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There are few ways to feel that your own life matters more than being committed to other people. And people will generally reciprocate your caring and devotion. At a societal level, there is much we need to do to improve the ways we live together and get along with each other. We have come a long way already. Modern secular democratic societies, for all their remaining problems, are on the whole flourishing far more than human societies did at any time in history.

We commit to finding and building the leaders who will work to make this vision a reality.

But we still have big challenges ahead of us. One of the foremost of these is stewardship of the environment. As the most evolved species on this planet, we have the ability and responsibility to protect the biosphere from our excesses. No heavenly father will save us, but we are god-like in our powers to the non-human life forms on this planet.

They should all matter to us.


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All we have is each other, huddled together on this lifeboat of a little planet in this vast, indifferent universe. Far from being nihilistic, the fully naturalist worldview of secular humanism empowers us and liberates us from our irrational fears. With its emphasis on humans having to rely on ourselves and each other, it motivates us to live with a sense of interdependent humanistic purpose. Well said. Regarding the last sentence, I offer a different perspective.

If people care, then so does the universe, for we are the universe come to life, as are all living things The sentence expresses the faith of a Naturalist. But Naturalism is not science. Naturalism attempts to answer ultimate questions that are beyond the scope of science. The doctrine that science is the only ultimate reality, is just that - a doctrine.

Like Intelligent Design or belief in a Creator, it is absolutely a matter of metaphysics, not physics; it is a presuppositional belief system. It's based on epistemology every bit as much as is the faith of a Theist. I agree with Bruce Anderson. Lewis says "make no mistake: science is unequivocal that both the universe and life lack inherent purpose.

Didn't Expect THAT To Happen

Can he prove that scientifically? If he can't, then it is not a scientific statement. LeMaitre is the guy who gave us the Big Bang Theory. So many other great scientists were deeply religious men and women Mendel, Newton, etc. But if "both the universe and life lack inherent purpose," how does Lewis arrive at his conclusion that "Purpose emerged in the universe with life itself"? He says that "All living creatures are purposeful," and that "this evolved out of the very same basic life-instinct—gene replication".

But why should even this basic instinct of gene replication evolve in a universe that has no purpose, among life that has no purpose? And if all our morality arises from that basic instinct -- to pass on our genes, often at the expense of other creatures' genes -- then what dark principles can be justified in the name of science?

Let the fittest survive? And too bad about the rest? As a naturalist myself I cannot agree that naturalism makes any attempts to explain our natural world in a manner not dependent on the data we glean from the scientific method. I recently finished reading Sean Carroll's "The Big Pictue" : on the origins of life, meaning, and the universe itself. Carroll expounds on the nature of reality through the prism of scientific understanding and promotes a "poetic naturalism" that takes into account the reality of life from both the macro and micro perspectives.

I encourage you to consider reading his treatise on naturalism as it offers a fresh perspective on the nature of reality. Thanks Ed. Yes, my book is very much along the same lines as Carroll's book, which I agree is excellent and well worth reading. Ed, Intelligent Design is a philosophical question beyond what the data of scientific inquiry itself can prove. Neither, however, can Naturalists prove by scientific inquiry or data that Naturalism IS science.


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Naturalism is, ultimately, presuppositional belief system that attempts to answer questions regarding the origins and causes of the Cosmos which science alone cannot address. The author is trying to hijack the cultural authority of science to make a metaphysical statement that has nothing whatever to do with science.

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Indeed, many of the greatest scientists in history Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Kepler, Faraday down to the present day were committed theists, finding order and meaning in the universe. This is not an argument ad populum that theism is true; it just demonstrates that the supposed incompatibility of science and theism is flat wrong.

The author does a tremendous disservice to science by conflating it with naturalism. Please label your beliefs and your faith for what they clearly are--a personal philosophy unconnected to science or the scientific method. I've thought long and carefully about all these points. All are addressed in my book, Finding Purpose in a Godless World, which among other things provides a synthesis of the current mainstream scientific thinking. Many scientists in the past four centuries were theists, but only a tiny minority of top scientists in the twenty first century are theists, due to the newer scientific insights.

Finding Purpose - Dr. Ralph Lewis

Pew Research found in that " So stop distorting and abusing science to justify your naturalism and atheism. Fred, it depends whether you survey elite scientists or all scientists. Rates of religious belief are extremely low among top scientists. See for example Larson, E. Witham, "Leading scientists still reject God" Nature, And Stirrat, M. Cornwell, "Eminent scientists reject the supernatural: a survey of the Fellows of the Royal Society" Evolution: Education and Outreach, How the survey questions are phrased can also influence results.

That doesn't show that belief is trueit DOES show that it's completely compatible with science at the highest levels. Please stop hijacking science to hide your materialistic philosophy--you're degrading and diminishing science! Life itself cannot exist without being first specified among alternatives i. The details of this are certainly not hidden in the scientific literature. This model is dead center of any materialist view of the physical cosmos. John Von Neumann then used that machine to successfully predict the material requirements of an autonomous self-replicator.

These were later isolated by Mahlon Hoagland and Paul Zamecnik, while Marshall Nirenberg and Heinrich Matthaei went on to list the individual associations established by the constraints. And all of this has since been carefully and meticulously described in the physics literature by Howard Pattee and others as the only other example of a general purpose sequential, multi-referent language other than human language found anywhere in the cosmos.

This also includes the additional organizational requirement of being semantically closed in order to function i. The bottom line is that you have to be able to specify something in order to have meaning or purpose in a semantic free universe. You didn't do you homework, you merely wrote a book without it addressing the actual topic of the book you were writing. Thanks for your comment, 'Upright BiPed. In other words, are you implying that meaning cannot arise spontaneously within an unguided evolving system - that meaning has to be externally specified by 'someone' in the first place?

It's also not at all clear to me if you actually read my book, but for purpose of this discussion I'll assume that you did and I'll simply assume that you must surely then have merely missed the relevant citations there. There's nothing fringe or controversial about it in relation to what is accepted scientific knowledge as of In the book's text and endnotes I quoted several substantial and highly regarded scientific sources relevant to your point about semiotics and self-referent meaning such as Douglas Hofstadter, Terrence Deacon.

Meaning and purpose can and do emerge in a system in ways that are internally self-referent and circular.

Randomness

For example, all the words in a language or all the words in a dictionary only have meaning with reference to each other. They co-evolved. No-one initially set the language going by first specifying some absolute reference or meaning. There was no intelligent designer or initial specifier needed for language - it evolved bottom-up, spontaneously and unguided. So too with all semiotic systems, including genes.

If I've misunderstood what you're trying to say, please do elaborate here. Thanks again for having taken the time to provide such thoughtful feedback and suggestions - I very much appreciate your doing so. You are correct on that front.


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  • There is not a person, laboratory, or institution anywhere on the surface of this planet that can provide a plausible model of how life began spontaneously on earth. The threshold of those two words would have to be stretched to the point that they include models that show neither how a multi-referent symbol system arises spontaneously nor how semantic closure comes into being.

    This is a statement of fact. The premise is just flat wrong. Living things require a heritable memory a specification in order to exist. Without that specification, they would not have the physical means to become or remain organized. And if the physical process of evolution requires specification, then the physical process of evolution cannot be the source of specification.

    I suspect your book contains a good number of fascinating and well-presented things, I take no issue with that and happily leave it to others to decide and enjoy reading. But your assertion -- that modern science shows that the origin of life is almost certainly a dynamic natural event, with perhaps a few interesting details left to discover -- is a vast vast misrepresentation of both the science and history of the issue. It is also a universal observation in all such systems. In an autonomous open-ended self-replicator like the living cell you have to have enough of these meaningful relationships in order to be able to describe all the constraints in the system.

    You also have to describe the all objects in the system that cause it to read and translate its descriptions. Semantic closure only occurs when there is a functional relationship between these two sets of objects: the sequences that describe the constraints, and the sequences that describe the reading and translation of the descriptions.

    The coordination of semantic closure is required because if you change any of the first set, it changes all of the second set. This is an example of why appeals to consensus are deemed irrelevant in science. No one has a clue how this occurred through dynamics forces alone. Through physics we recognize that it is exactly the same material organization as language a universal correlate of intelligence. We also recognize that it is the only other example of such an organization found anywhere else in the cosmos, and it happens to be found at the very core of life on earth.

    Thank you for this elaboration and clarification. The field has come a long way since the important groundwork by the brilliant thinkers you cite. Researchers in the field generally anticipate being able to solve the origin-of-life problem within a matter of decades. Key to the solution of the legitimate conundrum you pose are models of self-organisation and auto-catalytic sets e. In the past it used to seem reasonable to assert that there are fundamental questions about life and the universe that are in principle not explainable by natural science, that they would always remain so, and that these gaps could only be filled by invoking God or some kind of supernatural force as an explanation.

    We should be very hesitant to assume that a particular gap will not eventually be closed by science.

    March 2018

    Science does not claim to or need to know everything about life and the universe. Science thrives on unanswered questions and uncertainty. But history has taught us that with rational effort, critically minded people have progressively and systematically addressed one mysterious knowledge gap after another, debunking countless supernatural and magical explanations and answering innumerable questions that were previously considered impossible to answer.

    Saying that God did it explains nothing. The God hypothesis only moves the mystery up a level. You seem to be a solidly critically-minded person, and you demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of an important piece of the puzzle — semiotics, one that most people find hard to grasp. Telling yourself there is purpose in the universe and your life is no different than a religious belief. Things we do here on Earth don't matter, since eventually everyone will be dust. They may make you feel good for a while, but ultimately, they simply don't matter, no matter who tell yourself. Well, you have found your purpose!!!

    Good for you!! Is your purpose to simply be an ass and drag people down to some selfish solipsistic depressing inhumane place with you, directly or indirectly, one way or another? You must be the life at the parties. He didn't talk about purpose of the universe? Who the heck are you or who the heck is anyone to think they could ever be able to discover a purpose or not of the entire incomprehensibly immense universe? He is talking about a personal purpose. So, welcome to life among the living and the human race? You have won the existential crisis prize!!!. Whether you like it or not, you have to make decisions in your life what is your purpose?

    Not deciding, pretending you don't have to make decisions, or laughably trying to hide from the universe you are actually in are still decisions. And don't try to say you don't have free will. You have free will in the sense that you have not been directly coerced, for example, to be a dick. The life we currently see on our planet is purposeful and shaped by human creation, which in turn is based on human imagination.

    As long as science cannot explain human imagination and the broader term 'consciousness', it would suit scientists to let go of their arrogance toward 'ordinary folk'. Many 'mainstream scientific ideas' turned out to be wrong.

    This Random World

    The fact that many scientists believe something to be true does not make it true: only scientific evidence counts in the scientific method, not scientific authority. Sounds like you have taken this guys first two sentences about science as fact. They are BS false descriptions of science and scientists. If you still don't get it Please tell me what scientific theory or what research paper or even what scientists would contradict that humanistic idea?

    However, by "life" I assume that you mean "human life". If you mean "all life", then you are nutty. It is clear you don't have a clue what you are talking about, but only have guesses. You, say, "As long as science cannot explain human imagination and the broader term 'consciousness Why is that a standard? For example, why can't an astronomer theorize about the universe or a biologist theorize about evolution because hypothetical some people who study the brain can't explain some things about?

    Do you read back the words you write and hear them? What the G. You say, "many 'mainstream scientific ideas' turned out to be wrong. Of course, many "ideas" turn out to be wrong, in any system. They are mere ideas. Your use of the word idea is equivalent to hypothesis. Do you mean theories turn out to be wrong.

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