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TSZ explodes in anger and mischaracterisations over BA’s recent post at UD: “If My Eyes Are a Window, Is There Anyone Looking Out?”

(In case you think this is about a strawman, cf. here)

A few days ago UD President, BA, posted on the topic, “If My Eyes Are a Window, Is There Anyone Looking Out?

Reaction at objecting blog TSZ has been explosive. For just one instance — a slice of the cake reveals its ingredients, we can see ME asserting in a newly set up sandbox:

Your clear implication, William, is that no one here knows anything about “centuries of philosophical debate.” We are not ignoramuses here. What you and Arrington attribute to “materialists” is simply false; you have no clue what “materialism” is. Here again you stumble because of your choice to remain profoundly ignorant of science while attempting to compensate for your intellectual laziness with a barrage of pseudo-philosophy . . .

The only problem with this, is that a priori evolutionary materialism is real, it is long-standing, these days loves to dress itself up in the prestigious lab coat of science, and beyond reasonable doubt on abundant evidence, has a problem grounding the rational mind and has a further problem that it has no worldview foundational IS capable of bearing the weight of OUGHT.

Just to remind, on the first of these, Haldane has long been on record:

“It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]

On the second, Will Hawthorne has summed up the challenge thusly:

Assume (per impossibile) that atheistic naturalism [[= evolutionary materialism] is true. Assume, furthermore, that one can’t infer an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ [[the 'is' being in this context physicalist: matter-energy, space- time, chance and mechanical forces].  (Richard Dawkins and many other atheists should grant both of these assumptions.)

Given our second assumption, there is no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer an ‘ought’. And given our first assumption, there is nothing that exists over and above the natural world; the natural world is all that there is. It follows logically that, for any action you care to pick, there’s no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer that one ought to refrain from performing that action.

Add a further uncontroversial assumption: an action is permissible if and only if it’s not the case that one ought to refrain from performing that action . . . [[We see] therefore, for any action you care to pick, it’s permissible to perform that action. If you’d like, you can take this as the meat behind the slogan ‘if atheism is true, all things are permitted’.

For example if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible. Many atheists don’t like this consequence of their worldview. But they cannot escape it and insist that they are being logical at the same time.

Now, we all know that at least some actions are really not permissible (for example, racist actions). Since the conclusion of the argument denies this, there must be a problem somewhere in the argument. Could the argument be invalid? No. The argument has not violated a single rule of logic and all inferences were made explicit.

Thus we are forced to deny the truth of one of the assumptions we started out with. That means we either deny atheistic naturalism or (the more intuitively appealing) principle that one can’t infer ‘ought’ from [[a material] ‘is’. [[Emphases and paragraphing added.]

Those are fairly serious concerns regarding evolutionary materialism and its fellow travelers.

So, Evo Mat characteristically ends in radical relativisation of reason, knowledge and morals, opening the door to ruthless factions holding — per Plato’s Athenian Stranger in The Laws Bk X: “the highest right is might,” and also having the challenge of what Socrates is said to have termed the ignorance which has conceit of knowledge in Alcibiades I.

That is, as a worldview, evolutionary materialism faces an epistemological conundrum and a moral hazard.

This cluster of concerns has been a matter of record from the days of Plato’s The Laws, BK X; which I here excerpt for the umpteenth time (noting how assiduously materialist objectors try to ignore or tip toe around it):


>>v –> From the days of Plato, it was understood that such materialism also has serious implications for society, as it is inherently amoral: if thoughts are determined by chance and necessity, and the issue is the dominance of the “fittest,” then that all too easily becomes the premise for the ruthless and powerful to try to dominate all others. As Plato’s Athenian Stranger observed in The Laws, Book X:


Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily "scientific" view! Notice also, the trichotomy of causal factors:  (a) chance/accident, (b) mechanical necessity of nature, (c) art or intelligent design and direction.] . . . .


[[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke's views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic "every man does what is right in his own eyes" chaos leading to tyranny. )] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here],  these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny], and not in legal subjection to them.


w –> This ancient analysis has been echoed tellingly in our day by historian of science (with a special focus on evolutionary biology and population genetics) Prof. William Provine of Cornell University, in his well-known 1998 Darwin Day keynote address at the University of Tennessee, as he then went on to try to make the best case he could for an ethics of naturalism:


Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . . 


The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . . . Without free will, justification for revenge disappears and rehabilitation is the main job of judicial systems and prisons. [[NB: As C. S Lewis warned, in the end, this means: reprogramming through new conditioning determined by the power groups controlling the society and its prisons.] We will all live in a better society when the myth of free will is dispelled . . . .


How can we have meaning in life? When we die we are really dead; nothing of us survives.


Natural selection is a process leading every species almost certainly to extinction . . . Nothing could be more uncaring than the entire process of organic evolution. Life has been on earth for about 3.6 billion years. In less that one billion more years our sun will turn into a red giant. All life on earth will be burnt to a crisp. Other cosmic processes absolutely guarantee the extinction of all life anywhere in the universe. When all life is extinguished, no memory whatsoever will be left that life ever existed.


Yet our lives are filled with meaning. Proximate meaning is more important than ultimate. Even if we die, we can have deeply [[subjectively and culturally] meaningful lives . . . .


[[Evolution: Free Will and Punishment and Meaning in Life, Second Annual Darwin Day Celebration Keynote Address, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, February 12, 1998 (abstract).]


. . . These remarks find a striking parallel in Dawkins’ words in a 1995 Scientific American article:

Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose.


We humans have purpose on the brain. We find it difficult to look at anything without wondering what it is “for,” what the motive for it or the purpose behind it might be. The desire to see purpose everywhere is natural in an animal that lives surrounded by machines, works of art, tools and other designed artifacts – an animal whose waking thoughts are dominated by its own goals and aims . . . .


Somewhere between windscreen wipers and tin openers on the one hand, and rocks and the universe on the other, lie living creatures. Living bodies and their organs are objects that, unlike rocks, seem to have purpose written all over them . . . . The true process that has endowed wings, eyes, beaks, nesting instincts and everything else about life with the strong illusion of purposeful design is now well understood.
It is Darwinian natural selection . . . . The true utility function of life, that which is being maximized in the natural world, is DNA survival. But DNA is not floating free; it is locked up in living bodies, and it has to make the most of the levers of power at its disposal. Genetic sequences that find themselves in cheetah bodies maximize their survival by causing those bodies to kill gazelles. Sequences that find themselves in gazelle bodies increase their chance of survival by promoting opposite ends. But the same utility function-the survival of DNA-explains the “purpose” of both the cheetah [--> i.e. predator]  and the gazelle [--> i.e. prey] . . . .

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. It must be so. If there is ever a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored.

In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. [[ “God’s Utility Function,” Sci. Am. Aug 1995, pp. 80 - 85.]

[[NB: This article raises the issue of the problem of evil, here emphasising the problem of natural evil; probably the strongest argument in the atheists' arsenal, but one that only works by implicitly assuming that good and evil, thus moral obligation, are real; while ducking the implication that the only valid worldview in a world in which OUGHT is real, is one that has a foundational IS that adequately grounds ought. And materialism -- scientific atheism today, has no such is. So, the objecting atheist actually has no grounds to stand on to make the argument; his argument, in the end is self-defeating, and so the proper response is to insist that such an atheist face that issue before proceeding further. (Cf here for a preliminary discussion of the problem of evil from a Christian perspective.)]

x –> In critiquing Provine’s remarks from a Judaeo-Christian perspective, Kyle Butt brings out a significant implication:


Provine’s . . . [[address] centered on his fifth statement regarding human free will. Prior to delving into the “meat” of his message, however, he noted: “The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them” (Provine, 1998).


It is clear then, from Provine’s comments, that he believes naturalistic evolution has no way to produce an “ultimate foundation for ethics.” And it is equally as clear that this sentiment was so apparent to “modern naturalistic evolutionists” that Mr. Provine did not feel it even needed to be defended . . . . [[However, i]f it is true that naturalistic evolution cannot provide an ultimate foundation for determining the difference between actions that are right and ones that are wrong, then the door is wide open for subjective speculation about all human behavior. [[Rape and Evolution, Apologetics Press, 2005.]


y –> Thus, whether or not we are inclined to accept either Evolutionary Materialism or Judaeo- Christian theism or another worldview, issues closely tied to origins science matter, truly matter, and lie at the core of many of the complex issues we face in our civilisation today, in our communities, institutions, families and lives.>>


Such is a serious matter, in a day when 100 million ghosts from the past century remind us of what was still happening through the dominance of materialist ideologies within living memory. And in a day when — as was just commented on here at UD — some are openly arguing for “post-birth abortion” in journals on medical ethics.
Video, from Schaeffer and Koop in the late 1970′s, gives sharp point to the concern:

This is far to serious to allow turnabout accusations of making innuendos (ME’s tactic in reply to UD’s WJM) distract or blunt the focus.

BA has put the matter on the table and it is not going away:

Consider a computer to which someone has attached a camera and a spectrometer (an instrument that measures the properties of light).  They point the camera at the western horizon and write a program that instructs the computer as follows:  “when light conditions are X print out this statement:  ‘Oh, what a beautiful sunset.’” Suppose I say “Oh, what a beautiful sunset” at the precise moment the computer is printing out the same statement according to the program.  Have the computer and I had the same experience of the sunset?  Obviously not.  The computer has had no “experience” of the sunset at all.  It has no concept of beauty.  It cannot experience qualia.  It is precisely this subjective experience of the sunset that cannot be accounted for on materialist principles.  It follows that if materialist premises exclude an obviously true conclusion – i.e., that there is someone “in there” looking out of the window of my eyes – then materialist premises must be false.

The question in the title of this post is:  “If my eyes are a window, is there anyone looking out?”  The materialist must answer this question “no.”  That the materialist must give an obviously false answer to this question is a devastating rebuke to materialism.

The matter is far too serious for projected outrage to be allowed to distract us. Unless and until evolutionary materialism and its fellow travellers can soundly answer long standing concerns, we would be well advised to ring fence such notions as questionable at best, likely inescapably self refuting and undermining of principles of right reason and morality, thus justice.

So, we must be very cautious before allowing such to influence our thought and decisions as a civilisation. On pain of falling victim to “the ignorance which has conceit of knowledge.”

Precisely what is not happening, as we look with concern across our civilisation. END

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33 Responses to TSZ explodes in anger and mischaracterisations over BA’s recent post at UD: “If My Eyes Are a Window, Is There Anyone Looking Out?”

  1. F/N: Updated to include key links on the challenges of Evo Mat and two cites further showing the point. KF

  2. PS: Note too how Provine’s ” 5) human free will is nonexistent . . .” is directly parallel to BA’s there is nobody there with a mind and will and heart of his or her own behind the window looking out, on Evo Mat premises. Which is blatantly false to experience.

  3. PPS: If you doubt me on that, observe Crick’s The Astonishing Hypothesis, 1994:

    . . . that “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    No wonder ID thinker Phillip Johnson responded that Dr Crick should therefore be willing to preface his books: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” (In short, as Prof Johnson then went on to say: “[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [[In Reason in the Balance, 1995.])

  4. PPPS: And if you think some sort of emergentism or compatibilism will get you out of that, show first where such come from then explain why on analysis such will not either collapse into reductive materialism or else end up in being an unacknowledged borrowing of freedom and dignity from the despised Judaeo-Christian or a similar frame of thought. And, while you are at it, account for consciousness, qualia and the like. Yes, there have been decades and centuries of debate and the usual “rich literature” The problem is, manifestly it fails — as is obvious to those not caught up in the circle of thought or overawed by the lab coats.

  5. KF: “The only problem with this, is that a priori evolutionary materialism is real, it is long-standing, these days loves to dress itself up in the prestigious lab coat of science…”

    So, can we say that evolution is materialism in a cheap lab coat?

  6. DM: I get your point, but the prob is, evolution is so broad that it is too vague to pin down. When we set it as an adjective to modify materialism, we get the very specific worldview of from hydrogen to humans by blind chance and mechanical necessity without purpose, as in what Dawkins is reading back out again and imagining his Science is telling him. KF

  7. can we say that evolution is materialism in a cheap lab coat?

    Evolutionism is materialism in an expensive lab coat (paid for by US taxpayers and the ruined lives of those expelled from the academy).

  8. If My Eyes Are a Window, Is There Anyone Looking Out?

    KF and BA: In your reading, what does all available scientific data contribute to answering BA’s question?

    Seems the thrust of ME’s charge is that UD generally avoids the data, or looks at only selected bits, or interprets according to an a priori commitment to super-naturalism. Note I am not endorsing ME’s view but attempting to capture the main charge. In BA’s post and this OP, use of scientific data is absent.

    It’s nice to come up with zingers such as “materialism in a cheap lab coat” (which suffers anyway from being derivative), but the philosophical hand-wringing over here is far too old and cliche.

    This onlooker would like to see here a serious look at all the data that helps develop answers–albeit provisional and far from conclusive–to BA’s question.

  9. But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind? ~ Charles Darwin

    If a person doesn’t think there is a God to be accountable to, then — then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as truth, that we all just came from the slime. When we, when we died, you know, that was it, there is nothing ~ Jeffrey Dahmer


    Evolutionism is an appropriate and useful term.

  10. LT: If you look, this post replies to an accusation and an explosion of rage. It does so in the context that an imposed materialist ideology is stifling facts from being allowed to speak. It, properly is targetted at the worldviews level issues that are the meta debate before the empirical facts are allowed to speak. And, all of this is in a context where the ideology dressed in a lab coat has been a problem at least since the 1880′s. Now, on actual relevant facts, before we get to doing science you need scientists capable of responsible, reasoned discourse. Evo Mat ideology implies that that is not possible if it is true. Since science does exist, it reflects the somebody behind the eyes and highlights that something is wrong with materialism. And, if you want empirical data reflect on your own post as a string of 817 ASCII characters functionally constrained by the rules of textual English. Per sampling on the space of possibilities for so many, we have with all but certainty that blind chance plus mechanical necessity would not be able to generate as much as 1 straw to a cubical haystack a lot bigger than 1,000 LY across. So, we have all but certainty that such a blind search would be practically infeasible. But you tossed such off in minutes by intelligent design. Where the sort of requisites of arrangement and selection involved are such as makes for a very tight, narrow zone in the wider space. Yet again, we see empirical warrant on how design stands out distinctly from what is reasonable on blind physical mechanisms. But also, this is strong evidence of a distinct causal factor, variously termed agency or intelligence etc. That is what needs to be addressed and the evidence is that the claimed achievements in explanation that you just hurled the elephant on, are hollow. Which is exactly the issue put in the OP. If you had a strong case that on empirical warrant accounts for emergence of agency you would be trumpeting it, instead of trying to back up ME in ad hominems and distractors. KF

  11. PS: before heading out the door, I note that LT — who obviously monitors UD — was conspicuously absent some days back when there was a survey of science thread, here. Not to mention, this on the cosmological side. Similarly neither he nor ilk have been observed making a serious submission in response to the open invite to free kick at goal here now coming on nine full months old. It strikes me that LT is doing little more than trying to shift focus away from what this thread rightly highlights as of significant civilisational concern on documentation going back 2350 years, in direct rebuttal to assertions and accusations elsewhere.

  12. LarTanner you state;

    This onlooker would like to see here a serious look at all the data that helps develop answers,,

    It is interesting to me that the ‘common sense’ view, which Mr. Arrington holds, to which I provided some empirical support here,,


    ,,,the ‘common sense’ view that we are a soul and that we live in a body,,,

    Jerry Coyne, a Holy Warrior for Darwin – James Barham – April 20, 2012
    Excerpt: Darwinists deny the objective existence of purpose, value, and meaning.,,,, (Yet) everyday human life as we experience it is saturated with purpose, value, and meaning. Therefore, to ordinary people — as to most philosophers who have given the matter deep thought — the reductionist claims of the Darwinists are absurd on their face.

    The Heretic – Who is Thomas Nagel and why are so many of his fellow academics condemning him? – March 25, 2013
    Excerpt: Fortunately, materialism is never translated into life as it’s lived. As colleagues and friends, husbands and mothers, wives and fathers, sons and daughters, materialists never put their money where their mouth is. Nobody thinks his daughter is just molecules in motion and nothing but; nobody thinks the Holocaust was evil, but only in a relative, provisional sense. A materialist who lived his life according to his professed convictions—understanding himself to have no moral agency at all, seeing his friends and enemies and family as genetically determined robots—wouldn’t just be a materialist: He’d be a psychopath.

    ,,, it is interesting that that common sense view would be protested by Darwinists as to lacking empirical evidence, when in fact neo-Darwinists are notorious for failing to deliver actual empirical evidence for any of their dogmatic claims that purely material processes can generate functional information (all while their minds are churning out volumes of functional information on these blogs),,

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel – Null Hypothesis For Information Generation – 2009
    To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis.

    Moreover, the question as to how purely material processes can possibly generate consciousness is found to be just as, if not more, bereft of empirical support for Darwinian claims as is the question of functional information is, i.e. they, Darwinian atheists, have no evidence to support their claim!!:

    Darwinian Psychologist David Barash Admits the Seeming Insolubility of Science’s “Hardest Problem”
    Excerpt: ‘But the hard problem of consciousness is so hard that I can’t even imagine what kind of empirical findings would satisfactorily solve it. In fact, I don’t even know what kind of discovery would get us to first base, not to mention a home run.’
    David Barash – Materialist/Atheist Darwinian Psychologist

    Neuroscientist: “The Most Seamless Illusions Ever Created” – April 2012
    Excerpt: We have so much confidence in our materialist assumptions (which are assumptions, not facts) that something like free will is denied in principle. Maybe it doesn’t exist, but I don’t really know that. Either way, it doesn’t matter because if free will and consciousness are just an illusion, they are the most seamless illusions ever created. Film maker James Cameron wishes he had special effects that good.
    Matthew D. Lieberman – neuroscientist – materialist – UCLA professor

    This ‘common sense’ question, as to whether we are souls or whether we are lust mindless materialistic automatons with no free will, should have been put to rest decades ago with these following findings:

    In The Wonder Of Being Human: Our Brain and Our Mind, Eccles and Robinson discussed the research of three groups of scientists (Robert Porter and Cobie Brinkman, Nils Lassen and Per Roland, and Hans Kornhuber and Luder Deeke), all of whom produced startling and undeniable evidence that a “mental intention” preceded an actual neuronal firing – thereby establishing that the mind is not the same thing as the brain, but is a separate entity altogether.

    “As I remarked earlier, this may present an “insuperable” difficulty for some scientists of materialists bent, but the fact remains, and is demonstrated by research, that non-material mind acts on material brain.”
    Sir John Eccles – Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1963 – (as quoted in Cousins, 1985, pp. 61-62,85-86)

    Eccles pulled no punches in his disdain for materialistic nonsense

    “We regard promissory materialism as superstition without a rational foundation. The more we discover about the brain, the more clearly do we distinguish between the brain events and the mental phenomena, and the more wonderful do both the brain events and the mental phenomena become. Promissory materialism is simply a religious belief held by dogmatic materialists . . . who often confuse their religion with their science.”
    – John C. Eccles, The Wonder of Being Human: Our Brain and Our Mind, 1984 – Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1963

    Eccles was hardly alone in his stance

    Materialism of the Gaps – Michael Egnor (Neurosurgeon) – January 29, 2009
    Excerpt: The evidence that some aspects of the mind are immaterial is overwhelming. It’s notable that many of the leading neuroscientists — Sherrington, Penfield, Eccles, Libet — were dualists. Dualism of some sort is the most reasonable scientific framework to apply to the mind-brain problem, because, unlike dogmatic materialism, it just follows the evidence.

    As was, and is, usual for materialistic atheists, since they had no evidence that material processes can generate consciousness, they decided to ignore the clear evidence presented against them, i.e. that conscious intention precedes neuronal activity, and tried to hide in extreme complexity of the material processes of the brain. One ploy was found wanting here:

    Brain might not stand in the way of free will – August 2012
    Excerpt: “Libet argued that our brain has already decided to move well before we have a conscious intention to move,” says Schurger. “We argue that what looks like a pre-conscious decision process may not in fact reflect a decision at all. It only looks that way because of the nature of spontaneous brain activity.”

  13. The following study was far stronger in its refutation of materialistic claims

    Self-awareness in humans is more complex, diffuse than previously thought – August 22, 2012
    Excerpt: Self-awareness is defined as being aware of oneself, including one’s traits, feelings, and behaviors. Neuroscientists have believed that three brain regions are critical for self-awareness: the insular cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex, and the medial prefrontal cortex. However, a research team led by the University of Iowa has challenged this theory by showing that self-awareness is more a product of a diffuse patchwork of pathways in the brain – including other regions – rather than confined to specific areas. The conclusions came from a rare opportunity to study a person with extensive brain damage to the three regions believed critical for self-awareness. The person, a 57-year-old, college-educated man known as “Patient R,” passed all standard tests of self-awareness. He also displayed repeated self-recognition, both when looking in the mirror and when identifying himself in unaltered photographs taken during all periods of his life. “What this research clearly shows is that self-awareness corresponds to a brain process that cannot be localized to a single region of the brain,”,,,

    More to the point though of directly falsifying reductive materialistic claims, Reductive Materialism (i.e. atheism) is now found to be wanting as a explanation for the observed patterns of brain waves:

    ‘Brain Waves’ Challenge Area-Specific View of Brain Activity – Mar. 20, 2013
    Excerpt: Each activity wave in the cerebral cortex is unique. “When someone repeats the same action, such as drumming their fingers, the motor centre in the brain is stimulated. But with each individual action, you still get a different wave across the cortex as a whole.,,,

    Along that line, it is impossible to locate a precise location in the brain as to where memories might be located:

    A Reply to Shermer Medical Evidence for NDEs (Near Death Experiences) – Pim van Lommel
    Excerpt: For decades, extensive research has been done to localize memories (information) inside the brain, so far without success.,,,,

    Of related note that a person’s memories cannot be located in a precise location in the brain, it is interesting to note that a common feature of extremely deep Near Death Experiences is that of a complete life review. A review where every minute detail of a person’s life is relived in minute detail:

    Near Death Experience – The Tunnel, The Light, The Life Review – video

    But to reiterate, the fact that we have a soul and live in a body, is just plain common sense to most people, especially theists. Nobody treats their friends and relatives as bags of chemicals and nothing but bags of chemicals. But, again to reiterate, materialists try to hide their atheistic beliefs in the extremely complex processes of the brain so as to try to disguise the fact that they actually have no clue whatsoever as to how material processes of the brain might plausibly generate consciousness. Ironically, by all rights, the extreme complexity inherent in the material processes of the brain, which materialist try to hide their atheistic beliefs in, actually belongs wholeheartedly to the Theists, since materialists have no clue whatsoever as to how this complexity came about, and should be, in reality, of no comfort whatsoever for materialists who want to claim, for whatever severely misguided reason, that they have no eternal soul. Dr. Benjamin Carson, in the following video, describes a small part of the elaborate process going on in the brain/body just to raise your hand:

    Ben Carson – Thought Process – 2:39 mark of video

    Dr. Craig Hazen, in the following video, relates how he demonstrated, to academics at a college, how raising your hand is actually, by all rights, a miracle for which they have no real explanation,,

    The Intersection of Science and Religion – Craig Hazen, PhD – video

    Dr. Hazen’s example, of raising your arm being a ‘miracle’, clearly brings the main question home, a question that is all too often missed by academics, the question as to “what is actually doing the raising of the arm? (or in Mr. Arrington’s example, ‘what is actually doing the seeing in the brain?”),, If a person tries to maintain that it is merely the brain that is raising the arm or that it is doing the seeing, then one runs headlong into the ‘argument from divisibility’ for the soul;

    Case for the Existence of the Soul – (Argument from Divisibility) – JP Moreland PhD – video

  14. Though not mentioned by Dr. Moreland, I find the ‘argument from divisibility’ to have strong empirical support here:

    If the mind of a person were merely the brain, as materialists hold, then if half of a brain were removed a ‘person’ should only be ‘half the person’, or at least somewhat less of a ‘person’, as they were before, but that is not the case. The ‘whole person’ stays intact even though the brain suffers severe impairment:

    Miracle Of Mind-Brain Recovery Following Hemispherectomies – Dr. Ben Carson – video

    Removing Half of Brain Improves Young Epileptics’ Lives:
    Excerpt: “We are awed by the apparent retention of memory and by the retention of the child’s personality and sense of humor,” Dr. Eileen P. G. Vining; In further comment from the neuro-surgeons in the John Hopkins study: “Despite removal of one hemisphere, the intellect of all but one of the children seems either unchanged or improved. Intellect was only affected in the one child who had remained in a coma, vigil-like state, attributable to peri-operative complications.”

    Strange but True: When Half a Brain Is Better than a Whole One – May 2007
    Excerpt: Most Hopkins hemispherectomy patients are five to 10 years old. Neurosurgeons have performed the operation on children as young as three months old. Astonishingly, memory and personality develop normally. ,,,
    Another study found that children that underwent hemispherectomies often improved academically once their seizures stopped. “One was champion bowler of her class, one was chess champion of his state, and others are in college doing very nicely,” Freeman says.
    Of course, the operation has its downside: “You can walk, run—some dance or skip—but you lose use of the hand opposite of the hemisphere that was removed. You have little function in that arm and vision on that side is lost,” Freeman says. Remarkably, few other impacts are seen. ,,,

    Besides the preceding evidence, which I find to more than sufficient to put the absurd materialistic claims to rest, advances in quantum mechanics have completely shattered any hope atheists have for a hopeless future without a soul:

    Quantum physics says goodbye to reality – Apr 20, 2007
    Excerpt: They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. “Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics,” Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. “You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism.”

    A team of physicists in Vienna has devised experiments that may answer one of the enduring riddles of science: Do we create the world just by looking at it? – 2008
    Excerpt: So Zeilinger’s group rederived Leggett’s theory for a finite number of measurements. There were certain directions the polarization would more likely face in quantum mechanics. This test was more stringent. In mid-2007 Fedrizzi found that the new realism model was violated by 80 orders of magnitude; the group was even more assured that quantum mechanics was correct.

    Now I really don’t know what it means for atheistic materialists to have their preferred theoretical model of ‘realism’ shattered by 80 orders of magnitude, but seeing as that is on the same order of magnitude as there are material particles in the universe (10^80), then, call me presumptuous if you want, I hold that materialism is completely blown out of the water and Theism is validated big time.,,,

    There is probably much more I could say on this topic, but kf will not be happy if I laid it all out on his thread,, so I’ll leave the matter here at the falsification of realism by Quantum Mechanics,,,

    Verse and Music:

    Matthew 16:26
    What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

    Johnny Cash and Rosanne Cash – September When It Comes – song about life and mortality

  15. LT -

    Do you not understand that the best way to show an argument false is to show it leads to an internal contradiction. In other words, the argument defeats itself.

    Sometimes it takes a long time of following an argument to see it leads to a contradiction. Not so with materialism, because materialists themselves are the best evidence.

    Do you not understand that the statement “I choose to believe that I don’t have a will,” is just incredibly foolish.

    In my opinion, this is why the budget for study of evolution is so great. People really, really, really, want materialism to be true. Think of all the money we could save if materialists just had a little common sense.

    Every argument I have ever seen that contends that one can choose to believe in materialism is basically a bunch of obfuscation and ambiguity whose goal is to hide this simple contradiction. Words like “emergence” which have no definition allow the fool to hang on to something scholarly enough sounding to continue in his foolishness.

    It is not the BA misunderstands materialism, atheism, or cherry picks or neglects empirical data. It is simply that materialists have shut their eyes and ears to the fact that their worldview is untenable with simple logic.

    No wonder they respond with such invective. Their neglect of simple logic is showing.

  16. LT is doing little more than trying to shift focus away from what this thread rightly highlights as of significant civilisational concern on documentation going back 2350 years, in direct rebuttal to assertions and accusations elsewhere.

    I don’t believe so.

    On the contrary, I have quoted the actual question BA asks and have suggested he and you might comment on the available data that would answer the question. So, I could not be more in line with the focus.

    I understand the “civilisational concern” you highlight, and I am saying that civilizational concern does not answer BA’s question. He wants to know, essentially, if human self-hood is something different and separate from the human body. I am also saying that data exists which can address BA’s question, or at least help clarify what the question actually is. So, no disrespect to civilizational concern, but it doesn’t answer BA’s question; forgive me for thinking that there’s better commentary than glib lamentations over “imposed materialist ideology.”

    On the other hand, if we take the question seriously, we should go to data. What I have suggested isn’t difficult, and you may actually find it productive and interesting–if challenging because new to you. No, I do not monitor UD; unfortunately, UD has become an echo chamber, and I have been less interested in the topics here for some time.

    But what I have suggested is simply that you comment on, say, one relevant data point and argue whether it helps answer BA’s question or not.

    For instance, you might bring up one of the studies of Benjamin Libet, who usefully provides his own interpretation of experimental data he himself had collected:

    The initiation of the freely voluntary act appears to begin in the brain unconsciously, well before the person consciously knows he wants to act! Is there, then, any role for conscious will in the performance of a voluntary act? (see Libet, 1985). To answer this it must be recognized that conscious will (W) does appear about 150 msec. before the muscle is activated, even though it follows onset of the RP. An interval of 150 msec. would allow enough time in which the conscious function might affect the final outcome of the volitional process. (Actually, only 100 msec. is available for any such effect. The final 50 msec. before the muscle is activated is the time for the primary motor cortex to activate the spinal motor nerve cells. During this time the act goes to completion with no possibility of stopping it by the rest of the cerebral cortex.)

    From Benjamin Libet, “Do We Have Free Will?” Journal of Consciousness Studies, 1999

    Personally, I think Libet’s studies suggest that BA’s “anyone,” conceived now as ‘conscious will,’ is “looking out,” albeit retroactively.

    Now that’s interesting to consider.

  17. Brain might not stand in the way of free will – August 2012
    Excerpt: “Libet argued that our brain has already decided to move well before we have a conscious intention to move,” says Schurger. “We argue that what looks like a pre-conscious decision process may not in fact reflect a decision at all. It only looks that way because of the nature of spontaneous brain activity.”

  18. and to really undermine Libet’s claim, and drive the point home as to the reality that we are ‘free will’ conscious agents,

    Here’s a recent variation of Wheeler’s Delayed Choice experiment, which highlights the ability of the conscious observer to effect ‘spooky action into the past’, thus further solidifying consciousness’s centrality in reality. Furthermore in the following experiment, the claim that past material states determine future conscious choices (determinism) is falsified by the fact that present conscious choices effect past material states:

    Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past – April 23, 2012
    Excerpt: The authors experimentally realized a “Gedankenexperiment” called “delayed-choice entanglement swapping”, formulated by Asher Peres in the year 2000. Two pairs of entangled photons are produced, and one photon from each pair is sent to a party called Victor. Of the two remaining photons, one photon is sent to the party Alice and one is sent to the party Bob. Victor can now choose between two kinds of measurements. If he decides to measure his two photons in a way such that they are forced to be in an entangled state, then also Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair becomes entangled. If Victor chooses to measure his particles individually, Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair ends up in a separable state. Modern quantum optics technology allowed the team to delay Victor’s choice and measurement with respect to the measurements which Alice and Bob perform on their photons. “We found that whether Alice’s and Bob’s photons are entangled and show quantum correlations or are separable and show classical correlations can be decided after they have been measured”, explains Xiao-song Ma, lead author of the study.
    According to the famous words of Albert Einstein, the effects of quantum entanglement appear as “spooky action at a distance”. The recent experiment has gone one remarkable step further. “Within a naïve classical world view, quantum mechanics can even mimic an influence of future actions on past events”, says Anton Zeilinger.

    In other words, if my conscious choices really are just merely the result of whatever state the material particles in my brain happen to be in in the past (deterministic) how in blue blazes are my choices instantaneously effecting the state of material particles into the past?,,, I consider the preceding experimental evidence to be an improvement over the traditional ‘uncertainty’ argument for free will, from quantum mechanics, that had been used to undermine the deterministic belief of materialists:

    Why Quantum Physics (Uncertainty) Ends the Free Will Debate – Michio Kaku – video

  19. F/N:

    In BA’s follow up thread, I posted the following remarks, which I also think belong here:


    >> We know what matter is, in the relevant form, atomic.

    Quantum theory is about 100 years old.

    It is probably the best empirically supported theory in all of science, never mind its weirdness.

    We know the organic chemistry that goes into cells, organs, tissues, systems and bodies. In particular we know that of the brain and CNS.

    We know enough to model neural networks and study their properties. We know that information and learning in the sense of enhanced, preserved functional effectiveness can be created by different wiring patterns and degrees of connectedness in such a network.

    We know that cybernetic control loops exist and that they have properties that emerge from interconnexion of components. Where the complexity involved implies a large space of possible outcomes — raising again the issue of FSCO/I and that of fine tuning, as controllers have to be tuned. We know in that context that both negative and positive feedback are important, and that feedback opens reflexivity and tracking of performance relative to target track, but also can lead to instability.

    We know that nonetheless, when properly tuned — itself no mean feat — such can track set paths and effect controlled trajectories, and the like.

    We know that proprioception allows sensing of internal state in orientation to the external world, where the head is in key part a mobile sensor turret.

    We have mapped the homunculus across the Brain, to the point where illustrative sketches are commonplace.

    We also can see that something like the architecture of the Smith Model of a two-tier controller, with a supervisory level indirectly linked to the loop allows for imposition of a set path and that storage of ideal path allows control on difference between ideal and actual, which is where things like muscle memory come in.

    But none of this even trends to explain consciousness, nor the fact that without genuine freedom of action and choice, we cannot reason, know, be reasonable or responsible. Those are categorically distinct.

    Ion flow potential gradients, in mili-Volts are distinct from degree of truth or logical implication or rightness. They are simply incommensurate.

    None of this grounds moral responsibility, or obligation.

    It might ground might and manipulation make “right” — meaning survival or promotion of survival, but that is just a gateway to the worst sort of nihilism if that is all.

    In short, we are here barking up the decidedly wrong tree.

    We are like the drunk looking for his contacts under the street light when he should realise his contacts were lost over in the dark.

    Leibniz nailed it in Monadology ever so long ago:

    17. It must be confessed, however, that perception, and that which depends upon it, are inexplicable by mechanical causes, that is to say, by figures and motions. Supposing that there were a machine whose structure produced thought, sensation, and perception, we could conceive of it as increased in size with the same proportions until one was able to enter into its interior, as he would into a mill. Now, on going into it he would find only pieces working upon one another, but never would he find anything to explain perception. It is accordingly in the simple substance, and not in the compound nor in a machine that the perception is to be sought. Furthermore, there is nothing besides perceptions and their changes to be found in the simple substance. And it is in these alone that all the internal activities of the simple substance can consist . . .

    And BA is right, when one accepts certain premises, they entail certain conclusions, as night follows day.

    You may refuse to follow the logic all you want, it makes no difference. We have an obligation to do so in our own defence as we know that systems built on such premises will work from the implications, not from what would be better.

    And so far, the evidence is, on logic and history, some within living memory, that Plato was right in The Laws, Bk X, when he pointed out the radical relativisation of knowledge, values and law, as well as resulting ruthless faction games leading to nihilistic chaos. Indeed, just the past few weeks here at UD we saw where such an inference by Schaeffer and Koop — which was pooh poohed at the time and dismissed as scaremongering, is coming to pass scarce a generation later.

    Let me spell it out for you in one horrific, chilling phrase: “post-birth abortion.”

    Quite literally of anyone that is not desired or deemed to have life unworthy of being lived.

    I dare you to translate that into German and tell me that the ghosts of the 1930′s and 40′s are not moaning out a warning, loud and long.

    You may not like the verdict of logic and the grim example of history, but it is there.

    And, thank you, we will heed it.

    And it will stiffen our determination to resist what is being pushed down our throats, for we know the price of standing idly by and doing nothing.

    You may have forgotten, but we have not.

    We dare not. >>

    Dwell on the past, you lose an eye, forget the past you lose both your eyes. [Russian proverb.]


  20. Lar Tanner in #8

    KF and BA: In your reading, what does all available scientific data contribute to answering BA’s question?

    Seems the thrust of ME’s charge is that UD generally avoids the data, or looks at only selected bits, or interprets according to an a priori commitment to super-naturalism. Note I am not endorsing ME’s view but attempting to capture the main charge. In BA’s post and this OP, use of scientific data is absent.

    It’s nice to come up with zingers such as “materialism in a cheap lab coat” (which suffers anyway from being derivative), but the philosophical hand-wringing over here is far too old and cliche.

    The “zinger” is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the oft quoted “Intelligent Design is Creationism in a cheap tuxedo”. (can’t recall who first coined the phrase, though).

    As for the rest of your post, ID properly understood makes no a priori commitment to any supernatural cause of anything. To say that is to completely misconstrue and misrepresent ID. While it is often used as a critique of ID, it is nothing more than a straw man version of ID. ID as a scientific enterprise looks for signs and indications of intelligent causes as opposed to blind, undirected, natural causes. That’s it. And, contrary to what you just wrote, ID goes directly to the data, i.e. biological systems and such, to reach its hypothesis and conclusions. I just wrote about all that here.

  21. DonaldM,

    I have no intention of participating in this thread after this comment, but noted that I interpreted ME’s charge as saying UD — not ID — displayed a super-natural bias.

    Also, you’re link is not working for me.

    Finally, my challenge — if it is that — to BA and KF is to use the data to evaluate and answer BA’s question, which was, “If My Eyes Are a Window, Is There Anyone Looking Out?”

    I’ll be interested to see if the data you link to provides any insight on BA’s question. I don’t see that either BA or KF have yet themselves weighed in on matters of data.

    BA77 has made an attempt to square up to the question, which I gratefully acknowledge. BA77, what do you make of the work of Emily Pronin?

  22. DM Thanks, I am processing a sudden bereavement this end, can see a familiar ghostly face to my left as I type; learned just yesterday. Not fully functional. But, I already pointed LT here on core design inference . . . and have endlessly explained and corrected previously, which he predictably will ignore. The strawman as you put it is too tempting, too easy to score cheap points with by continuing a misrepresenatation. Sad. KF

  23. Onlookers: I already highlighted above how the signs of agency which we see in the context of design, in particular the differential performance of agents as designers vs what mechanical necessity and chance could do credibly, points to the reality. As usual, not attended to, just as Paley’s highly material discussion of the self replicating watch has been dodged for over 100 years. But the truth is the reality of a self is pre-scientific, we are talking here of the experience of consciousness and intellect which are prior to and a condition of doing science. To question this is to saw off the branch on which one sits. Now, back to working though what I have to work through, fast. KF

  24. Oy,

    DonaldM, since you enjoy a better rapport with KF than I do, perhaps you can explain to me what the specific data is that he’s linked to and how it bears on BA’s question in particular. I admit not being able to make the connection.

  25. Lar Tanner in #24

    DonaldM, since you enjoy a better rapport with KF than I do, perhaps you can explain to me what the specific data is that he’s linked to and how it bears on BA’s question in particular. I admit not being able to make the connection.

    KF basically just explained it in #23 above where he wrote: “reality of a self is pre-scientific, we are talking here of the experience of consciousness and intellect which are prior to and a condition of doing science. To question this is to saw off the branch on which one sits.” Let me try to flesh this out a bit. (and I will be writing a lot more on this in my 3rd installment of Naturalism, Intelligent Design and Extraordinary Claims”. For now, let me state it this way. The materialist is committed to the proposition that everything, absolutely everything that ever has happened, is happening or ever will happen anywhere in the Cosmos, including the coming into existence of the Cosmos itself is the end result of the blind, purposeless forces of matter and energy interacting over eons of time through chance and/or necessity (for the sake of convenience, let’s call this the materialistic process or “MP” for short). To even hint that could be any causation for any event in time and space outside of this materialistic explanation is to go beyond materialism to allow something else in that isn’t materialism, but something else. So what we’re dealing with is strict materialism here.

    So now we come to a particular event in time and space – I have a thought. My thought is “Materialism is true”. But if materialism really is true, then my thought itself is the end result of the aforementioned MP, and I’d have no principled way to determine the truth of the statement. Further (and more to KF’s point), materialists have to hold two conflicting ideas: 1)I have consciousness and 2)what I think about materialism is true. On the MP, there would be no way to even know if #1 is true, so therefore no way to assert #2. Even saying “I exist” is problematic for the materialist because one has to believe that one’s thought about one’s own existence is factually true statement. But, the thought “I exist” is, again, the end result of the MP, so how do you verify its truth? Its a conundrum the materialist really can’t escape.

    To get around this, materialist try to offer up consciousness as something that immanent in nature, one of Gould’s “spandrels” I guess. But even thinking that runs afoul of the MP and its logical conclusion.

    So the “data” you’re asking about isn’t data in the form of some specific observation of some artifact of nature in the usual sense, but a logical argument of the full implications of the MP really are and the (seemingly) insurmountable problem it creates for the materialist.

    I hope that clarifies things a bit.

  26. F/N: the config space for 817 ASCII characters is 3.895*10^1,721, or about 1.191*10^1,571 times the number of possibilities for 500 bits. The comparable needle in haystack search for this monster on the gamut of 10^80 atoms and 10^17 s at 10^-14 s/step [~ 10^111 chem rxn time events], is comparable to pulling a one straw sized sample at random from a cubical haystack something like 7.72*10^518 LY across if my initial back of envelope calcs are about right; vastly beyond the scope of the observed cosmos. In short, if superposed on our observed cosmos, we would be looking at a beyond cosmos-scale needle in haystack challenge to seriously hope to blindly pull up anything but straw. KF

  27. DM: Thanks, though I must note that at any time LT would have been able to read here on (and especially here) where I lay out the point, step by step, indeed it is linked above. KF

  28. Would TSZ even exist if it were not for UD?

  29. KF #27 – Yeah, I know, but I thought I’d provide a brief summary anyway.

    Mung in #28 – “Would TSZ even exist if it were not for UD?”

    Would that mean that TSZ is the result of intelligent cause?

  30. There is no doubt that UD provides a lot of good material for TSZ. So thanks!

  31. 5for: Yes, good material that TSZers seem to routinely “need” to wrench into pretzels to provide apparent support for their views, such as this case documents. KF

  32. DonaldM,

    So the “data” you’re asking about isn’t data in the form of some specific observation of some artifact of nature in the usual sense, but a logical argument of the full implications of the MP really are and the (seemingly) insurmountable problem it creates for the materialist.

    I hope that clarifies things a bit.

    Thank you. Truly.

    Of course, what I actually have been asking BA and KF to consider is the data, that is, ‘data in the form of some specific observation, etc.’

    At least now I can point to this exchange — and KF’s subsequent agreement — when I point out that BA and KF do not answer question directly but prefer instead to wax on with what you (charitably) call ‘logical arguments.’

    Insurmountable problems, indeed.

  33. LT: I suggest you take a look at 19 above, bearing in mind that credibly established empirical facts are data and so are reasonably worked out discussions/arguments that frame same, address warrant and make them amenable to understanding and decision. By virtue of being in turn a fact once laid down. Where for instance the gap between ion gradient potentials in mV and truth/falsity, validity or cogency, and right or wrong is of categorical order. The Smith model allows us to see the computing and cybernetics side of being embodied, intelligent, choosing, morally responsible agents, but it does not and cannot bridge the gulch from Crick’s “You’re a pack of neurons” to conscious, responsible agency by processing physical signals in loops based on physical states and configurations of components. That’s why a computer will blindly process rubbish on algorithms that are fatally flawed until something crashes. And yet, such responsible, aware, rational agency is undeniably, inescapably our first datum of experience, through which we access all other experiences and associated facts etc. That we are even bothering to take seriously a set of worldview positions that systematically cut across the first fact of all is a strong sign of the bewitchment of our generation in a Plato’s cave of confusing shadow shows for reality. Indeed I suspect the fires in the cave are intoxicant- laden, leading us to a suggestible, benumbed state that makes it ever so hard to recognise what should otherwise be patent. Hence the pattern of clinging to absurdity that seems to be a mark of our time. I have enough processing right now with a sudden bereavement to take on your trademark snide sniping. KF

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