Dumbass enhances the exchange because it draws attention to the problem. It is obviously unnecessary (I even labeled it an ad hominem) for the actual conversation. What it accomplishes though is attention.
It got a group of people trying to talk to her to stop and discuss if it is worthwhile to do so. Personally, I had decided it wasn't really worth it...and I'm normally pretty patient when people don't understand ideas. What I'm not patient with is continually using arguments from ignorance and attacking science as faith.
And, I'll be honest, arguing like that does indeed make someone a dumbass in my mind. Someone simply ignorant of the issue doesn't typically go in with arguments from ignorance and attacking any knowledge on the subject as faith-based. That approach takes someone who is willfully ignorant or brain-washed.
Now, maybe Heidi is just confused. But maybe by calling her a dumbass it will jar her enough to realize how fallacious her arguments are. Or, perhaps equally as likely, it will cause her to shut down. But being as she seems shut down to rational thought processes already, I don't see the latter as that big of a risk.
Heidi, if you don't want to be mistaken for a theist troll, you should probably stop carrying their water so strenuously. Theists commonly accuse atheists and scientists of practicing their own religion, which doesn't make any sense, considering that their points of view amount to the rejection of religion. Usually it takes a theist to believe that the absence of something is an example of that same something. But to take your points in turn:
"It is ridiculous to impute theism to the argument that material reductionists have not proven their case concerning the origin of consciousness. They haven't."
Just because we haven't yet figured out the precise details about how consciousness arises from mechanical brain function, all this mystical nonsense about the universe being imbued with intelligence/intent/consciousness as a fundamental force is sheerest conjecture, and far less likely to be true than that consciousness arises as an emergent property of the brain. Why? First off, it's an argument from ignorance: Since we don't know how consciousness arises, then it must be God, or a universal consciousness, or the fundamental intentionality of the universe, or pink unicorns. No. You are free to posit any of those essentially theist positions as alternative hypotheses to the mechanistic explanation, but it's your job to flesh that out with evidence. Meanwhile, real scientists are busy getting to the bottom of how consciousness arises out of mechanical brain processes. Furthermore, zero evidence has been found by all of the kooks like Sheldrake. I'll put my money on mechanical processes aggregating to something that feels like consciousness.
"Intentionality is especially indicative of that. How does the brain mechanically originate intentionality... or creativity... or an original thought? How does the brain mechanically correlate subjective, semantic meanings and come up with ironic humor? How is that passed along via DNA?"
We don't know everything about the mechanisms yet, though we do know more than you seem to think. And we know for sure that intentionality, creativity, and original thought are definitely not passed along via DNA. To even suggest such a thing is really off the wall, and something a theist might say, reflecting a refusal to understand the pieces of the puzzle that we do, in fact, already know. DNA provides a blueprint for the brain and the body it inhabits. Intentionality, creativity, and intelligence start happening once the new brain is running. They are something that a sufficiently sophisticated brain does, not something that a sufficiently sophisticated brain is.
"It is also ridiculous to impute theism to the questioning of theories describing some presumed nothingness preceding a postulated "singularity" predicated upon some cryptic mathematics that you, yourselves, don't comprehend."
Big Bang theory does not describe a presumed nothingness preceding the singularity. Big Bang theory says that the singularity was the sum total of everything. It's meaningless to talk about how long it existed prior to expansion or what happened before the Big Bang, because our space-time started with the Big Bang. You can't talk about something that happened before beforeness was possible. If (and it's a big if) our singularity was a black hole in some metaverse, it's still meaningless, because that space-time wasn't our space-time.
Theists commonly assume that the Big Bang was an explosion of "something out of nothing", as you appear to. When corrected on this point, theists routinely just keep insisting that the nontheist is saying that the Big Bang was an explosion of "something out of nothing", as you do.
"Unwavering Faith in concepts that you do not personally comprehend, but which you accept based upon the identities and qualifications of the person(s) upholding them, and vehemently defend to the point of nastiness is no different from religious dogma. It smacks of the previous experiences I've had debating overt theists... except that the OVERT theists were far more honest about it.
Here you all are... adhering to supposedly rational concepts, the mathematical proofs of which you do not personally comprehend, and clinging to presumptions that you've admitted we don't really know for certain. That's faith-based belief, whether you want to admit it or not."
Theists routinely accuse nontheists of having unwavering faith in materialist explanations that they do not personally comprehend. Knowing which way to bet is not the same as having unwavering faith. As theories are updated with the latest findings, our understanding of the universe evolves. We trust science, not individual scientists, to get to the bottom of things. We trust that the self-correcting nature of the scientific method will arrive at closer and closer approximations of reality, even if individual scientists are mistaken or lying. This is not faith, though theists often confuse this with faith, since that is the way they understand the world.
"Labeling me a "troll" and a "theist" and then attempting to herd me away from the secular category because I do not simply swallow YOUR religious dogma is laughable."
Labeling my arguments as religious dogma is precisely the sort of thing a theist does. Science is not a religion. It's mainly theists that fail to understand that.
"Especially diagnostic is the anger which prevents you from seeing the genuine, ironic humor in Hawkings' hedging of his own bet concerning his own theories.
Religious zealots are NOTORIOUSLY devoid of a sense of humor... obviously because they cannot possibly see how funny they really are."
Just because I didn't comment on Hawking's amusing hedge doesn't mean I didn't notice it. I don't see how that can be particularly diagnostic of anything, unless you are used to arguing from ignorance. Like theists. I don't see Hawking's hedge as being particularly significant. He was having fun with some friends and admitting that he could be wrong. All scientists admit that they can be wrong, or they're not very good scientists.
"Jason - what has yet to be proven is that the intelligence demonstrated by intelligent beings originates within the brain. How can intention spontaneously originate from a mechanical process within the brain?
Did you watch the video I posted earlier, in which Dawkins explains the behavior of ANTS which cooperatively farm, engage in pest control, and cultivate crops? Do you realize what rudimentary brains these individual creatures have? How can this intelligent, cooperative behavior be the product of these creatures' tiny, simple, individual brains?"
It's an amazing ant species. Thanks for the link. I notice that Dawkins doesn't endorse your idea that some overarching intelligence ties these ant colonies together into one mind. It is commonly noted that extremely complex and seemingly coordinated behavior can emerge from aggregations of simple automata each following simple rules. Conway's Game of Life is the classic example, but a-life in general gives us plenty of empirical evidence to suggest that mind can easily be based entirely on brain.
In fact, Heidi, you are looking thru the wrong end of the telescope. You look at the ant colony and see a level of intelligence that is inexplicable, given its component parts (individual ants). I look at the ant colony and see a sophisticated system built upon simple, autonomous parts. The ant colony and the human brain are not signs of an outside intelligence. The ant colony is a demonstration of how brain cells can achieve complex aggregate results from simple individual neurons following simple rules. It is, in fact, a piece of evidence to answer your question.
More to the point, the reductionist, mechanistic explanations that you dislike are at least based on things we can observe and study, unlike the wooful non-answers that you seem to prefer. A universal mind or morphic field or whatever nonsense you want to call it is inherently impossible to approach empirically, because it is so ill-defined. That's the game that theists play. They come up with a non-falsifiable non-answer so as to foreclose further inquiry.
You ask, "How can intention spontaneously originate from a mechanical process within the brain?" Wrong question. How can it originate anywhere else? We've never seen it happen without a functioning brain lurking nearby. You've given up on us trying to find the answer to the question you ask, and instead prefer to wander off looking in every area but the one place that's extremely implicated in intelligence--the brain. Why would you want to look elsewhere for answers when we've had so much success with materialist, reductionist methods? For that matter, you know who else likes to denigrate reductionism? Theists. And postmodernists, but if you admit to being one of those, you'll disappear in a puff of logic.
"'Further, it is emphatically not an act of faith to accept the learning of the scientific community as being reasonable approximations to the truth, and acting on that premise.'
It is for me if I can't verify these beliefs based upon rational comprehension. Bizarre theories about enormous amounts of matter and energy somehow reducing to a mysterious point of singular nothingness preceded by utter nothingness and based upon cryptic mathematical gobbledegook which even the likes of Hawkings is unwilling to assert without hedging his own bets is no more believable to me than a virgin birth or a talking snake.
Bow down and worship it all if you like... but don't bother blustering and trying to blow smoke up my ass. You all just remind me of Jimmy Swaggart or Marjoe Gortner, ironically demonizing non-believers."
Once again, the singularity was not nothing, and it was not preceded by nothing (or anything, for that matter). You don't need to understand higher mathematics to understand the basic concepts. You just have to stop insisting that it's just too weird to be true. Theists tend to insist things like that. When the going gets weird, atheists just kinda roll with it, because we don't need pat answers. Which is why we don't worship.
Heidi, it's possible that you are not, after all a theist, or a troll. But you use the same tactics and reach many of the same conclusions. If you are not a theist, you are at least a deist, even if you don't want to call yourself one. All you seem to be doing is giving God an alias: Intentionality (or intelligence, or desire, or something). I don't understand why an atheist would do that, unless they don't really understand what it is to be an atheist. I'm sorry if you don't like hearing these things, but there are plenty of actual theist trolls running around loose, and your statements and persistence make you look exactly like one.
You said that much better than my scattered comments back to her. Thanks for this post. Although, personally, I think you cut her too much slack. You are of course completely allowed to do so, it is a completely subjective line.
I've copied and pasted your lengthy reply (above) into a .doc and will consider and respond to all of the points you've presented. Thank you.
Meanwhile, I am especially interested in information and discussion pertaining to the subject of "consciousness" and the origin and properties of consciousness/intelligence.
Since that is a narrower focus than the OP of this thread, I'm going to start a new thread "RE: Consciousness - It's Origin and Properties" in case anyone would like to continue discussing that subject.