Sunday, September 20, 2015

Materialist Miracles Are Happening Everyday According To The Materialist Opponents of Miracles

I pretty much took yesterday off, I'm finding that working two jobs at my age is a lot harder than doing it when I was in my fifties.   This morning I went back to read through the comments on Friday's post and am struck at how the response to my challenge of the materialist model of the human mind consists, entirely, of issuing claims that, somehow, DNA explains it all, though even if that magical molecule, DNA, were involved in the mechanism of making physical idea-structures in the brain, the material "things" that the materialist "brain-only" dogma holds gives rise to the phantom which they regard consciousness as being, the problems I raised are still there.  Any proposed mechanism to explain how any brain could possibly do what is proposed before the idea was present in that brain would face those same problems.

It all made me think of the famous cartoon:

which I've seen presented as a mockery of religion but which is, really, how the entire insertion of materialism into science works.   To answer those questions with "DNA" or, as I expected "random access memory" does nothing to explain how that mechanism could make actual physical objects that embody "ideas", which would have to have a very specific material structure to "be" any specific idea and each and every variation on that idea that existed in the "brain-only" brain would have to have its own, specific physical structure in order for it to enter into the mind which we experience.  To just say "DNA" or "RAM" or whatever material structure or process doesn't get over the problem of how the brain would know how to make what it would have to make.  

And that's only the first step in the problem because, once made, that idea-structure would be all that the brain-only brain would have of that idea to go on.  How would it know if it had made the right structure?  For example.

The extent to which the invasion of materialist ideology on science consists of these promissory notes is interesting.  The "missing heritability problem" the rather embarrassing fact that the identification of genes has been found to be remarkably spotty in explaining the inheritance of traits, diseases, etc arose rather quickly in the wake of the grand announcement of the publication of the human genome. Given the hype that surrounded the Human Genome Project, its accomplishment being done through a grand announcement with president and prime minister present, could be taken as a rather big scandal in science as a product.  Though it's not talked about very often.   What looks to me to have the potential to be the classic example is the height of children as compared to that of their parents.  I'll be provocative enough to quote the biologist Rupert Sheldrakes' description of it.

In the wake of the Human Genome Project, the mood changed dramatically.  The optimism that life would be understood if molecular biologists knew the "programs" of an organism gave way to the realization that there is a huge gap between gene sequences and the actual human beings.  In practice, the predictive value of human genomes tended to be small, in some cases less than that achieved with a measuring tape.  Tall parents tend to have tall children and short parents short children.  By measuring the height of parents, their children's heights can be predicted by 80 to 90 percent accuracy.  In other words, height is 80 to 90 percent heritable.  Recent "genome-wide association studies" compared the genomes of 30,000 people and identified about fifty genes associated with tallness or shortness.  To everyone's surprised, taken together, these genes accounted for only about 5 percent of the inheritance of height.   In other words, the "height" genes did not account for 75 to 85 percent of the heritability of height.  Most of the heritability was missing.  Many other examples of missing heritability are now known, including the heritability of many diseases, making "personal genomics" of very questionable value.  Since 2008, in scientific literature this problem has been called the "missing heritability problem". 

Rupert Sheldrake: Science Set Free, p. 168-169

A study published in 20013 claimed to have "cracked the missing heritability problem"  but for a definitive "cracking" of the problem, the language being used to describe their experiment done on yeast cell lines is rather deceptively tentative.

A new study by Princeton University researchers, however, suggests that missing heritability may not be missing after all — at least not in yeast cells, which the researchers used as a model for studying the problem. Published in the journal Nature, the results suggest that heritability in humans may be hidden due only to the limitations of modern research tools, but could be discovered if scientists know where (and how) to look.

In other words, they haven't found the definitive and complete explanation of "inherited traits" just because they lack the tools and methods to find them.   That's always the claim of promissory notes of materialism, that, just give us the right lever and we can move the world, which is an easy claim to make when the lever exists as a promised potential and there is no way to test it.   

As much of the study in Nature that I can read this morning says:

For many traits, including susceptibility to common diseases in humans, causal loci uncovered by genetic-mapping studies explain only a minority of the heritable contribution to trait variation. Multiple explanations for this ‘missing heritability’ have been proposed1. Here we use a large cross between two yeast strains to accurately estimate different sources of heritable variation for 46 quantitative traits, and to detect underlying loci with high statistical power. We find that the detected loci explain nearly the entire additive contribution to heritable variation for the traits studied. We also show that the contribution to heritability of gene–gene interactions varies among traits, from near zero to approximately 50 per cent. Detected two-locus interactions explain only a minority of this contribution. These results substantially advance our understanding of the missing heritability problem and have important implications for future studies of complex and quantitative traits.

"We also show that the contribution to heritability of gene–gene interactions varies among traits, from near zero to approximately 50 per cent. Detected two-locus interactions explain only a minority of this contribution," is rather a strange statement to make of the problem of missing heritability has been "cracked".   If the contribution to heritability is from near zero to 50 percent, I'd like to know what the average of of those studied is.   And those are only a small range of proposed traits* in a species which is rather remote from us in evolutionary history.  And which, so far as I can see, no one suspects of consciousness or having ideas, as of now.  Though I have every faith that the "brain-only" materialists would grasp this study to their bosom and declare that it had nailed the coffin of the immaterial mind shut, once and for all and that all kinds of ideas like free thought and free will have to go.   Being a liberal political blogger, that means that the entire program of liberal politics would, then, be total bunkum. 

In the article describing the "cracking" of the problem the evidence is that this is being sold as a promissory note of materialism. 

The study sheds light on the role of nature (genetic factors) versus nurture (environmental factors) in determining traits and disease risk, according to Bert Vogelstein, director of the Ludwig Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

"The nature versus nurture argument has been brewing for decades, both among scientists and the lay public, and 'missing heritability' has been problematic for the 'nature' component," said Vogelstein, who was not involved in the Princeton study.

"This beautiful study demonstrates that the genetic basis for heritability (nature) can be precisely defined if extensive, well-controlled experiments can be performed," Vogelstein said. "Though the results were obtained in a model organism, I would be surprised if they didn't apply, at least in part, to higher organisms, including humans."

"Though the results were obtained in a model organism, I would be surprised if they didn't apply, at least in part, to higher organisms, including humans."

As far as I can see, the revelation of the missing heritability problem was just that surprise expressed somewhat differently.  The surprise was due to previous faith in the explanatory power of DNA turning out to not be the simple, one shot thing that it was believed.  In the comments on my Friday post one of the materialists seemed to figure that epigenetics in the materialist bag of tricks was just what was needed to nail down the case of materialists.   Of course a materialist would be surprised if their ideology turned out to be wrong in any way, which is why they so strenuously come up with ways to prop up the models of such things as minds even though their ideology is, in every way, a total disaster for the entire range of human thought, including science, including logic, including their own materialist ideology. 

That is the  reason I've not just let my questions go, questions about how the brain would know what to make before it knew what it was making is that I really can't see any way for them to get by that, certainly not by any mechanism that would explain it in the real-time experience of getting new ideas and the modification and manipulation of those, applying those to new and imagined conditions at the speed of experience.  It's easy to come up with some alleged mechanism of how things are supposed to work if you remove the time factor in it, even some absurdly inadequate schemes can seem plausible if you ignore the time in which we experience learning new ideas or creating them.

No matter what proposed mechanism of the materialist mind is asserted it can't get past those questions that I raised.  And since there is one thing that anyone with the ability to read this will have, having new ideas, some of which are entirely novel, any proposed material mind will have to answer those questions or it can't possibly be true.   I think this issue is a definitive refutation of that model. I await a materialist who can come up with a coherent reason that isn't the case.  Just intoning "DNA" as if it were the magic in the middle of that equation in the cartoon doesn't do it. 

* I've got some real questions about whether or not identifying some quality in an organism of "a trait" is such a clear and unambiguous matter and how many of the "traits" talked about exists as an objective "thing".   I am skeptical that a lot of such identified "traits" are not actually a compound of many things.   But I don't have time to get into that this morning.  A trait would have to be a definite thing for it to be the result of a specific, physical cause.   There are some such traits like Huntington's disease, though its expression is certainly not one "thing".   And even in obvious physical traits there are a vast range of difference in expression.  Even identical twins are not identical.  Among other things there are aspects of indeterminacy in the expression of genes that have nothing to do with heredity.  The identification of "traits" is riddled with problematical features.  When those "traits" are not material but aspects of the mind I wouldn't buy much of any of it. 


  1. Lawyers seldom write best-selling books about law, unless they write thrillers in which law is, more or less, incidental.

    It occurs to me there's a reason for that, and it ain't because law doesn't make "discoveries," and science does. Lawyers are rigorously trained to be logical, at least within the logic of the law (which is not necessarily the logic of Godel or Aristotle). Their subject is only interesting as it becomes fictional (Perry Mason never prepares for a trial, he just walks into court. I've done trial prep; it's tedious work, rather like preparing for a year end exam. It ain't the stuff of movies.)

    Science is the same way; only interesting as it becomes fictional, becomes simplified. Popular scientists, be they Hawking or Krause, simplify science to make it understood by the masses and then, convinced they alone have a handle on "reality," proceed to make leaps of faith (hardly logic) that lawyers simply know are not supported by the evidence.

    Scientists are supposed to work from evidence, but it's so much easier to spin fantasies about grand theories which will (one day!) explain everything.

    Lawyers never spin such fantasies. Their work is grounded in the harsh conflicts of real people and real lives, and there is never a clear resolution, just a final verdict which is accepted because the rules say it must be. Everyone knows the rules are artificial, as is the system, but it has to be. Lawyers don't jump to conclusions, or they lose in court or over the negotiating table (see the lawyers for Kim Davis as prime examples).

    Are lawyers better than scientists, then? No, but they understand the hard work of reason better. They don't get to lay that aside to dazzle the public with what they wish to be true about "reality."

    It is more and more clear to me scientists have simply replaced priests as the arbiters of "ultimate reality." Well, the scientists who want to be famous have. Truthfully, they've stopped being scientists in order to do that. Lawyers can stop being lawyers and write legal thrillers, but everybody knows that's fiction (unless they still think the courtroom looks like the place where Perry Mason and Ben Matlock "practice," or where Tom Cruise and Al Pacino chew up the scenery).

    Nobody's figured out that most of what popular science dabbles in is as realistic as Perry Mason or Ben Matlock.

    1. I should clarify that I'm not setting up scientists v. lawyers, but it seems to me lawyers have more to do with everyday life (passing laws, interpreting laws, deciding which laws to enforce and in what way), and their profession demands a certain amount of rigor in reasoning (artificial as it is, since it really only applies to the field of law) that (combined with that artificiality, which must be acknowledged), keeps them from making grand pronouncements or representations about what the law and teach us, or what secrets it can reveal (some secrets of the human heart are revealed in law, but that's another matter).

      Scientists, on the other hand, leave the ivory tower of science at their peril, yet are heralded as prophets and seers and wise men (persons). Shakespeare's demand that we first kill all the lawyers is a cry by a character for anarchy. if we rebuked the scientists the way Thomas Paine the neo-Puritan (there's little in his Deism that isn't extreme Puritanism) rebukes clergy, we might begin to see more clearly the limits of their knowledge, and appreciate the value of other ways of thinking.

      Well, one can dream......