Bert Olivier
Bert Olivier

Is Plato’s cave still (virtually) with us?

Every philosophical initiate knows Plato’s allegory of the cave. As some commentators have remarked, it is probably the first imagining of what we know as the film theatre. In Book 7 of The Republic, Socrates tells the parable of a community of people who live in a cave, with their necks shackled in such a manner that they can only look at the cave wall. Behind them there is a road on which different beings move along; behind the road and its users there is a big fire, and further back, behind the fire, is the cave opening, with the sun shining outside.

The light from the fire casts the shadows of the creatures moving along the road on the cave wall in front of the cave-prisoners, who regard these shadows as real things – similar to the ontological value that many people today attribute to movie- and television-images, as well as to those internet-images that populate computer screens – and converse about them as if this is all there is about “reality”.

The chained cave-denizens represent human beings, of course, and the allegory is Plato’s way of saying that human beings are like the cave-dwellers in attributing “reality” to the things of sense perception, which are like shadows compared to the objects of thought, which are truly real, according to Plato. (In passing, one should note that it is easy to deconstruct Plato’s derogation of sensory perception in favour of abstract thought, by showing that he is dependent on the recognisable meaning and validity of precisely what he argues against, namely sensory knowledge, for his metaphysical philosophical argument to “work” – Kaja Silverman [in World Spectators], and Luce Irigaray [in Speculum of the Other Woman] have done this in different ways.)

When one day, one of these prisoners painstakingly manages to remove the shackles from her neck, and manages to turn around and make her way out of the cave, past the road and the fire, into broad daylight, it takes some time for her eyes to get accustomed to the bright light. But when she finally sees the world in all its splendour, she is understandably astonished, and can’t wait to share her discovery with those in the cave.

Here Plato shows great insight into the relationship between the true philosopher (or artist, for that matter), and society, because he intimates that the person who returns to the cave community to share their discovery of the real world with them, runs the risk of not being understood – after all, she or he would have to devise a new language to share their newly acquired knowledge, and as we know from history, novel ideas are all too often frowned upon by those who cling to convention. In fact, such individuals risk their lives in their attempts to “get through” to their erstwhile community, who, in all likelihood, will regard them as being insane.

Does this sound familiar? Think of the historical Socrates, who was executed for sharing his novel ideas with the people of Athens, and of Copernicus, whose heliocentric hypothesis was initially ridiculed, as was Galileo’s notion of an “earth in motion”, and Giordano Bruno’s “unconscionable idea” of an infinite number of worlds where there are creatures like ourselves (for which he was burnt at the stake), or of Darwin’s theory of evolution, which was (and still is today in many “creationist” circles) lampooned as ludicrously reducing humans to monkeys – many cartoons appeared in magazines like Punch at the time, depicting people in different postures as primates, for example. Freud, too, was treated – and is still being treated by some today – as if he was the devil, for daring to suggest that “originary repression” of infantile erotic desire (for the mother), through which the unconscious is constituted, somehow taints the human race intolerably.

One could add many others, like Vincent van Gogh, who outraged the Victorian society of his time with what was a spectrum of (to that grey world) unbearably vivid, vibrant colours comprising his paintings, or D.H Lawrence, who broke a lance for the right of literary artists to explore all aspects of human existence, including that of sexuality. What all these instances of philosophers, scientists and artists have in common, is that these people were in the position of the “rebel” who made her way out of Plato’s cave of conventional assumptions, and tried to share their discoveries with those still shackled by the neck.

At any given time there are many similar conventions, or “shadows” that have a stranglehold on people’s ability to see beyond what the conventions allow one to see. It would be interesting to enumerate those contemporary shadows that govern the “visible world” of today. And, to avoid falling into the same trap that Plato did by using the domain of the visible, which he devalued in the end, to represent that of thought, which he valourised, I should hasten to add that the human life-world of the visible – that is, the “original” world of the senses that we first discover as infants – functions as a touchstone of sorts in being able to discern the truly obfuscating “shadows”, metaphorically speaking, which cover up what is valuable in a human life worth living.

One of the things that I have in mind is a new kind of cave – a “virtual cave” – the one comprising all the virtual spaces of the internet, from massively multi-player online games to the qualitatively homogeneous (that is, boring) spaces of social networking sites, where millions of today’s cave-dwellers chain themselves by the neck, voluntarily, eschewing the opportunity to discover (what still remains of) the wonderful, concrete world of the senses, which Plato devalued so unjustifiably.

As Kaja Silverman has argued (in World Spectators), it is through senses like vision that humans endow the world with value. It may well be argued that vision operates in relation to what is seen on the web as well, which I would readily grant, but unless this is treated as something that ADDS to the concrete world in which humans are at home, in which vision and the other senses “embed” us, and not as a substitute for this originary human world, it may well become a prison of sorts. Anyone who has seen the documentary called Second Skin – on the hypnotic hold that an online game such as World of Warcraft has on millions of people worldwide, often with devastating social and psychological consequences – will know what I mean.

Having just spent a week in Durban with colleagues at UKZN, during part of the day, and the rest of the day exploring the beautiful Palmiet Nature Reserve in Westville with my partner, I can vouch for the wonderfully therapeutic value of re-discovering the world of the senses, in every quarter where it is accessible, whenever you can. On the lawn of the B & B where we stayed, right next to the Palmiet River, there are Egyptian geese, the odd mongoose and duiker, giant kingfisher, guinea fowl, as well as dozens of different species of birds frequenting the trees around the house. Surrounded by this wealth of natural beauty, we never even felt the need to watch television.

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    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Hollywood TV gives me the creeps. People really think that America is like that and don’t realise that it is all fantasy.

      Everyone is beautiful and well paid,and the good guy always wins etc etc

    • http://www.deirdrekohler.com Deirdre Kohler

      Having just been to Durbs myself, I echo your sentiments of its beauty and the need to savour each sense, each moment.

      As scientists, psychologists will point out, the world that exists within us is a exciting to discover as the one outside.

    • Benzo

      I have been exposed to the Greeks from Plato to Herodotos, Sophocles, Homerus and Xenophon. I did travel chunks of the world around Europe (my home ground), US and few other places, some to short to remember anything significant.

      Your last paragraph spoke to me in a very clear language. After 30 years SA, I have landed some 15 months ago in a little village in the Hantam district of the Northern Cape, best known for its Namaqua daisies between end August to early October, depending on the rainfall.

      We, me and my partner, walk around during the day and discover natural growth, then we walk ouside in the dark and gaze at the stars. We have allowed nature to show us what it has to offer the whole year around. Flowers, grasses, insects, birds on a piece of ground of not more than 2000m2. Imagine what the rest of the Northern Cape, our biggest province with the lowest population density, has to offer.

      Yes, we have computers to communicate with our families around the world and pay our bills. We have a TV for the News and the tally of the road killings over the Easter weekend.

      I keep photographic records and my partner is a writer. We enjoy each others artistic expressions but will most likely never publish.

    • Tarupiwa

      I only have one question. What is REALITY? If anyone can answer that one, then I know our Platos are still around. Alas, there has to be an individual self before there can be reality. Light must strike an object first before an object is visible. So how many realities exist out there (hiding in darkness). Hence reality is subject to perception and that alone opens another pandora’s box. As we see, perception is in turn subjec to the perciever and the perciever to all sorts of bias and inadequecies, incapacities self born and self engrained. At the end, without bothering to be phylosophical, one man’s shadow is another man’s reality. What you dont see, or choose not to see or sense does not exist. The thermometer only works when you have the means to buy it, and you choose to buy it and then also choose to use it. So many choices and yet the temperature is always there whether you measure or you dont. There stands an individual’s choice between what is real and what is not – now this not for small boys. In the end REALITY is a choice. And, what is choice, what is beauty, what is light, what is life?

    • Tarupiwa

      I only have one question. What is REALITY? If anyone can answer that one, then I know our Platos are still around. Alas, there has to be an individual self before there can be reality. Light must strike an object first before an object is visible. So how many realities exist out there (hiding in darkness). Hence reality is subject to perception and that alone opens another pandora’s box. As we see, perception is in turn subject to the perciever and the perciever to all sorts of bias and inadequecies, incapacities self born and self engrained. At the end, without bothering to be phylosophical, one man’s shadow is another man’s reality. What you dont see, or choose not to see or sense does not exist. The thermometer only works when you have the means to buy it, and you choose to buy it and then also choose to use it. So many choices and yet the temperature is always there whether you measure or you dont. There stands an individual’s choice between what is real and what is not – now this not for small boys. In the end REALITY is a choice. Finaly, what is choice, what is beauty, what is light, what is life, mind, soul and matter? Choose well.

    • http://www.cindynel.co.za peter

      It seems you had an opportunity, albeit only a week, to look within and find contentment, so elusive in this ‘ real world ‘. Lucky you. We are continually surrounded by actors, not just those in Hollywood or in leadership, but out of utter ignorance, these folks have succeeded in turning most into mindless, apathetic wimps, highly evident in their miisguided conception of the difference between good and bad. The problem is that the world out there is very real, they just cannot see it or appreciate it for it’s value. It is a characteristic of humans to seek only their own pleasures without limit and that will never change until they take a serious look within and make an effort to change their ways.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      People prefer fantasy and myths to reality – which is dangerous when they get confused.

      Alice In Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows, Peter Pan, Noddy and Big Ears, Harry Potter – those are safe fantasies because they are known to be fantasy.

      TV looks like reality.

    • Tarupiwa

      Is it a fantasy to think there is God?

    • Tarupiwa

      Is it NOT a fantasy to think there is God. Can any man prove reality? Imposible.

    • http://www.newstime.co.za/columnist/PaulWhelan/5 Paul Whelan

      This excellent piece only shows that there is nothing new: that what is real and what is imaginary, what is true and what is false have always puzzled and detained us all and will continue to do so; and, I would suggest in passing, that the virtual world of ‘TV’ is not the destroyer it is said to be, but only adds a new dimension – or is it merely a new metaphor? -one for our times.

      As to Platos being still around to help, true philosophers like Tarupiwa can be certain any answers can only be found by every one of us as individuals – just like Plato himself did.

      That is it, in the end. That’s the way things ‘really’ are.

    • http://www.SteveMathew.com Steve Mathew

      Wow, at last an intelligent thing to read on the internet! Thank you, I loved your article – nearly as much as I have always loved Plato’s cave allegory!

      Keep writing!

    • david hurst

      An interesting play between what the mind can see as allegory, can easily handle the shadow even from a perpetual box brings to mind the expansive time and resultant genius of not only plotting the course of heavens, but abstractly conceiving the atom. Indeed, spoon fed reality, and punishment for clarity, seem here to dissolve into an unexpected mediocrity in which the keys to both clarity and value of not only altered senses, but more generalized into questioning of societal values and perception are hampered not by powers that be, rather a hypnotization with the shadow as reality – exemplified by electronic game playing or mesmerized media viewing. Hit the tops of 14k ft. plus peaks periodically to sort or mix sensory input with abstract thought, altered sensory input with metaphysical meaning, and nine to five televisionland with the contrast of mores of DH Lawrence, of pattern recognition of Copernicus, really: just get out for a walk, things become clear, what is described is the Human Zoo.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      It is the same as the mythology about alcohol and drugs.

      Socialist mythology is that the poor and criminals will be “cured” of all their problems if rehabilitated from alcohol and drugs.

      That is ridiculous. Almost all America;’s top Pop-Idol Icons have used one or the other or both, but do not commit murder or buglary do they?

      Besides all humans have used mood enhancers, even the Muslims – many of whom are addicted to chewing Kwat. And a large number of the Ottoman sultans died of chirrosis of the liver.

      There seems to be one rule for the Political Elite of the world, and another rule for the poor subjests of the new royalty.

    • Ryan Whittal

      Good Article. Appreciating the natural world is an astonishing and fulfilling exercise.

      The new will always be ridiculed.

      I, a man in Creationist Circles, believe today’s cave is unquestioning belief in Molecule to Man Evolution and the hypnotic belief that the earth and indeed the universe are billions of years old.

      People will ridicule me for suggesting that the earth is 6 000 years old but will offer no evidence for why the earth is “unquestionably” 4.3 billion years old. They offer no explanation for their belief. They thus believe that “belief” by faith alone. Faith in a written text. As do I for my belief. But they are no better than me when it comes to faith in a written text. They will claim to have out-reasoned faith, but yet that are convinced that something is one way and not the other, because they read it somewhere, and can’t explain it. Oh, the irony!

      It will be my life long mission to expel certain myths. One, is that Creationist are anti-reasoning. Why would we be when The Bible says, Come, let us reason together. I am also keen on expelling the myth that Creationists are anti-science. Many of today’s top scientists are Creationists.

      I believe there are two distinct categories at work in the origins debate. Creativity and truth. I believe Darwin was more concerned with the controversy in creating a alternative to a creator, than he was to truthful forensic investigation. He even admitted that should transitionery fossils be absent…

    • Ryan Whittal

      his theory would be a mistake. After 153 years since the books publishing, there are still no conclusive trasitionery fossils. (they have even discovered a rather remarkable and specific functioning of the appendix) Remember the old vestigial appendix palava which many of us still believe by faith…

      Blow the dust off the 1st 10 chapters of Genesis. Go and read it, all, perhaps even in the quiet of nature, and slowly work your way out of the post modern “I am too clever for a Creator” cave.

      Regards,
      Ryan

    • Balt Verhagen

      A very charming and thought-provoking post by our philosopher friend in the Eastern Cape, with some imaginative comments. Memory and imagination are other forms of reality, that can be triggered by unexpedly mundane impulses. Thanks to Benzo for reminding us of the Hantam where he lives. One hundred years ago, the poet Louis Leipoldt who grew up and is buried there, was sent a parcel of dirt and dry leaves from the area when he was abroad. Immediately, it brought back vividly his younger years in this often stark and dry, but richly varied region that he loved so intensely and that can spring to life when the rains come in early spring. Remembered images that constitute a reality that he continues to invoke in us, the readers, in his wonderfully descriptive Afrikaans.

      ‘n Handvol gruis uit die hantam-
      My liewe, lekker Hantam wyk!
      ‘n Handvol gruis en gedroogde blare
      Wa-boom blare, ghnarrabosblare!
      Arm was ek gister, en nou is ek ryk!

      Arm in herinnering, arm in verbeelding
      Arm in onthou van die vroeër jare
      Deurgebring in die Hantam-wyk.
      ‘n Handvol gras en gedroogde blare
      Maak my wat arm was, koning-ryk-

      Ryk aan herinnering, ryk aan verbeelding,
      Ryk in onthou van die vroeër tyd
      Toe die Hantam-wêrld al die wêreld
      Vir my was in die vroeër tyd.
      ‘n Handvol gruis en gedroogde blare
      Vertel soveel van die wonderjare
      In my liewe, lekker Hantam-wyk-
      Waboom-blare, ghnarrabos-blare-
      Arm was ek gister en nou skatryk!

    • Bert

      Thank you for all the interesting contributions.
      Tarupiwa – you need a course in philosophy – preferably from Kant to Derrida – to answer that question – I am afraid it cannot be done in a short blog, except to give you a Lacanian answer: “Reality” is the amalgam of what is articulated in terms of the symbolic and the imaginary registers, as occasionally breached and reconfigured by the enigmatic “real”. If you want to read about this at length, read my book: Philosophy and Psychoanalytic Theory (Peter Lang Publishers, 2009).
      Paul – Sure, Television and the other media do add another dimension (as I also intimated above); the one I’m partial to is cinema, but one should never forget the contours of the “lifeworld”, because that is where our knowing faculties are “shaped”, as it were, and today, the media have attained such a conventionally valorized, ideologically mesmerizing, status, that they could be seen as the latest embodiment of Plato’s cave.
      Ryan – Could your creationist beliefs withstand the demonstrable results of carbon dating? I think not. It is naive to believe the world is 6000 years old. It is easy, if you want to cling to a belief in God, to reconcile it with evolutionary theory, as Professor Con de Villiers at Stellenbosch, among others, did when he said that God did not only create the world; but was wise enought to let the world create itself. The “days” of creation are then very long periods.

    • Maria

      Benzo and Balt Verhagen – Thank you for the evocation of that astonishing landscape. Being Mexican by birth, I do not read Afrikaans that well (although, whenever I see Bert, he coaches me a little in the language), but I do know some German, which allows me to read this Afrikaans poem with some understanding. What a beautiful language! Apropos of Bert’s point in this blog – linked to the deconstructive criticism that Plato deserves for his denigration of the senses – our species will probably wake up one day when it is too late, realizing that their relentless pursuit of material wealth at the cost of the natural environment has destroyed something intrinsically valuable, quite apart from the value placed on it by thoughtful people like Bert and others who have commented here. The most recent evidence of exploration for what is now called “extreme oil” in almost inaccessible regions of the oceans, e.g., has pointed to the cost this has brought in its wake, namely the tragic death of numerous sea creatures like dolphins, as a result of seismic booms. This is absolutely UNFORGIVABLE. Oil is just not worth it – look for energy elsewhere.

    • Balt Verhagen

      @ Maria

      Thank you for the appreciation of a language that has become my mother tongue. Much of its poetry is indeed astonishingly beautiful with evocations of the human condition that are uniquely South African as well as universal. With Bert as a coach your appreciation of it will certainly grow and I am sure he will guide you to some of the gems of its poetry. I would welcome some further discussion.
      [email protected]

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Afrikaans DOES NOT COME FROM GERMAN! Dear God!

      Afrikaans is a DUTCH creole.

      NOR is “Apartheid” a German word, but a Dutch one, meaning seperateness i.e keeping cultures seperate.

    • http://blogroid.wordpress.com Blogroid

      Thank you Bert for a most congenial exposition on a favourite old tale. Should you be in Pretoria [or is that Tshwane] this week for the the Conference 2012: “Greek Philosophy in dialogue with African Humanism and other World Philosophies: Innovative perspectives.” at the University of South Africa, i should be happy to perform for your pleasure and thought provocation, and that of the rest of the audience, the role of Socrates, in performance of Plato’s ‘Crito': in the Dr Miriam Makeba Auditorium at 6.30 pm [19th April]. [ I am playing this role in my own ‘cave redeeming’, post-Facebook, alter-ego: Nicholas Jakari [of nicholasjakari.com] My co-player: ‘Kriton” is played by Renos Spanoudes… seen recently as Advocate George Bizos in the Naledi Award winning production of the Rivonia Trials.

      One correction to your congenial piece however… To say Socrates “was” executed as you do, implies that he had no choice in the matter, which i’m sure you didn’t intend. We know, and Kriton: the dialogue, confirms, that he ‘chose’ execution, over exile… an act that may well have changed all subsequent ‘ourstory’… and which in my internet cyber-serial: the Jonker Memorandum, i refer to as: “The Socratic Solution”.

      Notwithstanding this it was as usual a thoughtful read made doubly interesting in contra-distinction to the competing Mamela piece on creativity, in this edition of Thoughtleader.

    • Bert

      Lyndall – Maria never said that Afrikaans comes from German; she merely implied that the languages are syntactically similar, and many of the words in its vocabulary are recognizably similar to their Afrikaans counterparts, like “Baum”, for “boom”, or “Frau” for “vrou”.
      Blogroid – I will in fact be at the Phronimon conference this week, BUT will UNFORTUNATELY miss your performance, because I have to be back to lecture at NMMU early on Friday morning, and hence my flight is late Thursday afternoon. What a pity! Will you be attending the presentations? Mine is on Wednesday, and if you’re around then I would certainly like to meet you in person. And of course I did not imply – but it may be seen thus – that Socrates was executed against his will; the story of his death, after refusing to flee, as he could have, recounted by Plato, is well-known – including his supposed last instruction (was it to Crito?) to sacrifice a cock (?) to Aeschulapius/Asklepios on his (Socrates’s) behalf.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Bert

      German, Dutch and English all come from the same root language – so if you speak English, you can understand German?

      When I worked in Amsterdam, I could speak to the Dutch, and I could take books out of the library and read them, because of my Afrikaans. I can’t speak, understand or write a word of German.

      It is a common misperception that the Afrikaner and the Nazis were the same and that apartheid was German,

      Like the Irish, the right wing Afrikaner supported the Nazis because they were fighting the British Imperialists, and because the Kaiser had been the only leader in Europe to support the Boers in the Anglo Boer War.

      In which war, more expensive than the Criman War or the Napolpeonic Wars, the Brits had to send 400,000 troops to fight 25,000 boers – and even then they could not defeat them untill they attacked the civilians population of women and children and carted them off to concentration camps where they died like flies of malnutrition and disease, as did their servants in their own camps.

      It was this war that caused white poverty, and also black poverty – which set white against black for scarce jobs in the towns since the farms were destroyed.

      And the Brits would not have defeated the Zulus either if their generals had not made a tatical mistake in letting the Zulu army run for 3 days without food to meet the Brits for battle. Wise generals would have let the Brits come to them, and stretched their supply chain.

    • http://blogroid.wordpress.com Blogroid

      @Bert: Regret that you will be unable to attend our performance, and equally regret that i shall not be at the presentations due to rehearsal pressures and studio work on the podcast series. Our Producer: Ava Papatheophilou will be at the opening and will also be attending the conference and speaking on the Practical applications of Greek philosophy in everyday life: with specific relevance to her workshops she has maintained continuously In Soweto for the past 18 years. I shall ask her to look out for you. I am sure you would find it an engaging experience.
      Entrance btw is free and is not limited to those attending the conference but to all who can find the place.

    • http://www.necrofiles.blogspot.com Garg Unzola

      @Ryan:
      If you are really keen on finding evidence for evolution, then yes all of your queries have been answered. Including transitory fossils and the age estimate of the Earth.

      Here you are, a good starting point:
      http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-qa.html

      Of course nobody would know if they’ve left the cave or not, but everyone would think that they are the one eye kings in the land of the blind.

    • Ryan Whittal

      Hi Bert…you said

      ” Ryan – Could your creationist beliefs withstand the demonstrable results of carbon dating? I think not.

      Yes they can Bert. Please read the article, “What about Carbon Dating?” on creation.com.

      You continued to say…

      It is naive to believe the world is 6000 years old.

      No its not, Bert. I believe it by faith. Just as you reject it by faith. There are many arguments that the earth and solar system are young. (6 000 years young) Have you not heard of the salinity of the oceans argument? Or the origin of short period comets? (The cave , Bert, the cave, perusing creation.com is a step out the cave.)

      You continued…

      It is easy, if you want to cling to a belief in God, to reconcile it with evolutionary theory, as Professor Con de Villiers at Stellenbosch, among others, did when he said that God did not only create the world; but was wise enought to let the world create itself. The “days” of creation are then very long periods.”

      Nice of Prof de villers to give God more time, but tell him it’s not necessary. If you look at the world through the lenses of a 6 day creation, 6000 years ago, followed by a real event known as the Fall, followed by a global deluge about 1 500 years later, followed by an incident at a place called Babel, you will have a better understanding of the world, and if you are honest, you will see that that model of forensic interpretation is not only possible, but makes excellent predictions.

    • Ryan Whittal

      Hi Garg Unzola

      I went to the link you suggested and opened the article, “Evidence for macro-evolution”

      This was the opening paragraph…

      “According to the theory of common descent, modern living organisms, with all their incredible differences, are the progeny of one single species in the distant past. In spite of the extensive variation of form and function among organisms, several fundamental criteria characterize all life. Some of the macroscopic properties that characterize all of life are (1) replication, (2) heritability (characteristics of descendents are correlated with those of ancestors), (3) catalysis, and (4) energy utilization (metabolism). At a very minimum, these four functions are required to generate a physical historical process that can be described by a phylogenetic tree. ”

      So Garg, before I go any further with how one living thing became every living thing (which it can’t as random mutation does not give rise to new genetic information, but is a loss of genetic information), please explain to me how the original living thing came to be in existence, with the absolutely mandatory requirements of replication, heritability, catalysis and metabolism. Remember, Garg, one of these missing and it can’t exist! It had to spontaneously erupt into existence with all of the above criteria. It’s not possible. There is an alternative theory.

    • Ryan Whittal

      Hi Garg

      This is explained in the Intelligent Design theory of Irreducible Complexity. A living things necessary complexity can be reduced no further but to include those 4 things mentioned above. Search Creation.com with Irreducible Complexity. It will also show evolutionary scientists’ attempts to rubbish irreducible complexity, and some evolutionary scientists’ candid admissions.

      Warning, creation.com is skewed toward a creation bias, but that website you showed me is skewed toward an evolution bias. (We all have our bias) The one that is true is the one that makes better predictions! Creation or Evolution. Its definatley creation.

      Cheers for now…

    • http://necrofiles.blogspot.com Garg Unzola

      Dear Ryan, as you say, you do not base your beliefs on evidence, reason or intellect, but on faith. This much is fine, you are entitled to your own beliefs, but unfortunately you aren’t allowed to your own facts and logic.

      Irreducible complexity does not produce a problem for the theory of evolution. In fact, the mechanisms of evolution work so well that they are aped by many artificial intelligence systems. This is something that is verifiable, repeatable and is a fact – a fact being something that is still true whether you choose to believe so or not. In other words, something that does not rely on faith.

      Either way, it’s pointless to try and convince you with logic and reason when you haven’t come to your position by means of the same effort it requires to verify, refute and integrate information. I do not wish to change your viewpoint, I would just prefer if you do not rubbish science and claim candid omissions where there aren’t any. There are enough gaps in the scientific body of work without having to invent more work for some of our brightest minds.

      You may be interested in the scientific rebuttals of Michael Behe and William Dembski’s Creationism conjectures. They are the guys behind the whole Creationism/ID movement. Suffice to say there is no scientific basis for their beliefs, regardless of how much faith they may have in them.

    • Ryan Whittal

      Hi Garg

      response to your first paragraph…you are wrong that I don’t use reason, logic and evidence. Before people put their faith in something they can’t see, whether it be God or whether it be the story of a primordial creature climbing out of a sea and changing into every living thing you see around you using evolution’s only three pillars, namely time, random mutations and natural selection [which could never happen as random mutations do not give rise to new beneficial genetic information, but are a loss of genetic information], they will assess the evidence and then put their faith in an idea.

      The point is Origin science is a forensic science. No one was there. So how do we test what happened? We build stories of what we think happened, and see if those stories make good predictions. Like two detectives at a murder scene as Richard Dawkins correctly suggests his metaphor. People put their faith in theses stories, believing them to be true. But no human being can escape the faith factor.

      We can’t argue with a fact. It is condescending for you to suggest that I would do that. The evolution believer’s blind spot is the reluctance to call evolution just a theory and a reluctance to accepting an alternative forensic theory when theirs makes bad predictions. That’s close mindedness and unreasonable.

      Its you who blocks the discussion by bringing in the the “Oh, I’m so reasonable” and “you are such a deluded blind-faither” sentiment. This is false.

    • http://necrofiles.blogspot.com Garg Unzola

      @Ryan:
      Did you read my link? The entire one, not just the first paragraph. It deals with all your concerns.

      This is entirely off topic though. I have blogged on biology before since I studied it many moons ago. You are welcome to comment on my posts and we can discuss science:

      http://necrofiles.blogspot.com/2008/12/random-mutator-of-perry-marshall.html
      http://necrofiles.blogspot.com/2008/12/is-dna-analogous-to-human-language.html
      http://necrofiles.blogspot.com/2008/12/how-random-is-random-mutation-on-dna.html
      http://necrofiles.blogspot.com/2008/12/does-darwinian-evolution-claim-that-dna.html

      Just so we don’t hijack this thread.

    • Ryan Whittal

      Fine Garg…

      I will do some reading…

      Just one more thing, before I go and read…

      you said…

      “In fact, the mechanisms of evolution work so well that they are aped by many artificial intelligence systems. This is something that is verifiable, repeatable and is a fact – a fact being something that is still true whether you choose to believe so or not.”

      Dawkin’s famous quote was that we have seen evolution happening, we just haven’t seen it while its happening…, which means we haven’t seen evolution happening. Not the kind the debate is about, i.e one kind of animal changing into another kind, which would require of random mutations to give us what Evolutionist require them to give us…new, beneficial genetic information. I am talking about molecule to man, everything to nothing, not Alsatian to Yorkshire terrier. So how can you claim that the mechanisms are VERIFIABLE, REPEATABLE AND A FACT when one of Atheism’s great pastors says that this is not the case. An assumption is not a fact…

      I also hope to find out what you mean by artificial intelligence systems. if you mean a computer program designed to replicate evolutionary mechanisms, the programmer would have to ASSUME that mutations lead to an addition not a loss of genetic information. (Which is not the case in the scientific reality… random mutations are often diseases, which can be explained by a historical incident in the Creationist model known as THE FALL)

      Enough said, I will do…

    • Ryan Whittal

      some reading…

      Cheers for now….

      This, even if neither of us changes our view point, we are at least engaging in discussion, being open-minded and exercising our thinking…

    • http://necrofiles.blogspot.com Garg Unzola

      @Ryan:
      Evolution has been observed and continues to be observed. Here is a long, boring list of some of the instances:
      http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

      What Darwin said was exactly the falsifiable requirement that makes evolution science. In other words, he came up with the criterion you need to come up with to prove his theory of evolution false. The criterion is, in his own words:

      “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case”.

      Coincidentally, this is the irreducible complexity that Michael Behe and others have been looking for and failed to find thus far. Good luck to them! I welcome their peer-reviewed paper that would present the falsifiability criterion for creationism. They would do science a favour and any scientist worth his salt would welcome their contribution.

      And no, the programmer doesn’t need to assume anything if your AI uses unsupervised learning.

      But please, we’re entirely off topic. Feel free to comment on my blog and I’ll do my best to answer your concerns (been a while since I did biology).

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