Sunday, July 01, 2007

If we have souls, why do we need physical brains?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m reading through Richard Carrier’s Sense and Goodness Without God. I like his book because it focuses on what atheists are, rather than on what they are not. Most other atheist books that I’ve read are mostly devoted to criticising religion, but Sense and Goodness is somewhat refreshing as its main goal is not to attack religion, but to defend metaphysical naturalism, the worldview to which most atheists subscribe.

One section of the book is devoted entirely to defending the idea if mind-brain physicalism. Carrier argues that what we think of the soul is simply the mind, and that the mind is totally dependent on, and cannot exist without, a functioning, material brain.

Theists believe that intelligence is possible without a brain (think of God, for example). Moreover, when we die, most religions teach that our souls or minds (containing our feelings, thoughts, impulses, memories, and sense of self) will live on, independent of the body.

Carrier makes the observation that mental powers of living animals are in direct correlation to the complexity of their brains. The human brain is possibly the most complex, containing a large cerebral cortex. He then argues on page 153:

It follows that a physically complex brain is necessary for a mind, and that a mind can only develop when the brain develops physically . . . If our minds were not dependent on the human brain, then there would be no plausible reason for us to have one. At best, all we would need is the minimal sort of hardware a comparable mammal had, though even that would be hard to explain the need of, since if the mind were independent enough to be able, for instance, to see, hear, think, and remember all on its own, the vast majority of the brain of even an ordinary mammal would be useless material to us, dead weight, a needless drain on our oxygen supply, of which our brains now take the lion’s share.

This is an interesting thought. If intelligence is possible without the body, then why did God give us such a large brain, an organ that is a physical disadvantage?

23 comments:

CyberKitten said...

I think that you've answered your own question.

We don't have souls. What we have are large (in relation to our body mass) brains and minds - which leads to consciousness and self awareness - which leads to early humans creating various Gods and other supernatural creatures to 'explain' their Universe(s) - which evolved into all the myriad religions we know and love....

Anonymous said...

I believe the consensus is, and this is expounded by new agers, that the soul cannot interact with the physical and therefore needs an intermediary to interact with the physical whereby the brain performs the function of a transducer from the one medium to another.

CyberKitten said...

If the soul cannot interact with the physical world... how can it use the brain as a 'transducer'?

After all the brain is somewhat physical wouldn't you agree....

Laughing Boy said...

It's always more than a little amusing when someone says, "I can see no reason why did God do such-and-such this way and I would have done it differently. And furthermore, since God did not do such-and-such according to my specifications, that is excellent evidence of God's non-existence." I guess the speculations of person with Carrier's pedigree in the neurosciences are worthy in themselves.

If our large brain is such a physical disadvantage how did it get past natural selection?

CyberKitten said...

I never really 'got' the idea of a Soul.

What is it? Where is it? What is it made of? How does it interact with the person? How does it survive death? Etc....

Makes no sense to me.....

paul said...

LB - "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."

Care to explain? Some argue this verse is purely metaphorical, others take it completely literally, and at every instance inbetween theologists differ and postulate. If we are made in His image, then we have every right to say "I would have done it such and such" or "Why did he do it that way". Our curiousity is born of God.

Ah, but the apologist will say, it was eating from the Tree that gave us such insight. Eating from the Tree gave us the knowledge of Good and Evil. But then how was man to know he should not eat from that Tree? Because God instructed him not to. Hmmm.....the other day, I instructed my 10mnth old daughter not bang her 7mnth old friend on the head with a toy. She naturally did not listen, because she did not understand, she doesn't know any better. If Adam and Eve did not know the difference between right and wrong, whether God told them to or not is immaterial.

But how could they not have known if they were created in the image of God? For the Original Sin to truly hold any sway, they must have known the difference before they ate, in which case why would the Tree have existed? And then to compound things, God expels them from the Garden so that they may not eat from the Tree of Life. Gen 3:22 "Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"
Either the implication is that Man had already been eating from the Tree of Life (although this is never specifically stated), in which case he was never created to be eternal and certainly not made in God's image. The only other meaning is that Man had not yet taken from the Tree of Life (and this seems to be the more accurate interpretation), which would also indicate that Man could only sustain for eternity on this fruit, and that he was not created to live forever.

Even if you read this entire passage as being metaphorical, the implication is still that the Tree of Life gave eternal life, and that Man was never designed to live forever, and that Sin did not cause death, or some kind of physical change in our bodies, but that death comes as a result of being kept away from the Tree of Life. Our inherent design leads us toward death unless there is some form of divine intervention. So when my teething daughter cries with the pain caused by inflamation and fever, it's not because of Sin, but because her body was 'designed' that way. I have grave concerns about a God who would allow an infant to suffer like that, never mind the far more terrible afflictions that can befall a baby. Yet if evolution is true, this pain becomes completely understandable.

I'm going off tangent here, but my point is that the whole "in Our image" nonsense is problematic from the start, so to take amusement from someone saying that God could have done better, rings hollow. To then go as far as claiming that somewhere along the line a soul or a spirit was created just brings us into the realm of the ludicrous.

If any amusement is to be taken, it is in how shocked people are when us sinful humans dare to challenge God or to mock Him, yet these same people happily believe that He shares our emotions, and in many biblical passages, our description?
Well, at least they have almost grasped the truth. "So Man created god in his own image, in the image of man created he him..."

KenC said...

Interesting article and posts.

How I see God’s creation of man in His own image is that we are created as a trinity, as God is a trinity. We are created Body, Soul and Spirit – like the 3 aspects of the single God.

As far as the Trees in the Garden of Eden - my take is this:

(From memory - no access to the Bible, even online, here at work!) Adam and Eve were never prohibited from eating from the Tree of Life prior to their sin. Once the sin occurred, they were forbidden.

Looking at it from a metaphorical perspective - the Tree of Life can be seen as a representation of Christ and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil as a representation of Satan. By choosing to willingly rebel against God, they exercised the ability to know Good and Evil already. I’ve heard it said in this way: That they had the knowledge already and that the fruit of their decision was what caused the poison in mankind … not the fruit of the tree.

Forbidding them access to the Tree of Life can be seen as punishment for the sin that they committed; similar to a restriction or elimination of privileges that we practice with our own kids today. Similar to how we, as parents, will relent with the appropriate repentance of our children – God also allowed for this change of heart, or action on man’s knowledge of good and evil for the good by allowing access to the Tree (Christ) by the appropriate decision and action on the knowledge given to us originally.

There could also be more pragmatic reasons why access was forbidden – perhaps with the introduction of sin, God knew that the decay of His creation had begun and that death would be the best relief of the curse of the decay for man. This may bring visions of zombies and the walking undead, and this may not be far from the truth – but we can only theorize on what life would be without death. The book “Tuck Everlasting” brings on an interesting perspective on this dilemma.

Though there are branches of Religion (even within Christian “denominations”) that express the fatalistic themes that you introduce, it is my opinion that God offered them the choice, that they knew what they were doing and that He still offers a choice today to come back to the Tree of Life.

Laughing Boy said...

paul... If we are made in His image, then we have every right to say "I would have done it such and such" or "Why did he do it that way". Our curiousity is born of God.

I think you'd agree that having the ability to do a thing does not mean we have the right to do it. Even so, the Bible is full of stories of people questioning God, and He generally seems quite tolerant of it. I hope He is because I do it quite often myself. (In case you're interested in a biblical perspective on this, read the Book of Job, the last 3 chapters are especially relevant.) However, there's a point where honest questioning becomes arrogance, and I think that point is crossed when we forget who we're dealing with.

Of course atheists should be unconcerned about the non-existent Who that they're dealing with, though they seem oddly preoccupied with Him. They might be better off if they stopped going on and on about things they don't believe in (who else does this?) and redirect that energy into something more positive and progressive. That might win more converts than the current evangelistic efforts of Dawkins and Hitchens, et al.

paul said...

kenc - The problem is, there is absolutely no support for any of the points you made. I understand my comment extracted mostly hypothesis, but it was still based on the text of Genesis itself. I understand that you did not have a bible handy, but I would think that you would at least re-read the passages I mentioned before you attempt to provide a different insight. The text says nothing about us being a triune being, only that we were created from dust, and that God breathed life into us. And what exactly is the difference between soul and spirit? Which supposedly lives on after death? If the soul is the essence of who we are, then why are there dozens of documented medical instances where severe brain trauma has caused an almost total change in personality? I can understand brain trauma hampering motor skills, or the ability to talk or read, but if the soul is our personality, surely that should remain unaffected?

Secondly, I don't see how you can assign identities to the two trees. For that to be the case, there must be indications in Genesis that this is so, and there are none. The serpent is described as a seperate entity completely, and there is no mention of Christ whatsoever. And anything quoted after Genesis to support your claim would be inadmissable, as anyone can ascribe meaning to a text AFTER the fact. You say that they possessed the knowledge of good and evil before they ate from the tree, which I agree makes the most sense, but still raises serious questions about intent and predestination. If we already had that knowledge, what is the point of the Tree? And why, if we already had knowledge, did we only become ashamed about our nakedness after we ate? Is it because only then we realised the impact of our disobedience? This all seems like rather a lot of doubt surrounding the creation story. That's a lousy way to start off the 'most important book in history'.

I compared the relationship between us and God to that of a parent to a child, and you continue that comparison. But there is one huge difference. I might well restrict access to something when my child is disobedient, but no television for a week is just not the same as burn in hell for eternity, is it. Or, if you take the more modern interpretation of hell, I would take the playstation away, but I wouldn't remove my presence from my child for eternity. And my love for my child does not hinge on them asking for forgiveness.

Though I stated that knowledge of good and evil prior to eating the fruit makes the most sense, it really is impossible to defend that view from the text. As I said, why the need for the Tree then, but more importantly, the serpent's entire deception is based upon enticing Eve with the promise of the knowledge of good and evil. Why would she have succumbed if she was already in possession of that knowledge? The whole story just makes no sense whatsoever.

paul said...

lb - Yes, of course I would agree that having the ability to do something doesn't mean that one should. If I have a gun and I can use it, doesn't mean I should be running around shooting everything in sight. But we both know that has absolutely nothing to do with my point. If man does manage to imbue a machine with AI, I doubt anyone would disagree that we would be held accountable for our actions if things went wrong. Yet if we question our creator, we invite upon ourselves fire and brimstone?

Ah, poor old Job. Made to suffer the unthinkable just so God could show how faithful Job was. Why would God need to prove anything to anyone? He certainly need not prove anything to Satan. What is the point of the book of Job?

And lb, I really am disappointed by that last point. I'd come to think of you as a rather intelligent individual, but that last comment reveals a complete lack of understanding, and dare I say it, a boat load of ignorance. How does one defeat addicition unless one understands it? The basis of this site is so that Kevin may share with us a greater understanding of his recovery from addiction, so that those of us who shared this addicition may also better understand it in order to defeat it. When an oppressive government has the people enslaved, are you saying that it would be ridiculous from rebels to shout out that the Emperor wears no clothes? They don't share the same beliefs, why bother? Seems to me the world would be a very different place if certain people did not go "on and on about things they don't believe in". Yes, I'm exaggerating, but to say that when atheists are shouting out the same thing is somehow misguided or bizarre is just ridiculous.

Has anyone here once called into question your motives for being here? No. We've tolerated, and in many instances enjoyed having your voice here, even though you were never invited, and really have no business being here.

In other words lb, be polite.

CyberKitten said...

laughing boy said: Of course atheists should be unconcerned about the non-existent Who that they're dealing with, though they seem oddly preoccupied with Him. They might be better off if they stopped going on and on about things they don't believe in (who else does this?) and redirect that energy into something more positive and progressive. That might win more converts than the current evangelistic efforts of Dawkins and Hitchens, et al.

...and yet, it is Christians (and as far as I know *only* Christians) who go around knocking on peoples doors going "on and on" about how we should believe how they believe in order to be 'saved'. Strange that no one else, religious or non-religious, feel the need to do this....

Maybe before you criticise atheists for saying what they don't believe in (and don't want pushed into their faces at every opportunity) you might ponder on what some of us non-belivers have to put up with. Maybe if you were on the receiving end of what can amount to theological harasment you might tell them to stop bothering you too!

Laughing Boy said...

paul...

Yet if we question our creator, we invite upon ourselves fire and brimstone?
I think I made it clear that I don't think that.

What is the point of the book of Job?
Read it. Figure that out for yourself. I'm sure you don't need my opinion. If you read it and have questions I'd be glad to talk about it with you at my blog. Just leave a note there.

I'd come to think of you as a rather intelligent individual...

Thanks, that was nice...

...but that last comment reveals a complete lack of understanding, and dare I say it, a boat load of ignorance.

...while it lasted.

Though it may reveal the depth of my ignorance, it's still a question I have. I come here to read what Kevin and others think and to respond in defense of things I believe are real and true (as opposed to attacking things I think are unreal which I contend is a waste of time). Indeed it may be that Kevin is working his way out of the religiosity he was raised in and this blog may be a cathartic type of thing. Maybe it's a form of atheistic evangelism, I don't know. That's a question for Kevin, not you. As a Christian who is—if only occasionally—somewhat intelligent, I can say that most atheist attacks on Christianity ultimately have positive effects on my faith much like a competing hypothesis has positive effects on scientific progress. In other words, not only is this method of winning converts to unbelief unproductive, it's counter-productive. I'm just trying to help :-).

Sometimes the best way I know to communicate my ideas is with pointed questions or assertions. I think the kinds of things said here about Christians and Chritianity have warranted the occassional reciprocal poke. If I've been impolite I apologize.

cyberkitten...

only Christians go around knocking on peoples doors going "on and on" about how we should believe how they believe in order to be 'saved'

I've hardly ever had Christians knocking on my door, and they all went away when I excused myself politely. Jehovah's Witnesses, a little for often, but still rarely. Again, I tell them nicely that I'm not interested and they go away smiling. If atheists came to my door and behaved similarly (that is, respectfully) I'd do the same. No big deal. I wouldn't phone up the ACLU. I get more kids selling magazine subscriptions, etc. than religious evangelizers, by about 50 to 1. Where are all the blogs about that?

Maybe if you were on the receiving end of what can amount to theological harasment you might tell them to stop bothering you too!

How much harrassment do you face in Europe, which you, just days ago, called predominately atheist? Even so, I don't imagine you are often, if ever, theologically harrassed while minding your own business. My guess is that outside blogland, religious issues rarely come up. I could be wrong I guess; maybe your whole family is Pentecostal or worse, Baptist. Even so, as a Christian I can attest to anti-theological harrassment even here in America (happy birthday to you!). So what? People are free to run their their mouths ad nauseum and I am free to walk away.

Anyway, how do lengthly diatribes against every detail of another person's beliefs equate with telling them to stop bothering you? Why don't you just say, "Stop bothering me?" Maybe you need to be a little more assertive. But it seems many atheists don't do that. Instead they search the believer's holy books and pick out things they don't like then go looking for trouble? It doesn't make sense.

Again, I apologize if I have hurt anybody's feelings. That's not my intention. I realize that this is somewhat more aggressive than I usually am, but we're just talking, right? I will return to my old, sweet self for next post.

CyberKitten said...

laughing boy said: I've hardly ever had Christians knocking on my door, and they all went away when I excused myself politely. Jehovah's Witnesses, a little for often, but still rarely. Again, I tell them nicely that I'm not interested and they go away smiling.

Actually they do seem rather thin on the ground recently - maybe its the bad weather we've been having or maybe they've just given up [here's hoping]. I actually chat to them on the doorstep for a few minutes until they get really confused or frustrated enough to leave. I imagine that they get rather a lot of abuse so I try to be as kind to them as I can, poor things.

laughing boy asked: How much harrassment do you face in Europe, which you, just days ago, called predominately atheist?

Well, predominantly Secular.... But thankfully very little. Most Christians I come across are either too polite or too shy to harass me too much before they get the impression that they should back off a bit or just leave. I did feel theologically harassed (and patronised) at work fairly recently though which was rather annoying. My own fault in some ways for actually arguing with him...

laughing boy asked: Anyway, how do lengthly diatribes against every detail of another person's beliefs equate with telling them to stop bothering you?

It's a somewhat less than subtle hint that they're wasting their time and that people are not interested in what they're selling.

laughing boy advised: Why don't you just say, "Stop bothering me?" Maybe you need to be a little more assertive.

Maybe. Except that you have to be assertive time and again as new Christians try to 'witness' to you. It does get a bit boring hearing the same old tired nonsense over and over. It does all feel very scripted....

Telling people that you're just not interested works sometimes - but as some Christians get it into their heads that they really are trying to 'save' you it does sometimes take a lot to make them leave you alone.

Laughing Boy said...

cyberkitten...

Believe me, I know how that can get irritating. All the more reason to think an atheist would not voluntarily spend his or her discretionary time in the same rut.

I notice your blog displays a wide variety of interests. Perhaps some non-religious type conversations would be good.

Talk to you later.

Lui said...

"If our large brain is such a physical disadvantage how did it get past natural selection?"

Easily, because the benefits of having a large brain in the socioecological and sexual context that our ancestors found themselves in outweighed the costs associated with maintaining it. It's a classic case of selfish-gene accounting. Evolution isn't about perfection, it's about compromises. The equivalent of a cost-benefit analysis will be carried out by natural selection, as it automatically shuffles alleles by virtue of their phenotypic effects. You have created a false dichotomy in thinking that something can only be selected when it is purely advantageous. In actuality, nothing ever, or very rarely, is. Everything comes at a cost, and natural selection leaves us with that which has an overall effect that has allowed the respective alleles to be propagated at the expense of their "rival" alleles.

Surely you're not denying, though, that evolution by natural selection produced our large brains?

"She naturally did not listen, because she did not understand, she doesn't know any better. If Adam and Eve did not know the difference between right and wrong, whether God told them to or not is immaterial."

I agree. I would also agree that the fact that we're still having this "discussion" in the 21st century doesn't speak very highly of our species.

"Of course atheists should be unconcerned about the non-existent Who that they're dealing with, though they seem oddly preoccupied with Him."

It's not odd at all, for as you should well know, they see religion as the cause and/or exacerbating element of many problems. Thus it's entirely to be expected that they should speak out against religion. They see themselves as having a moral obligation to “spread the word”. It really does seem like you're clutching at straws, because objections like these that you have made are entirely devoid of context. It smacks of a wanton eagerness to believe the worst about atheism in order not to have to listen to what it has to say.

Laughing Boy said...

Evolution isn't about perfection, it's about compromises.

Likewise for design.

Thus it's entirely to be expected that they should speak out against religion.

But as I said before and as simple observation will verify, it's a failed methodology. It does nothing to clear away the negative images nearly all people have of atheism. When atheists speak out against religion, only other atheists are listening.

It smacks of a wanton eagerness to believe the worst about atheism in order not to have to listen to what it has to say.

That's my point. Atheism seems to have nothing to say but "religion is bad". If that's the case then it will continue to slide into obscurity. People don't think religion is bad. They see (actually see) how helpful it is for them personally and how much religion and religious organizations aid society. They have no similar atheist examples (and plenty of grand negative examples). If atheists want to end religion, which is a pipe dream many have had and have failed to acheive even at the end of a gun, they need to "stop preaching" and start doing. People might be willing to leave religion, but only if there is something to replace it. Typical atheist anti-religious rants don't supply that.

I'm a user interface designer. When user testing reveals that users don't like aspects of the design I don't thell them their "objections are entirely void of context". I acknowledge that it's their needs I'm trying to meet and change my design accordingly.

Atheism should do the same, but I don't think it can.

CyberKitten said...

laughing boy said: When atheists speak out against religion, only other atheists are listening.

If that was the case then why are the various best selling books by Dawkins etc.. a)selling so well around the world and b)causing such an apparent uproar - usually negative. Surely its not *just* atheists who are doing either?

laughing boy said: Atheism seems to have nothing to say but "religion is bad". If that's the case then it will continue to slide into obscurity.

I certainly see little evidence that atheism is 'sliding into obscurity' - actually I see just the opposite. Religion does indeed appear to help lots of people cope with pretty shitty lives - but is not the only 'lifebelt' available. Giving people different ways about thinking about their lives might actually lead to religion sliding into obscurity. Both sides of the coin must fulfill a function both for the individual & society. If the function declines then so will the belief (or disbelief).

laughing boy said: People might be willing to leave religion, but only if there is something to replace it.

Not true. It doesn't follow that if people find that their religious beliefs have become untenable that they must necessarily need to replace them with another belief system. Luckily I have never had to divest myself of religious belief so, personally, I have never had any kind of 'void' to fill with something else. I doubt if many ex-theists need to fill such a void either.

laughing boy said: When user testing reveals that users don't like aspects of the design I don't thell them their "objections are entirely void of context". I acknowledge that it's their needs I'm trying to meet and change my design accordingly. Atheism should do the same, but I don't think it can.

That presumes that atheism has a 'design' that it is failing to meet and failing to change to progress its design. What 'design' are we talking about? The death of religion maybe? Ain't going to happen in any of our lifetimes I can assure you of that!

Lui said...

"Likewise for design."

Natural selection achieves something equivalent to design. If you're talking about deliberate, consciously guided design, then please me how that is relevant to the discussion.

"When atheists speak out against religion, only other atheists are listening."

Which must explain the shrill, often vicious, denunciations by the religious lobby and media pundits against Dawkins' book?

"That's my point. Atheism seems to have nothing to say but "religion is bad"."

Atheism is simply lack of belief in a deity. One can be an atheist for different reasons, and some atheists are quite comfortable with religion (as long as it doesn't intrude into their own lives). Some atheists have what Daniel Dennett calls "belief in belief": they see virtues in religion, for whatever reason, but do not actually believe the truth claims of religion.

"If that's the case then it will continue to slide into obscurity."

"Continue"? On the contrary, it could well be the case that the increasingly ridiculous pronouncements of religious leaders, like the recent claims made by bishops of the Church of England that the floods in England are wrath from God to punish a society that has abandoned him, are a sign of an underlying fear by them that it is religion that is sliding into obscurity, hence their need to resort to such silliness.

"I acknowledge that it's their needs I'm trying to meet and change my design accordingly."

Applied in a religious context, that is a very patronising view of humanity. It is tantamount to saying that people are not capable of advancing past the emotional state of a child, and therefore "need" something to "make their lives meaningful". That "something", of course, must be religion, largely because religion has told them so. Take away religion, and of course they may feel a vacuum that begs to be filled. It is hardly surprising that if someone believes in a doctrine that reaches them that only that doctrine can give their life meaning, they may be ill equipped to deal with life after they cease to believe in that doctrine, because they can't conceive of meaning outside of it. Many, however, do manage to overcome this, and others barely skip a beat. Besides, there have been some wonderful expositions by various atheists on the virtues of living life for its own sake. Others have extolled the wonder and majesty of the universe and our place in it. Neil deGrasse Tyson's "Cosmic Perspective" is a splendid example. So yes, there are deep human needs that should be addressed, but the mistake is to think that only religion can do so. It is a myth originated largely FROM religion.

Anonymous said...

Consciousness is not material, therefore not a phenomenon, therefore not "caused" by brain function in any sense. (Associated with, yes. "Caused by" no.) End of discusssion, and end of atheism as a serious philosophical/metaphysical position. (No, I am not a Christian, although I grew up one -- indeed, one of the evangelical persuasion. The label that best fits, I guess, is "closet Hindu." So why don't I just come out of the closet?)

W.M.Bear posting as Anon

Lui said...

"Consciousness is not material, therefore not a phenomenon, therefore not "caused" by brain function in any sense. (Associated with, yes. "Caused by" no.) End of discusssion, and end of atheism as a serious philosophical/metaphysical position."

Actually, it's far from the end of atheism as a serious philosophical/metaphysical position. You have made no valid points; you have only engaged in a flimsy, incredulity-fuelled chain of reasoning. I always marvel at how religion can give people the conviction that they know more about something than those who have actually investigated it.

paul said...

W.M. Bear

(by the way, initialising your name like that might have fooled the common people a few hundred years ago, but in the 'modern' age, it no longer comes across as exuding intelligence, but rather is a paltry attempt at convincing us you can string a few words together. I may as well sign off as I.P. Freely)

Now, with no offence to Kevin, anyone who chooses a blog to drive home one of the biggest revelations of the modern age is clearly in no position to actually do so. The end of Atheism in a few short sentences? Just like that? Not with a bang, but with a whimper?

Er.....no. Let's start with "therefore not a phenomenon". Heard the term phenomenal consciousness before? How about 'neuropsychology'? If you could please define the 'special' brand of consciousness you refer to, that might aid me in understanding your point better. Why then does consciousness seem to take a vacation whenever brain damage occurs? Are animals not self aware? See, the minute you actually bother with investigating the nature of consciousness, you will discover that it can be broken down in to various categories, many of which science has begun to pinpoint to certain areas of the brain. Why is it, that the further medical and scientific research progress, the closer we come to understanding the nature of consciousness? If it were truly is immaterial and beyond our comprehension as you claim, we would know nothing more about it then men did a thousand years ago.

And a closet Hindu questions the seriousness of atheist claims? Hinduism, a religious tradition without a uniformity of belief, a religion in which it is possible to be monotheistic, ploytheistic, and even in some cases atheistic, in which divinity permeates all living things.....need I go on? You're telling me THAT is a serious philosophical/metaphysical position?

Pull the other one. It has bells on.

P3T3RK3Y5 said...

yo kevin.

i'm not sure another comment helps at this point :) you're so popular bro! but..

another way to consider this is in terms of AI. as i've read Roger Penrose - and other folks who deny Strong AI - these guys think that some of the thinking we do must happen at the quantum level...

which has led me to consider that perhaps the gateway between the 4D world and a higher-dimensional maybe "spiritual" world exists at the quantum level.

this (acknowledgment of the quantum world) forces a rethink of many things modernists think they understand - Gods Sovereignty for example - but it is also high time theology faces the music - as Einstein failed to with his emotional retort to max born "God doesn't play dice".

(Einstein was wrong, but theology hasn't noticed).

CyberKitten said...

QM has been utilised to 'explain' just about everything from magic and ghosts to time travel and God.

Personally I'm less than impressed with this line of 'reasoning'.

Plus - if our brains work on a Quantum level in order that we are free, conscious, self aware beings... why can't machines be designed to use the same process and thereby becoming sentient just like us. The dismissal of strong AI is just an example of human arrogance.