “In order to be truly open-minded, you have to be open to explore possibilities outside the scope of science.”

    There is nothing outside the scope of science for humans. We are limited to the scope of science by our human nature. Science is only human senses and reason put to a more rigorous effect precisely to discriminate the crap from the good stuff.

    “On top of this, any concepts or mechanisms lying outside our observable universe is outside the scope because science is limited to things that are observable.”

    They are only as yet unobserved. They are not inherently outside the scope of science.

    “Nothing is outside the scope of “nature”, but there are things outside the scope of science.”

    But you are abusing this distinction. You are not at all clear. You imply, and in some cases say, that some things are outside the scope of science as if you mean forever outside the scope of science. Please, clarify that.

    “By that same rationale you have no idea that everything ultimately falls under the scope of science. Yet that is what you’ve stated.”

    If we cannot know one way or the other then it seems foolish to keep banging on about what is beyond science to know, as if you know this to be the case now with your criticisms of the tunnel vision of science. It is you who are not in the position to criticise science so. I am quite open minded in accepting what science shows, and rejecting what it does not show, for now (whether it can ultimately show it or not) because what it can’t currently show has, by definition, no apparent effect on us. Special relativity had no apparent effect on us until late 19th century, so we had no comment on it, it was not only unexplained, but also had no apparent effect. But when it was discovered it was included in the body of science and turns out to be useful now as an understanding of nature. This is reductionism at work – taking the earlier model of space and time and unifying them by analysis and experiment. The holistic nature of this discovery, the unification of space and time, came out of the reductive process of science and not the holistic ideas that you seem to prefer.

    But your approach seems to be just like Storm: wonder about the mysteries of the universe, come up with some holistic crap about the flaws of science as if this is somehow insightful. It isn’t. It’s clouding tge waters with mystic crap that’s no better than religion.

    “I can try to draw a picture to make this clearer, but simple logic will work…”

    What follows that is pure nonsense. You are mixing ontological (ironically given your other nonsensical comments on ontology) claims about sets of things. “The very fact that there is anything in Set B” – But, by your own definition there is nothing in set B but ‘concepts’. There are no real things that are outside the scope of science. Concepts themselves are states in a brain – they have physical instantiation as brain states (unless we’re off the land of fantasy again with some sort of dualism). It’s quite possible to hold nonsense concepts in the brain because concepts are very woolly things. I could state that everything that is true is also false. I can hold that contradictory claim in my brain as a concept, but it has no real foundation. This gets back to the failure of the primacy of thought covered earlier. Just because you can invent in your own mind sets A and set B, does not mean you have grasp of any of this.

    In terms of science, that very human application of senses and reason, all we have are our methods of comparing what we think with what we sense. That’s it. That correspondence is the whole of human knowledge.

    “You agree! Finally!”

    No. I do not agree. It was a criticism of your position. I’m saying that if you hold the view you do then we are not in a position to say anything, and that includes you not being in a position to say that science is associated with tunnel vision. I’m criticising your view because that leads to solipsism that gets us nowhere. Now, it’s your privilege to hold such holistic views, but to pretend they offer anything better than science is just delusional. Holisms, as you have portrayed them, have done nothing but mystify the universe. They have never provided answers to questions that weren’t pure fantasy.

    Like

    • Ron,

      Some concepts are beyond the scope of communicating effectively with language. This is another limitation of science. We have to formulate a question and receive an answer. If we can’t ask the question or form the hypothesis due to the limitation of language, then science can’t help us with it. Some things have to be discovered yourself. Period.

      Like

  12. “Pretend that we never used reductionism as a tool. Wouldn’t you agree that the path science would have taken would be drastically different?”

    Well, yes, more than one path would have been taken. And it was, and still is. Wherever the rigorous analysis that reductionism brings is absent we have religions, many of them, unconstrained philosophies, bogus medicine men, witchcraft, astrology, homeopathy, the fine art of making stuff up and believing because it sounds profound, holism.

    “This is the barrier I mention, and if nothing else, you can consider the barrier to be the new problems that emerge given reductionist assumptions of how things work or are related to one another.”

    There will always be problems with what we think and sense, because we are humans that have evolved. Our senses and our brain didn’t evolve with any goal of being insightful in the understanding of the universe. What we do understand of it comes from adapting those tools, the senses and the reason of the brain, to satisfy our curiosity and to solve specific problems. The issue is that the holistic nonsensical systems I listed above make such a hash of it they get us nowhere, and often lead to belief systems that are divisive and cruel. Just think about science around the world. No venture, no human pastime, no human organised behaviour is as unifying as science. You don’t need to be born into some particular family, or some priesthood, and you don’t need to be rich. All you have to do is be good at science and enthusiastic to strive for it and you become a member of a world wide community of humans that want to do interesting stuff, learn about the universe, help other people.

    “We can never know if a non-reductionist path would have led us to better understanding of the universe than the path we took.”

    We know a purely holistic one leads us nowhere, and by so many hopeless routes.

    “If things aren’t reducible (but they appear to be) and then we hit a brick wall (like in Quantum physics)”

    This is fatalistic parochial clap trap. Who the heck says the ‘brick wall’, the current puzzle raised by quantum physics, will not be solved any time soon. You and I don’t know what breakthrough is going to come along. Whenever science, or its precursors, have hit upon a system of understanding it has sometimes lasted for centuries. This puzzle evolved throughout the early 20th century. That’s the blink of an eye in the span of human thought. Your stance is typical of many over the centuries that thought that the current state of play told us we had reached some limit.

    “it may indicate that our interpretation of everything prior to that brick wall needs to be revisited ”

    It already is being revisited. By scientists, both theoretical and experimental. What they are doing cannot be described as tunnel vision, and the vacuous holism cannot be described as insightful or helpful.

    “You have no choice either but to defend an important part of your religion/philosophy (science and reductionism in this case).”

    This is such nonsense: ‘your religion/science’. Are you really equating science with religion? This is a disgraceful twisting of meaning that is more commonly used by theists. Read my blog. What I am very specifically opposed to is any holding of a belief system on the grounds of faith, which is one of the most significant distinctions between science and religion. I’ve already said in this discussion that anything we discover will come under the reach of science – but I say that not in some religiously conquering sense, but in the sense that science is open to new ideas, new knowledge. All it requires is some rigour in demonstrating that whatever is being claimed stands up to scrutiny. Your vacuous holism does not. It’s just poetic nonsense. You have offered nothing but a half baked criticism of reductionism.

    “Will we continue to try and make reductionism work even after hitting a wall?”

    Yes, because if anything it will be a reductionist analysis that breaks through this temporary barrier. Give me one non-reductionist system that is demonstrating a breakthrough.

    “Reductionism furthers that view of objectivity and separateness, rather than dissolving it.”

    This really is nonsense. Have you never noticed the unifying nature of science? Have you never spotted the common ground that so many disciplines have? Read the link on specialization I gave you. The reason science breaks things down to study them is because the whole is too complex for us to grasp. It’s our very human limitations that require us to specialise, to look at it piecemeal, to be reductionist. But in doing so we learn so much. No longer do we think of the four elements of earth, air, fire and water that was the simpler vie of the past, and which was adopted poorly as a holistic system. Instead science, through reductionism found the common ground that became our understanding of physics. We can now explain the constituent make up of earth, air, fire and water, by the unifying physics. This is what reductionism does. There isn’t a single reason to think it won’t continue to pay dividends. Reductionism’s contribution to science has helped unify our understanding of nature that has dispelled so many separate and divisive systems of belief of the past. You have it totally the wrong way round, misguided by some holistic clap trap.

    “…the premise that there can be no reductionism in an ultimately holistic universe.”

    And what is that premise based on? Fantasy? Imagination? Certainly not on anything concrete.

    “I am in the process of drastic changes mentally where I am still trying to figure out for myself what it all means.”

    Just make sure your brain doesn’t fall out.

    “It’s extremely difficult for a scientist to realize the limitations of science”

    Depends on your meaning of limits here.

    Ultimate limits? Yes, that’s difficult to figure out because we cannot know enough about what we cannot ultimately know in order to be sure we cannot know it. But everyone is in that boat, proponents of holism who express sentiments about some supposed insightful understanding of the universe, and who criticise science with poor arguments.

    Current limits? No it isn’t. It’s pretty clear what the current limits of science are. But there is no suggestion yet that those current limits won’t be surpassed.

    “so my views may seem heretical – but where else should I share them then on “The Heretical Philosopher”.”

    Well, share them by all means. But don’t expect them to get a free pass, an acceptance. And there is nothing heretical here.

    There is no heresy in science, just good and bad science. Many scientists think Rupert Sheldrake is a bit of a woo meister, and as such criticise him thoroughly when they engage him, or ignore him because his stuff is vacuous crap. One person, John Maddox, called Sheldrake’s work heresy and said that if there ever was a case for book burning this was it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Maddox). This was totally wrong of Maddox because that goes against the grain of what science is about. It does allow kooky people to investigate weird ideas. Once in a blue moon some of the kooky ideas turn out to be good ideas. Think of the opposition to the idea of tectonic plates in the early 20th century. That science is sceptical of strange ideas is a good thing – it prevents us taking seriously too much crap. But it definitely does not prevent people carrying on the investigations into the weird.

    “Science uses the scientific method which requires observations – thus any introspection or non-observable experiences themselves are limited to a realm outside of science.”

    You have this totally wrong. Science admits only observations we can share because it’s the only way of verifying or falsifying them, by sharing them, comparing them. Introspection very clearly comes up with so many untestable ideas that they offer no means of verification or falsification. You can make up any crap, and science is supposed to accept your word, because its introspective? This is why the very difficult sciences of psychology and neuroscience have started to do their reductionist best, because the introspective word of some nut who says he is the second coming of Jesus clearly shows introspection is not reliable.

    This is the very benefit of science.

    “Science is limited to the falsifiable and no more.”

    With good reason. Because otherwise you allow in any old crap to be taken seriously. What about the introspection and personal testimony of Joseph smith who claims he found tablets of gold…blah blah… Mormonism. Do you really think he did? Do you not want to test that claim? Do you admit his testimony as truth?

    “If you disagree with this and think that science is not limited to the falsifiable and the observable then give me an example.”

    Again, you miss the point of science. Science can be lead into new areas by hypotheses about ideas that are not yet testable, until someone comes up with an idea that makes it testable. When the Greeks came up with the idea of atomism it was, to them, untestable. But eventually it became testable. Sure, what we call atoms isn’t quite what the Greeks had in mind, because they were limited to speculation. In the same way it is your holism that is limited to using speculation, imagination. The problem comes when you pass it off as insightful, when really it’s just fantasy.

    So, yes, current science that is accepted as demonstrating something to be classed as fact does limit itself to what can be tested, observed, falsified. But that does not prevent science lookig for ways to investigate what is currently not understood.

    But of course we are all limited to investigating what is observed, since if we can’t observe it we’re just speculating.

    “Holistic medicine, etc.”

    Oh please! This is getting wacko. Tim Minchin, “Do you know what they call alternative medicine that works? Medicine!”

    Gestalt Holism is a mash up of discredited ideas from the early 20th century. Those aspects that the early proponents picked up that were already good ideas have continued to be used in other areas of psychology of perception (e.g. the perceptual means by which we mentally construct whole images from collections of dots). Again, the same sentiment applies: “Do you know what they call Gestalt Holism that works? Modern psychology and neuroscience!”

    What we’re left with is mumbo jumbo psychology of Gestalt Holism. Sometimes it may turn out that helping some people think about things in a certain way helps them, but these are just making people feel good, giving them the idea, no matter whether it’s false or not, that they are gaining control of their lives. Pretty much any mumbo jumbo can do that: Christianity (often helps people with drink and drugs problems), Spiritualism (often helps the bereaved by making them think they still have a connection with lost ones). But the real bit of these systems that work is just that they have someone that empathises with them. That the system is all bollocks is irrelevant.

    “On the side of science, quantum physics has made observations that further my view of a holistic universe.”

    Mistakenly, because it says nothing about the holistic nature of the universe. The underlying randomness we think exists could just as well be described by a particulate separatist view of the universe, that these random occurrences are discrete elements of the foundation of our universe impacting on our view of it.

    “If it had no scientific grounds”

    Your connection of quantum physics to holism still has no scientific grounds. It is just something occurring in your head.

    “The fact that quantum physics is just emerging the last few decades is why this idea I’ve been discussing is so new.”

    Trying to attach wacky holistic notions to whatever the day’s science is isn’t new. It’s always followed science. Some holistic wackos dismiss science altogether, while some latch on to sciences current boundary ideas and stakes a claim for their pet woo right there, where their claims cannot be falsified. When science moves on and dismisses their ideas, they simply uproot the flag and plant it at the next boundary, as if no will notice what they are doing (no doubt they don’t notice it themselves). This is no better that the doomsday preachers who come up with some date as the end of the world. The very clear scientific evidence that they are wrong, when their claims are falsified by the occurrence of the very next day, does not seem to deter them.

    “It’s my take on quantum physics as there are numerous interpretations as to what the findings mean. This is my take on it.”

    It sure is.

    “It conflicts with science in so many ways (mainly the lack of conceptual separation between observer and observation which is a requirement for science).”

    Or maybe just a detachment from practical reality. Have you considered you might be wrong? Have you considered that you might be chasing a fantasy, one of many that has been chased hopelessly throughout human history?

    “No need to fret.”

    Don’t worry, I’m not fretting. Because you haven’t come up with anything.

    “The fact that we used reductionism to eventually lead to quantum physics, does not mean I can’t refer to quantum physics’ findings of the limits of the reductionism that got us there.”

    Right. It doesn’t mean you can’t. But you simply haven’t succeeded in demonstrating any reason for believing that.

    “Yes there are other points of view. Religious points of view, introspection about unfalsifiable ideas, human revelations achieved without reason.”

    But these are still very human points of view. Bad ones that can lead to any old bunk being believed. Really, what is the value in these? What have they demonstrated to be ‘true’ or useful? Revelation? Really this is pathetic from someone who has the slightest claim to be interested in science. The very nature of revelation is that you can’t tell the difference between genuine revelation and delusion, without the corroborating evidence from science. And I don’t see any of the lunatics who have claimed that they have been revealed to be the new Jesus being taken seriously. OK, what’s your take on Islam? Mohammed claimed that God revealed himself to him through an angel who dictated the Koran. Do you think that’s a worthy testimony? Again, how about Joseph Smith? You see, you open yourself up to all this nonsense immediately. You believe this unfalsifiable stuff?

    “A way of understanding the universe more completely. What growth? My spiritual and intellectual growth.”

    But you’re not demonstrating that. It’s just in your head. Again, just because someone thinks they are Jesus doesn’t mean they are. Just because you think you have some understanding doesn’t mean you have. The move that goes “I don’t understand the universe. I know, I’ll lump everything together and call it by some name that represents the whole lot – holism. That’s it. I now have a better appreciation of the universe.” This is deluded nonsense. You have no more understanding of the universe, you just feel you do.

    “I think that it is leading us back to where we came from in SOME ways, not all.”

    Oh, come on. This is vacuous crap again. That very reductionist science of evolution actually does give us an idea about where we came from.

    “This is a nice example of the cyclical nature of the universe, even in how we obtain knowledge about the world around us.”

    Vacuous crap. Cycles in understanding, where some reductionist investigation uncovers links between areas of understanding we didn’t know were connected is what happens when you learn stuff. It happens with simple road maps. Come to a fork in a road and don’t know which to take? Look at a map and it might show you that either route will get you where you want to go. Head out in the wrong direction on a circular route and you will eventually get to your destination. You have taken a simple notion of circles and laden it with what you suppose is profound meaning by wrapping it in vacuous language.

    “While the view of non-separability and one-ness may go against science,”

    It doesn’t and it never did. Early scientists where trying to discover God’s creation, which they certainly considered holistic. They were just trying to discover bits of it, to build up the big picture. I keep telling you this but you just pass it by. Watch the James Burke clip.

    “thinking that we are one and inseparable, eliminates the concept of “property”, the “ego” or “I” or “me” or “this” or “that”.”

    More vacuous nonsense.

    “It instils the belief of finding overlap rather than looking at differences.”

    More nonsense. A deluded claim to being insightful. Science is always looking for connections. Early systems scientists noticed how second order differential equations can describe so many different systems. Theoretical physicists now are looking for unifying theories.

    “It allows us to go with the flow and just “be”, rather than constantly striving for some specific goal.”

    Specific goals in science are just intermediaries set down in order to make an otherwise insurmountable problem a bit easier. Read the piece on Specialisation.

    “Ultimate Holism has no goal other than the personal discovery of its implications. There are no rules to follow. No specific knowledge to gain or structured principles to obey.”

    Exactly, vacuous crap. Thank you.

    “The key here is that unlike science, this belief needs no “usefulness” to measure it by. It’s beyond that.”

    You see, this is the deluded nonsense in a nutshell. That you would think that doing something that is so useless that it is ‘beyond’ anything is just laughable.

    “It’s about personal discovery of its implications which go beyond language and words.”

    More vacuous crap. This is religious speak. What credibility you had you’ve just ditched.

    “It transcends reasoning and science”

    Oh no! The magical ‘transcend’ word that makes everything OK. It transcends nothing but the bounds of gullibility. Simply making statements about the limits of science and then tacking on bogus notions of transcendence isn’t really doing anything is it. It’s just making crap up. How can you transcend reason? What faculty have you got that means you transcend reason? What does that even mean?

    “You don’t have to accept it, in fact, I’d be a little worried if you did so soon.”

    Here we go. The wise words of the mystic who has travelled on a journey that the lowly student cannot yet possibly appreciate. You are really full of it.

    “You need to discover this for yourself and contemplate the idea of one-ness and non-separability”

    One-ness and non-separability are trivial concepts that we can hold in our heads quite easily, along with other concepts like infinity, the infinitesimal, zero, nothingness. But they are just vague concepts that have no attachment to reality that we can tell. They are not mystically endowed, magically, by setting them in a context of profound sounding language.

    “Which is why I don’t expect you to agree with me at this time.”

    This is the typical move of the mystic who has nothing concrete and wants to excuse himself from the discussion by imposing the failings on his interlocutor. What a bullshit move.

    “Perhaps one day you will, and you’d have no way of knowing whether you will one day agree with me or not.”

    Yes master. Thank you oh enlightened one. I’ll think through what you’ve said, and when I too have contemplated it all sufficiently I’ll come visit you. What are the visiting hours?

    Like

    • Ron,

      “We can now explain the constituent make up of earth, air, fire and water, by the unifying physics.”

      Clearly you’ve missed the point once again. There are no constituents. The false reductionism started with the earth, air, fire, and water — and it continued to the “constituents” that make it up. Saying that earth, air, fire, and water are composed of “A, B, C, and D” are both arbitrary distinctions of separateness. They are merely different ways of labeling things as composed of parts. Both are false in the sense that we can break anything up. It is arbitrary and only a convenience. It doesn’t get us anywhere that I consider useful in understanding the fundamental nature of the universe (one-ness and non-separability).

      “Well, yes, more than one path would have been taken. And it was, and still is.”

      I never argued that there wasn’t more than one path taken. I’ve been arguing that the reductionism science has been using is creating a limitation on future scientific inquiry (because of how we are looking at “things”).

      “Our senses and our brain didn’t evolve with any goal of being insightful in the understanding of the universe.”

      I never said it did. However you also can’t say with certainty that they didn’t evolve with any goal. This could be an epistemological indeterminism that is an actuality. It is pure speculation that there is or isn’t any goal present.

      “The issue is that the holistic nonsensical systems I listed above make such a hash of it they get us nowhere”

      They get us scientifically nowhere. Outside of science, these nonsensical systems (also just your opinion) may allow us to evolve as a race that goes beyond what we consider basic reason. It is about thinking in different ways that I think is most important. Not thinking in ONE way. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that we need to keep an open mind and abandon science (just temporarily during contemplation) in the interest of exploring other possibilities and ways of looking at things. You can’t do that unless you free yourself from the shackles of science. You can keep them on one leg, but you have to at least leave the other leg free in order to truly contemplate non-scientific lines of thought. Think of it as a brain exercise, a meditation, a possible chance to transcend what we’ve defined as “reason” and “truth” — even if you still use science and see it as useful. That’s what I’ve done. I’ve not discounted science as it led us to what I consider to be a significant moment of human understanding. If you only use science in your lines of thought and no other means, you are limiting the potential of understanding to only scientific understanding. This is great, but not ideal in my opinion.
      To say that any system gets us nowhere implies that you are using an arbitrary metric to gauge progress. Perhaps that metric is wrong and less than ideal. It is certainly possible that we’ve been measuring “progress” in a way that is far from ideal and may be hindering us from a better understanding of (or connection to) the universe.

      “All you have to do is be good at science and enthusiastic to strive for it and you become a member of a world wide community of humans that want to do interesting stuff, learn about the universe, help other people.”

      Science kills many people and destroys society on many metrics just as some religions have. Perhaps what we are learning with science isn’t as close to the “truth” as we think it is. You have faith in science, just as others have faith in their religions. The difference is the rules that are followed, and how they label “truth”. Both require faith as we can’t truly “know” anything, let alone if one school of thought is more “right” than the other. We can only use our human faculties, which include but are not limited to: reason, intuition, cognition, the spiritual, etc.

      “This is fatalistic parochial clap trap. Who the heck says the ‘brick wall’, the current puzzle raised by quantum physics, will not be solved any time soon.”

      Who says the “brick wall”? I just did. It is a “brick wall” for reductionism, at least, at this point. It may be a brick wall for reductionism forever. I believe that this is the case because of the fundamentally new properties that have emerged at such a small scale. The previous “brick walls” in reductionism were really just hurdles due to instrumentation that couldn’t get any smaller. In that case however, we had very slight property changes going from macro to micro scale. Nothing that seemed revolutionary. Now that we’ve hit the quantum realm it has caused reductionism to hit a brick wall, WHILE ALSO opening up a new door in how we look at the universe. We can never know what the future holds. I would say that science on its own is also parochial claptrap. Einstein would have agreed as he once said: “Religion without science is blind, and science without religion is lame”. I think that applies here, as I agree with him. The only stipulation I’d make in the quote is to realize that science is also a religion — and even if people disagree that science requires faith (it certainly does), the lesson still applies.

      “Your stance is typical of many over the centuries that thought that the current state of play told us we had reached some limit.”

      I disagree that my stance is typical. In that past, we had limits due to equipment not being able to get down to a particular scale. Now, we have witnessed new properties that appear to dissolve the idea of fundamental “parts”. This is much different than what has happened in the past. If you were informed enough about this difference, you wouldn’t have compared me to the “many”.
      I can safely say that your stance is typical of many over the years that thought that science has nothing outside of it’s scope. Although you did finally agree with me that epistemological indeterminisms are outside it’s scope — so you finally agreed that some things are outside it’s scope — even if you think we have nothing to say about those things. Fine with me. I’ll take what I can get.

      “Yes, because if anything it will be a reductionist analysis that breaks through this temporary barrier.”

      That’s pure speculation. Or to use your parlance, “that’s nonsense”.

      “Are you really equating science with religion? This is a disgraceful twisting of meaning that is more commonly used by theists”

      I am not a theist in the traditional sense. I label “God” as simply all the energy in the universe — with NO selfish anthropocentric or anthropomorphic baggage tied along with it. As for equating science with religion, yeah, they are comparable. The main difference between science and other religions are the specific rules to follow, and the primary faculties used in each one (reason vs. spiritual intuition). Both require faith. You require faith in your senses, to believe that what you observe is what you are in fact looking for. You require faith in the scientific method, in that you believe it will provide you with answers (where your questions and answers are only one specific way of looking at or understanding the universe). You have faith that certain theories are correct, and faith that others are incorrect.

      ” “Reductionism furthers that view of objectivity and separateness, rather than dissolving it.” This really is nonsense. Have you never noticed the unifying nature of science? Have you never spotted the common ground that so many disciplines have?”

      You love using the word “nonsense”. Yes I have noticed the common ground that many disciplines WITHIN science have with each other and I never disputed that there isn’t common ground. I’m talking about separateness with regards to physicalism — no separateness with respect to individual disciplines. Clearly you missed what I wrote here.

      ” “Science uses the scientific method which requires observations – thus any introspection or non-observable experiences themselves are limited to a realm outside of science.” You have this totally wrong. Science admits only observations we can share because it’s the only way of verifying or FALSIFYING them, by SHARING them, COMPARING them. Introspection very clearly comes up with so many UNTESTABLE ideas that they offer no means of verification or FALSIFICATION. ”

      I’m not sure what you disagreed with here. You appear to agree with me. Science requires falsification. You can’t get that with introspection and non-observable experiences (non-observable by another party). Thus that data is outside the realm of falsification and thus outside the realm of scientific study. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. You are contradicting yourself here. If you think that introspection and non-observable experiences themselves do NOT sit outside the realm of science then give me an example. Otherwise, you have contradicted yourself here — which is “nonsense”. Just as radical behaviorists think we should ignore the mental events because they believe that they are merely a result of the environment and then produce behavior in the environment. Science is the same way. It focuses on the falsifiable, and introspection as well as any other non-observable experiences fall outside this realm of science as they fall outside of falsifiability.

      “The reason science breaks things down to study them is because the whole is too complex for us to grasp.”

      I’m well aware of the reasons. I don’t care what the reasons are.

      “You have offered nothing but a half baked criticism of reductionism.”

      That is your opinion. As is the criticism of reductionism on my part. We are entitled to our own opinions. Let’s leave it at that. I don’t intend to change your mind as I think you’d have to discover this yourself. I don’t think that I nor anyone else can CONVINCE you to agree with me on this one. Many of the ideas I’m trying to express are beyond words so communicating them is a foggy approximation of what I mean, at best. Those are the limits of language which also becomes another limit of science.

      “It’s pretty clear what the current limits of science are.”

      And yet you disagree that some of those limits exist.

      “Your connection of quantum physics to holism still has no scientific grounds.”

      My interpretation has no scientific grounds, just as no interpretation of quantum mechanics has scientific grounds (if they did, then there would only be one correct interpretation — instead there is wiggle room for interpretation in terms of what these things mean with regards to our reality), but the quantum results speak for themselves. My interpretation is an opinion, just as your criticism of my interpretation is merely an opinion.

      ” “thinking that we are one and inseparable, eliminates the concept of “property”, the “ego” or “I” or “me” or “this” or “that”.” More vacuous nonsense. “It instils the belief of finding overlap rather than looking at differences.” More nonsense.”

      Nope. It’s what I consider to be important. You may think it’s nonsense (clearly so), but don’t forget that we have a lot of overlap.
      We just part ways here. No need to fret. The only reason you consider it to be “vacuous nonsense” (repeatedly so, as if a broken record is playing) is because you do not understand the concepts I speak of. They are unfamiliar to you, and thus “nonsense”. If they were familiar to you, then you would think about them differently. It took a huge mental leap for me to accept these realizations, and it would not be easy for you to follow suit. I don’t expect you to. I expect you to continue to think of it as “vacuous nonsense” because you will always think it so, unless you have the realization yourself (time will tell).

      “Yes master. Thank you oh enlightened one. I’ll think through what you’ve said, and when I too have contemplated it all sufficiently I’ll come visit you. What are the visiting hours?”

      Do I sense some condescension and mockery here? Well that’s not very nice, but I’ll just take it as a joke? If you think I’m enlightened, that’s fine. I think I just “am”. Master? Hmm, I don’t think I’ve given the impression that I own you or am your teacher. Then again, we are all each others teachers because where else do we learn what know except from everyone else around us (even if we learn the lessons unconsciously).

      Unless you feel that this argument is still fairly productive, we can just agree to disagree on this one. Let’s look at a new topic to discuss.
      I know we can find something that we are both familiar with, so we can reduce the frustration that manifests from my inability to communicate the incommunicable to you.

      -Peace and Love

      Like

  13. Lage,

    “Clearly you’ve missed the point once again.”

    No, you have. Let’s suppose you are right and that ultimately there is some holistic nature to the universe. So what. There is still variation in the patterns of that holistic universe, disturbances, fields, whatever. And they are the distinctions we observe and model as constituent objects. There is nothing in science that prevents this view. So, a whole human can be considered as a collection of organs, organs a collection of cells, cells collections of molecules, molecules or atoms, atoms of subatomic particles, particles as strings, … wherever the science leads us. You are confusing our descriptive models of the universe for the actual nature of the universe.

    But, our current models do not tell us whether the ultimate nature of the universe is holistic or not. That’s just your feeling on the matter. There is no reason to suppose you are right.

    “Both are false in the sense that we can break anything up. It is arbitrary and only a convenience.”

    Your saying nothing that isn’t clear to reductionist science anyway. This has nothing that distinguishes itself as holism.

    “It doesn’t get us anywhere that I consider useful in understanding the fundamental nature of the universe (one-ness and non-separability).”

    First, nothing you have presented gets us close to that anyway – it’s just your guess. Second, your guess turns out to be quite useless. Please, give me some references to holistic science that has actually been shown to be useful. Note here that it was your claim that holism doesn’t need to be useful – but now you claim it is. Demonstrate that.

    “reductionism science has been using is creating a limitation on future scientific inquiry”

    It is patently not. This is an absurd position to take. reductionism expands our horizons. Try this episode of the connections programme: http://youtu.be/cZvb5i6lBmo

    In it Burke explains the connections that lead to the discovery of a vacuum (and as he points out something that the holistic system of the time, Roman Catholicism, simply denied outright, without any attempt to investigate). As Burke says, “This is one of those moments in history when because this has happened [the reductionist investigation of air pressure and vacuum] the field is wide open. You can go in any direction: vacuum research, meteorology, investigation of gases.”

    The point being that until reductionist science investigates some phenomenon we can’t be said to understand it. And when we do come to understand it, through reductionist science, it expands our horizons because it opens up so many more opportunities. How could we even contemplate the vacuum of empty space if we accept the church’s proclamation that there isn’t a vacuum.

    ALL advances come as a result of reductionist science. ZERO advances come from holistic investigations (if they don’t also use the results of reductionist investigations to inform them). Please, give me references to example that show me to be wrong.

    “However you also can’t say with certainty that they didn’t evolve with any goal. This could be an epistemological indeterminism that is an actuality. It is pure speculation that there is or isn’t any goal present.”

    And there’s no actual certainty that fairies don’t exist. So I ask again, what’s your position on fairies, the claims of Mohammed, Joseph Smith? Are you reluctant to respond?

    “They get us scientifically nowhere.”

    Then they get us nowhere, except as romantic stories. Come on, show me exactly where any holistic system has got us. Give me anything that demonstrates that a holistic system actually does anything, as opposed to being so much hot air.

    “I’m saying that we need to keep an open mind and abandon science (just temporarily during contemplation) in the interest of exploring other possibilities”

    That’s what scientists do anyway. They are certainly not the closed minded ‘tunnelled visioned’ people your point of view would suggest.

    “You can’t do that unless you free yourself from the shackles of science.”

    There are no shackles of science. This is just more clap trap. Give specific examples of shackles.

    “If you only use science in your lines of thought and no other means, you are limiting the potential of understanding to only scientific understanding. This is great, but not ideal in my opinion.”

    But you’ve not even come up with an alternative to science as a means of improving our understanding of the universe. Your idle words about holism don’t describe anything that anyone can actually do. When you supposedly contemplate stuff you are only doing what everyone does. Being imaginative, speculative, isn’t a particularly holistic thing to do. Science relies on the use of the imagination and speculation for coming up with new ideas. It’s what comes after that speculation that matters, and that’s where science actually discovers, and your holisms just pontificates.

    “To say that any system gets us nowhere implies that you are using an arbitrary metric to gauge progress. Perhaps that metric is wrong and less than ideal.”

    OK, so not only do you need to provide examples of holism that actually work, you now need to explain the metrics by which you measure that they work. By bringing metrics into the conversation (by suggesting mine might be wrong you are implying there must actually be some right ones) you are already submitting rudimentary science – the determination of the correctness of a system by comparing metrics.

    “Science kills many people and destroys society on many metrics just as some religions have.”

    Only in the hands of people who use it to kill people. Holisms have been used to kill, persecute, subjugate people. That is the nature of being human and is quite separate from science. Science has clearly been used to greater good than bad.

    “You have faith in science, just as others have faith in their religions.”

    No. I’ve told you this before. Science is a pragmatic enterprise that is merely the extension of human senses and reason. There is nothing to have faith in. Try this: http://ronmurp.net/thinking/. Particularly the first couple. It describes how contingent I see human knowledge, and hence anything that science tells us. I have come to trust science generally since it has earned that trust. This is quite different from faith. You really do need to get to grips with this distinction.

    “The difference is the rules that are followed, and how they label “truth”.”

    If that’s all you see as the difference then no wonder you don’t have a grasp of the significance of what science is and what it allows us to do, and no wonder you have such a low opinion of it.

    “Who says the “brick wall”? I just did. It is a “brick wall” for reductionism, at least, at this point.”

    No it is not. Give me some evidence that it is. You have nothing. You offer up some a more clap trap about quantum physics showing the end of the usefulness of reductionism as if you have some insight into the problem posed by quantum physics.

    “It may be a brick wall for reductionism forever.”

    Is that it? Is that the half baked proposition you have. Are you joining a long tradition of naysayers and Luddites that see the end of science in sight? By what prescient foresight do you see this demise? Or are you just making stuff up?

    “I believe that this is the case because of the fundamentally new properties that have emerged at such a small scale.”

    OK. Be specific. Point me to some scientific papers that show that this is so. Point me to some holistic papers that show that this is so. Give me anything other than your continued hot air on the matter. Really, you offer nothing.

    “Now that we’ve hit the quantum realm it has caused reductionism to hit a brick wall, WHILE ALSO opening up a new door in how we look at the universe.”

    I don’t think you get the idea of what our scientific ideas are. They are models. Take this description of the Planck Length: the size of a hypothetical string. Lengths smaller than this are considered not make any physical sense in our current understanding of physics.

    Note: *current understanding*. This merely means that our current models aren’t up to the job. We are waiting for the development of other models to take us further. It might take a hundred years, a thousand, I don’t know. But science has always been opening up new doors in how we look at the universe. This is what science does for us. Instead of making up holistic fantasies that are so shallow it takes no effort at all to see right through them.

    “We can never know what the future holds.”

    That would be my opinion. But you also say otherwise. You insist we have hit a brick wall and that we need some holistic mumbo jumbo to get us out of it. But holistic mumbo jumbo hasn’t gotten us out of anything, hasn’t discovered anything about the universe.

    “I would say that science on its own is also parochial claptrap.”

    Well there’s not much hop for you because science is only an extension of human sense and reason, nothing more.

    “Einstein would have agreed as he once said: “Religion without science is blind, and science without religion is lame”.”

    Einstein said a lot of stuff that was wrong. He denied the very interpretation of quantum physics from which you infer science has come to a dead end.

    “The only stipulation I’d make in the quote is to realize that science is also a religion – and even if people disagree that science requires faith (it certainly does), the lesson still applies.”

    You really need to understand the difference between accumulated trust and faith. They are quite different.

    “Although you did finally agree with me that epistemological indeterminism are outside it’s scope”

    What? I did not. You can’t even keep up with the conversation. Here’s what you said and my response:

    “”Any epistemological indeterminism fall outside the scope of science as well.”
    No they do not. Much of our empirical science relies on statistical models to represent what is epistemological indeterminate.”
    What I later agreed with, to a point, was “Since there are currently an infinite number of concepts that science hasn’t even considered,”. And I also explaine there why that wasn’t a useful statement anyway. So, no I don’t agree with you.

    Several times now you have claimed I agree with you when I very specifically have stated I do not agree.

    “I am not a theist in the traditional sense. I label “God” as simply all the energy in the universe”

    Why use the traditional supernatural concept of God? Why not just say ‘all the energy in the universe’ when that’s what you’re referring to?

    “As for equating science with religion, yeah, they are comparable.”

    Only in that both are carried out by humans. There may be other trivial similarities, but fundamentally they are really different.

    “You love using the word “nonsense”.”

    You come out with so much of it becomes a convenient word.

    “I’m talking about separateness with regards to physicalism – no separateness with respect to individual disciplines.”

    You have spoken of both your metaphysical understanding and the methodology of reductionism as used in various disciplines. I missed nothing, despite the vague nature of your points, the woolly language you use.

    “Thus that data is outside the realm of falsification and thus outside the realm of scientific study. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.”

    So, you do agree your holism is vacuous crap? Or do you have some specific method of study that reveals to you the holistic truths you seek?

    “If you think that introspection and non-observable experiences themselves do NOT sit outside the realm of science then give me an example.”

    OK. Introspection is something a brain does. A brain is a physical entity. Everything that a brain does – all the transcending and other spiritual stuff, is actually going on inside the head. That’s it. Three is no evidence of anything else. No scientific evidence, and no holistic evidence. Nothing. As such, introspection is telling us nothing reliable.

    “That is your opinion. As is the criticism of reductionism on my part. We are entitled to our own opinions. Let’s leave it at that.”

    I would happily leave it at that. But I would appreciate, if you don’t mind me asking again, for something, some metric, as you suggest, some research, scientific or otherwise, that actually shows any substance to what you are talking about at all. I have given you examples, instances of where reductionism has very specifically opened up doors that weren’t open before. You have given nothing.

    “Many of the ideas I’m trying to express are beyond words”

    They sound like fuzzy events in your brain then. Do you have any handle on them at all. Language is pretty important to how we conceptualise the world. If you struggle to put it into language so severely then it must be a pretty vague vacuous notion you are working with.

    “so communicating them is a foggy approximation of what I mean, at best.”

    This is another typical move of the theist. The “What’s going on in my head is really profound stuff but I can’t convey it because it can’t be expressed in words.” Any hippy on a drug trip would claim the same thing. Muslims claim a similar thing in saying that the beauty and truth of the Koran can’t be conveyed in any language but Arabic. It’s all a total cover for inadequacy of the ideas you’re conveying.

    “And yet you disagree that some of those limits exist.”

    I disagree with you on the nature of those limits. Let me tell you again. Some limits are clearly temporary and are waiting for more advances. Some more difficult and fundamental problems (e.g. any current ‘barrier’) may be a short term barrier, a long term barrier, of a forever barrier. The issue is though that many barriers we’ve come up against so far have been overcome. If we don’t know what lies beyond a barrier, then by definition we don’t know what lies beyond it and so can’t say whether it’s an ultimate barrier or not. If it was an ultimate barrier (which you are claiming) then you need to see beyond it to know that. Otherwise you’re just blowing hot air.

    “but the quantum results speak for themselves”

    And they say only that current experiments agree with current models. Nothing more. That’s what any current science does. Nothing unique there then.

    “is because you do not understand the concepts I speak of”

    And it’s apparent that neither do you. Otherwise you would have provided clear explanations and pointers to real advances and knowledge gained by your insightful ways.

    “They are unfamiliar to you, and thus “nonsense”.”

    And they will continue to be so if you continue to stall on providing examples that actually show anything.

    “It took a huge mental leap for me to accept these realizations”

    Or perhaps a psychotic event. How do you tell the difference?

    “and it would not be easy for you to follow suit. I don’t expect you to.”

    Well, give me some starters. What have you studied? How many years of contemplation have you put in? What methods do you use? Can you name any other practitioners?

    “unless you have the realization yourself”

    How (and I mean precisely how) did you come to that realisation?

    “Unless you feel that this argument is still fairly productive, we can just agree to disagree on this one.”

    Well, I have been asking for real examples for some time now. Still waiting. And I’ve just asked for specific information about your route to enlightenment. So, feel free to fill in any of the gaps you think I’m missing.

    Like

    • Ron,

      ” “It doesn’t get us anywhere that I consider useful in understanding the fundamental nature of the universe (one-ness and non-separability).” First, nothing you have presented gets us close to that anyway – it’s just your guess.”

      I agree. It is simply my take on things. I never said that the ideas I’m expressing are “truth” or “facts”. There is no such thing as “truth” anyways.
      The type of understanding I speak of relies on not limiting ourselves to science. That’s it. There’s no more to say about it. If that’s not enough for you, then that’s too bad. It is what it is.

      ” “They are unfamiliar to you, and thus “nonsense”.” And they will continue to be so if you continue to stall on providing examples that actually show anything.”

      You are looking for examples of what exactly? Examples of “my take on ultimate holism and it’s relationship to quantum theory”?
      Ask a clearer question as I’m not sure what you need to proceed here. It sounds like you are asking me to give you other people or examples of research that has been performed in line with my ideas. I never said that any such experiments or research existed. There doesn’t have to be. New ideas don’t have established research if they are new. If they are a result of personal insight — even less so. This is just my personal take on an interpretation of quantum mechanics. It requires no research for me to discuss it. It’s just my thought on the matter. Nothing more.

      “Why use the traditional supernatural concept of God? Why not just say ‘all the energy in the universe’ ”

      I choose to push the envelope and challenge the idea of what “God” has to be. I don’t believe that it has to be what you think God has to be. Those are limits of your conception of God, not mine. By the way, my concept of God is “natural” not “supernatural”, as all the energy in the universe is “natural”. Somehow I think you agree with me on that — unless you think the energy is somehow “supernatural” just because I’ve labeled it as “God”. I believe that any additional properties associated with the energy in the universe, specifically the consciousness that emerges from it is why I choose to label it as “God”. It has a holistic (in your sense of the word, that is a property that emerges by looking at the whole) quality which isn’t given justice by simply calling it “all the energy in the universe”.

      “First, nothing you have presented gets us close to that anyway – it’s just your guess. Second, your guess turns out to be quite useless.”

      I don’t expect what I’ve presented to: first, be taken seriously by someone limited by scientific thinking and nothing else, and second to be considered “useful” by your metric. The only use I see in what I’ve been describing is to look at universe in a different way. It will affect all other thoughts if the concepts of “one-ness” and “non-separability” are at least kept in the back of the mind when I’m contemplating anything or thinking about the significance of anything that science discovers. It’s that simple. I have no rules for you to follow, nor any set of thoughts that I expect you to think of as “useful”. Your metrics differ from mine, and more importantly using ANY metrics to determine usefulness is part of the problem.

      “ALL advances come as a result of reductionist science.”

      Not true. You would be more correct if you said that all SCIENTIFIC advances come as a result of reductionist science — but I’d even disagree there. We have made “advances” simply by looking at complex relationships at higher levels (as in the traditional holism you’ve been referring to). If you want to say that we’ve made all scientific advances by reductionist and reverse-reductionist science (holism), then I’d agree.
      More importantly, we are measuring “advances” by some metric. What is that metric Ron? Is it the only metric we can use to measure “advancement” or “progress”. I think not.

      “So I ask again, what’s your position on fairies, the claims of Mohammed, Joseph Smith? Are you reluctant to respond?”

      I’ve never deeply contemplated the idea of fairies, nor the claims of Mohammed, nor Joseph Smith. So I’m not reluctant to respond, as much as I just don’t really have a “position” on those things. Why is Mohammed, Smith, and fairies relevant to the discussion of “one-ness”, non-separability, and the current findings in quantum physics? I’m trying to find relevance, but I fail to see it. Can you enlighten me as to the relevance that YOU see?

      “Your idle words about holism don’t describe anything that anyone can actually do.”

      I never claimed to have a plan of action surrounding my thoughts. They are just my realizations and I’m still contemplating what to do with them myself. I tend to lean towards the idea that there isn’t anything specific to “do” except to remember that realization and perhaps see how it affects my future scientific inquiry or any philosophical inquiry for that matter. The attitude that someone has can change their behavior and affect what they look for, what they see, etc. My concepts’ purpose if I had to ascribe it a purpose is to provide an alternative attitude to affect what we look for, what we see, etc. Nothing specific.

      “Einstein said a lot of stuff that was wrong. He denied the very interpretation of quantum physics from which you infer science has come to a dead end.”

      So what? Just because someone says something you disagree with doesn’t mean you can discount everything they’ve said. The sooner you realize that the better.

      ” “Although you did finally agree with me that epistemological indeterminism are outside it’s scope” What? I did not. You can’t even keep up with the conversation.”

      So you think that things that are “outside our scope of knowing” (epistemological indeterminisms) are within the scope of science? Really. Explain. If you have no explanation, then you agree with me that epistemological indeterminisms are outside the scope of science. If science can never explain “something”, because that “something” is epistemologically indeterminable, then how can it be within the scope of science. You are clearly grasping for straws here.

      “Science has clearly been used to greater good than bad. “You have faith in science, just as others have faith in their religions.” No. I’ve told you this before. Science is a pragmatic enterprise that is merely the extension of human senses and reason. There is nothing to have faith in.”

      “Good” and “Bad” are subjective, so you are incorrect that science has “clearly been used to greater good than bad”.
      We require faith in our senses and our method to provide us with what we want to “know”. There is also faith by laymen with regards to the esoteric nature of the scientific community. They have faith that scientists are being honest and not taking advantage of them in some way.
      You also have faith in your reason over other human mental faculties including intuition and other non-physical senses.
      You may disagree with me, and that’s fine. We don’t have to agree on everything.

      “Much of our empirical science relies on statistical models to REPRESENT what is epistemological indeterminate.”

      So what if it represents it? Those things that are indeterminate are not somehow determined by those statistical models. Anything that is indeterminate remains outside the scope of science — period. We can say that science has determined those things to be indeterminate, but that’s hardly the same thing as saying that those indeterminate things are within the scope of science. Hardly.

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  14. “I never said that the ideas I’m expressing are “truth” or “facts”. There is no such thing as “truth” anyways.
    The type of understanding I speak of relies on not limiting ourselves to science. That’s it. There’s no more to say about it. If that’s not enough for you, then that’s too bad. It is what it is.”

    If that’s all you were saying I’d have passed it of as just another example of someone coming up with some vague notions. But that’s not all this is about. You are making very explicit empirical statements. You are juxtaposing this vague notion against science, and in doing making explicit empirical statements about science, and reductionism in particular, which are empirically false. You go on about the tunnel vision of reductionist science, and yet all the evidence is that science, by actually exploring and not just thinking about exploring, opens up many more avenues, doors, whatever your metaphor, than twee little ideas like holism ever have.

    “Ask a clearer question as I’m not sure what you need to proceed here.”

    Then you are being intentionally ignorant. You are making very specific claims about the superiority of you holism over reductionism in science on the one hand, while on the other making statements, as above, that there is nothing to your holism other than a nice thought.

    If you can’t demonstrate that your empirical claims about the difference between your holism and reductionist science, if you can’t back it up, if you keep retreating into every nebulous notions of concepts, ideas, opinions, then you don’t have a case.

    “New ideas don’t have established research if they are new.”

    But your idea isn’t new. You said yourself early on that this is a return to ancient ideas of holism. Also, it is not a new idea you are presenting, and so, given how old these ideas are you should be able to provide a little more convincing demonstration, pointers to ideas of holism that actually do something instead of being a fantasy.

    “If they are a result of personal insight – even less so.”

    Personal insight is overrated, unless it can be verified to correspond to reality. Otherwise it’s just one more fantasy.

    “It requires no research for me to discuss it. It’s just my thought on the matter. Nothing more.”

    It is more than that. It is the empirical claims you are making about holism in relation of science. You may be drawing personal inferences from quantum physics, but if you do just that then this is no different than saying God did it.

    “I choose to push the envelope and challenge the idea of what “God” has to be.”

    You flatter yourself. You are not pushing an envelope, You are being obscure. There’s a big difference.

    “By the way, my concept of God is “natural” not “supernatural”, as all the energy in the universe is “natural”. Somehow I think you agree with me on that – unless you think the energy is somehow “supernatural” just because I’ve labelled it as “God”.”

    You also have a simplistic and convenient view of agreement, which you have got wrong on a number of occasions. So you think wrong. That whole statement is wrong in several ways. Your concept of God is quite different from the traditional concept of God. You blur natural and supernatural when *by definition* they are distinct. The only way I think God would be natural is if he was discovered to exist, in which case what was thought to be a supernatural entity would have been natural all along. This isn’t the equating of the supernatural and the natural it’s the pointing out of what would be, were that the case, a natural entity being mistaken for a supernatural one.

    “I believe that any additional properties associated with the energy in the universe, specifically the consciousness that emerges from it is why I choose to label it as “God”. It has a holistic (in your sense of the word, that is a property that emerges by looking at the whole) quality which isn’t given justice by simply calling it “all the energy in the universe”.”

    But you presume so many things here for which there is no reason to make those presumptions. Since we barely understand the nature of energy in the universe and its various forms, it’s way too soon to suppose that any intelligence is associated with it. Our only example of intelligence, as we understand it, is primarily in humans but to a different degree in animals, and only in animals with brains. Now it may be the case that intelligence, thinking, a ‘mind’ as a simplistic term, may not need a biological basis like a brain, but this is still on the edge of speculative science. To suppose intelligence exists in other complex entities, such as the internet of connected computers, is yet another possibility, though more remote and having even less evidence in favour of it. As a speculative idea it may be that consciousness is something that can arise from things on a much larger scale, but there are significant problems with this idea. It is all speculative in the first place. To make the idea even more obscure by tying it to the concept of God is just not helping any serious consideration of what consciousness is.

    “I don’t expect what I’ve presented to: first, be taken seriously by someone limited by scientific thinking”

    Here you go again making an empirical claim – that scientific thinking is limited in some way that your thinking is not. I accept all human thinking has limitations, but scientific thinking has broken down many more barriers than has holistic thinking alone. My estimate is N – 0 in favour of science, where N is uncountable there are so many contributions from science to our understanding of nature, and zero from pure holism.

    “The only use I see in what I’ve been describing is to look at universe in a different way.”

    But you’re not. It’s the same old way of the ancients, who at least had the excuse of the ignorance of science, they had so little to work with. Anyone today who still holds to such views and claims limitations in science that you do is ignorant without excuse.

    “It will affect all other thoughts if the concepts of “one-ness” and “non-separability””

    You pointed out earlier how I’ve been repeating terms like ‘nonsense’. Well, if all you can offer is this very vague and easy to grasp concepts, which many scientists accept as a matter of course, then you really aren’t offering anything new, and it really isn’t an alternative to scientific thinking since scientific thinking presumes there is some unifying explanation for how the universe works.

    “are at least kept in the back of the mind”

    It’s always in the back of the minds of most scientists who can quite easily switch their train of thought from specific reductionist goals of analysing a particular problem and the ‘bigger picture’. They do it all the time. You are not offering an alternative, but instead you are suggesting as a method by itself it’s somehow superior to what science does.

    “I have no rules for you to follow, nor any set of thoughts that I expect you to think of as “useful”. Your metrics differ from mine”

    So, you have no means of telling whether your ideas are helpful, useful, worthy of any consideration, or just so much bunk. You have this idea, and for no apparent reason think it’s a good idea. This is really sloppy thinking.

    “Not true. You would be more correct if you said that all SCIENTIFIC advances come as a result of reductionist science – but I’d even disagree there.”

    This is where I’d like you to give some examples, instead of just stating it.

    “We have made “advances” simply by looking at complex relationships at higher levels (as in the traditional holism you’ve been referring to).”

    Who is this ‘we’? Give some advances that are not scientific. In one breath you ake these claims, then when I ask for examples you say you have none and don’t need any. You are so self-contradictory.

    “If you want to say that we’ve made all scientific advances by reductionist and reverse-reductionist science (holism), then I’d agree.”

    More twisting of words. When science does its reductionist thing it learns how something works in detail. It then puts that detail to use at some higher level. For example, chemistry, which started out as a very pragmatic discipline had many gaps in the understanding of why certain chemical events occur. The reductionist work in physics answered a lot of those questions and made it possible for chemists to better understand their science. Another: the work of physics and chemistry has helped biologists understand stuff in biology, such as how the different ways a protein folds has a real effect at the biological level. Holism is trivially a natural part of science is this sense.

    So, can you give any examples of advances made by your particular holism, the one that is supposedly a new way of thinking?

    “More importantly, we are measuring “advances” by some metric. What is that metric Ron?”

    There are many metrics. You’re the one making the empirical claim that your holism is superior to science, and that the natural limitations of science might be overcome by your holism. It’s up to you, the one making that claim, to provide the metric by which you support that claim. I’ve given you examples that counter your claims that scientific reductionism is tunnel visioned and can’t open new doors, or can’t inform higher levels and be used in straight forward holism (as opposed to spooky holism).

    “Is it the only metric we can use to measure “advancement” or “progress”. I think not.”

    Then you say by what criteria you support your claims. And you are making empirical claims.

    “I’ve never deeply contemplated the idea of fairies, nor the claims of Mohammed, nor Joseph Smith. ”

    Hold on. You have been telling me about how much you have contemplated stuff to arrive at your alternative way of thinking. Surely you must have considered the similarities with other such systems and also considered how those similarities point to the likelihood that at least some of them must be total bunk. And from there surely you must have contemplated why you think yours is right and all these others are wrong. Turns out you don’t do that much contemplation after all.

    “Why is Mohammed, Smith, and fairies relevant to the discussion of “one-ness””

    Because these are all systems that make claims about the nature of the universe, very specific claims. And they can’t all be true unless you want to ditch logic. Now, I’m prepared to discuss the nature of logic with you, but you can’t simply dismiss it without undercutting your own arguments. So the similarities still stand. These are systems of thought, like yours, that make claims (or at least have opinions) on the deeper nature of the universe, while at the same time claiming ineffability within those systems that prevent scrutiny. And they all, including yours, make actual empirical claims about the nature of science and how inadequate it is for ‘seeing’ your point of view, for gaining the miraculous insight that you happen to have come across. But also that all the scientists in the world really actually doing hard work to discover the nature of the universe instead of just making stuff up and being happy with that, somehow don’t have the terrific insight you and proponents of all these other systems of though say you have. This is the nature of delusion. You really do seem to be delusional. That you would dismiss not only science in the face of all that science has achieved compared to these systems, but also that you dismiss these other systems as unconsidered by you. This is exactly what they do too. Any respectable inquirer into the nature of the universe would have an opinion on all these points of view. But you, the one who harps on about being open minded, don’t even have a view on these other systems that are so similar in nature to your own, in the way they arrive at what they claim to know. This is just astonishingly (or conveniently) ignorant.

    “They are just my realizations and I’m still contemplating what to do with them myself.”

    We’re all still contemplating. Scientists are still contemplating the problems presented by quantum physics. That you suppose they have hit a brick wall that indicates to you that your particular insight can improve on that is a contemplation too far. You have already decided what to do with them You have decided that they inform you that reductionist science is tunnel visioned and this indicates that we need insights like yours to progress, These are conclusions you have already reached. You present them as realisations, not simply ideas that you are contemplating. You make claims about advances in non-scientific holism, yet present none as examples. You make claims then when called out on them try to back track into opinion.

    “I tend to lean towards the idea that there isn’t anything specific to “do” except to remember that realization and perhaps see how it affects my future scientific inquiry or any philosophical inquiry for that matter. ”

    Any scientists worthy of that description is already way ahead of you. Many have been for several centuries now.

    “Just because someone says something you disagree with doesn’t mean you can discount everything they’ve said.”

    And popping up some comment that Einstein made, when he isn’t here to explain his thoughts, when Einstein made several contradictory comments on God and religion, where many of his comments were taken to be allegorical, you cannot cherry pick this one and have it taken seriously as if it contributes to your case. I can come up with a bunch of anti-mystical statements from Nietzsche for example, but I tend not to because they don’t really make a case in themselves. They are not evidence in themselves. That some statement was made by a particular person does not inherently give credibility to the point made. The point has to be made as it stands. So, my point wasn’t to claim Einstein for my case but to point out how useless your use of him was.

    “So you think that things that are “outside our scope of knowing” (epistemological indeterminism) are within the scope of science? Really.”

    Again you are twisting the meaning of words. You are being obscure. The use of the term ‘scope’ here is where you are being vague because it needs context. In the context of what science has already discovered those discoveries are within the scope of science to make specific comments on now, about the correspondence between theory and experiment. Where the context is at the edge of something being investigate, such as quantum physics, science can make specific comments, such as that the theory and experiment agree. In the context of what explains the mechanisms underlying quantum physics scientists can make some educated guesses, can come up with some speculative ideas, and make some tentative inferences – but they know that this is what they are doing. When it comes to something that someone has a hypothesis about, such as there being some intelligent entity that created the universe, then science sets this outside it’s current scope of testable hypotheses because there is so much more to do in coming to understand the universe before anything more concrete can be said. But this does not put this question outside the scope of science in principle. In the context of anticipated future science, the scope of science is unknown, and so the limits are unknown. And so you cannot make any claim that something is outside the scope of science without being specific by what you mean by that. You seem to be intentionally obscure on this point. You keep making statements about something or other being outside the scope of science without being clear about what you mean.

    “If you have no explanation, then you agree with me that epistemological indeterminism are outside the scope of science.”

    There you go again with your presumptions. Epistemological indeterminism is the stance that science can only be so specific in matters of science because the systems we are considering are so complex. There’s the additional problem that even if there were achievable determinism any component of a system cannot measure all states of the system. But, not all states of a system need to be accounted for before we can say we understand a system sufficiently to make statements about how it worked, so some degree of precision. Near enough is near enough. Epistemological indeterminism isn’t a barrier to science, only to philosophies and theologies that are claiming certainties of knowledge.

    “If science can never explain “something”, because that “something” is epistemologically indeterminable, then how can it be within the scope of science.”

    It is very clearly within the scope of science. I have already pointed our use of statistical models and the particular example of how the ideal gas laws give us a pretty good understanding of gases.

    “You are clearly grasping for straws here.”

    I would say it’s the other way round. You keep asking for explanations and I give them. You just try to fob me off with vagueness, saying there are no metrics, that it’s only opinion. You back track all the time.

    “”Good” and “Bad” are subjective”

    Oh please. This is so much crock. OK, let’s define some ‘metrics’. One, so many more people live longer more comfortable and healthy lives than they once did. People who suffer traumatic injuries survive and recover far more than they once did. Are you really saying that the pre-scientific Dark Ages were better times to be alive? You tell me your subjective opinion on what is good and bad in this context.

    “You also have faith in your reason over other human mental faculties including intuition and other non-physical senses.”

    What other mental faculties? Be specific.

    “So what if it represents it? Those things that are indeterminate are not somehow determined by those statistical models.”

    But your holistic model doesn’t even have that. It’s just a vague idea, an opinion, based on I don’t know what because you won’t say.

    “Anything that is indeterminate remains outside the scope of science – period.”

    It does not. On the basis of this statement of yours there would not only be nothing within the scope of science but there would be nothing within the scope of your mind either – in other words your idea of holism would be just as indeterminate and so, by your argument, outside the scope of your reasoning about it.

    But that isn’t the case. Science is the coming to terms with indeterminism. Our very human nature is one that has an indeterminate grasp on any reality that might be out there, whether such a reality is determinate of not. This is why your holism is so much pie in the sky. Science is the very specific attempt to overcome those human fallibilities as much as possible in order to get the best understanding of that supposed reality we can. Any other claimed ‘way of knowing’ is just bunk, imagination. fantasy. The only way we can approach anything like reliability of understanding is by the continued, repeated, varied, expanding, discovering methods of science. Science is not some odd way of knowing that is different in kind from any other way of knowing. It is a better way of using the only ways of knowing we have.

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    • Hi, Ron.

      Then you are being intentionally ignorant.

      Can you try to avoid getting too personal in the discussion.

      You are making very specific claims about the superiority of you holism over reductionism in science on the one hand, while on the other making statements, as above, that there is nothing to your holism other than a nice thought.

      I’m not sure we should take Lage as making an empirical claim. Perhaps he is just saying that his holism is superior for him, which might be a subjective opinion based on his way of looking at science. “Superior” can only be part of an empirical claim when there is an agreed scale of reference.

      I think my own way of looking at science is closer to yours than to Lage’s. But then we really don’t have an agreed scale of reference for that “closer than.”

      I don’t see science as reductionist, but I do see it as containing islands of reductionism. That is to say, I would not apply “reductionism” to science as a whole, but it does apply within many specific subfields. It’s my impression that you have a similar take on it. I’m still not quite sure what Lage means by “holism”, but then there are many words that we use but which we cannot pin down to precise meanings.

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      • Thank you Neil. What I mean by holism or as I refer to it “ultimate holism” is really the concepts of “one-ness” and “non-separability” which I believe have risen out of quantum physical research. I think that the fact that at the quantum level, there is no ability to separate the object from the observer (non-separability), implies that we (all matter and energy) are one entity and that we have an illusion of separateness that is utilized and perpetuated in reductionism. That’s just my opinion on the matter, and I believe that we’ll have to modify our line of thinking (our current “tunnel vision” based on our current assumptions of “how things are”) in order to progress to a better understanding. Part of the issue with Ron is that he doesn’t think that there are any limits to scientific thinking — and I disagree with that. We will just have to accept that we have our own reasons for why we believe what we believe.

        As you mentioned, we also have difference “scales of reference” which is part of the problem. Some concepts are not easily communicable with language and this exacerbates the discussion because Ron may be frustrated just from not understanding what I’m trying to convey. As you said in a recent post of thought not being limited to linguistics — this is part of the problem here. Ron seems to think that if I say that something may not be communicable, that is some form of an excuse or cop-out given by typical mystics spewing “parochial nonsense clap trap” as he likes to say. There may just be certain ideas that aren’t easily or not possibly communicable due to the limitations of language which I believe exist.

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        • I also wanted to add that another one of my points in terms of the limits of science — is the fact that this inability to separate the object from the observer (thus negating what an object and observer are supposed to be by definition — that is separate) — this implies that all of science (more specifically the scientific method) which relies on the fact that there are objects and observers is limited. If there are no objects and observers by the very nature of the fact that they aren’t actually separate things (non-separable), then this says something profound about the future course of science. Does it mean that we will abandon the scientific method? I don’t think so. I don’t know what the implications are exactly, but I think we have hit a serious milestone in terms of how we look at science (objects and observers) in light of these new findings. I have no idea where this will take us. I just think that it is significant and WILL change things dramatically in the next few decades. These are again, just my speculative views on things.

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        • It’s as if science was set out to understand the universe (assuming we were true separate “observers”) at everything around us (assuming they were “objects”) and suddenly — CRAP! No “true objects” or “true observers”? Now what do we do to further our “knowledge”? Absolutely nothing? Or do we need to seriously re-evaluate what we’ve been doing all these years and how we’ve been looking at things? Perhaps. What does this “knowledge” we’ve acquired really amount to or mean to us after we re-evaluate science given these findings? This was my most important point in this discussion. I don’t know what we’ll do, but I do think a serious change will occur in how we look at science, how we use it in the coming decades, and how we go about seeking “knowledge” from that point forward.

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        • …, and I believe that we’ll have to modify our line of thinking (our current “tunnel vision” based on our current assumptions of “how things are”) in order to progress to a better understanding.

          I see talk of “how things are” as not even wrong. I see us as pragmatically dealing with “how shall we say that things are” which requires that we develop conventions such as to allow us to describe the world. But I don’t believe that “how things are” can have a meaning outside of those pragmatic conventions that we develop to allow such description.

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    • Ron,

      “You are making very explicit empirical statements. You are juxtaposing this vague notion against science, and in doing making explicit empirical statements about science, and reductionism in particular, which are empirically false.”

      What specific empirical statements are you referring to?

      Yes my notion is vague, and it’s not intended to be something incredibly obvious to the scientific community. If it was, then there would be less of an inclination on my part to bring it up. We started this post talking about the supernatural — something that science doesn’t take seriously. If we were talking about something “natural” then we’d have a different discussion going on.

      “Then you are being intentionally ignorant. You are making very specific claims about the superiority of you holism over reductionism”

      I never said that reductionism is completely useless. It has allowed us to come to the point of discovering, in my opinion, a “one-ness” that exists, a non-separability, which I’m referring to as ultimate holism. These discoveries made in quantum physics, I believe (my opinion, not yours, nor the majority opinion of the scientific community) show empirical evidence of this property. What we do with this knowledge is to be determined. I just think that thinking in reductionist terms, from now on (not in the past) will affect our attitudes in how we approach our research and how we see things. That’s all. I’m not telling you that you or I need to abandon science completely. I’m just saying that I believe that something is going to fundamentally change in the next several decades due to some of these findings. My interpretation is just that, an interpretation. It is my personal take on the matter and it involves concepts that are outside of science (what you call fantasy), which is perfectly fine with me. I debate enough about science day to day, and once in a while, I like to bring up other concepts that are merely speculative guesses on the nature of things. In reality, my guesses are no more “right” or “wrong” from what science tells us. The only difference is that you put complete faith in your senses and what you think science discovers to be “true” or a “path to knowledge”. I think there are many ways to think about things, even if that involves imagination. Heck, imagination is even a tool that’s been used in science — it has certainly led to new ideas that have later been somehow used in science (even if not completely). My main point isn’t to completely abandon science, but to INCLUDE other ways of thinking (imagination, intuition, etc.) along with science. We won’t be able to include these other ways of thinking in a purely scientific discussion.
      Since when are we limited to a scientific discussion in a post about science and the supernatural? Calm down Ron, take a deep breath, and relax. You are acting exactly like me several years ago, so I can see why you are approaching this conversation as you are and I don’t hold that against you. You are entitled to your opinions, and I’m entitled to mine. If you can’t accept that I have my own reasons for MY opinions, then — tough potatoes.

      ” “New ideas don’t have established research if they are new.” But your idea isn’t new. You said yourself early on that this is a return to ancient ideas of holism.”

      I was making a point that I see similarities in the pantheism and other concepts used in ancient religions, when comparing that to the non-separability and “one-ness” that I’ve interpreted from quantum physics. Quantum physics wasn’t around during those ancient religions, so my idea is much newer than you think. It is at most several decades old (not thousands of years as you assumed). You need to pay attention to the details as you seem to be unable to “keep up with the conversation”. You aren’t going to see my idea in scientific research papers, obviously! You may see it in New Age literature or others that are non limited to scientific ways of thinking. I’m not sure where you’ll find it, as I haven’t read it in a book — this is just my take on things. It is my opinion on the matter, so it’s not really a big deal that you disagree. I accept that. You should too.

      “”More importantly, we are measuring “advances” by some metric. What is that metric Ron?” There are many metrics. You’re the one making the empirical claim that your holism is superior to science, and that the natural limitations of science might be overcome by your holism. It’s up to you, the one making that claim, to provide the metric by which you support that claim.”

      You have avoided given me your metric of “advances” or “progress”. What is your metric? You must have at least one if you ever assume something is an “advance” or a step in terms of “progress”. I don’t believe there is a metric. You said that “there are many metrics”. Name at least some of them if you dare to.

      “Here you go again making an empirical claim – that scientific thinking is limited in some way that your thinking is not. I accept all human thinking has limitations”

      I never said that my thinking isn’t limited. I’d have to be just as delusional as you are (e.g. your thought that scientific thinking ISN’T limited) if I thought that. You are limiting yourself if you expend all your thinking on only falsifiable (scientific) concepts.

      “Personal insight is overrated, unless it can be VERIFIED to correspond to reality.”

      I think that it does correspond to reality at least in some ways. It may not be falsifiable, but I still think it corresponds to reality. Just as the mechanism for non-locality in quantum entanglement may not be known and theories for that mechanism may not be falsifiable (we don’t know at this time), yet it still corresponds to things we see in reality (we see the effects of non-locality regardless of the mechanism being falsifiable or not). Just because you haven’t seen something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The way I see it correspond to reality is through my interpretation of the quantum physical results. Those results DO correspond to reality, and my interpretation is based on those results that correspond to reality. Most importantly, what we do with this knowledge will determine the scope of our “tunnel vision”. By “tunnel vision”, consider that “what we are looking for” is affected by our current thoughts on matters and our attitude. If we change our attitude or how we look at things, even if using imagination to get there, this will affect “what we are looking for” and thus the scope of our “tunnel vision” will change. That’s the idea here. Nothing more and nothing less. If current science said that “this is the way things are” (reducible, i.e. through reductionism), then you are going to be affected in how you approach research because you will have certain assumptions guiding what you want to look for. If you assume that you are gaining absolute truth, it will affect your research. Assumptions on what your research’s purpose is, and the significance you place on your findings will affect what future research you will conduct. I think that this reductionism has guided research and in at least some cases limited how we understand the universe, by the very assumption that things can be broken down. I do value it’s use as a tool, as it was responsible for getting us to these quantum physical findings. The question is, NOW what do we do with this information in terms of how it guides our research. That is what matters to me. I don’t care nearly as much about what it took to get us here. In that respect, I have valued reductionism as it was the path that led us to this concept of non-separability and “one-ness” (in my opinion).

      -Peace and Love

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  15. Hi Neil,

    If these statements from Lage aren’t empirical claims I don’t know what is:

    “this is part of the tunnel vision that science promotes”

    “Prior to science, this tunnel vision didn’t exist, yet, ironically science has led us back to similar points of view on the holistic nature of the universe.”

    “It is that very “tunnel vision” that hinders exploration of the universe from other points of view (non-scientific).”

    “The reductionism of science, by definition, has set out to reduce everything to some fundamental substance or constituent parts and that is contradictory to the idea of holism. So you are mistaken here. The modern view in quantum mechanics is that the object and the observer are no longer separable, which means there can’t be any constituent parts fundamentally.”

    “Everything is a whole and is connected as one. This is completely contrary to what science is primarily set out to do – and that is, reductionism.”

    “Reductionism relies on the belief that every event, phenomenon, or thing can be reduced down to the sum of it’s parts”

    These are very specific claims about the nature of science and how it works. They may be opinion too, but in that sense any empirical claim is an opinion.

    And on the personal side, if Lage wants to misrepresent what I say, make claims of agreement on points were I specifically say I don’t agree, make claims about definitions by presenting incomplete definitions, where the complete definitions do not support his point, refusing to respond to specific questions and then claiming nothing specific has been asked for, making empirical claims about the superiority of his view on the one hand and then saying no claims have been made when challenged to provide support for his position, … then that’s fine. But I think I should respond in saying what these ploys amount to, and in doing so I’ve been particularly careful in the language I’ve used.

    And, there’s more than one way of being personal in comments. I may be explicit in calling Lage out in how he is responding. His method is to be condescending:

    “You don’t have to accept it, in fact, I’d be a little worried if you did so soon. You need to discover this for yourself and contemplate the idea of one-ness and non-separability (realizing that it goes outside the scope of science). You have to transcend science to understand it better. ”

    I’d much rather be explicit and make the charge of obscurantism when that is what it appears to be. Lage seems to capable of recognising condescension when it is reflected back, but not when he is doing it himself.
    Or maybe he is. It’s a well worn path taken by those making supposedly profound statements, which when called out is reflected back as a condescending claim about who has the appropriate insight.

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    • Ron,

      I’m not surprised that your frustration has led you to seek support from Neil. What’s the matter, can’t you handle your own arguments? Do you need someone else to verify that you’re “right”? Regardless of what Neil says, I have my thought on the issue, and again, they are my thoughts — not established “facts”. You should fight your own battles Ron.

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      • I’m not surprised that your frustration has led you to seek support from Neil.

        He didn’t. Or, at least I don’t see Ron as seeking my support. Rather, he was reacting to something that I said.

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        • I didn’t get an email notification of all the comments. That is why I assumed Ron was addressing you, Neil, in our conversation. That was admittedly my mistake.

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    • And, there’s more than one way of being personal in comments. I may be explicit in calling Lage out in how he is responding. His method is to be condescending

      I agree with that. It is harder to pick out examples of that way of being personal, but I would like to see Lage tone down things a bit, too.

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  16. Lage,

    If you can’t even see that I was responding to very specifc points that Neil made, not seeking his support, then you again fail to follow the thread.

    “I have my thought on the issue, and again, they are my thoughts — not established “facts”.”

    I don’t recall saying you had any established facts. Quite the contrary, I was making the point that your claims about reductionism can be countered by established facts: that reductionism in science opens doors, to use an earlier metaphor of yours.

    So, if you were genuinely giving an opinion of the top of your head, to use a framing of yours, then you would have mde that clearer, rather than making explicit statements.

    I’d still be interested to hear about anything you have to offer that goes above and beyond your personal introspection that shows that reductionism is as you portray it, or that your version of holism has actually made advances as you claim.

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    • I didn’t get an email notification of all the comments. That is why I assumed you were addressing Neil, in our conversation. That was admittedly my mistake. Sorry for that confusion and my mis-interpretation. My buggered email account! Whoever said technology was perfect, right? Grrr… Moving on…

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    • “Quite the contrary, I was making the point that your claims about reductionism can be countered by established facts: that reductionism in science opens doors, to use an earlier metaphor of yours.”

      I don’t believe my claims can be countered by “facts”. My claims are opinions on the issue, they are not opinions about things that are actually facts. And we both agree that reductionism in science opens doors (in my opinion, it’s opened the door to something outside of reductionism — ultimate holism). Err, maybe you don’t agree with that? I have trouble telling sometimes whether you agree or not. I think we both agree that reductionism opens doors. Where we diverge is how we look at what to do with reductionism now that it’s led us to something that appears to be fundamentally non-reducible (“one-ness” and “non-separability”). That is where I think the “tunnel vision” needs to be modified. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that there is anyone that doesn’t have “tunnel vision”, I just think that we need to expand the current reductionist “tunnel vision” (by questioning how we look at reductionism now that we’ve come across this new information that in my opinion says something profound about that reductionism) in order to move forward. They are only my opinions. Let’s remember that.

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      • I don’t believe my claims can be countered by “facts”. My claims are opinions on the issue, they are not opinions about things that are actually facts.

        I think some of the miscommunication between you and Ron is because your wording isn’t always clear on whether you are expressing a personal opinion or making a factual claim.

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        • If my wording isn’t clear, I’d like to know which wording specifically has been mis-understood as me stating facts vs. opinions. It’s possible, I won’t argue that. We all have issues from time to time with wording because there are so many mixtures of opinions and “facts” as well as different interpretations of what specific terms mean. There’s also arguments of what is actually factual (how we figure that out and how we define it) and what isn’t. It happens, that’s for sure. My entire argument has been based on a mixture of quantum physical results (“facts”) and my interpretation of them with regards to “one-ness”, “non-separability”, etc. (opinion).

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          • Here are a few examples:

            “Technically, if science can’t explain something – such as the force of gravity, then the force is only explained by supernatural means (that is non-scientific means).”

            This uses a meaning of supernatural that is your own. Later, when I asked for definitions that illustrate your meaning you gave partial definitions that suited your purpose, leaving out words from those definitions that did not support your case. So, two examples of causing misunderstanding right there.

            You use the term ‘supernatural’ to by synonymous with ‘natural but unexplained’, which is incorrect, and a cause of misunderstanding. The definitions of ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’ are mutually exclusive. Many theists who believe in the supernatural as normally defined would be very confused by your meaning of it.

            The prefix ‘super’ is meant to convey something above and beyond science, as in another realm altogether.

            You cause further confusion by saying that when something has been called supernatural in the past, but now is considered natural, it implies that the supernatural is merely the natural that is not yet explained. You fail to recognise that labelling something as supernatural that turned out to be natural was a mislabelling in the past, a misunderstanding about the nature of a natural phenomenon in thinking it was supernatural when it never was.

            “The reductionism of science, by definition, has set out to reduce everything to some fundamental substance or constituent parts and that is contradictory to the idea of holism.”

            This view is plain wrong. Reductionism is complementary to basic principle of holism that views nature as a whole.

            “Everything is a whole and is connected as one. This is completely contrary to what science is primarily set out to do – and that is, reductionism.”

            This is again a misrepresentation of reductionism. Reductionism is quite compatible with holism, except a holism that claims also that everything is uniform. There is a distinction between a (a) holism that is uniform, (b) a holism that is non-uniform (has variation) and (c) a ‘seperability’. Reductionism can work quite well in (b) and (c). Only in (a) would there be no distinctions at any level on which reductionism could be applied; but then there wouldn’t be you and me anyway, if a holistic universe was uniform. A uniform holistic universe is closer in principle to the anticipated heat death of the universe.

            Your portrayal of science, as being so committed to reductionism it has hit a brick wall is plain wrong. From the Royal Society:

            “‘Nullius Inverba’ (The Royal Society’s motto ‘Nullius in verba’ roughly translates as ‘take nobody’s word for it’. It is an expression of the determination of Fellows to withstand the domination of authority and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment).”

            “were all set out to fundamentalize the parts of the universe and predict things with 100% certainty”

            That seems like an empirical statement about how we all behave. But I don’t know any scientist who thinks this. This statement is observably wrong. It exist as a fine principle, without any expectation of achieving it, and so it’s no barrier to progress.

            “The Holism suggested in quantum physics refutes…”

            Here you are being misleading by not saying this is just your particular view of holism. Any reasonable interpretation of your words would lead people to think you are making a general claim about holism, *The* holism. And you don’t make it clear that it is only your personal inference from what you understand from quantum physics.

            “There are no real constituents (only the illusion of such), which means reductionism is null and void in a holistic universe.”

            This looks like a pretty clear claim. No suggestion of ‘in my view’ or ‘as I see it personally’ – though you do concede it’s just your view later. But this concession only really appears after I ask you several times for examples.

            “but in the end, it is the holism that trumps reductionism in the ultimate workings of the universe (according to the current view in quantum physics)”

            Again a pretty clear claim you are making, with no hint of ‘my personal interpretation is’

            “You don’t have to agree, but that’s what the science has suggested.”

            Here you are saying that *science* suggests, not what you personally infer. This is an explicit claim about the science.

            “Yes it has shattered these views. We now have shown that we can’t predict everything with 100% certainty”

            This misrepresents science, since there is nothing to shatter because science doesn’t claim to predict everything with 100% accuracy.

            “Yes but ultimately, the idea that objects are illusions means reductionism is futile in ultimate understanding.”

            Another explicit claim.

            “They will realize that asking certain questions like “what is this composed of?” is an invalid question.”

            A prediction.

            “It just means that Holism creates a brick wall for reductionism.”

            A change of view, because up to that point it had been reductionism that had created its own wall in reaching the results of quantum physics. This is just one of the many ways you switch tack erratically.

            “The holism that you are referring to is not what I’m arguing about. I will also mention that the holism you have been referring to as being complementary to reductionism is not an ultimate holism but only an analysis of a “collection of parts”. That “whole” that we analyse in holistic science is still an illusory part because it isn’t everything. ”

            At this point you are making statements about *holistic science*, and yet later, when I ask for examples of holistic science you say there are none.

            “The difference is I have examples of things outside of the scope of science”

            “I never said that any such experiments or research existed.”

            “These discoveries made in quantum physics, I believe (my opinion, not yours, nor the majority opinion of the scientific community) show empirical evidence of this property.”

            You are hiding an empirical claim behind opinion, but all empirical claims made by people are clearly their opinion, so it’s misleading to say “I believe show empirical evidence of this property”, and pass this off as not being an empirical claim on your behalf.

            “The only difference is that you put complete faith in your senses and what you think science discovers to be “true” or a “path to knowledge”.”

            This is a misrepresentation. I have explained in detail why this is not so, and I have linked to my blog were I extremely clear how tentative the whole of human experience is and how science and human knowledge acquisition generally is limited and flawed. There is not the slightest hint of faith. I have even gone to the effort of making clear the distinction between faith and acquired trust. But still you persist with this misrepresentation.

            “The holism that I refer to in ancient religions is also the ULTIMATE HOLISM, not your idea of holism (you are thinking more of Gestalt holism which is something different entirely). Quantum physics has led us to this ULTIMATE HOLISM that I’ve been referring to which is why I made it explicit that it was Quantum Physics that led us here.”

            This seems like an empirical claim. You even say “Quantum physics has led **us**…”. Quantum physics hasn’t led anyone, not even you, to the inferences you take from it. Quantum physics does not address your ultimate holism at all. It is totally your own doing, your own taking of that inference.

            So, in many ways you have made empirical statements, used obfuscation, misrepresented, made confusing uses of common terms, change your tack, made explicit claims in one breath and claimed later that you haven’t. Basically you’re whole position is a mess.

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          • Ron,

            “This uses a meaning of supernatural that is your own. Later, when I asked for definitions that illustrate your meaning you gave partial definitions that suited your purpose, leaving out words from those definitions that did not support your case. So, two examples of causing misunderstanding right there. ”

            Nope. I cleared those misunderstandings already, as it didn’t matter whether I included the whole definition or not (even when I did include after you called attention to it calling me disingenuous, I cleared myself). Did you not read my response to your accusation of me being disingenuous? I already explained why any parts I left out were either irrelevant, redundant, or didn’t exclude my use of the word. More importantly, see below.

            “You use the term ‘supernatural’ to by synonymous with ‘natural but unexplained’, which is incorrect, and a cause of misunderstanding.”

            Yes, and I explained that this was the temporary definition I was using for the purpose of the discussion. To appeal to the “masses” that use it in that way. A lot of people think that supernatural things exist, so whatever the case, anything that exists is by definition “natural”. We have agreement on this. However, if we accept the premise that anything that exists is “natural” then the topic of conversation stalls because there really isn’t much else to say about things that don’t exist. I humored those masses by using a definition that many people use. It was my temporary broadening of the definition (which I explained to you several times) that you had a problem with. You are saying that my definition is incorrect, but that’s how a lot of people define it. All that we need to know to prove this is:
            A) Many people believe that “supernatural” things exist,
            B) Everything that exists is “natural”, which implies that “supernatural” things don’t exist.

            The only way to make those two premises work (at all) is to broaden the definition as those people have. The dictionary’s definition does not matter the most. It is what people mean (even if mistakenly) when they say the word that matters most. That was why I broadened the use of the word (and subsequently explained what I was doing — even after I did that you still had a huge issue with it). So there should be no misunderstanding at this point as I’ve explained this point countless times now. I believe that the majority of people that use the word, aren’t using it as a synonym for (things that don’t exist), otherwise they would just say — “that is a thing that doesn’t exist”. By using the word “supernatural”, it is implied that “something” is existing. It’s a contradiction that can only be resolved by broadening the definition to what those people actually mean. Does that make sense?

            “The reductionism of science, by definition, has set out to reduce everything to some fundamental substance or constituent parts and that is contradictory to the idea of holism.” This view is plain wrong.”

            I disagree. My view of “ultimate holism” which I described as the properties of “one-ness” and “non-separability” go against the idea of separability (i.e. reducing things into parts, i.e. reductionism). Pretty simple logic here. Can something be fundamentally separable and fundamentally non-separable at the same time? If so, then give me an example. I’m anxious to know one, because I think that those concepts contradict each other — they are opposites. Only one is true, and my OPINION is that the “non-separability” is the property that is fundamentally true (based on quantum physical findings). Just my opinion.

            “but then there wouldn’t be you and me anyway, if a holistic universe was uniform. A uniform holistic universe is closer in principle to the anticipated heat death of the universe.”

            Correct. I believe that there ultimately is no “you” or “me”. We are both joined as one with an illusion of being separate (my opinion). This is an idea that goes beyond science which is why you are having trouble with it. It is just my opinion.
            Uniformity is based on human metrics as we have to define uniform by measuring the distribution of separate things (those separate things are an illusion in my opinion). Your idea of a uniform universe being closer to a heat death is because of how you’re measuring uniformity (a state of maximum entropy). That is an arbitrary metric that the scientific community has come up with which you are using here.

            “Your portrayal of science, as being so committed to reductionism it has hit a brick wall is plain wrong.”

            I believe it has been extremely committed to reductionism as science has demonstrated that the best way to find out how something works is to “take it apart”, “examine the parts”, “find out what it is composed of”, “break it down into fundamental parts”. This is my opinion. I don’t think there’s any way of easily quantifying the amount of work in science that has been composed of reductionist methods and otherwise. I believe this primary usage has caused us to hit a type of “brick wall”. It doesn’t mean that there’s no new door that will open up as a result. Quite the contrary, I believe it will force us to open up new doors, re-examine what reductionism means in terms of the “knowledge” we think we gained from it, and find non-reductionist means to proceed (whatever those may be, who knows?).

            ” “were all set out to fundamentalize the parts of the universe and predict things with 100% certainty” That seems like an empirical statement about how we all behave.”

            OK…so you don’t think that scientists are set out to predict things with 100% certainty? If not, then what percentage of certainty in their predictions are they set out to attain? I think it’s 100% (even if they don’t think they can realistically get there, it’s what they set out to do). They try to get as much as they can with the ultimate HOPE that it can be 100%. No scientist (that I know of ) is hoping for (set out to) achieve less than that.
            As for fundamental parts? Which fundamental discoveries have led to an increasing attainment of certainty in terms of prediction? Discovery of bacteria? Molecules? Atoms? Protons, Neutrons, and electrons? Quarks and gluons? Everyone of these things are just smaller and smaller fundamental “parts” which I believe science has set out to “find” to achieve a greater level of certainty in their predictions (this certainty is one of the main metrics used to determine that we have a better understanding of how the universe works). I don’t think that this is the specific goal of every scientist (some just want to learn something new or get their hands dirty in a topic they enjoy and have no specific goal of certainty). I think science as a whole, however, is being used primarily to achieve this goal (even if other goals are met along the way). Just my opinion based on what I see around me.

            ” “There are no real constituents (only the illusion of such), which means reductionism is null and void in a holistic universe.” This looks like a pretty clear claim. No suggestion of ‘in my view’ or ‘as I see it personally’ – though you do concede it’s just your view later.”

            I thought this was incredibly OBVIOUS that it was my opinion as it isn’t falsifiable. Do you think that there is even an inkling of evidence in the scientific community that says that reductionism is “null and void”? I don’t. That’s why I brought up the topic, because I think that this position will be radically re-considered in the near future (in my opinion). And I never said that such evidence exists to prove it a “fact”. Sorry if you confused that statement with me spouting out a “fact” (a falsifiable statement that has been “proven” to be correct).

            ” “but in the end, it is the holism that trumps reductionism in the ultimate workings of the universe (according to the current view in quantum physics)” ”

            Yes, and I do believe that my view of holism, which I defined as the “non-separability” is currently a factual interpretation of quantum results. Quantum results show that particles exist “everywhere at once” (one-ness), and appear to be in a discrete location only after being observed (by an observer that is never separated from the observed) a “wave function collapse” in that particular location and with a particular momentum based on probabilities. As well, the fact that it appears that this non-separability exists at the fundamental scale we’ve encountered (quantum scale), if it can’t be separated, is then outside the scope of reductionism. This is why I said that holism (non-separability) “trumps reductionism in the ultimate workings of the universe” (that is what we consider to be the “fundamental level” we’ve encountered). It does not mean that reductionism doesn’t have a use (at higher levels of how the universe “appears to work”). It just means that ultimately (fundamentally), it can’t be infinitely reduced. The reductionism hits a wall (hence “non-reductionism” of some form dominates at this ultimate level — I call this the “ultimate holism”) when particles can no longer be broken down for further explanation.

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          • I’ll add that another opinion is my stance on science’s use of reductionism (that use of reductionism is a fact) in terms of how it affects the way we see things and thus how we approach future research. I think we need to re-evaluate the significance or meaning of reductionism, if or how we’ll continue to apply it in the future — and in general, how we view and implement science after potentially realizing the dissolving of object and observer in the most strict sense of those terms (separate and “objective” things). I don’t expect the scientific community to be the first to make suggestions as to what to do. I think these thoughts will first come from other sources not taken seriously by the scientific community. Who knows what will come next?

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          • I think we need to re-evaluate the significance or meaning of reductionism, if or how we’ll continue to apply it in the future — and in general, how we view and implement science after potentially realizing the dissolving of object and observer in the most strict sense of those terms (separate and “objective” things).

            I’m not sure who is the “we” being referred to here. Scientists are mostly pragmatists. If they find how to solve their problems, based on what is already known, they will do that. And the philosophers will probably call that reductionism. If they have to come up with new ways of doing things to solve their problems, then that is what they will try to do. It is anybody’s guess as to whether that will be described as reductionism.

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          • That is true that we won’t know what people describe as reductionism (it’s anybody’s guess). The “we” is, in general, the human race. Not necessarily scientists.

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