• gurugeorge
    165
    Then what is making the decisions? The bot? How did that happen?Rich

    How does a computer or a robot "decide" which move to make next in a game of chess? It's clear that computers can be programmed to make decisions in a very real sense (i.e. they have to scan their environment, and come up with some options in relation to their goals).

    Now of course we program the computer or the robot with its goals, and we are not ourselves programmed by anything external to us in that way. But the general idea is that similarly sophisticated - in fact much more sophisticated - decision-making machinery has gradually evolved over very long periods of time (via differential selection and reproduction) in living creatures, only it's not made of silicon but of neurons, fat, hormones, etc. Hence, "moist robot."

    It's not necessary, for this explanation to be valid, to have to explain the origin of life, or the universe. Also, there's no contradiction between the theory of evolution, or a mechanistic explanation of brain functions, and religion, if that's what you're worried about: the classical arguments for God's existence (Aristotelian/Thomist) are arguments for God as the sustainer of existence here and now, so therefore He would be the sustainer in the here and now of the existence of the mechanistic systems in brains, etc. too. Using evolutionary systems and mechanical principles would be just the way God rolls, so to speak. Whether the universe had an origin in time or didn't, also makes no difference to the arguments that demonstrate the necessary existence of God, or of any Absolute or creative principle (e.g. Logos).

    As I said, the key difficulty is simply about the subjective aspect of consciousness - the objective view is unproblematic, either for science or for religion.
  • Rich
    3.1k
    How does a computer or a robot "decide" which move to make next in a game of chess?gurugeorge

    So we are c programmed electronics. Do you observe electronics in humans?
    It's clear that computers can be programmed to make decisions in a very real sensegurugeorge

    Yes, they can be programmed. They don't make decisions. The humans make all the decisions and then symbolically program the computers. Who or what is programming humans? Gos is an obvious candidate. Where it's that programmed stored? Have you observed it? Has anyone observed this program? If so where?

    decision-making machinery has gradually evolved over very long periods of time (via differential selection and reproduction) in living creatures, only it's not made of silicon but of neurons, fat, hormones, etc. Hence, "moist robot."gurugeorge

    So it just happened over a long period of time? Any theory other than this?

    As I said, the key difficulty is simply about the subjective aspect of consciousness - the objective view is unproblematic, either for science or for religion.gurugeorge

    Exactly, the only problem it's how life as we experienced it developed. How we make robots is not a problem. The reason that it is not a problem for religion is that God takes care of all of the questions and He took only 8 days. Science on the other hand relies on "it just happened (the technical word is evolved) over a long period of time". So, the only difference is that science says that the Miracle took a little longer? And based upon this mundane tale, I'm supposed to believe I'm a Moist Robot? A comic book character? Couldn't I be Superman?
  • gurugeorge
    165
    Who or what is programming humans?Rich

    I'm beginning to think you're either dishonest or you're not reading very carefully and just being triggered by odd words here and there. I said in the very post you are quoting:-"we are not ourselves programmed by anything external to us in that way" and then I go on to explain how we come to behave in a way that's similar to thing that are programmed.

    So it just happened over a long period of time? Any theory other than this?Rich

    Do you not understand the theory of evolution? Roughly speaking:

    1) DNA is like a blueprint for the self-assembly of a body/brain structures out of nutrients, an organism. That includes whatever "control center" organisms may have for parsing the environment and making decisions as to what to do next. Various parts of the DNA code for different "building blocks" of the organism, various components, etc.

    2) Any given body/brain structure will "fit" its environment (be able to cope with its environment in various ways) better or worse than some other (e.g. one structure might have slightly faster reflexes, at a certain extra energy cost; faster reflexes will help it avoid predators, at a certain extra energy cost; it's up to the environment whether the faster reflexes are worth the extra cost - both the feature and its cost are relevant and both will bump up against the environment).

    3) Body/brain structures that survive long enough to reproduce and pass on to their offspring their DNA, will ipso facto pass on the building blocks and components, the "neat tricks," that helped them (the parents) fit their environment; those that don't, won't.

    4) All the various components were the result of random mutations in origin, but so long as they help the organisms survive and reproduce, they keep getting passed down to the next generation, while at the same time if they don't help the organism survive and reproduce, they aren't passed on; eventually, over a long period of time, you have an accumulation of "good tricks" that work well together; well-knit bodies, fast reactions, decision-making control centers (brains) that make good decisions, etc.

    5) IOW, the "best bits" stick together and make survival and reproduction more likely, the more likely reproduction is, the more likely a given particular "build" for a given bit of organism will be passed down through the generations and be inherited by future generations.

    Essentially, there's a random element that throws things against the wall, those elements that stick and work well together get passed down the generations and accumulate, resulting eventually in highly tuned organisms that fit their environment very well.

    Exactly, the only problem it's how life as we experienced it developed.Rich

    No, life is not a problem, we understand roughly how life developed, or at the very least we have placeholder explanations, and proofs of concept. The archaeological record is not perfect (for obvious reasons) but it's good enough to prove the theory, we can watch evolution happen in real time with creatures that have fast reproduction cycles (like fruit flies, etc.), and the biology and chemistry are understood well enough so that we can actually tinker with DNA at a micro level. The initial step from inorganic chemistry to organic is still somewhat mysterious, but that's just because we don't have access to the same timescales as nature did. I suspect that part of the puzzle will only be solved definitively if and when we come across a planet somewhere out there where we can catch that intermediary step in the act. But every other step on either side of that gap, we know very well.

    The problem is and remains the subjective aspect of consciousness, not life as such.

    Re. the question of the Bible, etc., there is no contradiction between science and religion unless one takes the Bible (or any other holy text) absolutely literally. I don't see any reason to. I'm not hostile to religion or to Christianity, but while I can understand the Bible as a revealed text filtered through human error, I can't take it seriously as a document every word of which is true, it just doesn't make sense to me that way.

    (I'm aware that I've said we should stop several times now, but each time you've said something that makes me think maybe we can continue, but if you do take the Bible absolutely literally then I think we really will have to knock it on the head.)
  • Rich
    3.1k
    Do you not understand the theory of evolution? Roughly speaking:gurugeorge

    Sure I do. You think that writing paragraphs upon paragraphs about stuff hides the fact that there is still no theory of how Mind/Consciousness arises? You think replacing Mind with a Little Stick Man and calling it a Moist Robot solves the problem?

    Don't give me terms. Tell me the theory of how a Mind that eats Big Macs and enjoys it arises. And I don't care if it took 7 days or 7 billion years.

    Life is consciousness. That which does not have life is called a Robot. All Dennett does is stick Moist in front of Robot and he magically creates Consciousness/Mind. That you cannot understand this, is not my problem. Dennett depends upon a gullible readership to buy into the Miracle without asking HOW? When was the magical moment when that Bot became alive and why do we have an infinite magical moments after that. And why do bots like talking to each other about football?
  • gurugeorge
    165
    Sure I do.Rich

    No, you don't, and the way you're talking here demonstrates that you obviously don't, otherwise you would understand that the questions you're still asking are already answered by the theory. That's not to say you can't disagree with the theory, but you'd have to actually engage with it, instead of continuing to repeat questions that the theory has already proposed answers to.
  • Rich
    3.1k
    Every single "story" that denies conscious either hides it somewhere, renames it, or ignores it. Why? Because that is the intent. To eliminate consciousness, to eliminate differences between humanity and matter, to dehumanize. This is nothing new. The exact same tactic had been used many times in history to dehumanize races and ethnic groups.

    If you want to be a Moist Robot, be one.
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