Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Neural Nets and Intelligent Design

Watch this video:

What I find interesting from a “believer’s” point of view are the following comments:

“Neural Nets ... allow the computer to operate a little bit like your brain operates… The elements of a neural net aren’t exactly like a neuron, they are much less complicated and there are far fewer of them.” - Calum Chase (at 19 seconds thru 35 seconds)

“The sort of things that go on in nature are often ... they are quite profound.” - Doug Orr (starting at 42 seconds)

These two quotes, one from an AI author and the other from a software engineer working at SwiftKey, help us to see that believing we are the result of random freaks of natural selection is much harder for a reasoning, logical, intelligent mind to accept than is the conviction that a higher power (God) made us. In fact, even if humans ever do manage to make a machine that matches the ability of the human brain, all it will demonstrate is that much higher intelligence than mankind currently, collectively possesses was necessary to compose such a design and device. Even after they make that device, they will need to shrink it down to fit into a human skull in order to match what humans now, and have for centuries, possessed. (When you consider all the “great” scientific minds working on AI today and yet they barely touch the complexity of what evolutionists ascribe to mindless, undirected changes, it is really baffling that those same scientists can claim, with a straight face, that mindless evolution did what they still cannot do.)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Human Consciousness - What Is It?

Reading a medical dictionary’s definition of human consciousness, I had to ask myself with each bullet item what it was about that definition that was different from what animals have. In some cases I was forced to concede that animals have, to some degree or another, the characteristics cited in the definition. After contemplating the definitions, I tried to find something that really demonstrated that human consciousness was unique amongst life on earth.

First (not necessarily foremost), human consciousness is the unique ability to anticipate events and consequences and to plan our lives. The phrase "subjective awareness" (as used in the dictionary definition cited above) perhaps best defines the separation between humans and other life forms on earth. We have the ability to decide what is important and discard the less important whereas, in general, animals tend to react to any stimuli regardless of its importance. We understand and can differentiate between perceived, real, and non- threat. (There is no single authoritative definition of "subjective awareness." One college article said it is "what a person chooses to believe." If true, this also demonstrates the separation between human and beast. Animals do not "choose [what] to believe," rather they react to sensory inputs.)

Human consciousness is also what defines our ability to reason, hypothesize, imagine potential and create. Whether that creation be furniture or art, it is something that doesn't exist naturally. Some may argue that such is not creation, however I am not using the term in the same sense that the Bible speaks of God's creating things. However, it was by our use of cognitive reasoning, ability to see potential, and then to use skills through both individual and collective experience that gives us the ability to both "create" and expand on that for improvements.

Finally, for those who believe in God, human consciousness is the ability to grasp the unseen -- namely that intelligence superior to ours is what made us. Granted, atheists and agnostics are humans the same as believers are humans and their rejection of a creator does not lessen their humanity. However, with animals the concept of superiority stops with the visible. They have no consciousness of a God, gods, or whatever. They do not worship, they do not try to contemplate and understand the cosmos, nor even their own existence. However, mankind, even some atheists, have never stopped looking for a reason and understanding of why we are here.

In short then, human ability to anticipate, to plan (individually and collectively), to imagine; to improve our lot; and to worship are all unique features of human consciousness.

But now comes the big question -- where did this awareness, this cognition come from? The answer to that is not something atheists can adequately answer with any degree of satisfaction. To brush it off as a quirk of evolution demonstrates an air of arrogance like a professor that really doesn’t know the answer so he makes something up and then emphatically claim that his position is correct because of his education. However, those believing in God, especially those accepting the Bible, readily appreciate the value of knowing that humans were made in God’s image. Part of that “image” is the cognitive powers that no other creation (except angels) is mentioned as having (nor has any other earthly creature demonstrated). (Obviously the word “image” here cannot mean the compositional characteristics. God is a spirit being. Today, with our knowledge of science, we might more readily describe him as an intelligent energy life-force of some sort. Man, on the other hand is physical. So we must look to other characteristics, such as those already mentioned, in order to make sense of what the Bible is teaching.)

(The Bible teaches that God’s four main attributes are love, justice, wisdom and power. These also are demonstrated by mankind. While animals may to some degree demonstrate power it is not only power as in strength that the Bible is speaking of. Also, animals do care for their young and herd, however, the love humans express is usually considered a higher degree of cognition.)

It is my personal feelings that the very reason science cannot agree on how to correctly and accurately define consciousness is that it rejects the very foundation that we are made in God’s image. Without that ground-floor belief, nothing else makes sense. There really is no reason, evolutionary or otherwise, for man to have this ability apart from it being an endowment by a loving creator.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Leviticus 5 Testifying to an Event

Leviticus 5:1 reads: “If someone sins because he has heard a public call to testify and he is a witness or has seen or learned about it and he does not report it, then he will answer for his error.”

I have always understood this to mean that if a person observes wrongdoing, he is under obligation to report it. However, after reading the revised translation above along with the footnote to this scripture, I realized it could also mean the need to come to the defense of an innocent person.

Although the judicial arrangement back in ancient Israel was different than our modern means of carrying out justice, the principle is still the same. As lawyers are ramping up to make & present their case (on both sides, plaintiff and defendant), they will typically interview anyone that has any knowledge of the events that lead to the court case. Back in ancient Israel, it was up to each community member to willingly and readily come forward both with information that may prove innocence or guilt. What Lev.5:1 is legislating is that anyone holding back knowledge is guilty especially before God. Typically the phrase “he will answer for his error” meant the death penalty if such a person withheld pertinent knowledge or evidence. We might think that such a penalty was extreme, but even in today’s courts, withholding evidence is akin to perjury and in some cases is punishable by a prison sentence.

So both in ancient and modern history, withholding what we know about a critical matter can end up affecting our own freedom. It is not a small matter. Whether it is something that can exonerate or condemn a person, if we have information pertinent to the case and the charges, we need to report it.