Tuesday, November 29, 2016

David Bentley Hart - Mind and Spirit: The Irreducibility of Consciousness to Matter.

Some of you will remember that a while back I posted a monthly challenge to materialist-atheists to explain how the favorite "brain-only" model of the mind in which all of our thoughts are the product of physical structures present in the brain could account for new ideas entering into our minds.

If all thoughts are dependent on a physical structure in the brain new thoughts would require new and different physical structures in the brain of each person to "be" that new idea.

If that new structure in the brain comes to be in a brain where it wasn't before, our brain would have to construct that new structure.

My question developed over the course of asking it for a year.

The brain would have to know it needed to make a new structure to "be" that new idea before it could make the structures,  how could the brain know that before that structure could be present in the brain?

How would the brain know what kind of structure it had to build in order to be the right physical form of that idea BEFORE THAT IDEA COULD EXIST IN THE BRAIN TO TELL IT THAT? 

How would the brain know how to make that new structure to be precisely the right form and character to be an precise and accurate generator of that idea, again BEFORE THE IDEA COULD BE PRESENT IN THE BRAIN TO TELL IT THAT?  

I also raised other problems, I believe insurmountable problems for the dogma that our ideas are physical structures in our brains.  One of the most pressing for such atheists is how could our brains create the same structure so that any two peoples' brains could contain the same laws of mathematics or science or logic.   How would our brains be able to create the same structure, either exactly identical or even identical to within a tolerable variation so that it could be rationally held that two peoples' minds contained the same physical law.  That problem leads to how such a physically based law of science could permit differences in articulation due to differences of language, culture, personal experience, etc.   It would seem to me one of the most vulnerable ideas in human culture under their materialist "brain-only" ideology would be science which, inevitably, must be a social activity and entity.   

But the ideologues of materialist-atheism, even the most intelligent of them such as Sean Carroll or Jerry Coyne - not considering such materialist meatheads as would seem to populate the cognitive, behavioral and, these days, alas, even the biological sciences, are reduced to less than rigorous thought in order to protect their ideology, held far more out of emotional preference than intellectual integrity.    In a possible order of most common to less common those include:

Coercive bullying insistence that their materialism is the only allowable point of view and so whatever is concluded must uphold it.   In that we can see that their materialism is merely another rigid, fundamentalist denomination that relies on its ability to bully its critics into silence or acquiescence.   This bullying is how atheism conquered academia.

Dishonestly trying to cut corners, shift denotations and definitions - often relying on ambiguity when words have more than one meaning.   I would include the frequent refusal to take philosophical criticism of their ideas seriously because philosophers, other than those who practice their same ideological faith practices, will often find lapses, if not gaping holes in their pronouncements and fiats.  I think that's what really accounts for the arrogant dismissal of so many scientists for philosophy, the kind of scientist who likes to pretend they are on the verge of sewing up a Theory of some Everything or other.

Vulgar appeal to the ignorance of those who are too lazy to even understand the problem.  The new atheism was entirely an appeal to the ignorance of so many atheists who could sometimes be said to know a little but who mostly knew how to recite atheist slogans and snark.  I know lots of them like to believe they are the intellectual class of the age but what they really are is the indictment of intellectualism in a world which confers credentials in the place of educating people.

Here is an excellent talk by David Bentley Hart which is so worth listening to that it's too bad the audio is at such a low level and only one channel, the left one.  You might want to use earphones or put it through your stereo system.    If it weren't such a good talk I wouldn't post it.

You'll probably want to skip the five or so minute pause they took before the question period.  

I will add, that other than to magically intone such terms as "DNA" and "natural selection" and for one of the would-be "Brights" to say that "the brain just does what it does" no atheist here or any of the other places I posted that question over that year came up to a start on answering even the first one of how the brain would know it needed to make a new idea before that idea existed in the brain, never mind the other hard questions that would have to be answered for the materialist-atheist brain model to even account for that one, essential aspect of our minds.   They quickly went to the more vulgar of the dodges listed above. 

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