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Bryan Appleyard assails folly of materialists in review of The Spiritual Brain


Needless to say, I loved this new review of The Spiritual Brain by Bryan Appleyard in the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he says of my lead author Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard:

The great strength of his position is the folly of the materialists. Beauregard continually draws attention to the scientifically dubious basis of their leap of faith. They argue that it must be so and then set about proving it. Their triumphalism – driven by big publishing deals – is their greatest weakness.

There are plenty of examples …

The nicest thing about a review like Appleyard’s is that, agree or disagree, he sees what WE see – plenty of bumph marketed as the “assured results of modern science.”

As applied to neuroscience, Mario Beauregard and I call it “neurobullshipping.”

By the way, the Philly Inquirer recently published a review of Mike Behe’s Edge of Evolution that identified the book’s argument, instead of attempting to discourage anyone from reading it.

And re Appleyard: here is a link to Appleyard’s review of Frank Tipler. He agrees with me in finding Tipler interesting – more interesting in his sheer eccentricity as a Christian materialist (!) than many dull drudges who churn out approved sludge.

Also at Mindful Hack:

Yes, Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’Leary really ARE non-materialists. And we utter worse heresies yet …

Dutch expert on near death experiences loves The Spiritual Brain.

Monk-led protest against Myanmar generals’ regime now underheavy assault

Why brain scans cannot tell whether you are religious or not

Smart birds spur scientists to rethink intelligence

At the Post-Darwinist: The universe next door: Buddhists confront science – and materialism

Ms O’Leary I am new to ID and ‘agnostic’, so far. You describe materialism as a “folly”, and I’d be grateful if you’d expand on this a bit. I’m particularly interested in the boundaries of the non-materialist position, and / or the border where materialism and non-materialism meet. It seems to me that ID feels enabled to posit a designer at and /or by the limits of materialism. In other words, Darwinism is unconvincing, therefore there is a designer. (Efforts are being made to prove the existence of a designer in more positive ways, but these all still seem to me to be about disproving Darwinism e.g. irreducible complexity, specified complexity, etc.). No-one has anything to say about “how, where, why, when and who”, with regard to a designer (in fact, in the ID movement, it seems to be expressly forbidden to consider these questions). And this, therefore, is my problem: if we know nothing whatsoever about the designer(s), or any aspect of its / their work, how do we know that the only place a designer is operating is at the limits of materialism? Why can’t we conclude that the designer permeates and influences every aspect of life? To put it crudely – why do aeroplanes fly, for example? Is it the effect of airflow over the wing, etc. or are they held up by a designer? How do we know? At what point do we discard a materialist explanation and adopt a non-materialist one? I’d be pleased to hear your thoughts. duncan
magnan, That piece at Beyond Materialism is exceptionally well considered and well written. Thanks for the link. mike1962
Concerning assaults on the folly of materialists, I encountered an excellect new blog on anti materialism, anti evolutionary psychology, and intelligent design: Beyond Materialism, at http://futurelight.ning.com/profiles/blog/show?id=1197475%3ABlogPost%3A41 The author of the blog teaches contemporary physics and philosophical issues of quantum mechanics. He is the managing editor of AntiMatters, a quarterly open-access journal addressing issues in science and the humanities from nonmaterialistic perspectives. "Koantum" has written a really lucid and insightful overview of the materialism and Intelligent Design issues, in the form of a critique of the PACE report on ID and education in Europe. Some samples (on materialism): "Materialism insists on causal closure. That's fine, provided that the causally closed universe includes the laws of nature, their origin, and the power that keeps them in force. It takes a considerable degree of intelligence to understand the Standard Model or General Relativity. It took a much higher degree of intelligence to discover these theoretical structures. Their validity all but entails that the origin of intelligence is Intelligence, just as the reality of consciousness all but entails that the origin of consciousness is Consciousness. Neo-Darwinism is an insult to the intelligence of some of humanity's greatest minds, who realized that intelligible laws must have intelligent origins." "Science operates within an interpretative framework that formulates questions and interprets answers. This framework is itself not testable. Materialism is such an untestable framework, and the more we investigate empirically, the less our findings fit." "Thomas Kuhn didn't go far enough. Scientists do not simply fail to treat anomalies as counter-instances; they deny their very existence. Anomalies tend to get swept under the carpet until there are so many of them that the furniture starts to fall over." (On ID): "Intelligent designers propose frameworks in which Intelligence is the origin of intelligence, Consciousness is the origin of consciousness, Love as the origin of Love, Beauty as the origin of aesthetic values, Good as the origin of moral values, and Freedom is the origin of free will. Such frameworks give meaning to life, they are consistent with the scientific method (minus the oxymoronic "methodological materialism"), and they make better sense of the empirical data and the actually known laws of nature." Of course this doesn't represent the view of all ID advocates, but certainly of many, including myself. magnan
Denyse, with all due respect, you misspelled neuro-bullSHIPPING. :) apollo230
Denyse, victory looms! :-) tribune7
I love how smart some birds are. There was a show, on either Discovery or National Geographic, about some sort of African birds that weave nests that hang down from the branches of trees. The nests have an entrance tube that used to prevent predatory birds from getting into the nest and taking the chicks. But then some new sort of predatory bird that could get its beak up the tube moved into the area. So the nest weaving birds responded by making the entrance tube longer, thereby preventing the predation. Now that is learning. If all bird behaviours were governed wholly and solely by instinct these birds would have kept on making the same old nests and would have kept on losing all chicks until they all went extinct. Obviously there is more to bird brains than mere instinct. Janice
tribune7: We have rescued the real Philly Inquirer from the dungeon and booted the imposter back to the Conventional Wisdom Institute. I bet the Web traffic shows the difference. O'Leary
Interesting post....referring to the Buddhism topic at the end: When I was "looking for answers," if you will, I found the tenets of Buddhism to be quite depressing. Am I alone on this reaction? Berceuse
Two pro ID reviews within a month? Where is the real Philadelphia Inquirer and what have you done with it? tribune7
LeeBowman, (Re: it truly is fantasy to conflate ‘mountains of data’ as ‘irrefutable proof’. ...) And so is the favorite statistical evo trick of manufacturing proofs and "solid data" from the small samples. I watched an episode of Dilbert DVD series last night, where Dilbert is forced to submit his single one sample experiment to the "statistical distortion" department which would validate the company's objective. Our science is full of such "statistical distortion". Re: "genomic alterations from simple to complex have NOT been shown. Desperate attempts to do so are ongoing, however." Good luck, or rather "break a leg" is all one can wish them -- its just plain bad science & poor philosophy. Talk about wasted money that could be used for something more constructive. rockyr
Mrs. O'Leary, the Darwinists, especially those who are atheists and agnostics, are quite merciless towards us, and rather incapable of giving us any consideration and leeway as far as fantasy, spiritual, supernatural or even the scientifically theoretical is concerned. (Re: "But I am not so stringent as you. I am willing to indulge the Darwinist’s taste for fantasy up to a point...") They require solid logic and tangible science from us, so we should not be willing to give them an inch when they wish to go on their evo trips into fantasy worlds. As far as the persecution of those who propagate stupid pernicious ideas, well, the Inquisition ran into problems and abandoned its valiant effort, but the modern "scientific consensus" is obviously just as incapable of safeguarding the truth, so we need better mechanisms. rockyr
Here, here!
"I am willing to indulge the Darwinist’s taste for fantasy up to a point - but certainly not his persecution of people who expose his fantasy for what it is ... "
On the other hand rockyr declares:
" ... shouldn’t solid science and reason stick to the real and tangible (and therefore provable) things rather than to sheer unfounded and unprovable fancy?"
Strictly speaking, empirical evidences of the means of genomic alterations from simple to complex have NOT been shown. Desperate attempts to do so are ongoing, however. Alas, fruit flies are still fruit flies (sigh) Regarding Denyse's use of the term fantasy; it truly is fantasy to conflate 'mountains of data' as 'irrefutable proof'. To do so is disingenuous, and constitutes the real 'science stopper'. LeeBowman
rockyr, be careful ... I said I found Tipler an interesting eccentric, not that I supported his views, or Bruno's either. Tipler's views are no worse founded than those of most of the string theorists, so far as I can see. If science depended on what was provable, the whole edifice of Darwinism would simply collapse from sheer mathematical improbability, as Mike Behe shows in his admirable Edge of Evolution. But I am not so stringent as you. I am willing to indulge the Darwinist's taste for fantasy up to a point - but certainly not his persecution of people who expose his fantasy for what it is, let alone his demand for tax dollars to promote his fantasy to the public. O'Leary
Mrs. O'Leary, Sure, churning out approved sludge, like modern evo-science, is not only counter-productive but also boring, but one should be careful also about churning out fantastic ideas and suggestions that aren't much more than sheer fantasy and sci-fi. You seem to be interested in exploring the idea of parallel universes and you seem to like Frank Tippler's multiverses, but that idea was condemned in no uncertain terms when the Inquisition burned Giordano Bruno for that very suggestion. Today nobody wants to burn people for their ideas, even if they propagate sheer phantasmagoria. (Unfortunately, that may be a part of our problem of the wholesale collapse of reason.) So shouldn't solid science and reason stick to the real and tangible (and therefore provable) things rather than to sheer unfounded and unprovable fancy? rockyr
I would like to point out that Dr. Pim Van Lommel, in defending his research of NDE's, has highlighted the fact that memories are stored on a spiritual basis separate from the brain itself from studies of Trans-cranial magnetic stimulation. I found this revelation of his to be very interesting. His evidence is compelling and elicits many "just so" stories from materialists in neurology. Here is the site: http://www.nderf.org/vonlommel_skeptic_response.htm bornagain77

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