Intelligent Design Mind Neuroscience News

Anti-science news: Further to attacks on Stoppard’s new play

Spread the love

Earlier discussed here. The most fulsome one is, of course, in New Scientist:

For me the attacks on science were unnecessary and ill-formed. “Where in the brain is metaphor happening?” asks Hilary. “Where is accountability and free will?” These don’t show up in a fMRI scan, she says. In fact metaphor may well show up in scans and so do all sorts of interesting aspects of our inner lives, including areas where we operate theory of mind, the ability to see another person’s point of view.

No one is saying that brain scans will explain consciousness, but I can’t understand those who seem to want to mock what neuroscientists are discovering. Some people are afraid that we lose something if we “reduce” aspects of our inner lives to blobs on a brain scan – in the case of metaphors to a location in the right inferior frontal gyrus. I think we gain something.

There’s lots more. Stoppard seems to channel the philosopher Thomas Nagel, (he mentions Nagel in the programme notes), who asserts that mental processes are different from physical ones, and so are not subject to natural selection. To many, this opens the door to the supernatural.

Like my dad would say, when you hear this kind of crap, reach for your horses in the dark.

That is, once “science” comes to mean some crackpot faith rather than assessment of facts, well, just get out.

Neuroscience has got nowhere with consciousness because it is operating on the wrong principles, as great physicists have said.

See also: Neuroscience tried wholly embracing naturalism, but then the brain got away
Re Thomas Nagel, he is an atheist philosopher who bust the Darwin pen. If you do not know of him and do not understand why he is being slimed, read Mind & Cosmos.

Follow UD News at Twitter!

Search Uncommon Descent for similar topics, under the Donate button.

5 Replies to “Anti-science news: Further to attacks on Stoppard’s new play

  1. 1
    Silver Asiatic says:

    No one is saying that brain scans will explain consciousness,

    Nice try, but that what the materialist-community Is saying.

    I can’t understand those who seem to want to mock what neuroscientists are discovering.

    Some foolish ideas don’t deserve anything more than being mocked. Actually, taking the time to mock them is giving them more credit than is deserved, usually.

    Some people are afraid that we lose something if we “reduce” aspects of our inner lives to blobs on a brain scan – in the case of metaphors to a location in the right inferior frontal gyrus.

    Afraid because we do, indeed, lose a lot. When the science is wrongly used to support monistic-physicalism, we basically lose humanity. That’s why Darwinism is evil. It’s anti-human.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    As to the author’s comment here:

    And to me there is more than a whiff of anti-science here, since it argues that we will never be able to explain the conscious experience.

    The author is confusing his philosophy of naturalism/materialism with ‘science’. ‘Science’, as it would be properly practiced in this instance, is asking the question, ‘Is consciousness primary or is material primary?’. And then weighing the evidence and seeing which answer is true.

    “The impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God.”
    Charles Darwin to Doedes, N. D. – Letter – 2 Apr 1873

    Anti-science, in this instance, would be assuming that material is primary before even asking the question and refusing to even entertain the thought, (or evidence), that consciousness might be primary over material.
    Thus he, (despite his deeply held materialistic belief that material will someday explain consciousness, i.e. promissory materialism), is the one who is guilty of ‘anti-science’ in this instance.

    Moreover, aside from the fact that science was born out of, and can still only be reasonably grounded in, Theistic metaphysics:

    Science and Theism: Concord, not Conflict* – Robert C. Koons
    IV. The Dependency of Science Upon Theism (Page 21)
    Excerpt: Far from undermining the credibility of theism, the remarkable success of science in modern times is a remarkable confirmation of the truth of theism. It was from the perspective of Judeo-Christian theism—and from the perspective alone—that it was predictable that science would have succeeded as it has. Without the faith in the rational intelligibility of the world and the divine vocation of human beings to master it, modern science would never have been possible, and, even today, the continued rationality of the enterprise of science depends on convictions that can be reasonably grounded only in theistic metaphysics.

    ,,, And aside from the fact that a more ‘anti-science’ worldview than naturalism/materialism, especially with its base ‘random chance’ postulate, would be hard to envision,,,

    “It is our contention that if ‘random’ is given a serious and crucial interpretation from a probabilistic point of view, the randomness postulate is highly implausible and that an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws—physical, physico-chemical, and biological.”
    Murray Eden, “Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory,” Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, editors Paul S. Moorhead and Martin M. Kaplan, June 1967, p. 109.

    also see Pauli, Talbott, Spoul, etc.. etc..

    Aside from all that, assuming naturalism/materialism can account for conscious experience leads to the epistemological failure of science itself since it undermines the reliability, and trustworthiness, of our cognitive faculties.
    Thus, materialism/naturalism, contrary to what the author believes beforehand, is ‘anti-science’ in the most profound sense in even this question of whether consciousness or material is primary to reality.
    In fact, Alvin Plantinga, with his ‘Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism’, has created quite a stir with his contention that naturalism is ‘anti-science’:

    Philosopher Sticks Up for God – 2011
    Excerpt: Theism, with its vision of an orderly universe superintended by a God who created rational-minded creatures in his own image, “is vastly more hospitable to science than naturalism,” with its random process of natural selection, he (Plantinga) writes. “Indeed, it is theism, not naturalism, that deserves to be called ‘the scientific worldview.’”
    per NY TIMES

    Is Atheism Irrational? By GARY GUTTING – NY Times – February 9, 2014
    Excerpt: GG: So your claim is that if materialism is true, evolution doesn’t lead to most of our beliefs being true.
    Plantinga: Right. In fact, given materialism and evolution, it follows that our belief-producing faculties are not reliable.
    Here’s why. If a belief is as likely to be false as to be true, we’d have to say the probability that any particular belief is true is about 50 percent. Now suppose we had a total of 100 independent beliefs (of course, we have many more). Remember that the probability that all of a group of beliefs are true is the multiplication of all their individual probabilities. Even if we set a fairly low bar for reliability — say, that at least two-thirds (67 percent) of our beliefs are true — our overall reliability, given materialism and evolution, is exceedingly low: something like .0004. So if you accept both materialism and evolution, you have good reason to believe that your belief-producing faculties are not reliable.
    But to believe that is to fall into a total skepticism, which leaves you with no reason to accept any of your beliefs (including your beliefs in materialism and evolution!). The only sensible course is to give up the claim leading to this conclusion: that both materialism and evolution are true. Maybe you can hold one or the other, but not both. So if you’re an atheist simply because you accept materialism, maintaining your atheism means you have to give up your belief that evolution is true. Another way to put it: The belief that both materialism and evolution are true is self-refuting. It shoots itself in the foot. Therefore it can’t rationally be held.

    To those atheists who object that it is unreasonable to believe that evolution will produce untrue beliefs, even leading atheists themselves admit that evolution does not necessarily produce true and reliable beliefs:

    Why No One (Can) Believe Atheism/Naturalism to be True (Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism) – video
    Excerpt: “Since we are creatures of natural selection, we cannot totally trust our senses. Evolution only passes on traits that help a species survive, and not concerned with preserving traits that tell a species what is actually true about life.”
    Richard Dawkins – quoted from “The God Delusion”

    Why Evolutionary Theory Cannot Survive Itself – Nancy Pearcey – March 8, 2015
    Excerpt: Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false.
    To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.
    So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.,,,
    Of course, the atheist pursuing his research has no choice but to rely on rationality, just as everyone else does. The point is that he has no philosophical basis for doing so. Only those who affirm a rational Creator have a basis for trusting human rationality.
    The reason so few atheists and materialists seem to recognize the problem is that, like Darwin (i.e. ‘horrid doubt), they apply their skepticism selectively. They apply it to undercut only ideas they reject, especially ideas about God. They make a tacit exception for their own worldview commitments.

    of related interest to Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism, is the following computer simulation study:

    Quote: “In evolutionary games we put truth (true perception) on the stage and it dies. And in genetic algorithms it (true perception) never gets on the stage”
    Donald Hoffman PhD. – Consciousness and The Interface Theory of Perception – 7:19 to 9:20 minute mark – video

    Moreover atheistic materialism also, besides undermining the trustworthiness of our cognitive faculties, atheistic materialism also, by denying free will, undermines science from another angle in that we can not choose to believe something because we believe that it might be true, but our beliefs are forced on to us by the prior material state of our brains:

    Sam Harris’s Free Will: The Medial Pre-Frontal Cortex Did It – Martin Cothran – November 9, 2012
    Excerpt: There is something ironic about the position of thinkers like Harris on issues like this: they claim that their position is the result of the irresistible necessity of logic (in fact, they pride themselves on their logic). Their belief is the consequent, in a ground/consequent relation between their evidence and their conclusion. But their very stated position is that any mental state — including their position on this issue — is the effect of a physical, not logical cause.
    By their own logic, it isn’t logic that demands their assent to the claim that free will is an illusion, but the prior chemical state of their brains. The only condition under which we could possibly find their argument convincing is if they are not true. The claim that free will is an illusion requires the possibility that minds have the freedom to assent to a logical argument, a freedom denied by the claim itself. It is an assent that must, in order to remain logical and not physiological, presume a perspective outside the physical order.
    per Evolution News and Views
    Also see C.S. Lewis’s ‘Argument From Reason’ etc.. etc..

    Thus, even if evolutionary materialism could produce beliefs that are somewhat reliable, we still have no basis for believing that we have to power to choose those beliefs that seem most reasonable to us. In fact materialism denies that ‘free will’ option altogether.

    Moreover, it is not as if physics, the grandaddy of all scientific disciplines, has not also weighed in very forcefully on this ‘consciousness’ topic.
    Quantum Mechanics entails an irreducible subjective element in its conceptual basis.

    On The Comparison Of Quantum and Relativity Theories – Sachs – 1986
    Excerpt: quantum theory entails an irreducible subjective element in its conceptual basis. In contrast, the theory of relativity when fully exploited, is based on a totally objective view.;f=false

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”
    Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) from his collection of essays “Symmetries and Reflections – Scientific Essays”;

    “It will remain remarkable, in whatever way our future concepts may develop, that the very study of the external world led to the scientific conclusion that the content of the consciousness is the ultimate universal reality” –
    Eugene Wigner – (Remarks on the Mind-Body Question, Eugene Wigner, in Wheeler and Zurek, p.169) 1961 – received Nobel Prize in 1963 for ‘Quantum Symmetries’

    Of related interest to the preceding Wigner ‘consciousness’ quotes, it is interesting to note that many of Wigner’s insights have now been experimentally verified and are also now fostering a ‘second’ revolution in quantum mechanics,,,

    Eugene Wigner – A Gedanken Pioneer of the Second Quantum Revolution – Anton Zeilinger – Sept. 2014
    It would be fascinating to know Eugene Wigner’s reaction to the fact that the gedanken experiments he discussed (in 1963 and 1970) have not only become reality, but building on his gedanken experiments, new ideas have developed which on the one hand probe the foundations of quantum mechanics even deeper, and which on the other hand also provide the foundations to the new field of quantum information technology. All these experiments pay homage to the great insight Wigner expressed in developing these gedanken experiments and in his analyses of the foundations of quantum mechanics,

    Thus, since Wigner’s insights into the foundational role of the ‘conscious observer’ in Quantum Mechanics are bearing fruit with a ‘Second Quantum Revolution’, then that is certainly very strong evidence that his ‘consciousness’ insights are indeed true.

    Moreover, Wigner’s quantum symmetries are far from being the only line of evidence in quantum mechanics implicating the centrality of consciousness. There is consistent support, from many different lines of evidence, supporting the contention that consciousness, and free will, are of central importance in quantum mechanics.

    What Does Quantum Physics Have to Do with Free Will? – By Antoine Suarez – July 22, 2013
    Excerpt: What is more, recent experiments are bringing to light that the experimenter’s free will and consciousness should be considered axioms (founding principles) of standard quantum physics theory. So for instance, in experiments involving “entanglement” (the phenomenon Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”), to conclude that quantum correlations of two particles are nonlocal (i.e. cannot be explained by signals traveling at velocity less than or equal to the speed of light), it is crucial to assume that the experimenter can make free choices, and is not constrained in what orientation he/she sets the measuring devices.
    To understand these implications it is crucial to be aware that quantum physics is not only a description of the material and visible world around us, but also speaks about non-material influences coming from outside the space-time.,,,

    In fact, due to advances in quantum mechanics, the argument for God from consciousness can now be framed like this:

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Four intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect)

    Thus, the materialistic contention that it is ‘anti-science’ to even question whether materialism can account for consciousness or not is simply nonsense of the highest order since the best science we currently have tells us that materialism does not account for consciousness.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related interest:

    Podcast: “The Top 10 Problems with Darwinian Evolution: A Bonus 11th Problem” – Casey Luskin
    In this segment, Casey discusses a bonus eleventh problem: that humans display many behavioral and cognitive ability that offer no apparent survival advantage.

  4. 4
    Dionisio says:

    Check this out:

    researchers observe the moment when a mind is changed

    A new algorithm enables a moment-by-moment analysis of brain activity each time a laboratory monkey reaches this way or that during an experiment.

    It’s like reading the monkey’s mind.

    are they tracking the signals resulting from the decision-making processes, or they say those signals (combined) lead to making the decisions?

    Any comments, suggestions?

  5. 5

Leave a Reply