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At Mind Matters News: Defending the mind’s reality at a materialist cocktail party


What to say when you find yourself among self-assured elite sloganeers. For example:

Arguments from evolution

Claim: We are just animals so, as we might expect, the human brain is not really unique. The human, mouse, and fly brains all use the same basic mechanisms!

Response: That’s the remarkable part. What we do with our brains sets us apart. And greater size doesn’t really account for that. Lemurs, whose brains are only 1/200th the size of chimps’ brains, did as well as chimps on a primate intelligence test.2

Claim: We now know how the human mind evolved. Quite simply, it evolved to help our ancestors hunt more efficiently in groups.

Response: Wolves hunt efficiently in groups without anything like human consciousness. Microorganisms hunt efficiently without any brain at all. A human mind allows us to do many remarkable things but it is not needed for basic survival. That’s one reason that human consciousness is called a Hard Problem.

Claim: The human brain is a mess, the haphazard outcome of millions of years of evolution, not of some sort of divine design.

Response: Actually, neuroscientists were recently surprised to discover that the white matter (connectome) in human brains is quite orderly, hardly a haphazard accumulation at all.

Claim: Okay, perhaps the mind just emerged, slowly over eons, from the brain.

Response: The mind cannot just “emerge from” the brain if the two have no qualities in common — the one is immaterial, the other material. Pretty big gap.

News, “Defending the mind’s reality at a materialist cocktail party” at Mind Matters News

Takehome: The actual history of neuroscience in the last century has not been kind to materialist assertions and assumptions.

You may also wish to read: Four researchers whose work sheds light on the reality of the mind The brain can be cut in half, but the intellect and will cannot, says Michael Egnor. The intellect and will are metaphysically simple.

In response to the brain damage argument, I like the CD player vs CD analogy. Damage the player (physical brain) and the CD (mind) won't play. Ralph Dave Westfall
I haven't heard the 'brain is a mess' argument. More often the secularists are stuck with the 1950s 'brain is a computer' argument. Rigidly defined modules connected by hard-wired cables. The answer to this claim is 'brain is a self-organizing mess', capable of using each module for alternate purposes, with constantly revised connectivity. This is parallel to genes vs epigenes. The hard-wired computer is all constants, rigidly manufactured at birth by the constant genes. The real brain is mostly variables, and the variables are writing new programs and building new physical modules all the time. The new programs also write values into epigenes to help offspring start life with optimal adaptation to current conditions. polistra

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