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Old 05 Dec 2017, 01:32 PM   #681793 / #76
DrZoidberg
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He he... well.. I'm not a humanist. To me humanism is the first wave of post Christian secularists.
okay... thank you for the link, talking about both Nietzsche and Marx, two people I try to understand. But then, it was a friend who called me first, a humanist. Since he is a French doctor in medicine, I thought he knew what he was talking about. I am only an old senile grand-father. I "think" I am humanist but ... I am no longer sure.

Here is my story: born from a middle-class Belgian bourgeoisie, I became a typical hippie, complaining about everything, disliking everything, without having to worry about a thing because I could do what I wanted, I had a loving mother who gave me money when I needed it.
Then, in 1971, I was in Marrakesh, Morocco when I saw a boy of my age, begging in the street. He had no legs, was in a box with four wheels and moved by pushing with his hands. He had a big smile! He smiled all the time. I gave him some money and the day after, he was there, again, with the same smile. And I was bitter, I did't smile. I felt everything was wrong. People were stupid. then ... I understood!

I understood what happiness is: to have an occupation and be appreciated for it. Then I became interested to find out how we, humans, work. My wife is a retired social worker and we have had interesting discussions about the society and what can be done.

You focus on President Trump and Brexit. I have a photo that I can share (if I knew how to attach it to this message) but you have seen it before: It is President Obama who congratulates Trump at the inauguration. The photo is a symbol of democracy: the peaceful passage of power from one to the other. Isn't it wonderful? Isn't it ... incredible?

And my bottom line will be this: When I am on the ground, my aircraft tank is half full. Once in the air, it is half empty. But it is only in my head and I can (and try) to control that.
You can love other humans in spite of not being a humanist. I do. The problem with humanism is that they uphold it to a duty. Something you should do. Ok, fine. But based on what? I need more than just assertions.

When I was in Cambodia next to me a poor farmer skidded off the road on his motorbike. I scraped him out of the ditch, took him in my car to the nearest hospital. They said they wouldn't treat him because he didn't have insurance. So I paid the bill. My plane left the next day so I never knew what happened to him.

I did all that, in spite of not being a humanists. I did't do it out of duty. I did it because it made me feel good. I didn't do it for his sake. I did it for my sake. I didn't do it to score points. Or to raise my status in the community. I only did it because it made me feel good about it.

I recommend both Nietzsche and Marx. Both brilliant philosophers. Marx gets a lot of shit for how communist dictatorships turned out. But his philosophy is more than that.

To sum up Nietzsche's morality in short (this is extremely short) you could say that if you are vulnerable, you think murder is wrong. If you have stuff that can be stolen, you think stealing is wrong. If you have nothing and you are desperate those morals are out the window. Upholding life as sacred is just you wanting other people to see your life as sacred, so they wont kill you and take your stuff.

Marx is similar. He says we respond to incentives. If we live in a society that punishes murder, we think murder is wrong. If we don't, then we won't. But it's not that we'd murder if we could get away with it. But that this social structure warps out mental state and means we can't think of it in other ways. That's why he claims that being poor means that your mind is similarly likely to be warped by those you are dependent on for your subsistence. The insidious nature of capitalism. Something like that.

Disclaimer: I'm NOT claiming that I've captured both these philosophers entire body of work. Just the main gist of it IMHO. Marx was an extremely prolific writer. His thought is hard to pin down in just a couple of lines.
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Old 05 Dec 2017, 06:45 PM   #681801 / #77
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I did all that, in spite of not being a humanists. I did't do it out of duty.
Oh, but if you had the impression that I meant, only self-proclaimed humanists can show empathy, sympathy and altruism, then I beg your pardon, I was far from thinking that!

Actually, I thrive best with no labels at all! Forget, "humanism!" I only wanted to say that ... I am optimist and believe that we will solve our problems without the need of a god or any other imaginary friend.

I became interested in Nietzsche after reading about his Eternal Recurrence. It seems to make sense. What do you think?

As for Marx, I am socialist because I believe that we will only have peace in the world when all the resources are more or less evenly distributed. Otherwise, there will be envy, migration and conflicts.

Basically, what I like is what is described in John Lennon's "Imagine." ... yes, I know, I am a stupid, naive hippie but ... it makes me feel warm and cozy! ;-)
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Old 06 Dec 2017, 10:14 AM   #681824 / #78
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I became interested in Nietzsche after reading about his Eternal Recurrence. It seems to make sense. What do you think?
I think it's a metaphor. In Thus So Zarathustra Nietzsche uses Zoroaster as a juxtaposition to western thought. Nietzsche gets lots of the details of Zoroastrianism and Hindu thought wrong. Because he's not trying to talk about them. He's just trying to talk about the failings of Western thought. So Zoroaster doesn't think we go to heaven after death, he thinks we just comes back. But Nietzsche was an atheist and a materialist. So we know that he didn't believe in either heaven or the eternal return.

Nietzsche was an "affirmative nihilist". Yes, life is inherently meaningless. But we can't operate that way. We need meaning to function. So we have to give life meaning. I think that's what he means.

It's also connected with Amor Fati. No matter what happens to you in your life, you have to accept it, embrace it and LOVE IT. Because why not? There's no point being bitter about stuff you can't do anything about.

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As for Marx, I am socialist because I believe that we will only have peace in the world when all the resources are more or less evenly distributed. Otherwise, there will be envy, migration and conflicts.

Basically, what I like is what is described in John Lennon's "Imagine." ... yes, I know, I am a stupid, naive hippie but ... it makes me feel warm and cozy! ;-)
Well... I'm a big fan of Marx. But I'm not a socialist. I am. But not in that regard. I don't think we'll ever have peace in the world. Even if everything was perfect for everyone, we'll still find something to go to war over. There will always ben envy, migration and conflicts. The good thing about capitalism is that it harnesses that drive for conflict into something positive. But it only works in a dynamic market. People need hope. So I believe governments are great at breaking up cartels, and busting up crime syndicates and reducing corruption. But unfairness and conflict... we'll always have them. I think it's inbuilt in our genetic makeup.

The only way to avoid it would be something like Huxley's Brave New World, where literally everybody was on drugs all the time. I personally prefer the conflicts.
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Old 06 Dec 2017, 12:11 PM   #681826 / #79
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But Nietzsche was an atheist and a materialist. So we know that he didn't believe in either heaven or the eternal return.
I never read the book, DrZoidberg, but, from what I understand, Nietzsche thought that, if God doesn't exist, the universe was not created and what can happen, will happen and not only once but an infinite number of times. Isn't that what his Eternal Return is about? In a sense, I tend to agree with him. Of course, it opens the ghosts of Quantum Uncertainty and Many Words Interpretation. What is your opinion about that?

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Well... I'm a big fan of Marx. But I'm not a socialist.
Oh, I think that capitalism if wonderful! It is the lube oil of our society! It makes us to come there much faster! ... the question is ... where? How many cars, airplanes and houses do we have to own to say that we are happy and have enough? Capitalism is based on growth.
Personally, I prefer the idea of sharing. Of course, democratic communism is not around the corner. Of course, imposed communism (one party regime) will never work at long-term. As you write, Marx's ideas have been used in a negative way. But I like e.g. his idea that workers shouldn't work much more than 8 hours a day so that they have enough time to enjoy hobbies.
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Old 06 Dec 2017, 12:23 PM   #681829 / #80
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But Nietzsche was an atheist and a materialist. So we know that he didn't believe in either heaven or the eternal return.
I never read the book, DrZoidberg, but, from what I understand, Nietzsche thought that, if God doesn't exist, the universe was not created and what can happen, will happen and not only once but an infinite number of times. Isn't that what his Eternal Return is about? In a sense, I tend to agree with him. Of course, it opens the ghosts of Quantum Uncertainty and Many Words Interpretation. What is your opinion about that?
I think you're making a mystical argument from quantum mechanics, that's suspiciously difficult to separate from an argument from ignorance.

Nietzsche predates the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. So his outlook would have been a hell of a lot more mundane. Nietzsche's entire life's works is easier to grasp if you look at his sources of inspiration. Nietzsche is basically just an amalgamation of Shoppenhaur and the theory of evolution. Shoppenhaur in turn is just a project to work in Eastern philosophy into western philosophy, and create one unified philosophical theory.

To sum up. I think Nietzsche didn't believe in progress. I think that's all that means. Whatever progress is illusory. No matter what side wins in a conflict, it doesn't really matter in the long run. You can't change the world. The only thing you can change is the way you see it, ie your attitude to it. You can chose a rich and varied life, above a boring and spiritually impoverished one. And we can all do that.

I think it's something like that he means.

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Well... I'm a big fan of Marx. But I'm not a socialist.
Oh, I think that capitalism if wonderful! It is the lube oil of our society! It makes us to come there much faster! ... the question is ... where? How many cars, airplanes and houses do we have to own to say that we are happy and have enough? Capitalism is based on growth.
Personally, I prefer the idea of sharing. Of course, democratic communism is not around the corner. Of course, imposed communism (one party regime) will never work at long-term. As you write, Marx's ideas have been used in a negative way. But I like e.g. his idea that workers shouldn't work much more than 8 hours a day so that they have enough time to enjoy hobbies.
Ok, then I get you. Then we're on the same page. I agree completely. We have the same view on it.
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Old 06 Dec 2017, 06:33 PM   #681835 / #81
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Nietzsche predates the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.
Yes but ... what do you think about the idea that, if the universe is not created, it must be eternal and, therefore, what can happen, will happen?

Of course, we ate talking about billions, or rather, a googolplex number of years. But ... what is time when you are dead? ;-)

I don't see how an atheist view of the universe cannot involve an eternal return. What do you think?
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Old 06 Dec 2017, 08:23 PM   #681841 / #82
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Nietzsche predates the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.
Yes but ... what do you think about the idea that, if the universe is not created, it must be eternal and, therefore, what can happen, will happen?

Of course, we ate talking about billions, or rather, a googolplex number of years. But ... what is time when you are dead? ;-)
If the many worlds theory is true, then that's a distinct possibility.

I've always pictured the universe as a bit like a pot of boiling porridge. The bubbles expand and rise, to the surface and collapse. Each bubble is a Big Bang. And it just goes on and on, in a closed system. What prevents entropy is that the world is on the quantum level inherently unstable. So there's always a small chance that nothing can rupture and rip apart into matter and anti-matter, which is what the Big Bang is.

I have no idea if there's scientific support for this hypothesis. I haven't explored it much. I most like the poetry of it. And in the sted of knowing with certainty what happens, this will do nicely

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I don't see how an atheist view of the universe cannot involve an eternal return. What do you think?
Doesn't eternal return involve the soul somehow? I don't believe the soul survives death. It's a part of the mind. When the mind goes, the soul goes. But the energy remains. The energy is recycled. So I guess that's something along those lines. But that energy has no consciousness. It's just pure energy.
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Old 06 Dec 2017, 10:45 PM   #681845 / #83
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Doesn't eternal return involve the soul somehow?
Ah, I see what you mean, my friend! ;-) Well, I use the Cartesian "table rase" of forgetting everything I know. Then I ask myself: The universe? I imagine a googolplex of Planck's units of space and a googolplex of Planck's unit of time, forming a ... Graham number of possible configurations.

Then I say: I observe the universe from this event or configuration. Period. Can it happen again? In a time so big that there isn't enough paper on earth, or even in the entire universe, to write it down?

I mean, the universe must be finite or infinite. If it is infinite, there isn't a smallest and biggest part: going into the microcosme and macrocosme for ever ... strange! In my humble opinion, only a finite yet unbound universe makes sense, doesn't it?

And if that is the case, when everything is exactly like now, every molecule, atom, particle, quark, everywhere in the universe, then wouldn't my consciousness of it also be a fact? If not, then why am I conscious now?

To be honest, I am very stupid (and old!) I don't understand a thing about Quantum and Relativity. But, trying to keep things simple, ... What do you think?
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Old 07 Dec 2017, 09:35 AM   #681856 / #84
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I mean, the universe must be finite or infinite. If it is infinite, there isn't a smallest and biggest part: going into the microcosme and macrocosme for ever ... strange! In my humble opinion, only a finite yet unbound universe makes sense, doesn't it?
With the current theories both a finite and infinite universe violates the second law of thermodynamics. So clearly there's something else the universe can be.

There's not many conclusions we can draw based upon the limitations of human imagination. The only thing we can be sure about (based on history) is that anything anybody religious says on this matter will be wrong.

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And if that is the case, when everything is exactly like now, every molecule, atom, particle, quark, everywhere in the universe, then wouldn't my consciousness of it also be a fact? If not, then why am I conscious now?
This is a chain of reasoning that is dependent on quite a few dodgy assumptions. So I'm going with... probably not? We don't even understand what consciousness is for, in this species. Perhaps that's a start?

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To be honest, I am very stupid (and old!) I don't understand a thing about Quantum and Relativity. But, trying to keep things simple, ... What do you think?
I prefer the term "wise".

There's a famous quote on quantum mechanics by Richard Feynman.

"If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics"

What he means is that there's no way to intuitively understand it. Everything humans understand; we, on some level, can only understand through metaphor. But we have nothing to map the idea of quantum mechanics onto. So it only becomes a set of mathematical scriblings equations on a sheet of paper.

Here's a talk on string theory. But it's the best, most informative talk I've found on the frontiers of physics in general.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtdE662eY_M
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Old 07 Dec 2017, 12:58 PM   #681859 / #85
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With the current theories both a finite and infinite universe violates the second law of thermodynamics. So clearly there's something else the universe can be.
Oh but I agree, DrZoidberg! I often irritate my friends by telling them that the answer to the universe is ... 42. Of course, I am referring to that very funny British play, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but also, for me, it has the following meaning: The answer is simple and yet, we are not made to understand it ... yet, and perhaps, never.

You see, I have no answer, no clue! I only like to ask questions. For example, if I had a tool that could, in a fraction of a second, reproduce each and every atom and particle of my body as a new one, would that "new me" be conscious? Would me consciousness be both in this and that new body?

Of course, we don't know what consciousness is. But, unless you believe in a divine creation, it must have come slowly as a step in evolution. right? For example, when I mow the lawn, first time, each spring, I cut the dandelions but, two weeks later, the have learned exactly how high is my lawn mower's cutting blade and will grow just under! Are they "intelligent?" Do they have memory? Are they conscious?

I don't know. But, to me, it makes sense that, if the universe doesn't have an end, the everything must repeat itself ... eventually, right? Okay, there might be 10 super string dimensions. But ... if anything that can happen, does happen ... even not knowing what consciousness is, it should repeat too, right?


Thanks for the Super String TED Talks from Mr. Green. I love TED Talks. Here is another one of Mr. Green talks:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bf7BXwVeyWw&t=559s

Let me know what you think of it. (PS: I kept the link because I was thinking to show it to the Humanist Confirmation kids then I thought; hum, too much for them! ;-)
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Old 07 Dec 2017, 01:47 PM   #681860 / #86
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Of course, we don't know what consciousness is. But, unless you believe in a divine creation, it must have come slowly as a step in evolution. right? For example, when I mow the lawn, first time, each spring, I cut the dandelions but, two weeks later, the have learned exactly how high is my lawn mower's cutting blade and will grow just under! Are they "intelligent?" Do they have memory? Are they conscious?
If we're missing such a crucial part of the puzzle, I'd say we don't have enough information from which to make such inferences.

I'm pretty sure it's not a divine creator. For the very same reason as I question your inference. When we speculate on the big questions we often take something advanced from out own time and culture and just project into the stars. Ancient humans would imagine a human forming the world out of clay like a potter. This is literally what it says in the Bible. The lack of imagination of that idea makes me think it's bullshit.

The most advanced mechanic from which to create stuff we know of is the theory of evolution. Aren't you just projecting that into the universe? Why couldn't it be something else entirely? Maybe there's a worm hole of sorts at the end of the universe, and the last terrestrial life form travels back in time and becomes it's own ancestor. Not particularly likely. But it's a possibility.

To crack this riddle we need to think very far out of the the box.

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Thanks for the Super String TED Talks from Mr. Green. I love TED Talks. Here is another one of Mr. Green talks:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bf7BXwVeyWw&t=559s
Yeah, it's cool. But it's important to remember that the universe doesn't exist for our benefit. We're more like the mold at the back of the refrigerator. It's just there. For no reason. There's rare events happening all the time. It only becomes amazing if you make the mistake of assuming the the actual outcome was the end goal. No, it wasn't. The universe might have had a configuration where we didn't have life (as we know it). So it's not amazing.
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Old 30 Dec 2017, 03:15 AM   #682445 / #87
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Let us assume for a moment, that Intelligent Design is a legitimate theory and try to determine what we can infer about the designer. Let's consider the human immune system. I.D. proponents often point to this as an example of something too complex to be a result of mere evolution. We must also consider the malaria parasite which has a host of features that appear "designed" to allow it to circumvent the human immune system. If fact, it is so successful in circumventing the human immune system that it may have played a role in half off all deaths in human history.

If the same designer that designed the human immune system designed the malaria parasite, then clearly the designer is suffering from multiple personality disorder (one personality tries to protect us, the other tries to kill us). More likely, it is a case of multiple designers working at cross purposes. Of course these designers cannot be omnipotent as neither has come up with a foolproof design as one would expect from an omnipotent designer, so they are likely to not be supernatural. The most likely candidate would be two different races of space aliens involved in a design competition.

Of maybe the human immune system and malaria are both just a product of an unguided evolutionary arms race. We would expect such a process to produce imperfect solutions of ever growing complexity which seems to pretty well match what we actually see. This seems a more parsimonious explanation to me.
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Old 30 Dec 2017, 09:00 AM   #682446 / #88
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Let us assume for a moment, that Intelligent Design is a legitimate theory and try to determine what we can infer about the designer. Let's consider the human immune system.
One of the favorite argument of Intelligent Design is, the human eye. How can an eye pop up from the skin by evolution? It must be designed!
... well, survival of the fittest; the cell that can detect the change of electro-magnetic energy of the light, can avoid the predator and ... survive.
Simple, isn't it?
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Old 30 Dec 2017, 06:07 PM   #682451 / #89
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It's easy to see what an eye's function is -- find one's way around, find food, find predators, find mates, etc.

But what creationists point to are eye structures, and it's not enough to point to eye functions to understand how those structures emerged. Creationists also like to quote Charles Darwin out of context on this subject, as if he was conceded that eyes are unevolvable.

It starts with many one-celled organisms being light-sensitive, either moving toward light or away from it -- "phototropism". In fact, photosynthesis could well have evolved out of phototropism. Light detection involves getting energy from light, and once one does that, one can direct that energy into energy metabolism.

Many multicelled organisms are also light-sensitive, even if they don't have eyes. Organisms like plants.

Early animals were also light-sensitive, and some of them evolved specialized eyespots. From there, it is straightforward to get to lens-camera eyes. Pull the eyespot backward relative to the surrounding skin and one gets a crude pinhole camera. This enables directional vision, even if with very low resolution. Move the skin around the eyespot together to form a small opening, and one gets better resolution. Add a lens, and one gets an eye cover. Change its shape, and it can focus light. Not very good at first, but it can be improved.
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Old 30 Dec 2017, 06:30 PM   #682452 / #90
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Color vision is a result of gene duplications in photoreceptor-protein genes. Gene duplications are an abundant source of new features, since the original and the duplicate can go separate ways. Several gene families have been identified, families that provide abundant evidence of gene duplication.

Color vision also involves some brain rewiring, but that is more straightforward than what one might expect. (Wikipedia)Critical period discusses how neurons involved in vision learn from experience, as it were. One can sew a kitten's eye shut for three months after birth and the kitten will be unable to get use of that eye again. Sewing an adult cat's eye shut for a year does not have a similar effect. So in those first few months, a cat has to see things for its visual system to develop.

That issue aside, over all the animal kingdom, only arthropods and vertebrates are known to have color vision. It is usually 3 or 4 colors and sometimes more, because the receptor proteins are rather broadband, and because many environment objects also have broadband colors.

I searched for "spectrum" along with: chlorophyll, carotenoid, anthocyanin, hemoglobin, melanin, sky, iron oxide.

A few solid materials have relatively narrow spectral lines, materials like ruby. But we see leaves and flowers and fruits and hair much more often that we see rubies.


Gene-duplication origin of color vision is rather apparent close to home. Most mammalian color vision is limited to only two colors, approximating human red-green color blindness. Thus, dogs only see yellow and blue, with red and green looking yellow to them.

But in some early Old World simian some 30 million years ago, the yellow-receptor gene got duplicated, making our red and green receptors. Their sensitivity spectra are still rather close, however.
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Old 30 Dec 2017, 06:50 PM   #682453 / #91
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Color vision is a result of gene duplications in photoreceptor-protein genes.
Gosh, you know so much about the subject Ipetrich. It is a pleasure to read you, although I am not sure I understand everything.

In my simple mind, to detect light would be a advantage for the the primordial soup in the ocean. Then it evolved more and more simply because ... it was an advantage all the time. Those who saw better, survived best. Now, at the age of 69, I am happy I can still see a bit, thanks to reading glasses! ;-)
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Old 30 Dec 2017, 07:09 PM   #682454 / #92
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Here's another good one: Tutorial: Introduction to Hyperspectral Imaging - hyprspec.pdf -- look at the spectra in it. Slopes and very broad spectral lines.

I couldn't find spectra of flowers, but many flowers get their color from pigments like anthocyanins (blue and red) and carotenoids (red, orange, yellow).


Lens-camera eyes evolved several times: vertebrates and cephalopods and arachnids. Insects and some other arthropods have compound eyes, lots of small eyes.

Vertebrate and cephalopod eyes have remarkably similar overall architecture, though they have numerous differences in detail. Vertebrate eyes are wired backward, with the nerves to the brain toward the incoming light rather than away from it as with cephalopods. Vertebrates also have a single lens, while cephalopods have a split one. Vertebrate eyes are outgrowths of the brain, while cephalopod ones grow out of the skin.

Cephalopods are also completely color-blind, with monochromatic vision. But I've seen a speculation that they adjust their eyes' focusing so they distinguish colors by seeing how well-focused objects are with different eye lengths. Thus taking advantage of different focal lengths for different colors: chromatic aberration.
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Old 02 Jan 2018, 11:21 PM   #682524 / #93
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Originally Posted by Michel View Post
In my simple mind, to detect light would be a advantage for the the primordial soup in the ocean. Then it evolved more and more simply because ... it was an advantage all the time. Those who saw better, survived best.
That pretty well sums it up. Creationists seem to think an eye is useless unless it works just as well as a complex camera eye (like we have), but an eye only needs to work well enough to provide a selective advantage to the organism that uses it (in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king). There are examples in nature of eyes ranging from simple light sensitive patches, cup eyes, pin hole camera eyes, all the way to eyes superior to our own.

Box jellyfish have both very simple eyes and complex camera eyes. They have no actual brain so it isn't clear how they process the information from those complex camera eyes.
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Old 03 Jan 2018, 03:33 AM   #682528 / #94
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Old 03 Jan 2018, 06:14 AM   #682531 / #95
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He was demonstrating our eyes' blind spots. This spot is because our eyes are wired the wrong way. The neurons that carry information from our photoreceptor cells to our brains are on top of those cells, so incoming light passes through them on the way to those cells. But they have to cross the retina somewhere, and where they do so creates our blind spots.

However, cephalopods' eyes are wired the right way, and thus, cephalopods' eyes don't have blind spots.
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Old 03 Jan 2018, 08:48 AM   #682532 / #96
BWE
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michel View Post
Hello friends. As a newcomer, I have a question for you.

Some years ago, someone sent me a link to an Intelligent Design video that said that, the chances for the universe to be in such a way that life can exist, is one in a number so big that it would require 55 digits to write it down. Hence, it can't be the result of a coincidence.

That, immediately made me think of Jansenism and pre-determinism: Of course, if the universe is designed, my writing this right now is also designed, right?

Oh no, answer the supporters of ID, it was designed to the least detail all the way to ... er ... the time humans were created.

My answer then is: but by saying that, you "make" a story, you invent what a creator wants, do, think, etc. You have left the pseudo-scientific argument of the Intelligent Design! You can make any story.

To me, this sounds like a good argumentation but when I explain it to theists and atheists, nobody seem to understand what I mean. My question to you then is ... am I very stupid? Why is this so obvious to me and not to others?

Thanks in advance for your answers.

PS: bear in mind that I am 69 years old, a bit senile and English is not my mother tongue.
Makes perfect sense. There are limitless possibilities for creation stories. They have no reason for theirs other than that they like it. The fact of the matter is that the odds of us being here are 1.
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