Category Archives: Science

On Consciousness, part 1: An evolutionary basis

What is consciousness? That is a question that has stymied humanity for probably as long as we have been conscious, whatever that is. And with theories ranging from the purely mechanistic to the deeply spiritual and everywhere in between, it doesn’t seem that we will be converging on a definitive answer any time soon. For my own interests, however, the question is not so much the how, but the why. I am not so much interested in how we are conscious, but why we became conscious and, building on that, where consciousness will be taking us in the future.

In discussing why we became conscious, a good starting point is to examine the evolutionary basis for consciousness. There is still a quite robust debate as to whether consciousness is, in itself, a selectable trait or merely a consequence of something else, but let’s assume for the sake of this discussion that there is an evolutionary advantage for consciousness; that being conscious gives us a competitive edge. If so, then why might that be? Continue reading

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Filed under Philosophy, Science

Quell the Eugenic Man

From the theories proposed by Sir Francis Galton at the turn of the twentieth century, to the warnings illustrated by the movie Gattica at the turn of the twenty-first, the concept that mankind can somehow deterministically improve its genetic lot has been an undercurrent of political thought for a very long time. Yet, one has to wonder about this fascination. Certainly, we are the only species on this planet for which this is an innate concern, though undoubtedly this is linked, in no small part, to our ability to conceptualize sorrow with our current form and, thus, contrive some ideal to improve upon it. No other animal, after all, has ever gazed upon its reflection in a pool of water and been so enamored with perfection as our own. However, just because we can conceptualize an idea does not mean we have the intellectual capacity to properly act upon it.
more grunting>>>

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Filed under Philosophy, Science, Transhumanism

The science of skepticism

Fellow blogger Rachel over at quakerattled has an interesting post on the topic of skepticism, specifically with regards to the denial of climate change. I would like to take this as an opportunity to add my two cents to the topic.
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Filed under Climate Change, Philosophy, Science

Brother Bill had a razor

For those who don’t know, “Occam’s razor” is a theory of problem solving attributed to a Franciscan friar by the name of William of Ockham, who lived about 800 years ago. It is usually interpreted, in layman’s terms, as “all things being equal, the simplest explanation is usually the best.” However, while many people believe this is a broadly accurate philosophy, the reality is that it may be less generalizable than commonly accepted.
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Filed under Philosophy, Science

THE TRUTH will not set you free…

…but the pursuing the truth just might.

There are at least two fundamental, philosophical differences between science and theology that will prevent them from ever peacefully coexisting. The first has to do with the underlying processes that drive them, and the second has to do with the central purposes of their existence.
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Filed under Philosophy, Religion, Science

You know you have a problem when the pusher begs you to stop

So, at least one prominent (enough for a NYT opinion piece) Canadian is begging the U. S.  to stop cooking the planet, even though it could have significant short-term effects on the Canadian economy.  This is good, since we have more than five times the CO2 locked in the coal, gas, and oil reserves we’ve already discovered than is sufficient to destroy civilization as we know it.
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Filed under Climate Change, Science

Theology is not religion…

…nor is metaphysics philosophy

I believe the Three Initiates where utterly profound when, in the Kybalion, they categorized religion as merely a recognition of “The All, and one’s relationship to it,” vs. theology as “the attempts of men to ascribe personality, qualities, and characteristics” to the unknowable – specifically, the attempts of some to intercede themselves as the “middle-men.”
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Filed under Parables, Philosophy, Religion, Science