Dataism, Reductionism, and Edellism

The first two are real. The third is a term coined by me, but it means the same as the first two. My research assistant, Dr. Richard Strickert, Ph.D., showed me this. I brought up Dataism in Bible Class; he thought of the reductionism of a book he read some 50 years ago; and I thought of Edellism when he emailed me about it. Let’s get a view things clear: No one in the Bible Class knew what Dataism was, they thought I was saying Dadaism, the 20th century avant-garde art movement which is a really funny place for nerdy, techy, math and science people to go. The second thing to make clear is, I won. This is the first time the Boomer beat the Millennials. Third, Dr. Strickert is NOT my research assistant. He has forgotten more math, science, and research that I have ever known or will know. The fact that he remembered reading something 50 years ago when I have trouble with 5 days ago shows who is assisting whom.

Dataism I read about in Homo Deus by Yuval Harari. Simply put, it holds an organism is an algorithm. The example he used is human hope. In the Rat Forced Swimming tests, 100 rats are placed in a beaker of water. After 15 minutes most give up and just float. They take another 100 rats and take them out at 14 minutes. Those rats are rested, fed, and later placed back in. These rats keep swimming for 20 minutes. That gives you from the Dataist’s perspective a quantification of hope (123-124).

When reading this book, and by the way Harari repeatedly say things like this, “Organisms are algorithms, or are they?” He is in his 40’s and writes like others of his generation. He speaks like the people connected to the NICE project in C.S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength. Open-mindedness, broad-mindedness, uncertainty is the mark of the educated. I think this way of speaking is very influential with the internet educated generation.

Whether that is true, I do believe that Dataism is the religion of the Internet Educated Generated; I was going to coin a new use for “egg head”.  E.G.G. stands for Educated Generally by Google, but I’ve already digressed too many times. Since the internet can do anything a growing tween and teen can ask of it and can answer anything they (And ‘they’ is important here.) ask of it with it’s amalgamation of algorithms, it is in effect god to them. All life can be reduced to algorithms. Lennon was right: It’s easy to imagine there’s no heaven or hell. No reality beyond what algorithms can compute.

I said “Dataism” but  Dr. Strickert didn’t hear “Dadaism”. He heard “reductionism”. He sent me notes from an article “Biology without Consciousness-and Its Consequences” by Robert Efron. It’s in the book Logic, Laws, and Life by Robert G. Colodny, pages 209-234. This article falls under the category: Can anything good have come out of the 60s?

Listen if this quote from a 1967 book doesn’t sound like the 2017 Harari work which he believes is something new. “The most important premise of the philosophy of materialism which affects the field of biology is the “principle of reduction,” the premise that all the phenomena of life can be accounted for, described by, and deduced from the laws of physics and chemistry” [p. 210]. Dr. Efron, goes on to explain to me:  “The acceptance of the principle of reduction on faith has led to a particular set of distortions and to ultimate self-contradiction. The “hard” reductionist claims that the principle of reduction must be accepted on faith. The “soft” reductionist claims that the principle of reduction is not necessarily true, but that we should accept it because of its heuristic value” [p. 211].

Dr. Strickert points me, one who thought STEM only referred to a part of a flower, to Efron’s boiled down. Here is Dr. Efron’s distillation: “The rationale for this evasion ultimately rests on the reductionist’s concept of causality. He holds that the cause of any event is the occurrence of a preceding physical event. By physical event, he means, of course, an event describable in terms of the actions of inanimate entities. Consciousness, he maintains, is the end product of a complex sequence of physio-chemical events, each of which is fully determined by preceding physio-chemical events. Consciousness is an epiphenomenon at the end of this causal chain. As a mental phenomenon, it can have no causal efficacy;4 that is, although it is caused, it cannot be the cause of any further events. It is literally conceived of as a metaphysical dead end. Thus the reductionists find no reason to use the fact of consciousness as an explanatory concept: If a phenomenon can cause nothing, it can explain nothing.5I include Dr. Efron’s footnotes that Dr. Strickert’s included: “Footnotes: 4 This is the root premise of all materialists. 5. This is the explanation for the fact that most reductionist biologists do not consider psychology to be a science. Since mental events have no effects, the science of the “psyche” must, according to them be fundamentally invalid. This is the explicit view of behaviorists and psychophysical parallelists. “This is the explanation for the fact that most reductionist biologists do not consider psychology to be a science. Since mental events have no effects, the science of the “psyche” must, according to them be fundamentally invalid. This is the explicit view of behaviorists and psychophysical parallelists.”  

My point is that this 40-something brainiac, Harari, who I’m sure is popular on the internet, is peddling principles long pitched elsewhere and refuted. Dr. Strickert, as usual takes the discussion to today. Hes quote from an abstract of the following paper that was contained in the paper itself.: “Joseph E. LeDouxa, Matthias Michel, and Hakwan Lauh in ‘A little history goes a long way toward understanding why we study consciousness the way we do today’ (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, March 31, 2020, vol. 117, no. 13) ( –

“Consciousness is currently a thriving area of research in psychology and neuroscience. While this is often attributed to events that took place in the early 1990s, consciousness studies today are a continuation of research that started in the late 19th century and that continued throughout the 20th century. From the beginning, the effort built on studies of animals to reveal basic principles of brain organization and function, and of human patients to gain clues about consciousness itself… These studies paved the way for the current wave of research on consciousness. The field is, in fact, still grappling with the implications of the findings showing that the ability to consciously know and report the identity of a visual stimulus can be dissociated in the brain from the mechanisms that underlie the ability to behave in a meaningful way to the same stimulus.”

Now to my coined concept Edellism. Dr. Dean Edell, American physician and former radio host, is a proud pagan. He believes there is no reality beyond the material. He said love between folks was like Oliva Newton-John taught us: physical, physical. He supported his point with studies where they give feuding marital couples Ecstasy and with in minutes they’re lovey-dovey. I think in another blog, although I might not have published it yet, I point out the new frontier for drugs to treat mental, emotional, and psychological conditions are the hallucinogens.

But don’t you think we who buy-into the all-goodness and only goodness of AI and Big Tech are hallucinating enough already?

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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