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North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › I'm not selling anything

I'm not selling anything

A former member
Post #: 1
Hi all,

I am a huge fan of Ayn Rand. I recently put together a website with some of my ideas on life. The process was fun and I am learning a lot. I respect other objectivists and if you want to stop by and check it out, feel free to do so. It's nothing special but I found it a gratifying process to put down my strong convictions about life. I share this because I value the feedback from others and I expect to learn something when people I respect offer differing viewpoints.

http://www.rudyaarond...­

Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 937
Hello Rudy,

I appreciate your introductory statement and respect for Ayn Rand.

I briefly looked at your website, including the page about intelligent design. I was just wondering: Is it really that a bacteria has "a desire or will to survive"? Does the fact that certain chemicals react with each other imply that chemicals have a desire or will to react?

Also, if the complexity of life implies an intelligent designer, would not an intelligent designer imply a super-intelligent designer for the intelligent designer that is even more complex than the intelligent designer, and so on?

It would be interesting to discuss these ideas with you.
A former member
Post #: 2
Thank you for checking my site out. I realize Intelligent Design is not very popular with academia or most intellectual communities. Nonetheless I find the topic incredibly intriguing. I also recognize this topic is so closely interwoven with privately held religious convictions that I find it a difficult and potentially controversial topic to discuss with others. The topic does from time to time require that we discuss possibilities beyond what is in the observable universe and it can get “out there” and some would refer to as kooky. It is not my intention to offend anyone’s belief system. I also consider myself a bit selfish because I like to talk about this topic and I know others may not share my kookiness for such a topic.

Regarding the issue of “a desire or will to survive”, the best write-up on this very issue that I have ever seen is located at the following blog by Matt Chait.

http://beyondevolutio...­

I think we all would agree chemical reactions do not have a “will or desire” because they are repeatable and predictable and typically involve inert materials. If you know the information beforehand in any chemical reaction, you should be able predict the results in a repeatable fashion. You bring up a great point regarding the simpler life forms, such as bacterium. I do not know if a bacterium has a “will or desire” to do anything such as to survive, but it is hard to imagine that bacterium would desire anything at all, but I can’t say with certainty that bacterium doesn't desire anything. If we move just a few steps up the complexity ladder, I would say that an ant probably does have a “will to survive”. Ants seek out food for their survival. How could they do this without some form of “will to survive”? For arguments sake, let’s jump all the way to humans. I think it is self-evident that humans do indeed have a “will or desire” to do many things other than just to survive. As a silly example, during my writing of this sentence, I could jump up run out the door and do 10 jumping jacks in the middle of the street, and come back and finish this sentence. That silly action would certainly not be predictable like the chemical reactions and it does reflect that humans have a free “will or desire” to do many things that are not entirely predictable. We may ask; what is the point of making a distinction between repeatable and predictable behavior of inert matter compared with entities that have free “will and desires” and are not 100% predictable in their behavior?

I think we have all heard the physics law that says “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Some people may believe this also applies to living things such as humans and that the fate of each individual is pre-destined. Some may say that each individual life is simply a result of his genetic makeup and the environmental factors that have occurred during his life. I do not believe this. I believe that humans have free will and our lives are not pre-destined. Our consciousness is distinctly different from inert matter in that we have "will and desire" and we can exercise our desires using our human body as a vessel. We can learn, love, grow, and experience life in ways that is incredibly distinct from inert materials. I believe that the human body is just a vessel for our inner self or soul or consciousness. I believe that our inner-self is separate from the human body vessel and I am willing to make the jump that there are different planes of existence and our inner-self is using our human body to experience this plane of existence we call the observable universe.

I quote from Matt Chait:
“The you that wants to survive, the you that wants anything, the you that is the seat of all your desires, the you that is not your thoughts, but the thinker of your thoughts, not your sights, but the seer of your sights, not your memories but the rememberer of your memories, that you is consciousness, and consciousness is not part of the physical universe. “


Also you bring up another great point about an intelligent designer requiring another super intelligent designer and so-on. I might get a little “kooky” here, so please bear with me. If two people were to get into a discussion about what “might” exist outside the observable universe, it could be stated that neither person could ever make any logical advances because it would just be wild assumptions that could never be proven since no one can observe beyond what is observable. I could offer the idea that our “souls or consciousness” existed before we were born, and we agreed to “forget” all our previous experiences to take a ride on this planet we call Earth to test ourselves and gather the experiences of being individual humans and then to return back to wherever we were and contemplate what we had learned on this ride called Earth. Another person might say the observable universe is inside a snow globe on the fireplace mantle of the Jolly Green Giant. Since we are talking about things outside the observable universe, I find it difficult if not impossible for one person’s theory to make a logical advance over the other. Michael Behe gives some (awesome) thought experiments about what an infinite Universe situation might look like in his book “The Edge of Evolution”.

Having stated this, I think we all agree we can put forth logical ideas about what we can see and observe. Atheists and evolutionists might take the position that their view of human existence has a huge logical advantage because it does not require any belief in anything outside the observable universe. In an atheists / evolutionists view, the origin of life and the existence of man and the fact that the universe is so finely tuned for life can all be accounted for by fortunate circumstances of chance driven by natural selection and no outside entity is required. I would go as far to say that the main reason evolutionists hold strongly to their views is that there is no requirement for any outside entity to do anything to bring about the existence of everything as we know it.

So I think it may come down to weighing your beliefs on the following two scenarios:

Scenario 1) By pure chance, the right inert materials came together and add a few billion years or so with the force of natural selection and random mutation, we eventually have the very first instance of matter “wanting, willing, and desiring” to do something. We are to believe that throughout all prior history that matter was just bouncing around, acting very predictable just like chemical reactions, and then at some point in this random bouncing around we luckily create the very first instance of matter actually “desiring” to DO something. Imagine up until this single moment in time, all matter on Earth never had any purpose at all, and now we have by chance emboldened inert material with the actual “desire” to DO something. This represents an incredible amount of faith that pure chance could accomplish this feat.

(continued in another post)
A former member
Post #: 3
Scenario 2) It is true that Intelligent Design requires having belief in an intelligence that exists outside of the observable universe. This belief is not founded on blind faith. It is founded on the evidence of what would statistically be required for life to occur just by chance compared with the known age of Earth and the unlikelihood that Darwinian evolution could have accomplished all that we see around us in the 4.5 billion years the planet has existed, especially when evaluating life forms that are considered "Irreducibly Complex." Intelligent Deisgn says that a tornado could not have blown through a junk yard to assemble a fully working 747 jumbo jet airplane.


If one comes to accept that there is “something” beyond this observable universe, our logical thinking that we have developed as humans in this universe no longer can be applied. The counterpoint that one intelligent designer, needs another more intelligent designer, and so on, is not a conflict to me. Said another way, It is not surprising to me that once we acknowledge that something does exist outside our observable universe that it would not nicely fit into my existing logical methods of thinking. Said yet another way, the fact that I can not readily explain how an intelligent designer came to exist in the first place does not prohibit me from looking at the universe and all life around us and claim that one must indeed exist. In my opinion, the belief that chance created everything we see around us and our desires, will, consciousness requires much more blind faith than simply believing there is something beyond the observable universe.

In any event, I acknowledge that I might be a bit kooky in this regard. It's a fun topic and one that can be approached from so many different angles.
A former member
Post #: 24
Scenario 2) It is true that Intelligent Design requires having belief in an intelligence that exists outside of the observable universe. This belief is not founded on blind faith. It is founded on the evidence of what would statistically be required for life to occur just by chance compared with the known age of Earth and the unlikelihood that Darwinian evolution could have accomplished all that we see around us in the 4.5 billion years the planet has existed, especially when evaluating life forms that are considered "Irreducibly Complex." Intelligent Deisgn says that a tornado could not have blown through a junk yard to assemble a fully working 747 jumbo jet airplane.

You know, I've heard that argument before. And I just don't buy into it. Firstly, I think it's a bit arbitrary as to assigning the logical probability of "the tornado in the junkyard." So, I'll just be equally as arbitrary. Let's assume that your statistical probability is true for the earth. (Big assumption.) Now, lets consider the entire universe which has been here for an infinite amount of time (i.e. forever.) The possibility that some form of intelligent life got created among the huge number of particles over an infinite amount of time is the probability that a gust of wind deposited my neighbor's leaves on my lawn after I raked it.

[Caveat: Its probably not fair that I reduced a multi page post down to a paragraph and answered it tongue in cheek, but my past experience with logical discussions over religious beliefs has not been positive. In fact, I usually just walk away from them with a short "I disagree."]
Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 939
Hello Rudy,

I think we all would agree chemical reactions do not have a “will or desire” because they are repeatable and predictable and typically involve inert materials.
Agreed.
For arguments sake, let’s jump all the way to humans. I think it is self-evident that humans do indeed have a “will or desire” to do many things other than just to survive.
Agreed.
I am willing to make the jump that there are different planes of existence and our inner-self is using our human body to experience this plane of existence we call the observable universe.
Throughout your writing, you are using the term “the observable universe” in contrast to at least one “non-observable universe,” i.e., "different planes of existence." Would you please explain what you mean?

It’s a fun topic and one that can be approached from so many different angles.
I trust you mean different observable angles? wink
A former member
Post #: 4
Hi OldToad,

Sincerely, thank you again for the replies. I must state again that it is not my intention to convert anyone to anything. To be blunt, I do not care whether someone shares my views on this topic and I feel fortunate that we all currently live in a society that lets us have our own views. I would only add that when a particular view (i.e. Atheism/Evolution) becomes so dominant in the education system and alternative views are stifled, I consider this an area of concern. This is not a priority concern of mine. I think there is much more pressing evils in society regarding the encroachment of collectivist values on the rights of the individual that we are seeing all around us in society today.

What I do value is your critiques that challenge my views and make me think deeper about the origin of man. I especially liked your critique about "would not an intelligent designer imply a super-intelligent designer.... and so on". This did make me pause and think through this to come to a satisfactory resolution in my own mind.

Regarding my statement “I am willing to make the jump that there are different planes of existence and our inner-self is using our human body to experience this plane of existence we call the observable universe.” The “different planes of existence” I was referring to is man’s “soul” which is not part of the observable universe and therefore must exist in something beyond the observable universe. For those who scoff at the existence of man’s soul as something beyond the observable universe, I can understand and respect your attitude but I do not share it.

Some may believe the following: “We are simply material beings, and then when our bodies die, we die, because we are our bodies, nothing more, nothing less. There is no difference between the mind and the brain. Chemical reactions governed by physical processes are all that really goes on inside your head. What we mistakenly understand to be the mind or the soul is simply the brain. Consciousness is a mere property of the brain. It is produced by the brain and is dependent on the brain. The physical world is all there is.” I do not share this view, so I am willing to “make the jump” to believe in other planes of existence. There are many detailed arguments for and against man’s soul to be found on the internet and literature. These arguments tend to be rather long and I don’t think it appropriate to expound on them here.

Having stated all the above, just because I profess to believe in something that exists outside the observable universe does not mean that I do not adhere and respect reason and knowledge for understanding the observable universe. After all, I am a huge admirer of Ayn Rand and I have great respect for using reason and believe the individual has right and a duty to make up one’s own mind. I think it was Albert Einstein who said “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

In any event, on a completely different topic, did you happen to see the recent WSJ article regarding Atlas Shrugged? It is located at:

http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB123146363567166677-lMyQjAxMDI5MzExMjQxNjIzWj.html­











A former member
Post #: 25
I would only add that when a particular view (i.e. Atheism/Evolution) becomes so dominant in the education system and alternative views are stifled, I consider this an area of concern.

I think you may be incorrect to directly link atheism to evolution. The pope endorses evolution and he is, by no definition, atheist. I do think that science should be atheist (even if the scientist is theist). What I mean by that is that the method itself should not be attached to religion -- any more than it should be attached to politics.

The main reason most folks are opposed to having alternative views taught are that there really are not any viable alternative views. (Yes, I am familiar with Behe. No, I don't find it viable.)

I also don't really think ID is good science.

Science is a methodology that starts with an idea and looks for an explanation. There is no failure ever. When you test something and it fails, it still moves you forward. While you may have a preconceived idea of your conclusion, when you reach it and find it to be untrue, you still succeed. True scientific alternatives are interesting and get people excited. I would hazard to guess that 99% of all scientists would actually be thrilled if a new, viable theory erupted on the origins of the species. The problem here is that every year more and more discoveries are found that support evolutionary theory. The more this happens, the more difficult it will be to present a viable theory -- even if one were found.

ID starts with a conclusion and works backwards, ignoring conflicting evidence. Alternatives are false, period and are merely a thing to be attacked later. What ends up happening is the ID "scientists" end up just being modern day apologists.

One thing I don't understand (and maybe you can explain to me): I understand why ID is disliked by "evolutionists". What I don't understand is why evolution is disliked by "IDers". It seems to me if you buy into ID, it is just as likely that the tiny bits of "irreducible complexities" could have been designed... and those things then evolved.

...I am willing to “make the jump” to believe in other planes of existence. There are many detailed arguments for and against man’s soul to be found on the internet and literature. These arguments tend to be rather long and I don’t think it appropriate to expound on them here.

Just curious... (and this is a serious question): Why do you make the jump. I'm not asking for a detailed explanation, just a quick response in "truck driver English." Is it just a gut feeling or is there more to it?
Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 939
Hello Rudy,

Sincerely, thank you again for the replies. I must state again that it is not my intention to convert anyone to anything.
Again, I appreciate this comment. Our interest here is in Objectivism, of course, so I do ask that all participants respect our interest and not try to “sell” other ideas here. So far, however, I think you are merely seeking discussion of ideas, which we do welcome if anyone else cares to discuss them.

What I do value is your critiques that challenge my views and make me think deeper about the origin of man. I especially liked your critique about "would not an intelligent designer imply a super-intelligent designer.... and so on". This did make me pause and think through this to come to a satisfactory resolution in my own mind.
What was your resolution?
A former member
Post #: 5
Hello Mark,

I agree with your point that atheism and evolution do not necessarily have to be linked. Also, your point is well taken regarding the statement of the pope and his endorsement of evolution. I could delve into my personal disdain for organized religion and the hypocrisy that I see in organized religion but that would not offer anything to our conversation at hand. Suffice it to say that the pope’s words do not influence my personal views. I acknowledge that your use of the pope’s endorsement was used very properly to drive home the point that evolution and atheism are not always linked.

On the other hand, I would offer that one of the most popular proponents of evolution, Richard Dawkin’s, strongly links atheism to evolution. He proudly states before adoring college fans that he would like to stamp out all religion. He paints religious people with a broad brush implying that they suffer from some sort of mental disorder and there is no God. I do agree with Matt Chait when he writes “The writings of Richard Dawkins have been toxic to the spiritual beliefs of many people.” If others share the views of Richard Dawkins, then I hope we can politely agree to disagree. I am not a defender of organized religion, but I do put myself in the category of people who have a sincere belief in God.

I also respectfully agree to disagree on the statement that “ID starts with a conclusion and works backwards, ignoring conflicting evidence.” You might find it surprising that I do indeed believe in all three legs of evolution (common descent, natural selection and random mutation). While my personal belief of common descent has a twist, I do believe that all three of these phenomena do indeed occur. I suspect that where an evolutionists and I disagree is the willingness to accept that evolution can entirely account for the ORIGIN of all living species on Earth, while I do not. I do buy into the argument presented in the book “The Edge of Evolution.” If one does not buy into this argument, then of course I respect their right to disagree. I would only offer that the Richard Dawkin’s of the world do not return this same respect and that is the reason for my previous comment regarding alternative views being stifled. Again, I think there is much more pressing evils in our society than getting alternate views to evolution in our schools. Personally, I get much more passionate say about the second amendment and the citizen's right to bear arms.

In regards to why I personally “make the jump”, I’ll be as brief as I can. Science understands the effects of gravity very well. Mathematical formulas can be written to predict the behavior of gravity to a very fine degree. At this time, science cannot explain WHY atoms attract to one another. We clearly see the effects of the force of gravity but we cannot point to gravity or understand WHY it does what it does. I make this point because it is not uncommon to deduce that something exists by only seeing the effects but not the actual force. I believe that I am seeing the forces of an intelligent design in many different areas below, but the fact that I cannot point to the actual intelligent designer does not stop me from believing one exists.

To summarize on why I personally believe in an intelligent designer:

1) Existence Free Will and the belief that no amount of evolution can produce this
2) The accounts of common Near Death Experiences
3) The experience of Ourselves, our Consciousness
4) Belief that the complexity of microbiology screams intelligent design; “Irreducibly Complex”
5) The Universe is finely tuned for life, rejection of the Anthropic Principle
6) The argument put forth in the book “The Edge of Evolution”, especially how it discusses the limits of what we should expect evolution to accomplish on its own
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