Re: 1. a couple of questions, 2. Re: design: purposeful or

Brian D Harper (
Mon, 03 Mar 1997 11:33:18 -0500

At 06:05 AM 2/26/97 +0800, Steve Jones wrote:
>On Tue, 18 Feb 1997 19:05:35 -0500, Brian D Harper wrote Re: a
>couple of questions:
>>SJ>... Brian needs to read a bit more carefully. I only said
>>that methodological naturalists "must *ASSUME* that nature is all
>there is in doing science."
>BH>But if MN has nothing to do with whether nature is all there is
>>then there is no reason to *ASSUME* nature is all there is.
>SJ>I really cannot follow Brian's thinking. He must be a genius!

What exactly is it that's hard to follow? It seems obvious to me,
but previous experience has taught me that what's obvious to me
may not be obvious to someone else. Maybe it helps to modify
what I wrote above slightly:

But if MN has nothing to do with whether nature is all there is
then MN provides no reason to *ASSUME* nature is all there is.

Or maybe like this:

But if MN has nothing to do with whether nature is all there is
then one can accept MN without assuming that nature is all there is.


>On Fri, 21 Feb 1997 16:51:43 -0500, Brian D Harper wrote Re: design:
purposeful or
>random? 2/2:


>>BH>Tell me Steve, how can I make it any clearer?
>>SJ>It's perfectly "clear" that Brian is setting up the rules so that he
>>can win the game. I do not accept his rules and I am not going to
>>play his game. It may be that "information" in the sense of
>>"meaning" cannot be made "objective" in the sense that Brian demands.
>>But that does not make it any the less real.
>BH>Who said it was any less real?
>SJ>Brian implied it by dismissing my defintion of "information" as
>"specified complexity" as not "objective".

It is interesting that you thought I implied this. Do you think
that if something cannot be measured objectively then it is less real?
I certainly never said or implied any such thing.

>SJ>It just shows the limitations of "information theory" which is
>>based on scientific materialism.
>If meaning is ultimately non-material, then "scientific materialism"
>will be forever unable to deal with it, because materialism means
>that matter (including mind) is all there is:
>"...philosophical materialism-the postulate that matter is the stuff
>of all existence and that all mental and spiritual phenomena are its
>by-products." (Gould S.J., "Ever Since Darwin", 1977, p24)

The reason for my "huh?" was your statement that information theory
is based on scientific materialism. It is not.

One good illustration of this is to look at Hubert Yockey, one of
the most outspoken anti-materialists around. He wrote his most
recent paper in J. Theoretical Biology to oppose the materialistic
view of the origin of life published in the same journal by
Avshalom Elitzur. He wrote a letter to BioEssays to oppose the
materialistic views of Lifson. In his book he ridicules materialists
by referring to them as the LumpenIntelligentsia and by comparing
them to "professors" at the Grand Academy of Lagado (Gulliver's
Travels). He compares belief in a primordial soup to the architect
at the Grand Academy who tried to build houses starting with the roof.
Based on Information Theory he concludes that life must
be accepted as an axiom and is not reducible to chemistry and

Brian Harper
Associate Professor
Applied Mechanics
The Ohio State University

"Should I refuse a good dinner simply because I
do not understand the process of digestion?"
-- Oliver Heaviside