Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Angus Menuge reports on his debate with P Z Myers

“Does Neuroscience Leave Room for God?”

My debate with Dr. PZ Myers at

University of Minnesota at Morris,

8pm-10:30pm, Saturday, April 19th, 2008

by

Dr. Angus J. L. Menuge

1. Format of the debate. The debate was moderated as follows: each of us had a maximum of 40 minutes to present our case. Then there was a maximum of 30 minutes in which Dr. Myers and I could probe each other’s position with questions. Finally, we opened to the floor and members of the audience could ask questions of either speaker.

2. My presentation. I presented first and made three main points.

(1) First, I argued that materialism is presumed true before looking at the evidence. Richard Lewontin has admitted that he holds to materialism in science as an a priori assumption. My main points were that inflexible adherence to materialism could prevent us from finding the truth, and weakens the claim to have found the best explanation by eliminating competitors to materialism without considering them. But what about those who claim that materialism has such an amazing track record, we should have a presumption in its favor?

(2) My second main point was that materialism does not have such an impressive track record. I noted that Christian theology, not materialism, played a substantive role in the rise of modern science, by justifying belief in laws of nature and in minds reliable enough to discover them. I noted the “Argument from Reason” against Evolutionary Naturalism, which points out that Evolutionary Naturalism predicts minds equipped with useful gadgets, but not ones attuned to discovering truth, especially in theoretical matters having nothing to do with basic survival. By contrast, rational theism predicts that our minds are attuned to the laws of nature, since both reflect the same divine logos.

Moving closer to the central issue of the debate, I argued that there is considerable evidence against the materialist contention that the mind reduces to the brain. There is the “hard problem” of consciousness, that subjective awareness is not explained or predicted by impersonally described states of the brain. Then there is the evidence from neuroscientists such as Jeff Schwartz and Mario Beauregard that, in addition to the bottom-up influence of the brain on the mind, the mind has a top-down influence on the brain (cognitive therapies that exploit neuroplasticity) and on health (psychoneuroimmunology). I focused on how these approaches gave hope to patients by showing that their own conscious choices could play a role in their recovery and health. I also mentioned the remarkable studies of Near Death Experiences by Pim van Lommel. I held up and recommended Jeff Schwartz and Sharon Begley’s The Mind and the Brain, and Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’ Leary’s The Spiritual Brain, and said that if someone is a true skeptic, they should be skeptical of materialism as well as of non-materialistic claims.

(3) My third point was to critique the slew of contemporary materialist attempts to explain away religious belief and experience. I noted that a culture of 1-way skepticism encourages both a presumption that supernatural religions are false without investigating the evidence for their truth claims, and also credulous acceptance of unsubstantiated materialist speculations, such as the “God gene” and “God spot” theories, all of which can be decisively refuted. I then investigate the claim that religion is a “virus of the mind,” and argue that the underlying theory of memes would either discredit everyone’s beliefs or, if it does not, require us to check out the actual evidence for or against them.

3. Dr. P Z Myers’ presentation.

Dr. Myers focused mainly on defining the terms “science” and “God.” He argued that science can only work with what is measurable, and that “God” cannot be defined in a way that is measurable, and so God/theology are irrelevant to science. He claimed that scientists must accept the rule methodological materialism, according to which scientists can believe in any religion they want, but, within science, must restrict themselves to considering only material causes. He likened the scientist to the plumber who must work at the level of what physically works. Indeed, Dr. Myers asserted that science is not about truth, but about what works, and that God is irrelevant to science because “God” is not a tractable concept.

Dr. Myers held up a large standard volume on neuroscience, and asserted that it was better than Schwartz’s and Beauregard’s books, apparently because it was bigger! He then showed some interesting slides detailing the standard “homunculus” model of the brain, mapping various sensations and bodily functions to parts of the brain. He acknowledged the reality of neuroplasticity, but claimed that this could all be understood in terms of chemical processes in the brain, without appeal to consciousness. Yet, interestingly, he admitted that no-one could explain consciousness. Dr. Myers also mentioned a recent scientific experiment showing that in advance of conscious awareness of decision, there is already a 60% probability of action. (He did not, however, claim that this showed there was no free will, and since the result was so recent and under-analyzed, I chose not to take the bait.)

The remainder of Myers’ presentation was focused on the case for the brain’s bottom-up influence on the brain, including the impact of neural deficits and degeneration through illness and age. At one point he made the quite absurd suggestion that some people seem to think that neurons have nothing to do with it! Since I had argued for neuroplascticity and psychoneuroimmunology, this was a bit hard to take. I suppose it was an exaggeration or a joke, designed to make dualists look silly. Dr. Myers’ presentation was frankly depressing, because it left the impression that we are passive products of physical causes, with no ability to take control of our health. Myers did try to claim that he could account for some of the studies I had mentioned, but in terms of one part of the brain taking charge of another. The talk included relatively few slides, some of them showing the plight of family members.

4. Our discussion/debate.

Myers was surprisingly passive in debate and did not really seem eager to spar. I got the sense that he had previously dismissed me as another creationist “ID-iot,” and that he was not really prepared for me to make a serious case. Here are some of the main points of our discussion.

(1) While I agreed with Myers about the evidence of bottom-up causation, I argued that this did not negate the evidence of top-down causation. To refute the idea that consciousness must simply be generated by the brain, I used the analogy of a telephone. If someone calls and we drop the phone and break it, we no longer hear the voice, but the voice is not generated by the phone: the phone transmits it. Likewise the fact that certain thoughts are impossible with neural deficits does not show that the brain generates our thoughts or that our mind is simply a passive shadow of the brain.

(2) I noted that at the end of his review of The God Delusion, Michael Ruse had argued that if the likes of Richard Dawkins continue to claim that Darwinian evolution inevitably supports atheism, then teaching Darwinian evolution in schools would violate the first amendment. Was not the approach to science advocated by Myers likewise against the constitution? In response, Myers said that science only uses methodological materialism, so it does not technically exclude religion, saying that he knew scientists who were Christian who subscribed to Methodological Materialism. (What he did not address was the distinction between those theists who believe in the natural knowledge of God and those who do not. Methodological Materialism favors secular humanists and those theists unconcerned about the natural knowledge of God and discriminates against those who believe God worked detectably in nature by preventing them from exploring scientific evidence for their point of view.)

(3)Wishing to expose the way Methodological Materialism can be held indefinitely, no matter what the evidence, I challenged Myers to define what could convince him that materialism was false, pointing out that if all materialist explanations were working or very promising, I could be persuaded that theism was false. He dodged the question saying it was too hypothetical. I did not get the impression that he has seriously considered the question of what it would be like to learn materialism is false. How, then, can he claim that the materialism of science is purely methodological, which implies it could be dropped if it fails to work in some areas?

(4) I also argued that Myers’ attempt to reduce science to the physically measurable was inadequate, because science postulates theoretical entities that may or may not turn out to be observable. Mendel postulated genes, and these were later shown to be observable. In physics, however, there are plenty of entities (particles, forces, strings etc.) that are at the least unobserved, and also measurement itself presupposes such abstractions as logic and numbers that are inherently unobservable. I agreed with Myers that science should try to get the tractable and observable if it can, but argued that science should not give up if the best evidence points away from the observable. In my view, Myers is maintaining a positivistic view of science which limits science to what is verifiable by observation, but this does not square with Quantum Physics for example, particularly as it recognizes the role of the conscious observer in influencing what is measured.

(5) I asked Myers why, if science was neutral, there were so few studies of the psychology and neurology of atheists and secular humanists, given all the attempts to explain away theistic belief and experience. He surprised me by noting that Schwartz and Beauregard are Christians, suggesting that only theists were interested in the question. This did not jive with all the studies by secularists of the psychology and neurology of atheists cited by Beauregard. I also noted the 3 million dollar European project, “Explaining Religion,” cited in The Economist, March 19th, 2008 (“Where angels no longer fear to tread”).

(6) I also asked why, if science was a free inquiry, Guillermo Gonzalez had been so shabbily treated at Iowa State University. Myers claimed that this was because he had not brought in enough grant money. I pointed out that Gonzalez had 68 peer reviewed science articles, was author of a Cambridge text on astronomy, and that the emails acquired through Iowa’s open record laws showed that Gonzalez’s tenure was denied because of his pro-design views.

(7) Myers and I sparred on the fine-tuning argument. He asserted that there was nothing surprising: we wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t happened. I mentioned John Leslie’s analogy: suppose you are scheduled to be executed by 200 sharpshooters. It would not be a convincing explanation of them all missing, that unless they had, you wouldn’t be here. We would want to know if there was an order from above, a conspiracy, a flaw in the manufacture of the guns, etc.

I had two very big surprises. First, Dr. Myers denied being a Darwinist, which produced the kind of stunned silence one would expect if the Pope announced his non-Catholicity. Myers’ stated grounds were that Darwin has been dead for over a hundred years. I wished I had pointed out that I am on many issues a Platonist, even though Plato has been dead for 2400 years. Second, as I mentioned, Myers denied that science is really about truth. I had to wonder why it was so important for him to exclude design from science if all that matters is what works. After all, I had noted earlier on in my presentation that the Darwinist philosopher Michael Ruse agrees that methodological design does work in biology by helping scientists decode the machinery of life.

At the end, I made Myers the offer of trying to set up a special issue of a journal where he could bring in his “cronies” and I could bring in mine to discuss the issue. He found the idea amusing and, so far as I could tell, not without appeal. I do not know if this will happen, but I am going to look into it.

34 comments:

Me Phi Me said...

It's a shame Myers is such a phoney. Phoney in the sense that he acts one way on Phar, but then switches masks when in a serious debate. This isn't the first time Myers came across as passive. Certainly no steel tips surfacing.
By the sounds of it Myers didn't have much of a clue who Dr. Menuge is. Great planning, PZ.

Hans said...

'. I mentioned John Leslie’s analogy: suppose you are scheduled to be executed by 200 sharpshooters. It would not be a convincing explanation of them all missing, that unless they had, you wouldn’t be here. We would want to know if there was an order from above, a conspiracy, a flaw in the manufacture of the guns, etc.'

Menuge makes an excellent analogy.

If the sharpshooters had been firing in totally random directions, one of them would have hit Myers, just by chance.

So Myers would know that he was not alive due to sheer randomness.

Hans said...

Menuge's analogy is also very apt in another way.

Myers can't say that he is like somebody shot by the sharpshooters who dies later, because Menuge has *eternal* life. Death cannot claim us as we believe in the Lord our Saviour, who will save us from death.

But Myers cannot explain how we are saved from death as he is an atheist.

In his world view, death is as inevitable as facing 200 sharpshooters.

Hallq said...

From the point of view of someone who actually understands neuroscience, Menuge makes himself look like a major idiot--at best. At worst, he's actively ignoring the scientific evidence. The telephone analogy sucks because the problem isn't just that when you destroy the brain, you lose the mind. The problem is that damaging one part of the brain will cause one kind of mental deficit, damaging another part will cause another kind of mental deficit. That's really, really basic neuroscience.

The idea that neuroplasticity and the effect of the brain on other parts of the body are somehow evidence against materialism is also bizarre if you have even freshmen-level knowledge of those subjects. Scientists have been working for decades to understand the molecular mechanisms for those processes. I suspect the reason why PZ held up the thick book is to try to convey just how much is known about these subjects.

I say all this as someone who is actually sympathetic to dualism for Chalmers-esque reasons. It's really frustrating to see my side represented by such a buffoon.

Ilíon said...

Hallq: "From the point of view of someone who actually understands neuroscience, Menuge makes himself look like a major idiot--at best. At worst, he's actively ignoring the scientific evidence. ..."

Hmmm. What? Do you imagine that this "science" thingie has anything interesting to say about anything important? Do you imagine that the Pronouncements Of Science (*) equate to truth?

Do you actually imagine that science is about truth in the first place?


(*) The Pronouncements Of Science are the vast collection of things -- often one part of which contradicts another part -- pronounced by persons claiming to Speak In The Name Of Science.


Hallq: "The idea that neuroplasticity and the effect of the brain on other parts of the body are somehow evidence against materialism is also bizarre if you have even freshmen-level knowledge of those subjects. Scientists have been working for decades to understand the molecular mechanisms for those processes. "

In other words, (some) scientists (and/or "science" groupies) are churning out really shoddy philosophy/metaphysics tricked out the drag of "Science."


Hallq: "I say all this as someone who is actually sympathetic to dualism for Chalmers-esque reasons. It's really frustrating to see my side represented by such a buffoon."

Are there any buffoons more buffoonish then those who worship "Science?"

Hallq said...

Ilion,

Your comment is so dumb, I wonder if I should bother, but at any rate: do you have to worship science to think that Einstein was on the right track with E = mc^2, as evidence by atom bombs and nuclear power plants? Or better yet, that Newton was on the right track with the physics that got us to the moon? Or that the germ theory of disease is correct? Or that the chemical techniques we use to synthesize medicines work? Or the molecular biology we use to guide drug development is accurate? Or that genetic engineering of crops works? Or that DNA evidence is useful in court?

And if you accept these things, how do you pick out what to be relativistic about? That damaging Wernicke's area leads to destruction of speech comprehension is about as straightforward of a fact as you can find. And we know enough about the molecular mechanisms of plasticity to genetically engineer mice with enhanced memory.

Me Phi Me said...

Hallq,
You've got nothing to offer.
This isn't your blog where you can call people idiots and morons and get cheered on by kids that like hearing people they agree with calling those they don't agree with names.
And this isn't Madison where you might be able to flap your lips with little or no criticism about the crap you are spewing.

And your "really really basic" neuroscience is as laughable as when you're buttering up Sagan.

You're an emotional reactionary with a big mouth. Very little more than that.

As much of you that I get, I don't get why you think so highly of yourself, when you have no reason in the least to feel that way.

Hallq said...

What is your reply to my criticisms of Menuge and Ilion? I don't expect you to cheer me on, but, you know, this isn't a completely isolated fundie-bubble where you can call your opponents "laughable" without having to explain why.

Me Phi Me said...

Fundie-bubble? I'm a lapsed catholic you idiot (I opted for the term because it seems to be what you're familiar with using).

Of course you don't expect me to cheer you on, why in the world would you even say that? Do I seem like one of the minions on your blog?

But I find your fundie comment amusing. You're just as fundamental, no doubt about it. You're as fundamental as the group you criticize. You just have different starting presuppositions from those 'other' fundies.
Hallq, trust me, if anyone lives in a fundie bubble it's you. Through and through. From the back patting you constantly get on your blog, to the like-minded fundies "gracing" Madison's campus - you're the one in the fundie bubble. Stuck so much in that bubble that you are actually impressed with the things you claim.

You're laughable in your treatment of Dr. Menuge. Calling him a 'major idiot' when you are the one who doesn't (or won't) understand the point he was trying to make.

Whether you're misunderstanding ilion's point or you're misunderstanding Dr. Menuge's argument it's all the same.

Me Phi Me said...

Fundie-bubble? I'm a lapsed catholic you idiot (I opted for the term because it seems to be what you're familiar with using).

Of course you don't expect me to cheer you on, why in the world would you even say that? Do I seem like one of the minions on your blog?

But I find your fundie comment amusing. You're just as fundamental, no doubt about it. You're as fundamental as the group you criticize. You just have different starting presuppositions from those 'other' fundies.
Hallq, trust me, if anyone lives in a fundie bubble it's you. Through and through. From the back patting you constantly get on your blog, to the like-minded fundies "gracing" Madison's campus - you're the one in the fundie bubble. Stuck so much in that bubble that you are actually impressed with the things you claim.

You're laughable in your treatment of Dr. Menuge. Calling him a 'major idiot' when you are the one who doesn't (or won't) understand the point he was trying to make.

Whether you're misunderstanding ilion's point or you're misunderstanding Dr. Menuge's argument it's all the same.

Hallq said...

Still waiting for actual reply.

Hallq said...

P.S. Me phi me, you may want to review the difference between "you suck, therefore your argument does" and "your argument sucks, therefore you do". I find it amusing to see you complaining about the second and engaging in the first.

mattghg said...

The telephone analogy sucks

It can easily be amended to take account of the cases you mention. Damage specific parts of a TV and it will only display in black and white, or the picture will fuzz, or the sound will break. Right?

Scientists have been working for decades to understand the molecular mechanisms for those processes

The data is there, and the problem is to find the best explanation for it. There's (e.g.) Schwartz and Beauregard on the one hand, arguing that top-down causation is basic, and of course others arguing the reverse. Those two sides were represented by Menuge and Myers respectively in this debate. None of these people is an idiot, and you do yourself a disservice to claim otherwise.

Frankly, mate, don't you stop and pause and take a deep breath before insulting people like that? Michael Ruse didn't think Angus Menuge was a "buffoon" when he wrote the preface to his book, and Alan MacNeill is taking him seriously enough to be suggesting this right now. But hey, you "actually understand neuroscience", so I suppose you know better.

me phi me said...

hallq,

There's nothing for you to wait for. I'm not coming here to offer you some grand argument.
You don't have the ability to actually consider other view points, regardless of how reasonable the claims and statements are.
Nothing you have posted has shown that you are able to discuss (a reflection of your thinking) clearly. You called Dr. Menuge an idiot and mocked his scholarship, misunderstood what he was saying and the point of ilions reply to you, assumed I was a fundie while not recognizing the fact that you are indeed fundamentalistic.

So don't worry about waiting, Bucky B.... I'm not attempting to provide an argument to the contrary for something that wasn't a valid point in the first place.

Hallq said...

mattghg,

Thanks for the substantiative response. Yes, that sentence has an edge of bitterness, but it's not directed at you.

The TV analogy is an improvement, though an imperfect one: damage to a TV won't cause the characters to beging behaivng erratically, mixing up words, and so on. The fact remains that the original telephone argument has nothing to do with the actual arguments offered by physicalists; bringing in a somewhat relevant analogy doesn't change the orignal analogy's irrelevance.

I'm puzzled by how the plasticity argument is even supposed to work. You talk of the best explanation for the data: how do fundamental high-level mental processes explain the improved learning in Joseph Tsien's "Doogie" mice, or the data that originally suggested manipulating NR2B would improve learning?

It almost sounds as if the argument Menuge et al. have in mind is question-begging: non-physical psychological things affect physical neural things, so materialism is false, which begs the question of wether psychological things are non-physical.

Clayton said...

This is such a weird debate. Myers is a biologist. I have to confess that I have no idea who Angus Menuge is, but I don't know a ton of philosophers who work in the relevant areas who would say that the argument from reason is unproblematic. Few will take the existence of the 'hard problem' as evidence _against_ materialism. It's a pretty standard view amongst contemporary philosophers that it's not surprising that there is the hard problem on the assumption that materialism is true. I don't know why anyone would expect Myers to know this or have read the relevant literature.

What exactly is the point of holding a debate like this? We're going to learn that a biologist is at a loss when confronted by a barrage of highly questionable philosophical arguments?

Ilíon said...

Clayton: "This is such a weird debate. Myers is a biologist. I have to confess that I have no idea who Angus Menuge is ... I don't know why anyone would expect Myers to know this or have read the relevant literature."

Is this relevant? In regard to either? Surely, you're not trying to assert that only the (self-proclaimed (*) ) "experts," in any field, have the right to hold opinions relevant to that field and/or dispute the opinions of others?


(*) All expertise has a core of self-proclamation.


Clayton: "... but I don't know a ton of philosophers who work in the relevant areas who would say that the argument from reason is unproblematic. Few will take the existence of the 'hard problem' as evidence _against_ materialism. It's a pretty standard view amongst contemporary philosophers that it's not surprising that there is the hard problem on the assumption that materialism is true. ..."

Professional philosophers can be such an odd bunch, don't you think?

But let's unpack this:

Here you are admitting (or, at any rate, claiming) that "It's a pretty standard view amongst contemporary philosophers that it's not surprising that there is the hard problem on the assumption that materialism is true." -- That is: if one *assumes* that materialism is the truth about the nature of reality, then one gets "the hard problem" of attempting to explain mind in terms of matter ... but apparently these tons of philosophers can't manage to see (or perhaps its admit) the connection between the premise and the problem.


Clayton: "... but I don't know a ton of philosophers who work in the relevant areas who would say that the argument from reason is unproblematic. Few will take the existence of the 'hard problem' as evidence _against_ materialism."

It's well known that human beings are quite capable of denying the blindingly obvious.

Nothing compels us to see logical connections; nothing compels us to *admit* that we do see them (i.e. we can choose to ignore and deny what we do see); and even when we do see and do admit the logic of something, nothing compels us to follow the logic ...

... which, if one cares to think about it, is yet another facet of "the hard problem."

Ilíon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ilíon said...

I hadn't previously any opinion, one way or another, about this Hallq fellow. That dificiency has been rectified.

Clayton said...

Ilíon,

If you drag someone into a debate that does not have the relevant expertise, it's a tad on the silly side to get all excited about a 'win'. It's like beating a 9 year old in chess. At best. I say 'at best', because everything I've seen thus far strikes me as excessively silly. So, it's more like beating a 9 year old at chess without mating or winning with the clock.

You know, if you're right and the problem of hard consciousness is _obviously_ strong evidence against materialism, you not only have to say that the materialists are idiots you also have to think that the critics of materialism who actually think about it aren't so bright either. I wish I had that sort of blazing philosophical ability, but I guess I can take some comfort in the fact that Jackson and Chalmers are also forced to actually think about what you just see as obvious.

Well, humor me, pick either the argument from reason or the argument against materialism and you tell me how you think it goes. I think we'd all appreciate some philosophical edification.

Ilíon said...

No, you wouldn't.

Clayton said...

That's about what I expected. Sorry you couldn't edify us with your philosophical acumen. Our loss.

Jim Lippard said...

I'll chime in here and agree with Hallq and Clayton (both of whom I know to have philosophical training and knowledge of issues in philosophy of mind) that I found Menuge's radio (and the modified TV) analogy poor. I think there is lots of evidence from neuroscience that doesn't work well at all on a transmission model, of which Chris (Hallq) has identified just a few. The functions and sub-processes of language, memory, pattern recognition, visual processing, etc. all seem to be occurring as local processing in the brain, not as something being transmitted from a discarnate soul. The only tenable dualism seems to be a property dualism that doesn't do much of anything to support personal survival of the destruction of the brain.

Jim Lippard said...

BTW, meant to add that if Blue Devil Knight were around, he'd probably also agree, and he's the most qualified of any of us to comment, since he's an actual neuroscientist.

Jim Lippard said...

Also, Menuge writes: "Dr. Myers also mentioned a recent scientific experiment showing that in advance of conscious awareness of decision, there is already a 60% probability of action. (He did not, however, claim that this showed there was no free will, and since the result was so recent and under-analyzed, I chose not to take the bait.)"

I don't think this is very recent. I think this is a reference to Benjamin Libet's work on readiness potentials, which has been around for a few decades and been replicated again and again.

mattghg said...

Menuge has also provdided the slides from his presentation, so that might clarify some of the questions being asked.

I'm not au fait with the latest neuroscience, so I won't disupte the sub-processes claim, except to point out that even if this is granted it doesn't follow that "the only tenable dualism seems to be a property dualism that doesn't do much..." - someone like William Hasker isn't going to be at all surprised by these results on his emergent dualism model.

mattghg said...

Oh, and we don't have to guess what BDK would say.

Ilíon said...

Clayton: "That's about what I expected. Sorry you couldn't edify us with your philosophical acumen. Our loss."

Pshaw!

Someone who writes: "Well, humor me, pick either the argument from reason or the argument against materialism and you tell me how you think it goes. I think we'd all appreciate some philosophical edification." clearly is but attempting rhetoric. And *clearly* has no interest in admitting that materialism is a self-defeating proposition and has long been known as such.

Trav said...

Beuaregard isnt'a Christian.

Jackson said...

The fact that there are subconscious mental processes shows nothing. Even that could be the conscious workings of the non-physical part in substance dualism, and it only shows up to conscious REALIZATION later on. It could simply be a delay to our realization, that's all.

Also, that is for very simple behaviors. Pressing a button, thinking about when to tap your fingers, etc. There's no ACTUAL HIGH-LEVEL REASONING going on here. What about the fact that the people in the studies were REQUIRED to choose a certain behavior, with limited options mind you. It's not like their behavior was very spontaneous, or the nature of the behavior was hard to predict. That alone changed how conscious reasoning works. Under different conditions, it's easier to predict behavior than in others. Anyone will agree with this. Try predicting conscious thought when someone is working on abstract thinking, such as high-level mathematics. Then I might be impressed. But no studies have done that, conveniently enough for you.

It could EASILY be that most of our behaviors are subconscious. After all, consciousness can only focus on a limited number of items at a time, so it's inevitable that some things will be left for the subconscious to deal with, and consciousness won't become aware. Therefore, in order to relieve some pressure off of consciousness, the subconscious steps in. Most of our behavior throughout the day doesn't require REASONING, it's fairly automatic. It could be that 80% of our behavior is subconscious (automatic) and the rest is CONSCIOUS REASONING, which in turn can (RE)PROGRAM YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS.

I am not impressed, neuroscientists. Again, explain why, if all the parts that make up consciousness are non-rational, how do they somehow create a "whole" that is rational? "The sum is greater than its parts"? So you're denying cause and effect? So where are you left, other than eliminative materialism? Even if something "emerges", it will still be from the workings of the non-rational parts, which makes its very foundation non-rational. And since the non-rational workings are physical, anything that emerges is a mere epiphenomena, in physicalism, it cannot affect physical reality.

This is where we dualists disagree. We believe you're putting the carriage in front of the horse. We view non-physical consciousness as the horse and the workings you see manifest in the brain follow, just like the carriage. The non-physical is the computer programmer, the brain is the hardware, and the various workings of the brain, especially when thinking, are the software, basically. The software is flexible and amenable to change according to the code entered by the programmer (or the commands given by non-physical consciousness to the body). The telephone or television analogies are perfect. You physicalists miss the forest for the trees. The COMPLEXITY of functions is reduced, but the basic analogy remains valid. You miss the forest for the trees.

Science can give us the raw data. But don't rely on a scientist to interpret it for you. Philosophy is needed to make sense of this. If you truly believe only science can answer everything, then welcome to the tyrannical world of scientism, which is self-refuting since scientism itself cannot be scientifically proven.

Physicalism is a bad attempt at philosophy by scientists who are treading uncharted water.

Jackson said...

One more thing. Why are we doing tests for "free will" and how consciousness affects behavior when it is admitted that WE STILL DON'T UNDERSTAND CONSCIOUSNESS ITSELF YET?

We don't understand what it is, its very nature. Yet you arrogant materialists still want to go ahead and claim you know what it can and can't do.

Let me ask you something. Do you think the rest of us are morons? Honestly, answer that question. Do you think we're morons?

You admit that consciousness is not yet explainable (and probably never will be from a purely neuroscientific explanation), but you go ahead and claim you know all of its powers. Nice!

It's basically like with a computer. You can give a computer a code that is based on correct reasoning (which originates in the programmer's mind), and thus it can process information in a useful way to perform the function we want it to. As long as the computer logic is based on sound reason, the answer will be correct. But you can also give in false logic to a computer, and the answer will be false. Yet the computer will never understand that. It just works with the logic you give it. That's all.

Well, if physicalism is true, the same is the case for us humans. We just happen to be more complex, that's all. If we were wrong or right, or thought we were wrong or right, we wouldn't "know", because the "logic" (if you can call it that) by which your brain operates ultimately originates in the non-rational parts that make up the brain. What we think we "know" is actually the result of the workings of forces outside of our control. The neurons that fire up and are responsible for your thoughts aren't themselves conscious. This effectively leads to epiphenomenalism. So all of our beliefs are caused by forces outside of our power, consciousness is merely a NARRATOR (and an incomplete narrator, mind you) of the workings of unconscious neurons. Sure auto-pilot works. But that's only because it was programmed by human reasoning. So, again, unless you somehow come up with a teleological answer whereby which the forces of nature are somehow all directed to lead us to the truth, you have no answer. But teleology is despised by physicalism and naturalism, which clearly state there is no "purpose" to something, there is merely a description of how it "behaves", or interacts with other forces. And since all of this supposedly came about by the random workings of nature with no outside intelligence, then you're basically expecting A LOT OF FAITH that nature somehow gave us this special privilege that we would be favored to come to finding out truths so often. Why would that happen? It all "just happened" to be so, eh?

Boy, intelligent design seems so much more plausible than believing that "everything just happened" randomly. Nice! Now you sheep will come out and attempt to proselytize with more dogma given out by the Council of the High Priests of Naturalism, ooops, I mean the scientific community, basically, the New Priesthood. Doesn't matter if they get it right on so many other levels. The Babylonian astrologer priests were ultimately responsible for Babylonian astronomy in case you didn't know that, and the same is the case today. Just because they were right about certain things about the movement of planets doesn't mean they understood everything (or maybe they understood more than we give them credit for, and instead chose to give the masses stupid explanations to keep them under their control). We have this sort of priest-class emerging that wishes to rule over us made up of scientists with an over-inflated ego. I will never fall victim to your new religion. That's all it is. It's the new religion for a new time period. Worship the experts. This is a form of communism/positivism/technocracy (they're all the same thing really, I don't care what you call it).

Jackson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jackson said...

One more thing. Why are we doing tests for "free will" and how consciousness affects behavior when it is admitted that WE STILL DON'T UNDERSTAND CONSCIOUSNESS ITSELF YET?

We don't understand what it is, its very nature. Yet you arrogant materialists still want to go ahead and claim you know what it can and can't do.

Let me ask you something. Do you think the rest of us are morons? Honestly, answer that question. Do you think we're morons?

You admit that consciousness is not yet explainable (and probably never will be from a purely neuroscientific explanation), but you go ahead and claim you know all of its powers. Nice!

It's basically like with a computer. You can give a computer a code that is based on correct reasoning (which originates in the programmer's mind), and thus it can process information in a useful way to perform the function we want it to. As long as the computer logic is based on sound reason, the answer will be correct. But you can also give in false logic to a computer, and the answer will be false. Yet the computer will never understand that. It just works with the logic you give it. That's all.

Well, if physicalism is true, the same is the case for us humans. We just happen to be more complex, that's all. If we were wrong or right, or thought we were wrong or right, we wouldn't "know", because the "logic" (if you can call it that) by which your brain operates ultimately originates in the non-rational parts that make up the brain. What we think we "know" is actually the result of the workings of forces outside of our control. The neurons that fire up and are responsible for your thoughts aren't themselves conscious. This effectively leads to epiphenomenalism. So all of our beliefs are caused by forces outside of our power, consciousness is merely a NARRATOR (and an incomplete narrator, mind you) of the workings of unconscious neurons. Sure auto-pilot works. But that's only because it was programmed by human reasoning. So, again, unless you somehow come up with a teleological answer whereby which the forces of nature are somehow all directed to lead us to the truth, you have no answer. But teleology is despised by physicalism and naturalism, which clearly state there is no "purpose" to something, there is merely a description of how it "behaves", or interacts with other forces. And since all of this supposedly came about by the random workings of nature with no outside intelligence, then you're basically expecting A LOT OF FAITH that nature somehow gave us this special privilege that we would be favored to come to finding out truths so often. Why would that happen? It all "just happened" to be so, eh?

Allen said...

I would loved to have read the actual debate. This overview is just not enough. Bummer.
I should read the books written by he authore mentioned in this overview, too, before commenting on the subject. As well as, The Mysterious Matter of Mind by Arthur Custance, as mentioned by Stephen Meyer's in his book, debating Darwin's Doubt. Very interesting reading....for those who pursue the Truth.