Re: Redheads descended from Neanderthals?

From: David F Siemens (
Date: Thu Jan 31 2002 - 20:49:22 EST

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    With my e-mail program, I can't simply enter something identifiable as
    mine when I get a bar rather than >s. So I hope the italics comes

    On Thu, 31 Jan 2002 12:43:40 EST writes:
    David Siemens wrote:

    I will grant that it is not possible to give a scientific description of
    soul or spirit without reductionism. But deity also must be reduced to
    anthropomorphic projection or something similar to fit scientific
    categories. I do not see rational grounds for denying the latter if I
    accept the former.

    I agree that science is unlikely to have the capacity to
    decide what a sprit is, although, I do consider
    anthropology a respectable science, and evidence of
    altars and burials with "gifts" or "tools for the afterlife"
    certainly count as forms of spiritualness even if science
    itself cannot say what a spirit is. So anthropology can at
    least produce arguments suggesting that Neanderthals were

    Note what is going on here: recognizing cultic activity in a group, not
    recognizing any reality behind the activity. If anyone wants to deal with
    the supernatural, it cannot take this route,

    I do however respectfully disagree with your comment
    implying that science _must_ use reductionism.
    That is certainly what some scientist seem to think,
    particularly the scientism types, but likewise,
    each man takes the limits of his own vision for the
    limits of the world.

    Reductionism is used in science because it works _for
    the experiments that it applies to_. It would not
    apply to entangled spin systems, such systems are
    irreducible: or should I say, once you have "reduced"
    them, you've lost their information. That, at least,
    appears to be our current place on the map of
    understanding quantum mechanics. Critical phenomena is
    also a bit strange in that way, although perhaps not
    quite as bizarre as QM.

    In discussions with a physicist, I got the clear impression that
    reductionism runs the other direction. All macro phenomena are reduced to
    quantum physics, with chemistry and physics in turn explaining the
    phenomena of life, which in turn produce psychology and sociology. This
    is not the traditional "naturalistic" reductionism. Note that this
    approach requires emergence, though in principle the emergent properties
    are extensions of the deeper phenomena. Also, this is sophisticated
    enough to recognize that we are not reducing matters to generalizations
    of observations, but are dealing with the results of theory construction.

    Look at it this way. If you only look at atoms, you cannot
    see that you have a crystal. If you only look at crystals
    you cannot see that you have a tile and if all you look at
    are tiles, you still cannot see that they are part of a
    breathtaking mosaic.

    This assumes that what one observes is the ultimate entity that needs to
    be considered, that there is no emergence. Further, what science deals
    with "breathtaking mosaic"? This argument does not touch sophisticated

    My point is that whereas reductionism is a valuable tool
    for doing science, it is surely not the only allowed tool,
    and in some cases it may not even be the best.

    By Grace we proceed, (in science as well)


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