X-Message-Number: 8239
Date:  Fri, 23 May 97 12:30:24 
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Science and Religion

From "Perry E. Metzger" <>

>The "day-person hypothesis" is just such a quasi-religious belief
>system. Sure, whether you believe it changes your behavior -- but do
>you have any reason to declare this a non-religious question?

If I understand you right, "religious" questions are those that 
deal with untestable hypotheses, while "scientific" questions deal 
with what is testable through experiment, etc. If this is the 
terminology you want to use, so be it, and I will not "declare this a 
non-religious question." (I might use "philosophical" or "purely
philosophical" in place of "religious" but you are entitled to your

At least I think you agree that "religious" questions are
(sometimes) important ones, and that it makes a difference
which stand you take on some hypotheses that are not testable.

A further thought on these is that often the reason they are not 
testable is that they involve a confusion or imprecision of 
definitions. (This point has come up in your argument with 
Thomas Donaldson over consciousness.) For example, with the
day-person concept we are not given a precise enough definition
of "person" to settle the question experimentally. Often the
reason for such imprecision is not that "there is so
much we don't know"--though certainly that can be a factor
too--but "there is so much we don't agree to." In any case I
have to side with what seems to be Thomas's position
here: We might hope, eventually, to arrive at fully elucidating
definitions that most or all will agree to, that will reduce a
"religious" question to a purely "scientific" one. But 
this is not to be expected in the early stages of investigation of a 
difficult, important phenomenon such as consciousness (and we are 
still in the early stages here) but only later, when our understanding
--and maturity--are up to it.

Meanwhile, though, we might *individually* strive for maturity and 
understanding that are beyond that of others who we think "ought to 
know better." On that basis, I continue to side with those who think 
consciousness would reside in a machine, suitably programmed,
that does nothing at the low level but crunch bits. 

Mike Perry

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