Monday, July 16, 2012

The argument from consciousness

A piece by J. P. Moreland.

A redated post.

47 comments:

Hans said...

Materialists cannot explain how JP Moreland can have thoughts implanted in his mind by God.

The Guidance of the Spirit

How can atheists hope to explain how Moreland's thoughts are produced by his brain, when some of his thoughts were placed there by God?

J.L. Hinman said...

excellent argument! I have my own consciousness argument. Yours is better.

do you know David Chalmers? Since you are out there in Arizona, and you are arguing for consciousness, I wonder if you have discussed this with him.

I like his views, but I'm curious what he would say to trying to extend them so far as to become a God argument.

btw I link to your site on my blog. I wish you would look up my blog and consider linking to it.

Timmo said...

Moreland's paper is pretty standard fare, but I don't think we should be persuaded by it. Moreland highlights a number of interesting characteristics of mental states (a) - (d) [I don't know if (e) is really true]. From here the argument seems to go "I don't know or see how (a)-(d) could be true if mental states really were caused by and realized in the structure of the brain. Therefore, it is is impossible." Clearly, this argumentative trend is fallacious reasoning ad ignorantium.

Over the course of my scientific education, I have learned that Nature can be shocking and rather different from the way we expect it to be. Our intuitions and common sense expectations about the way Nature is rest on our everyday experiences and upon the quirky cognitive equipment we possess. But, Nature is much broader and wider than our expectations of her -- one does not need to learn atomic physics to start finding surprising, counter-intuitive things in physics. The world is full of peculiar and strange things -- it is just not what you might have expected it to be! So, I am just not impressed by a priori and metaphysical arguments like these.

Clayton said...

If we limit our options to theism and naturalism, it is hard to see how finite consciousness could result from the rearrangement of brute matter; it is easier to see how a Conscious Being could produce finite consciousness since, according to theism, the Basic Being is Himself conscious.

Really? I don't see that it's any easier. Matter is arranged in just the way the brain is and, if there's no intentional agent behind this, there's no possibility of consciousness. Add an intentional agent as the distal cause of the brain and it's easier to see how the brain could give rise to sensation either on its own or in concert with some distinct substance? Not for me.

normajean said...

I don’t believe you, Clayton. I really don’t =). I think you sense the eerieness of it all and would agree with Chalmers that consciouness is a very hard problem. Plantinga once explained that according to current science, electrons and quarks are simple. Let’s suppose they really are simple (they don’t have any parts). One also thinks that things like quarks and electrons don’t think. They have interesting properties but thinking is not among them. Leibniz would say that if a simple thing like an electron or quark can’t think, then neither will things made up of electrons and quarks be able to think by virtue of the interaction of their parts. So let’s say quarks make up protons, a proton won’t be able to think by virtue of the activity of the quarks that make it up; nor an atom by virtue of the activity of the electrons and protons that make it up; nor a molecule by virtue of the activity of the atoms that make it up and so on. (Rugged transcript from Plantinga’s, “Against Materialism” lecture).

Hans said...

Normajean is quite right.

If protons and quarks can't think, then how does Professor Moreland get thoughts placed in his mind by God?

That is what materialists cannot answer.

normajean said...

Hans, certainly, this is confusing for those who are open to the possibilty that rocks are conscious. Can God place thoughts in Moreland if thoughts fundamentally non-physical?

normajean said...

insert where needed ---> are

Clayton said...

Normajean,
Read my previous remark carefully. I never said that there was no mystery of consciousness. I said that the mystery doesn't go away if you add an intentional agent into the mix. (Sorry, but Moreland's remark that adding consciousness in makes it easier to see how you get consciousness out is absurd.)

As for the argument you're ascribing to Plantinga and Leibniz, it's all but indistinguishable from the fallacy of composition. (Because the parts aren't F, the whole composed isn't F.) Can you set out that argument in a form that doesn't commit that fallacy?

normajean said...

Clayton, the argument can be properly construed but I’m not going to do it here. I’ll just say that if I could envision the nonconscious trail to conscious land then I would. I cannot.

Clayton said...

Normajean,

I'll believe it when I see it. From what we've been given, it seems the argument commits the fallacy of composition and might also toss in a fallacious appeal to ignorance to boot.

But, that's not Moreland's argument and it is his argument that this thread is supposed to be discussing. I don't see that you've yet addressed the point I was making, so let me try to rephrase it a bit.

You mention Chalmers, so I'll phrase my point in the way I suspect Chalmers would make it. Chalmers would say that there's no "apriori passage" from a description of the physical facts to further facts about, say, qualia and consciousness. He and I will disagree about the significance of this point. He thinks this is trouble for materialism. I don't. No matter. Add God into the mix. There is still no apriori passage from the physical way things are and facts about God to facts about phenomenal consciousness. So, by Chalmers' logic, there would be no reason to hold a view on which materialism is false but the supernaturalist view is unproblematic.

This point has been familiar since Churchland's discussion of Jackson's thought Mary thought experiment.

normajean said...

Fallacious appeal to ignorance

Perhaps, God of the gaps or Naturalism of the Gaps! You pick.

normajean said...

Clayton, I vaguely remember you explaining to me your view on physical “is” information entailing any definitive conclusion concerning mental content. I couldn't make sense of it then. I'm willing to listen again.

Clayton said...

Normajean,

I don't know why you'd accuse the naturalist of a fallacious appeal to ignorance. I've never seen a naturalist argue from "We don't understand the mind/body relation" to "Mind and body are really distinct", or any such thing.

You wrote:
Clayton, I vaguely remember you explaining to me your view on physical “is” information entailing any definitive conclusion concerning mental content. I couldn't make sense of it then. I'm willing to listen again.

That's not my view. I don't even have the slightest idea what that means. To the extent that I have a view, it is this. In the absence of strong reasons to think that there could be mental difference without physical difference, don't posit one and remain tentatively attached to a kind of supervenience thesis.

Timmo said...

Clayton,

Add God into the mix. There is still no apriori passage from the physical way things are and facts about God to facts about phenomenal consciousness.

Is there really a problem for Moreland here? Moreland claims that the correlations which obtain between mental states and physical states are a contingent ones. Maybe Moreland means this: if mental states and physical states were connected by laws of Nature, then the fact that such correlations obtain would be necessary. As is, Moreland claims, the correlations are purely contingent and therefore can not arise from laws of Nature. So, positing God really does help insofar as it provides an account of mind-body correlations which is consistent with their contingency (namely, that God intervened from outside and imbued an otherwise non-mental thing with consciousness).

At the same time, this is a problematic line to take because it introduces conceivability/possibility troubles. The correlations seem contingent because we are able to imagine them not being there, but that doesn't change whether they are really necessary or contingent.

normajean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clayton said...

Timmo,

I wouldn't say that the Chalmers inspired argument is a good argument against Moreland's view because I don't think these conceivability arguments constitute good arguments against any of the views on the table. However, in the context of Moreland's discussion I think it is problematic. Remember, this is the crucial passage:
As mentioned in the introduction, many believe that finite minds provide evidence of a Divine Mind as their creator. If we limit our options to theism and naturalism, it is hard to see how finite consciousness could result from the rearrangement of brute matter; it is easier to see how a Conscious Being could produce finite consciousness since, according to theism, the Basic Being is Himself conscious. Thus, the theist has no need to explain how consciousness can come from materials bereft of it. Consciousness is there from the beginning. To put the point differently, in the beginning there were either particles or the Logos. If you start with particles and just rearrange them according to physical law, you won’t get mind. If you start with Logos, you already have mind.

I take it the problem for naturalims is this:
(1) We can't see how consciousness can arise from the re-arrangement of matter.
(2) It is easier to see how consciousness could arise if we throw an intentional agent into the mix.

I deny (2). It's no easier. No one among us can see how one conscious mind can create another conscious mind.

Bilbo said...

Clayton wrote: "I deny (2). It's no easier. No one among us can see how one conscious mind can create another conscious mind."

Let's see. We can understand how Shakespeare (a conscious mind) can create Hamlet (a fictitious conscious mind). We can reason by analogy that perhaps something similar is happening between God (a conscious mind) createing our conscious minds. True, we have more reality than Hamlet. But then perhaps God has more reality than we have.

I admit that the Shakespeare-Hamlet analogy doesn't give us a complete understanding of how a conscious mind can create another conscious mind. But it makes it more intelligible.

Timmo said...

Clayton,

Thanks for your clarification.

I deny (2). It's no easier. No one among us can see how one conscious mind can create another conscious mind.

Are you sure? What about cases of split consciousness, dissociative identity disorder, or schizophrenia? (Disorders of Unified Consciousness). If we can conceive of one stream of consciousness breaking into multiple distinct streams, then why can't we conceive of one mind generating another?

Clayton said...

Bilbo,
We can understand how Shakespeare (a conscious mind) can create Hamlet (a fictitious conscious mind).

I think we cannot and I don't see how it makes intelligible _how_ one conscious being might create another. We can conceive of S creating a fictitious character (as you note), but that's nowhere near conceiving of S creating a conscious being.

Now, it might seem I'm just thumping the table here but consider this. In sci fi, we have material beings that think. In writing his stories, did Asimov really conceive (in the relevant sense) of how a purely material thing could think? Say 'Yes', and M's argument is unsound. Say 'No', and I think we can see why your suggestion won't help Moreland.

Timmo,
I don't think the examples you cite give us the slightest conception of the process by which a conscious perspective is created much less a conception of how a center of consciousness could fracture. We can conceive _that_ such things occur, but that comes with no understanding. I think M's claims clearly pertain to how a being could create an independent conscious being.

All,
Am I really alone in thinking that Moreland's argument is really, really terrible?

normajean said...

yes

exapologist said...

Clayton,

No, you are definitely not alone on that. The same goes with most of his apologetics stuff.

Timmo said...

Clayton,

I don't think the examples you cite give us the slightest conception of the process by which a conscious perspective is created much less a conception of how a center of consciousness could fracture.

This really surprises me. Suppose we come to identify, on the psychological level, what conditions are causally sufficient for the development of schizophrenia and can even give a fairly clear phenomenological account of what it is like for the patient to undergo such a break down. What further understanding do you need to understand how a conscious perspective is created?

Am I really alone in thinking that Moreland's argument is really, really terrible?

No. As my very first comment indicates, I am not impressed by Moreland's line of argumentation.

Clayton said...

Timmo,

If I'm reading your last remark rightly, your response to this:

I take it the problem for naturalims is this:
(1) We can't see how consciousness can arise from the re-arrangement of matter.
(2) It is easier to see how consciousness could arise if we throw an intentional agent into the mix.


... is that you aren't convinced of (1). It seems you've sort of laid out a research program for understanding how minds are generated, so to speak, that doesn't require intentional agency as an input.

Normajean,
I think your remark has been empirically disconfirmed ;)

normajean said...

Clayton, sure =)

Keep posting--I actually enjoy reading your comments.

Peace

JT Eberhard said...

Hrm, I found some spots I disagree with.

On his points A and B, perhaps I am missing something, but I don't see how they preclud a physical nature.

(a) - Seems to boil down to "mental states have a particular feel to them." Sure they do. We have plenty of feelings, and we can tie them down to chemistry, particular parts of the brain, or particular neurons firing. The author uses pain, which is actually a perfect example.

(b) - I agree. How do we get from being able to associate mental states with objects to it not being a matter of...well, matter?

(c) - I disagree. Through spectralneuroimaging, we can monitor your states of being. While the feeling itself may belong to the individual, the cause, which is predictive of the state, is available to everybody and requires no appeal to god. We can also know when the same parts of the brain/nervous system are active in others, indicating that they are experiencing states of being that we can identify such as pain, lethargy, ecstasy, etc.

We can also monitor the chemical balance of peoples' brains and note how it affects their disposition (if you think physical chemistry has nothing to do with states of mind, try taking LSD or Prozac). We can trace this back through our Evolutionary predecessors and even further into the reptilian remnants of our brain. It is this same chemistry that is partly responsible for our states of mind that makes us, like the great apes, a social species.

(d) - See my response to C.

(e) - They can very much be describe certain mental states using physical language. But even if we couldn't, how is it not argument ad ignorantium to allow our inability to establish something to be proof that the truth supercedes nature? Every time this reasoning has been brought to bear, from the Earth's motion to the change of seasons to gravity, it has proven to be specious - do we have any good reason to believe it should be otherwise here?

"...it is hard to see how finite consciousness could result from the rearrangement of brute matter."

True, knowledge is hard - but this is one area where we actually have a lot of it figured out in great detail (see the explanation on my site).

Again though, even if we didn't know how it worked, everything else we've been able to study at length has revealed a system of complexity that requires no appeal to god. Why should our ignorance in this case be any different? The whole argument is a negative argument against physicality that gets a lot of the science wrong. The problem is that he is using a negative argument to try and reach a positive conclusion (god did it). In scientific terms (and, as far as I know, in philosophical terms), this is a complete and utter no-no that even an intro-level student would catch.

To assert that another being produced the process of conscience implies that this particular set of order requires a creator (it's essentially a graduated version of Paley's watchmaker analogy) - yet, if you believe in a god, you already agree that such a consciousness can exist with no precursor, so what prevents me from saying the same for ours? (See the self-refutation fallacy and/or the problem of infinite regress.)

Of course, I don't say that, because we have a litany of positive evidence for the mechanism by which a system like this comes into being that is contradicted by no facts, and harmonizes perfectly with what we know about reality. Therefore Occam's razor favors my side. It's not that I'm opposed to inserting god into the equation, I'm not. But at this point he is a superfluous variable when talking about conscience, and we therefore need some amount of positive evidence to include him.

The rest of his argument is drawn from this base, flowing from an implication that physical means cannot produce conscience, which is implied by his (incorrect) assertion that we don't know how it is done. Clearly, the pack of neurons that is the human brain can produce a broad spectrum of emotional states. Since the rest of his argument is based off of this, it is therefore specious.

I'd be tempted to end my initial argument there, but there are some very wrong things about Evolution being said here.

On the quote from Armstrong

“I suppose that if the principles involved [in analyzing the single all-embracing spatio-temporal system which is reality] were completely different from the current principles of physics, in particular if they involved appeal to mental entities, such as purposes, we might then count the analysis as a falsification of Naturalism.”

Not at all. Even if we saw a stone fall upward, we are unlikely to abandon the Theory of Gravity. We would wonder why the exception occurred and begin digging into it - so it would be if we discovered a hitch in our knowledge of neural function. However, no such hitch exists - so far everything we know corroborate our theories, and we know quite a bit.

On Gruber's Comment

This attempts to paint the situation as purely black and white - as though any proof of intelligent intervention would nullify all the evidence we have for Evolution. It would not. If we are the product of a divine agent, then that agent had to have either:

(a) - Used Evolution to get us where we are.

(b) - Implanted tons of false evidence that Evolution occurred. One can only speculate as to why a deity would be so deceitful.

Of course, an intelligent agent could have interfered along with the process of Evolution. The situation is not at all black or white, as Gruber suggests.

Of course, there is no evidence whatsoever that a divine agent has ever abrogated natural law, so the argument is irrelevant.

Meh, I could go on, but I think what I have up for now should be enough to establish that this argument is not only built on some pretty bad reasoning, but also upon an unfamiliarity with the relevant science surrounding cognizance, as well as the scientific process in general.

For what it's worth.

JT

Steven Carr said...

It is easy to see how conscious beings can produce otber conscious beings.

In fact there are many web sites devoted to documenting at least the beginning of the process.

And many of the participants invoke the deity when trying to create other conscious beings.

However, I don't think this is what Moreland means.

But how can conscious beings be created except by natural processes (for suitable values of natural, judging by the names of some of the web sites)

I would pay good money to see Moreland explain how his alleged god actually creates conscious beings.

Bilbo said...

Clayton writes: "In sci fi, we have material beings that think. In writing his stories, did Asimov really conceive (in the relevant sense) of how a purely material thing could think? Say 'Yes', and M's argument is unsound. Say 'No', and I think we can see why your suggestion won't help Moreland."

Asimov created fictitious conscious minds inhabiting purely material things. In other words, another case of a conscious mind creating a fictitious conscious mind. Whether it inhabits purely material thing is irrelevant. Moreland's argument, if I recall correctly, isn't that we are immaterial. It's that we have mental properties that so far can't be explained by material processes, and that starting with a conscious mind makes more sense. The example of Asimov, then, isn't a counter-instance to his argument, nor to my analogy.

Now to my analogy you write: " I think we cannot and I don't see how it makes intelligible _how_ one conscious being might create another. We can conceive of S creating a fictitious character (as you note), but that's nowhere near conceiving of S creating a conscious being."

Unless the comparison of our conscious minds to fictitious (or should I be using "fictional"?) minds is a good comparison of our conscious minds to God's. In which case, I think it helps us understand it very much. It would be similar to a flatlander's (two dimensional person) comparing herself to a linelander (one dimensional person) in order to understand her relationship to a spacelander (three dimensional person).

Bilbo said...

And to jbEberhard, as far as I can tell, everything you wrote about everything we've learned about the correlation between the brain and mental states completely ignores what Moreland says here:

"(b) Contingency of the mind/body correlation. The regular correlation between types of mental states and physical states seems radically contingent. Why do pains instead of itches, thoughts or feelings of love get correlated with specific brain states? No amount of knowledge of the brain state will help to answer this question. For the naturalist, the regularity of mind/body correlations must be taken as contingent brute facts. But these facts are inexplicable from a naturalistic standpoint, and they are radically sui generis compared to all other entities in the naturalist ontology. Thus, it begs the question simply to announce that mental states and their regular correlations with certain brain states is a natural fact. As naturalist Terence Horgan acknowledges, “in any metaphysical framework that deserves labels like `materialism’, `naturalism’, or `physicalism’, supervenient facts must be explainable rather than being sui generis.”"

Bilbo said...

oops. Sorry, that's jteberhard

Steven Carr said...

'The regular correlation between types of mental states and physical states seems radically contingent. Why do pains instead of itches, thoughts or feelings of love get correlated with specific brain states?'

What sort of question is that?

God-of-the-gaps and if you can't find a gap, invent one.

How does God create a conscious being, starting from a non-conscious sperm and egg?

When does God sprinkle his fairy dust on the foetus?

Steven Carr said...

'Why do pains instead of itches, thoughts or feelings of love get correlated with specific brain states? No amount of knowledge of the brain state will help to answer this question.'

What is the theistic answer to this question?

There is none.

There never can be, as this alleged god is a non-explanation.

Science is a candle in the dark to quote Carl Sagan.

I'm sure Moreland will sneer that there is still a lot of dark that the candle does not illuminate, and that he prefers the dark anyway, as that is where his god is.

Bilbo said...

Moreland: 'The regular correlation between types of mental states and physical states seems radically contingent. Why do pains instead of itches, thoughts or feelings of love get correlated with specific brain states?'

Steven Carr: What sort of question is that?

Moreland's point is that any correlation between mental states and brain states will always be contingent. There will never be a more basic, physical explanation. We will have psycho-physical facts that we won't be able to reduce to physical facts. For a physicalist, this is somewhat problematic, since all facts should be ultimately reducible to physical explanations. This does not disprove physicalism. However, Moreland's point is that it fits in better with a presupposition of Theism, where God contingently connects physical states with mental states:

"Since on most depictions, the theistic God possesses libertarian freedom, God is free to act or refrain from acting in various ways. Thus, the fact that the existence of consciousness and its precise correlation with matter is contingent fits well with a theistic personal explanation that takes God’s creative action to have been a contingent one. God may be a necessary being, but God’s choice to create conscious beings and to correlate certain types of mental states with certain types of physical states were contingent choices, and this fits nicely with the phenomena themselves."

Steven Carr: "God-of-the-gaps and if you can't find a gap, invent one."

Moreland isn't inventing a gap. It's been there ever since Plato. And he's not offering a God-of-the-gaps argument. He's saying that if we only have two choices, physicalism or theism, theism seems to fit the facts better.

Steven Carr: "How does God create a conscious being, starting from a non-conscious sperm and egg?

When does God sprinkle his fairy dust on the foetus?
"

If there is a God, then most probably God is in a different mode of existence than we can comprehend. I've suggested previously that perhaps the best way to understand the relationship between our consciousness and God's is to compare it to our consciousness and fictional consciousness, such as Hamlet's. This doesn't help us understand God's consciousness very much, nor how God connects consciousness with physical states, but it helps us understand why we can't understand.

I don't take the argument from consciousness as being an overwhelming proof for God's existence. I take it as a weak argument for God's existence. But then I think most arguments for God's existence are weak arguments. However, employing the many weak-strands-can-make-one strong-rope analogy, this is just one more weak strand to add to our rope.

Clayton said...

For a physicalist, this is somewhat problematic, since all facts should be ultimately reducible to physical explanations.

Why is non-reductive physicalism off the table?

It can't be that non-reductive views are off the table. Non-reductive non-naturalism, for example, seems to be the view of choice for non-naturalists.

Bilbo said...

Clayton wrote: "Why is non-reductive physicalism off the table?"


Yes, I think that's the choice for physicalists, which is why I don't think the argument from consciousness refutes naturalism or physicalism. But then physicalists are left with saying that there are these special states that are both mental and physical states, and we have no explanation for this fact that is more basic. And that seems to be an odd thing to admit about the world. It seems to be that theism would be, in some sense, and more satisfactory explanation. True, we still wouldn't know how God created conscious minds, and how God connected consciousness with physical states. So in that sense, it isn't more satisfactory. But it is more satisfactory in making sense of the world. We have an explanation as to why there are certain states that are both mental and physical.

Again, I don't take this as strong argument for Theism. Just a weak one.

Bilbo said...

I've got to remember to preview my comments. I'm making far too many typos.

Edward T. Babinski said...

I saw Moreland speaking on Faith Under Fire about how he knew people or heard about them in his church to which fabulous miracles of healing had occured. Sounds like a really objective guy if that was what he pulled out of his hat to debate with a skeptic on TV.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Which of these do rats have or lack?

a personality?

free will?

a soul?

Edward T. Babinski said...

SUPPOSING SUBSTANCE DUALISM IS TRUE

Scientists are discovering more about how the brain's components connect up with each other. [Just read the Mind Hacks blog, or Scientific American Mind magazine.]

But how does the brain connect with the supernatural world of mind? Which parts of the human brain do supernatural thoughts funnel down into? Is there a singular part of the human brain that is the main routing center the supernatural mind uses to download its thoughts into matter?
Descartes suggested the pineal gland as the routing center linking the natural brain with the supernatural mind because anatomically speaking the pineal body lay in the center of the brain and was not divided into two separate hemispheres like the brain itself. But today we know the pineal is simply a gland not a main entryway into the brain of thoughts from a supernatural world.

I think dualists today assume that the possible points of connection between the two completely different worlds of mind and matter are everywhere inside the brain, though perhaps most likely in the frontal cortex portions of both hemispheres since losing those you lose the ability to think to react, etc.

But if you hypothesize that the frontal lobes offer possible points of connection then what about in the case of split-brain patients whose linking neurons between hemispheres have been surgically severed, and whose brain-halves can no longer communicate with one another and cannot share knowledge with one another (no when some sight or sound is introduced to only one hemisphere's sense organs). Each brain hemisphere in such cases remains healthy and has its own frontal lobes, yet knowledge does not carry over from one hemisphere to the other hemisphere.

So, does the supernatural mind get split too, and one half of the supernatural mind can no longer communicate with the other half of the supernatural mind? Certainly there is no evidence that knowledge known to only one half of a split brain patient gets taken into the supernatural realm and reassembled whole there, and then that knowledge gets funneled down into BOTH hemispheres of the split-brain patient. No evidence.

The alternative is to hypothesize in cases of split-brain patients once half of the brain is "soullness" after being cut off from the half that is still receiving information from a supernatural mind. But this hypothesis fails as well because both halves of the human brain continue to function very humanly indeed even in split-brain patients. They do everything they once did, with only rare cases of one hand opening a door while the other slams it shut, or one hand pulling up their pants while the other resists and tries to pull them down. And though both hemispheres have specializations, like for speech which is a specialization found in the left hemisphere, the right hemisphere can still answer questions by pointing at things, or in some rare cases giving a brief yes or no reply.

A PHILOSOPHICAL ARGUMENT (Vic appreciates these)

So, if the split-brain is healthy and the only difference is that the natural connections are lost between hemispheres.

And, if the supernatural mind is connected to the natural brain in many places including both hemispheres.

And, if the supernatural mind is not split, and by its very nature cannot be split.

Then how and/or why can't the supernatural mind share information with both hemispheres of the split-brain?

Edward T. Babinski said...

THE ARGUMENT FROM UNCONSCIOUSNESS

Does the supernatural mind "sleep" whenever the natural brain does, either naturally at night, or via taking a sleeping pill, or via a sudden blow to the head?

Might not the supernatural mind find something of its own to do while the natural brain sleeps, since the supernatural mind is supernatural, and not subject to the natural world's laws?

Steven Carr said...

I imagine materialists can no more explain the feelings of hate, jealousy and anger any more than they can explain consciousness.

I can't rememer Moreland telling us how material brains can feel hate, jealousy and anger.

But these are easy to explain if we suppose a divine being who can create hate , jealousy and anger.

Hiero5ant said...

Straw poll: how many theists agree with Bilbo's concession that theism is not even an explanation for the phenomenon in question?

Bilbo said...

Edward T. Babinski,

If you what you reported about split brains is correct, then I think you may have a good argument against substance dualism. By the way, I noticed in the FSM thread that you said you're trying to be a Buddhist. I'm curious. Doesn't Buddhism see Consciousness as more basic than the physical world?

Steven Carr,

Evil consciousness is still consciousness. And one more example of the Problem of Evil, that challenges any Theistic view.

hiero5ant,

I didn't say Theism wasn't an explanation for consciousness. I said that it didn't explain how God creates conscious minds, nor how God connects them to physical bodies. I do think it offers some sort of answer to the question, "Why does the world consist of both physical events and mental events?"

Hiero5ant said...

Sorry, the distinction's way too subtle for me. I thought it was just obvious that what cognitive science is trying to do, and what apologetics are trying to tell a generation of children not to bother doing, is create an empirical model to predict and explain observations. An explanation of consciousness just *is* a description of its origin and interaction with the rest of the universe.

Does Yahweh know how he creates minds, and why specific aphasias are correlated with damage to specific areas of the brain?

Bilbo said...

hiero5ant wrote: "An explanation of consciousness just *is* a description of its origin and interaction with the rest of the universe.

I'll buy that. But it appears to me that the explanation will have to be more than physical in description. Otherwise, we're still left wondering why there are physical and mental events.

"Does Yahweh know how he creates minds, and why specific aphasias are correlated with damage to specific areas of the brain?"

Undoubtedly.

Bilbo said...

Maybe I should add that I'm not in love with substance dualism as an explanation of why we have mental events. The interaction between the mind and body seems so tightly constrained as to make substance dualism hard to buy into. I prefer some form of emergence theory over it (though if John Cooper at Calvin College ever develops his Aristotelian Dualist theory, I might prefer that).

But say we are able to explain mental events in terms of an emergent theory. We are still left wondering why some physical events produce mental events. And I think Theism provides some sort of understanding why that is: God created the universe so that it would eventually produce minds.

Zach said...

Good example of intelligent discussion people used to have at this blog. Now that the belligerent thin-skinned least-common denominators have chased away the intelligent, sensitive commenters you are left with an information-negative hole where thought once flowed.