Ming the Mechanic:
Then a miracle occurs

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Then a miracle occurs2009-10-28 12:31
13 comments
picture
by Flemming Funch

I love this cartoon, by Sidney Harris.

For several reasons.

One is that this is a fallacy often exhibited by people trying to sell you an ambitious theory about something big and important, a theory that pretends to be all encompassing and consistent and coherent. But it has one of those "then a miracle occurs" in the formula somewhere. Usually the proponents of the formula hadn't noticed, and they'd tend to deny it if it is pointed out.

Think about the Big Bang, for example. Theoretical physicists can calculate what apparently happened in the first moments after that event and they can correlate the whole universe with it. But they usually carefully avoid any question of how come an infinitely small nothingness suddenly can explode, or where such a thing might have some from, or how come it can explode so neatly. A miracle happened, and then we suddenly can apply all these lovely formulas.

Or evolution. There are lots of signs that evolution is happening and that it has happened for billions of years and that it happens quite automatically. But the pink elephant in the room is how come it is happening in the first place. That's the miracle that any evolutionary biologist carefully would avoid to explain. Which is a bit like making a carefully and exhaustive study of automobiles without ever considering where they come from.

Take consciousness. A lot of scientific minded folks believe that consciousness is something that suddenly appears when you make a computer that is complicated enough. Just like life is something that happens if you mix a sufficiently complicated bunch of elements together. All of the elements can be carefully studied and catalogued and put under a microscope. But ... then a miracle occurs.

Of course, the thing to do, like in the cartoon, is to gently point out that maybe the formula needs a little bit more work at that point.

I also like it because I do believe in miracles. Existence, life, evolution and consciousness is pretty damned miraculous stuff. I find it delightful that life and the universe can't all be reduced into a neat and complete mental model that fits into the small head of a hairless monkey walking around on the surface of a little planet in the outer rim of a minor galaxy, but that there's plenty of mystery left. At the same time, it is fun to try (to understand everything). But there will usually always be a "then a miracle occurs" somewhere in the formula. And I think the answer is not to try to get rid of it, or pretend it isn't there, but to embrace it.


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13 comments

28 Oct 2009 @ 13:36 by solomoreno : Lovely
I've never seen this cartoon. But I know its truth because I line-charged on it:) Thank you for posting.  


30 Oct 2009 @ 02:43 by c.c.keiser @72.92.102.70 : Love it!
Just a little something for your enjoyment!
Skeptical Idealism 2.0
[link]

do no harm

chuck  



30 Oct 2009 @ 10:12 by mortimer : Cartesian Bash
Rampant enit? holy smokes. Look, its like this. You don't need to understand how a car engine works before you ride in a car. Likewise, reality.  


30 Oct 2009 @ 10:17 by swanny @70.65.16.119 : Perhaps
Perhaps but then who is going to "fix" the car/reality when it breaks down as it, the human car/reality, eventually and generally tends to do from time to time?  


30 Oct 2009 @ 12:17 by mortimer : want see miracle?

this is a stereo image, if you stare at it long enough Xenu pops out  



30 Oct 2009 @ 12:21 by mortimer : pivotal viewpoint
A perfect Universe does not break. If it was breakable then it would not be perfect.

Reality on personal level, 'Consciousness is not fragile

Perhaps "level" is not the best word to use here hmmm.
Levels like higher and lower etc used in spiritual narrative is only for transmitting concepts. Its just a modal for decoding reality. Spiritual levels exist only in concept.  



31 Oct 2009 @ 03:27 by c.c.keiser @72.94.116.10 : Perhaps you would like this Reality?
This is from the BBC Horizon: The secret you. Consciousness.
It finally made it to You Tube where anyone can watch it.
[link]  



31 Oct 2009 @ 04:20 by a-d : (Just) Be Yourself.....
....then a Miracle occurs! .... the REAL Miracle!...:-) [link]

If you believe in having to go through CatScans etc in order to find or "prove" your own Self... then -for instance- indigenous Peoples around the World can/will never find /be themselves!.... and I bet dollars to donuts THEY are more themselves than we, "westerners" in our cancerous cities have EVER BEEN!... be it before, or after, as in the link above "proving" your Secret You through CatScan !... or... what do you guys think?  



31 Oct 2009 @ 06:32 by mortimer : Yes Chuck
I like things effective.

[link]  



1 Nov 2009 @ 04:31 by c.c.keiser @72.94.114.36 : John Grieve: Fixing Cartesianism
Hey Mort, are you John Grieve?
Thanks, I bookmark the link and will give your other articles a read as well.

Effective: to serve a purpose: Useful: Helpful: Successful: Valuable!

Yeah, I did too at one time, but it seems the more I have learned, the less it seems to matter.
It’s really true you know; if you keep an opened mind your brains really do fall out.
Cartesian dualism becomes Idealism’s non-duality. The brain vanishes and only the mind remains.
Once you get to that precipice it is only a short slide to comprehending that the Reality you see is Your Reality; and all that goes with it.
If that don’t drive you insane, well then, you are just not keeping an open mind!  



2 Nov 2009 @ 00:23 by mortimer : keeping an open mind

John Grieve, fellow newciv member - [link]
When you register [link] you can create a newslog from your profile.

[link]  



26 Jan 2010 @ 06:44 by Online Auction @58.27.132.102 : Ambious Theory
Hi

Good information in this post and a lot of scientific minded folks believe that consciousness is something that suddenly appears when you make a computer that is complicated enough.  



19 May 2011 @ 23:54 by Nizwiz @69.50.74.29 : Why evolution occurs
You're an idiot.

Evolution happens because in the real world if you don't evolve you die.

It's as simple as that.  



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Other stories in
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2012-01-02 13:52: 2011 Accomplishments and 2012 Aims
2011-11-17 02:20: Your inner piece
2011-02-01 00:05: Slow Mo Flow
2011-01-22 18:40: Recognition
2010-08-23 00:36: Where's Ming?
2010-07-20 14:24: Getting other people to do stuff
2010-06-22 00:27: Inventory
2010-06-19 23:10: Conversations
2009-07-27 16:56: Reboot 11 / The Art of Not-Doing



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