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Jon Cleland Host

Duane wrote:  

Prof. Murakami also wrote that “The probability of living cell having come into existence by chance is so slender as to constitute a miracle: the odds would be something on the order of winning a million dollars in a lottery a million times in a row.” 

  Duane, first, could you please provide the source for that (full context), so we can see that it isn’t a quote mine?  Second, on face value, it seems simply wrong.  That’s because no one is suggesting that the first cells formed by pure chance.  Natural selection is the opposite of chance, and the use of the word “chance” in his sentence appears to be the same standard creationism equivocation fallacy using the word “chance” that we’ve seen dozens of times.  If the quote indeed intends what it sounds like, then it does more to destroy Dr. Murakami’s credibility than it does to support your point.  Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, to use a chosen quote about biology to argue against a biologist of Dr. Goodenough’s stature doesn’t look good, either.   Davidson wrote: using scientific words in very unscientific ways…..makes clear communication impossible. I recognize this linguistic trick because it is so rife in religious writing — what’s called apologetics.  Right.  I should  have expected that the term “epigenetics” would come up next.  Along with “quantum”, “dark energy”, “nanotechnology”, and others, these should be used only with understanding.  A comment on this next blog writes that

((“Epigenetics – it’s the new “quantum”  -a fancy word that people with no understanding of what it actually means can use to sell bullshit to suckers.))  

With so many people doing exactly that, we need to be very cautious – and very mainstream – when we use it in promoting the Universe Story, or the damage we will do to the credibility of the Universe Story will far outweigh any good we would have otherwise done.   Here is a useful blog post on this:  http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2013/02/11/epigenetics-you-keep-using-that-word-i-do-not-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means/   Ed wrote:

  From my research, it appears that there are anomalous informational phenomena that current models are at a loss to explain.

Then publish them, and collect your Nobel prize.

The hypothesis that I’m developing is, in my opinion, a testable conjecture grounded in observation, not mystical musings, religious doctrines or spiritual yearnings.

  Testable is not a matter of opinion.  If it is testable, then it will be tested – by you and many others.  If it’s testable and correct, you will get fame, fortune, and tenure.  A testable hypothesis?  Sounds great!  

Fortunately I am not a career scientist at the moment, because clearly it is not a “safe” position to take in the world of science. This is probably why there is scant funding available for quantum consciousness theories.  

Suggesting there is a conspiracy against new ideas in the world of science makes you look like a quack.  I think more highly of you than that.  Funding is denied to non-testable hypotheses based on mysticism.  If yours is not that, then funding is a possibility.  Yes, sometimes new ideas meet resistance, such as endosymbiotic theory (opposed largely due to the fact that the person suggesting it was a woman), or relativity (because it is so counterintuitive), but in even those cases, testable hypotheses were tested, and when shown correct, fame, fortune and tenure followed.  

So what if this hypothesis “smells like” intelligent design? Is this crossing some kind of line or violating a scientific taboo?

  It’s not what it smells like that is the problem.  It’s that nearly all the support here has been provided by using the common methods of pseudoscience – as I listed earlier and can list again.  If you don’t want it to look like pseudoscience, then don’t used the methods of pseudoscience.  One of these was suggesting that the work is “suppressed” by the “hostile scientific community”.  

And I’ve promised that this hypothesis is – ultimately – testable.

Cool!   That’s a big point in your favor.  Maybe build on that – how to test it, specifically?  

I actually agree that this line of thinking is not yet a foundational piece of the “Universe Story” that Jennifer and this group is working on, and never intended to imply that.

Call me a stick in the mud, but my best guess is that your impressive talents could do incredible good in helping the Universe Story as is –  and that as such, your time may be much better spent on that than on “this line of thinking”, which appears to me, so far, to be a dead end waste of your powerful mind.  

Quantum consciousness hypotheses are showing up in various forms but are not well published or publicized, supporting evidence is still sketchy and overall they need a lot more development. These things take time to develop and require budgets for experimentation.

  I’m not sure there is anything new there than the decades of time and millions of dollars spent on all kinds of psychic claims – all of which has shown powerfully that there is nothing there.  What is different now besides the use of a new, catchy word – “quantum”?

Humans are intelligent. Therefore the universe IS intelligent – regardless of the means used to create us (multiple universes, coincidences or whatever) – because we ARE the universe.

  Fully agree.  

The prevailing scientific narrative – a faith-based belief born out of a backlash against religion, in my opinion, and not grounded in evidence – is that the universe operates blindly without intelligent direction or “vision,” and that life is an “accident.”

  Again it sounds like this is calling a conclusion (that no intelligent direction can be found) an “assumption” or “faith based belief” (that it was decided ahead of time that no intelligent direction will be permitted).  Many, if not most, scientists would be happy to find evidence for an intelligent force or direction.  Being that many of them are, in fact, religious.  

But the thing that is most interesting to me are mystical/shamanic experiences. These states of consciousness can seem as if we are awakening to a greater reality and peering into infinity and the true nature of reality.

Yes.  I will publish, in the next month, a description of an experience I had like this.  Ed, if you are interested, I’d like to hear your take on it.  We could start another thread.  It’ll come out in a couple weeks or so.   Duane wrote”

Regarding a “science-based” narrative, I am not aware of a common, “scientific” definition of the nature of “matter,” “time,” “space,” “consciousness,” “dark energy,” “dark matter,” “life,” and more. So, until we do, it seems to me we will have to struggle with understanding the elegant design and complexity of the universe. 

  Duane, as we discussed before, definitions can be found in the dictionary.  You can also use dictionary.com.  No struggling is needed.   Ursula wrote:

what I sense you are doing is looking at our understandings, identifying what is as yet (very) incompletely understood, and building your cosmology/views/whatever on those “gaps.” I and others are looking at our understandings, identifying those that offer a coherent picture of the natural world, and building our cosmology/views/whatever on those understandings. 

  I have to deal with pseudoscience regularly, often in connection with fundamentalists trying to get creationism in schools and/or push evil-ution out.  So often, their approach is “science can’t fully explain X, so that means that 6 day creationism is true!”.  “X” can be the origin of life, cancer, bat evolution, you name it.  The most recent “X” has been epigenetics.  Could we all be careful to ensure that we aren’t using the form of an argument like that in bold, above?    Duane – you asked what “God of the gaps” was.  That’s “God of the gaps”, in bold.   Together in the Great Work-                 -Jon        P.S.  Karen, I’m sorry I don’t have time to provide too much reflection, aside from pointing out that the topics in your salons are enough to fill several years, full time, at a University.  If one expects the conversations to be meaningful, then those present must either come knowing the basics, or enroll at the local University for years of courses.