Intelligent Design

Front Runner for Most Inane Statement of 2018

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“I believe that the whole idea of conscious thought is an error. ” So says
Peter Carruthers, Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Maryland, College Park in this article in Scientific American. Proving once again, that some ideas are so gobsmackingly stupid, it takes a lot of education to believe them. He might as well have said, “I have a conscious thought that there is no conscious thought.” There is really no need to argue against self-refuting piffle like this. There is only one thing to say:

78 Replies to “Front Runner for Most Inane Statement of 2018

  1. 1
    hazel says:

    That’s actually a pretty interesting article. Thanks, Barry. It discusses a number of things that I’ve thought about my own conscious experience.

    Here’s is an interesting exercise that illustrates one of the points he is trying to make, I think, although these kinds of things are very difficult to describe.

    Lie quietly and try to “watch your thoughts”. What I have discovered is that I will start to internally articulate an idea in words, but that I actually have a more complete non-verbal understanding of the idea I am having. As soon as I stand back from the verbalization, so to speak, and “feel” the overall idea, I can quit the ongoing verbal stream of internal monologue. I don’t need to say it to myself: I don’t need to spin it all out as a linear stream of words.

    At that point the verbal monologue might quit for just a bit, and and then another internal verbalization starts, and I repeat the process.

    There are two thoughts I have about this. The first is that at least some, if not a great deal, of our daily, continual internal monologue is unnecessary. We don’t gain anything new or useful by repeating articulations to ourselves when there isn’t any need to do anything with them such as communicate them to someone else.

    More interesting is the sense that our thoughts are presented to our consciousness by our subconscious, and that they exist in a more holistic, non-verbal manner in the subconscious than they do when we transform them into linear internal verbalizations.

    The article makes the interesting point (this may not be exactly what he is meaning to say) that we learn about our own ideas by internally talking to ourself in a way similar to how we learn about others ideas: our own verbal articulations provide feedback to our own subconscious for further integration with the totality of understanding that is already there, in whatever way “there” is in respect to our subconscious.

  2. 2
    Barry Arrington says:

    Hazel, if your point is that the article is chock-a-block full of assuming the very thing he denies, who could argue with that?

  3. 3
    hazel says:

    No, Barry, that was not my point at all. Without saying at all that I agree with everything he says (I don’t), or that I support the provocative title (I don’t), I think you have to think about this paragraph to try to understand his perspective.

    In ordinary life we are quite content to say things like “Oh, I just had a thought” or “I was thinking to myself.” By this we usually mean instances of inner speech or visual imagery, which are at the center of our stream of consciousness—the train of words and visual contents represented in our minds. I think that these trains are indeed conscious. In neurophilosophy, however, we refer to “thought” in a much more specific sense. In this view, thoughts include only nonsensory mental attitudes, such as judgments, decisions, intentions and goals. These are amodal, abstract events, meaning that they are not sensory experiences and are not tied to sensory experiences. Such thoughts never figure in working memory. They never become conscious. And we only ever know of them by interpreting what does become conscious, such as visual imagery and the words we hear ourselves say in our heads.

  4. 4
    hazel says:

    Feedback: the very recent style change separates comments better, and improves setting off quotes. The Related articles section just gets in the way, I think, and I don’t even see how they are very related. Comments still need numbering, and recent comments still doesn’t update reliably.

    I appreciate the effort it takes to make changes like this, and hope feedback is welcome.

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    And, who is saying this Herr Prof?

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    Yet more proof that if you start off believing that atheistic naturalism is unquestionably true then you are, sooner or later, forced into the self-refuting position of claiming your consciousness is ‘merely’ a neuronal illusion of your brain:

    A few notes:

    The Illusionist – Daniel Dennett’s latest book marks five decades of majestic failure to explain consciousness. – 2017
    “Simply enough, you cannot suffer the illusion that you are conscious because illusions are possible only for conscious minds. This is so incandescently obvious that it is almost embarrassing to have to state it.”
    – David Bentley Hart

    Consciousness is an Illusion but Truth is Not? – Maverick Philosopher – 2017
    Excerpt: But here comes Danny (Dennett) the Sophist who asserts that consciousness is an illusion. Well, that is just nonsense,,,
    If consciousness is an illusion, then it is an illusion for consciousness.,,,
    Consciousness is not only presupposed by the distinction between reality and illusion, it is also presupposed by the quest for explanation. For where would explanations reside if not in the minds of conscious beings?
    So I say consciousness cannot be an illusion. One cannot explain it the way Dennett wants to explain it, which involves explaining it away. For details, see Can Consciousness be Explained? Dennett Debunked.
    But if consciousness, per impossibile, were an illusion, why wouldn’t truth also be an illusion? Consciousness is an illusion because naturalism has no place for it. Whatever is real is reducible to the physical; consciousness is not reducible to the physical; ergo, consciousness does not exist in reality: it is an illusion.
    By the same reasoning, truth ought also to be an illusion since there is no place for it in the natural world. Note also that Dennett obviously thinks that truth is objectively valuable and pursuit-worthy. Where locate values in a naturalist scheme?
    Wouldn’t it be more consistent for Dennett to go whole hog and explain away both consciousness and truth? Perhaps he ought to go POMO (post modern). There is no truth; there are only interpretations and perspectives of organisms grubbing for survival. What justifies him in privileging his naturalist narrative? It is one among many.
    I say consciousness and truth are on a par: neither can be explained away. Neither is eliminable. Neither is an illusion. Both are part of what we must presuppose to explain anything.
    Nietzsche had a great insight: No God, no truth. For the POMOs there is neither. For me there is both. For the inconsistent Dennett there is the second but not the first. Again, there is simply no place for truth in a wholly material world.
    For an argument from truth to God, see here.

    The Consciousness Deniers – Galen Strawson – March 13, 2018
    Excerpt: What is the silliest claim ever made? The competition is fierce, but I think the answer is easy. Some people have denied the existence of consciousness: conscious experience, the subjective character of experience, the “what-it-is-like” of experience.,,,
    The Denial began in the twentieth century and continues today in a few pockets of philosophy and psychology and, now, information technology. It had two main causes: the rise of the behaviorist approach in psychology, and the naturalistic approach in philosophy. These were good things in their way, but they spiraled out of control and gave birth to the Great Silliness.,,,
    ,,, I need to comment on what is being denied—consciousness, conscious experience, experience for short.
    What is it? Anyone who has ever seen or heard or smelled anything knows what it is; anyone who has ever been in pain, or felt hungry or hot or cold or remorseful, dismayed, uncertain, or sleepy, or has suddenly remembered a missed appointment. All these things involve what are sometimes called “qualia”—that is to say, different types or qualities of conscious experience. What I am calling the Denial is the denial that anyone has ever really had any of these experiences.
    Perhaps it’s not surprising that most Deniers deny that they’re Deniers. “Of course, we agree that consciousness or experience exists,” they say—but when they say this they mean something that specifically excludes qualia.
    Who are the Deniers? I have in mind—at least—those who fully subscribe to something called “philosophical behaviorism” as well as those who fully subscribe to something called “functionalism” in the philosophy of mind. Few have been fully explicit in their denial, but among those who have been, we find Brian Farrell, Paul Feyerabend, Richard Rorty, and the generally admirable Daniel Dennett. Ned Block once remarked that Dennett’s attempt to fit consciousness or “qualia” into his theory of reality “has the relation to qualia that the US Air Force had to so many Vietnamese villages: he destroys qualia in order to save them.”
    One of the strangest things the Deniers say is that although it seems that there is conscious experience, there isn’t really any conscious experience: the seeming is, in fact, an illusion. The trouble with this is that any such illusion is already and necessarily an actual instance of the thing said to be an illusion.,,,,
    This is how philosophers in the twentieth century came to endorse the Denial, the silliest view ever held in the history of human thought. “When I squint just right,” Dennett writes in 2013, “it does sort of seem that consciousness must be something in addition to all the things it does for us and to us, some special private glow or here-I-am-ness that would be absent in any robot… But I’ve learned not to credit the hunch. I think it is a flat-out mistake, a failure of imagination.” His position was summarized in an interview in The New York Times: “The elusive subjective conscious experience—the redness of red, the painfulness of pain—that philosophers call qualia? Sheer illusion.” If he’s right, no one has ever really suffered, in spite of agonizing diseases, mental illness, murder, rape, famine, slavery, bereavement, torture, and genocide. And no one has ever caused anyone else pain.
    This is the Great Silliness. We must hope that it doesn’t spread outside the academy, or convince some future information technologist or roboticist who has great power over our lives.

    And let’s not forget that, via the instrumentalist approach, quantum mechanics has restored consciousness back to its rightful place in science:

    The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics – Steven Weinberg – January 19, 2017
    Excerpt: The instrumentalist approach,, (the) wave function,, is merely an instrument that provides predictions of the probabilities of various outcomes when measurements are made.,,
    In the instrumentalist approach,,, humans are brought into the laws of nature at the most fundamental level. According to Eugene Wigner, a pioneer of quantum mechanics, “it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness.”11
    Thus the instrumentalist approach turns its back on a vision that became possible after Darwin, of a world governed by impersonal physical laws that control human behavior along with everything else. It is not that we object to thinking about humans. Rather, we want to understand the relation of humans to nature, not just assuming the character of this relation by incorporating it in what we suppose are nature’s fundamental laws, but rather by deduction from laws that make no explicit reference to humans. We may in the end have to give up this goal,,,
    Some physicists who adopt an instrumentalist approach argue that the probabilities we infer from the wave function are objective probabilities, independent of whether humans are making a measurement. I don’t find this tenable. In quantum mechanics these probabilities do not exist until people choose what to measure, such as the spin in one or another direction. Unlike the case of classical physics, a choice must be made,,,

    Of note, Weinberg, since he is committed to atheistic naturalism, rejects the instrumentalist approach. Which, since he rejects what is termed ‘the realist approach’ because of the insanity of many worlds interpretation, leaves his in quite a bind. So much so that he has given up any hope of ever truly understanding quantum mechanics.

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:


    Sci Am’s subhead: “Philosopher Peter Carruthers insists that conscious thought, judgment and volition are illusions. They arise from processes of which we are forever unaware.” Self-referential, fallacy of grand delusion. The best answer to such claims is to point out the problem and proceed to take the proposer at his word — why should we get overly concerned about his delusions? KF

  8. 8
    hazel says:

    to kf and ba77 at posts #? and #? + 1: I don’t think either of your comments are accurately responsive to the article. I certainly don’t see him saying that consciousness is a “neuronal illusion.” Consciousness is real, and it includes a variety of types of content.

    My posts are about two aspects of the article. The first is that the internalized talking to ourselves that we engage in – our internal monologue, of which we are conscious – is a reflection of more comprehensive and non-verbal thoughts that in some way reside in the subconscious, whatever that may be. We have access to vastly more potential thoughts than we are thinking at any one time. Wherever they may be, thoughts at that level, of which we are not conscious, are then related to the stream of articulated and otherwise felt thoughts that are in our consciousness at any one time.

    The second aspect is the question of how does our conscious experience feed back into our larger subconscious self. For instance, in typing this post I am putting into words (which are flowing out from my conscious verbalization process) that are trying to express things that I feel I only imperfectly understand. The very act of consciously experiencing the results of this writing adds to the overall set of subconscious content that I have. In this way, listening to myself and listening to others can affect me, at least partially, in the same ways.

    None of these thoughts deny either consciousness or self.

  9. 9
    hazel says:

    P.S. to kf. If you haven’t already, I suggest you read the whole article and not just the subheading.

  10. 10
    john_a_designer says:

    What’s scary is that Carruthers’ logic is the same kind of logic that I have routinely encountered on-line over the past 12 years on the part of atheistic naturalists/materialists who posture as self-described defenders of science. I just thought they were pseudo-intellectual wannabes posturing as know-it-alls. However, if you do any reading in philosophy of the mind you will quickly discover that Carruthers is not alone.

    It’s also scary is that Scientific American apparently thinks that his viewpoint if scientific.

  11. 11
    hazel says:

    More website feedback: Having “Leave a Reply” at the top of the thread is not very useful. It would be better at the end of the thread, because that is where people would most likely have read the thing they want to reply to.

    Correction: I see that we can sort by newest first. That is very helpful, and makes the Reply at the top make sense. On the other hand, reading the thread from bottom to top (with newest on the bottom) makes it hard to review the thread. Maybe a Leave a Reply box could be at both the top and the bottom???

    And the “Read more” link at the end of longer posts is quite welcome.

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:


    “the proposer” in view is generic. Heads and subheads are obviously an editorial responsibility even if proposed by an author, interviewer or other party. So, first and foremost, Sci Am is again showing the world why it has lost all respectability.

    Next, the content from the interviewer and the interviewee is hardly better. Right from the start:

    Ayan: What makes you think conscious thought is an illusion?

    Carruthers: I believe that the whole idea of conscious thought is an error. I came to this conclusion by following out the implications of the two of the main theories of consciousness . . . Now, whichever view you adopt, it turns out that thoughts such as decisions and judgments should not be considered to be conscious. They are not accessible in working memory, nor are we directly aware of them. We merely have what I call “the illusion of immediacy”—the false impression that we know our thoughts directly . . . .

    We could go on, including the injection of a question-begging redefinition –“In neurophilosophy, however, we refer to “thought” in a much more specific sense. In this view, thoughts include only nonsensory mental attitudes, such as judgments, decisions, intentions and goals” — and more.

    Sorry, that which is substructural or intuitive is part of “the thoughts and intents of the heart,” And what is verbalised or imaged is likewise part of our thoughts and intents. Likewise our world picture as we look on, our hearing with understanding (I hear a vehicle going by, I hear the clicks of the keys, these are not uniterpreted), and so forth.


    PS: Display-sequences of comments and the comment edit features are confusing. I agree with H on this.

  13. 13
    Ed George says:

    Barry, I would also like to commend you on the efforts you have placed in upgrading the web site. I think most complaints will just be because people are used to the old version. Resistance to change appears to be a human trait.

    Just a couple comments:

    1) I agree that comment numbers would be extremely helpful, especially in the longer comment threads.

    2) I really like the truncating of comments with the “more” options. This allows readers to scroll through the comments without having to scroll through all of the text of the very long comments that some people like to post.

  14. 14
    john_a_designer says:

    It appears to me that Carruthers is starting off with the metaphysical assumption that physicalism must be true. But how does he know that? Has he or anyone else been able to prove that physicalism is true? Shouldn’t he do that before he starts making an argument based on his metaphysical beliefs?

  15. 15
    hazel says:

    I know that one of the issues in this subject as whether consciousness is part of a non-material aspect of human beings, such as the mind or a soul, or whether it is strictly a product of the body.

    I think that the things I’ve written, and virtually all of Carrothers points, don’t depend on which of those are true. I think discussing the experience of consciousness, which is what I’ve been discussing, is something we can do in a meaningful way irrespective of which of the options mentioned above we believe is true, or whether one acknowledges that one doesn’t know what the nature of consciousness is, as I do.

    So to me the article is about how immediate experience of consciousness at each moment relates to the larger mind. How the mind relates to the body is, in my opinion, a different issue, and not a central part of this article.

    But given that no one has responded to the specifics of my posts at x, y, and z (comment numbers are necessary!), probably no one here wants to talk about what I’d like to talk about.

  16. 16
    Jack Cole says:

    Thank you for the feedback. I’m working on figuring out a way if we can get numbering back. How does everyone feel about having threaded comments like this?

    The upside is that your reply is neatly connected with the original message. The downside is that you can’t necessarily scroll to the end to find the last comment.

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    Hazel disagrees with what is self-evidently true about the article and wants to have a “reasonable” discussion about it?

    🙂 LOL

    Sorry, If someone will deny what is self-evidently true right off the bat, before any discussion has even begun, then reasonable discussion is exactly what one cannot have.

    i.e. Much like Carruthers claim that “conscious thought is an error ” , that self-evidently self-defeating claim in and of itself defeats any supposedly ‘reasonable’ discussion that may follow.

  18. 18
    steve_h says:

    IMO, Comment numbering is important, especially when referring to comments beyond the ‘Read More’ tags; Otherwise it may be necessary to expand a lot of comments to find one that is referenced.

    Even more helpful would be comment numbers which remain unchanged in the unlikely event of an earlier comment being removed. Then it would be possible to find and expand exactly the right comment.

  19. 19
    steve_h says:

    I don’t like the idea of hierarchical comments for the reason you give and also because of the amount of indentation that will be needed for some of the longer exchanges.

  20. 20
    hazel says:

    To Jack Cole: Thanks for your work, but Nooooooo!!!! to threaded comments. No possible way to keep up a coherent discussion.

  21. 21
    hazel says:

    To ba77. I accept the reality of consciousness, and am certainly open to mind being an immaterial aspect of human beings separate from the body. I don’t know why you think otherwise about me, but I can see that a reasonable discussion with you is unlikely. As always, one can pick and choose whom one wants to discuss with.

  22. 22
    es58 says:

    …he thought consciously (?!)

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:

    Jack, last time around it led to chaos. I see no reason why this time would be better. Numbers in chronological order would help. In so polarised an environment as UD faces, comment voting is liable to be abused. The “more” feature is a tossup. I forgot: if the quotes are fully italicised that robs us of a level or two of emphasis. KF

  24. 24
    john_a_designer says:

    No one refutes the silly belief that consciousness is an illusion better than David Bentley Hart who has splendid critique of Daniel Dennett’s thinking in his New Atlantis book review of Dennett’s recent book From Bacteria to Bach and Back…

    In fact, Hart requires only one sentence to logically refute Dennett:

    [Y]ou cannot suffer the illusion that you are conscious because illusions are possible only for conscious minds.

    He could, of course, rest his case right there but for those who think it’s not that easy he does have more to say:

    The entire notion of consciousness as an illusion is, of course, rather silly. Dennett has been making the argument for most of his career, and it is just abrasively counterintuitive enough to create the strong suspicion in many that it must be more philosophically cogent than it seems, because surely no one would say such a thing if there were not some subtle and penetrating truth hidden behind its apparent absurdity. But there is none. The simple truth of the matter is that Dennett is a fanatic: He believes so fiercely in the unique authority and absolutely comprehensive competency of the third-person scientific perspective that he is willing to deny not only the analytic authority, but also the actual existence, of the first-person vantage. At the very least, though, he is an intellectually consistent fanatic, inasmuch as he correctly grasps (as many other physical reductionists do not) that consciousness really is irreconcilable with a coherent metaphysical naturalism. Since, however, the position he champions is inherently ridiculous, the only way that he can argue on its behalf is by relentlessly, and in as many ways as possible, changing the subject whenever the obvious objections are raised.

    In other words, Dennett can only sell people on the idea that consciousness is an illusion by creating the illusion that he knows what he is talking about.

  25. 25
    mike1962 says:

    I don’t exist. Nuff said.
    (Love the Napoleon clip. One of my fave movies.)

  26. 26
    mike1962 says:

    So is insanity.

  27. 27
    mike1962 says:

    The diving board he tried to jump off cracked before he got near the water

  28. 28
    mike1962 says:

    Illusion of what? They never say. Illusions do exist, they falsely represent something that actually exists. For example a mirage may appear as water on the horizon, and is actually thermal processes gyrating the air which refracts light. However, pools of water are real things. When someone says “consciousness is an illusion”, I always ask, “an illusion of what?” Crickets. Consciousness is what it is, and it is the primary fact of individual existence. Calling it an illusion is absolutely meaningless.

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:


    Further exchanges that imply more than A and C seem to fully realise:

    [A:] Why, then, do we have the impression of direct access to our mind?

    [C:] The idea that minds are transparent to themselves (that everyone has direct awareness of their own thoughts) is built into the structure of our “mind reading” or “theory of mind” faculty, I suggest. The assumption is a useful heuristic when interpreting the statements of others. If someone says to me, “I want to help you,” I have to interpret whether the person is sincere, whether he is speaking literally or ironically, and so on; that is hard enough. If I also had to interpret whether he is interpreting his own mental state correctly, then that would make my task impossible. It is far simpler to assume that he knows his own mind (as, generally, he does). The illusion of immediacy has the advantage of enabling us to understand others with much greater speed and probably with little or no loss of reliability. If I had to figure out to what extent others are reliable interpreters of themselves, then that would make things much more complicated and slow . . .

    Let’s ask, why?

    ANS: Because this imposes an infinite regress due to its reflexivity. Every further conscious thought is an applicable instance for the same question, triggering an endless regression. In praxis, we lose sight and truncate in effect at a convenient point.

    Once the notion is injected that there is a hard line between the conscious and the unconscious substructure of our interior thought life, with the link subject to radical doubt, we are in endless regress of doubts.

    Far more prudent would be to hold that our thoughts and intents are like an iceberg, some below the surface of awareness, but organically connected. So, we can probe, evaluate and conclude to sufficient certainty as to whether a particular pattern is credible, not well warranted, an illusion or delusional. With recognition that as finite, fallible, morally and intellectually struggling creatures, our knowledge base is prone to error. Which is where self-evident first truths of reason become crucial for assessing the quality of our thought. Moral tests are also applicable, given how we can resort to undue suspicion, hostility or to a predatory mentality.

    Notwithstanding various concerns and limitations, we are duty-bound to act reasonably and responsibly on the balance of evidence in hand.


  30. 30
    bornagain77 says:

    Of particular interest to Peter Carruthers self refuting claim of “I believe that the whole idea of conscious thought is an error ” is the fact that his self refuting statement is very similar to the self refuting liar’s paradox that Gödel used to prove his first incompleteness theorem

    “in proving the first incompleteness theorem, Gödel used a modified version of the liar paradox, replacing “this sentence is false” with “this sentence is not provable”, called the “Gödel sentence G”. His proof showed that for any theory “T”, “G” is true, but not provable in “T”. The analysis of the truth and provability of “G” is a formalized version of the analysis of the truth of the liar sentence,,,”'s_first_incompleteness_theorem

    Thus Carruthers, inadvertently, with his self refuting sentence, ends up proving he very thing he was denying. i.e. proving the reality of the immaterial conscious mind. ,,,

    The implication of Godel’s incompleteness theorem is often stated simply as such, “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove”

    Gödel’s incompleteness theorem (1931), proves that there are limits to what can be ascertained by mathematics. Kurt Gödel halted the achievement of a unifying all-encompassing theory of everything in his theorem that: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove””
    Cf., Stephen Hawking & Leonard Miodinow, The Grand Design (2010)

    Godel put the implications of his incompleteness theorem as such:

    “Either mathematics is too big for the human mind, or the human mind is more than a machine”
    Kurt Gödel – The Categorial Analysis of Logic (1979) by Robert Goldblatt, p. 13

    “In materialism all elements behave the same. It is mysterious to think of them as spread out and automatically united. For something to be a whole, it has to have an additional object, say, a soul or a mind. “Matter” refers to one way of perceiving things, and elementary particles are a lower form of mind. Mind is separate from matter.”
    Kurt Gödel – Hao Wang’s supplemental biography of Gödel, A Logical Journey, MIT Press, 1996.

    Of related note: Gödel ‘s incompleteness theorem has now been extended to physics and refutes reductive materialistic claims that “form” is reducible to materialistic explanations:

    Quantum physics problem proved unsolvable: Gödel and Turing enter quantum physics – December 9, 2015
    Excerpt: A mathematical problem underlying fundamental questions in particle and quantum physics is provably unsolvable,,,
    It is the first major problem in physics for which such a fundamental limitation could be proven. The findings are important because they show that even a perfect and complete description of the microscopic properties of a material is not enough to predict its macroscopic behaviour.,,,
    “We knew about the possibility of problems that are undecidable in principle since the works of Turing and Gödel in the 1930s,” added Co-author Professor Michael Wolf from Technical University of Munich. “So far, however, this only concerned the very abstract corners of theoretical computer science and mathematical logic. No one had seriously contemplated this as a possibility right in the heart of theoretical physics before. But our results change this picture. From a more philosophical perspective, they also challenge the reductionists’ point of view, as the insurmountable difficulty lies precisely in the derivation of macroscopic properties from a microscopic description.”

    This includes refuting the reductive materialistic claims of Darwinists for ever rationality explaining ‘biological form’:

    Darwinism vs Biological Form

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD, excellent one-liner clip: “[Y]ou cannot suffer the illusion that you are conscious because illusions are possible only for conscious minds. Only the conscious can have delusions; rocks have no dreams. However Carruthers is subtler in some regards. He notes the iceberg beneath the surface, i.e. there is a lot of unconscious or subconscious substructure connected to what we are directly aware of. His fatal step is to pour on corrosive hyperskepticism, so that in effect the surface is viewed as illusion as there is the sub-surface (which he seems to think cannot be accessed through metacognition). The subtext — there we go in a rhetorical yellow submarine again — is that the conscious is shaped by the effectively unaccountable subconscious. This then becomes infinitely regressive and self-referential thus utterly corrosive. In fact, we routinely reflect on the substructure of our surface thoughts, e.g. when we ponder why we have a strong emotional reaction to something or to an event or even to someone. KF

  32. 32
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: I see emphases apparently only come out with read more! (For a longer comment.)

  33. 33
    kairosfocus says:

    M62, you do not deserve down-voting for asking a very important but unwelcome question. KF

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Notice C’s clear statement: “the whole idea of conscious thought is an error.” By injecting an unaccountable subsurface he creates a corrosive dichotomy that opens the door to arbitrary dismissal of rational, responsible thought. One that is infinitely regressive and self-referential. In effect, the underlying programming and hardware are in the driver seat, invisible, inaccessible, beyond reckoning — yet another ugly gulch notion; it invites — so then, why should we trust your unaccountable programming that led you and others to such notions? Of course, it seems very hard for many to grasp the import of such regresses and self referentiality. KF

  35. 35
    hnorman42 says:

    I have mixed feelings about the new look. In a way I like it better because before I felt like I was interrupting a conversation if I wanted to make a point that didn’t pertain to the most recent comments. But now it’s a little hard to follow a conversation if I want to. Any way to get the best of both worlds?

  36. 36
    Ed George says:

    I really liked the “more button”. There are a couple long winded commenters, one of which has a habit of writing serial comments to get around the limit on the number of links that can be included in a comment. On many instances I prefer to scroll past these comments as I have already read everything of substance they have to say. And I know there are others who feel the same.

  37. 37
    hazel says:

    Perhaps Read More could be reinstated, but show more than the first version did, such as 15-20 lines or so? That would be enough to show the substance of the post without having to scroll through a number of screens to get through a very long post.

  38. 38
    hazel says:

    I also see that ability to re-order the posts has been removed, which was sort of nice.

    And the option to Subscribe was removed: I liked that a lot.

    And that threaded comments was removed: I think everyone thought that was not a good idea.

  39. 39
    Ed George says:

    An alternative to reinstating the “more” button would be to add an “ignore” button. This gives all commenters the ability to ignore specific commenters. Once selected, the ignored person’s comments do not appear on the comment thread of the person who has ignored that person. I have seen it on other sites and it appears to work quite well.

  40. 40
    john_a_designer says:

    Let’s have some fun with a few self-referential semantic statements. Do self-referential statements or sentences have a truth value? Let’s look at a few.

    Statement #1: “This sentence has six words.”

    Count the words. The sentence has five words. Therefore, it’s false. However, that does prove that at least some self-referential statements have truth value– that we can determine whether they are true or false. However, is this true of all self-referential statements?

    Let’s consider statement #2:

    “This sentence is true.”

    So is it true or false? (It’s certainly true that it is self-referential.) However, it can only be true if we can prove that “All self-referential sentences have truth value.” That is they are provably true or false. How do we do that? Let’s consider statement #3:

    “This sentence is false.”

    Is that true or false? This leads a vicious cycle. If we claim that it is false as it says that it is, then it’s true but it claims that it’s false… ????

    So logically what have we proven? Is it true or false that “All self-referential sentences have truth value,” or is it undecidable or indeterminate?

    So then what do we make of the claim “that consciousness is an illusion” ?

    I don’t see any way logically how such statement could ever be self-evidently true. Even if we give such a claim the benefit of the doubt, I don’t see that we conclude anything better than it is undecidable or indeterminate. That’s hardly a good starting point for an argument. As I have said before “to go anyplace with a deductive argument have to begin with premises that are either (1) self-evidently true, (2) provably true or (3) at least probably true.” That’s logic 101.


  41. 41
    hazel says:

    to JAD:

    in math, (4) axioms. We make the decision to assume they are true, and follow the logical consequences. This is different than being self-evidently true. For instance, the famous example is the three different axioms about parallel lines which lead to three different geometries.

    Also, (3) leaves open the obvious problem with ascertaining how “probably true” the premise is.

    And (2) just moves the situation backwards: if something is provably true (by deduction I assume you mean), then there must have been, at some point, premises which started the chain of proof.

    And, I’ll note, this is really not on the thread topic of mind and consciousness, which doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anyway.

  42. 42
    Ed George says:

    Thanks for the page numbering. Might I also suggest that a featured feedback thread be posted for a couple weeks. In that way you could compile constructive feedback on the new format without hijacking this or other threads.

  43. 43
    ET says:

    Thank you for the comment numbering. If anyone wants an ignore button they can just go to some other site. Willful ignorance is a problem with our opponents (and even those who say they are with us, but post contrary to that- hi Ed) and there is no need to be more enabling of it.

  44. 44
    FourFaces says:

    First, I love the new look. Nice and clean. I am a little bit bothered, however, by the front page with the centered text. Left alignment always looks better and is easier on the eyes.

    Second, Peter Carruthers is just promoting the tired materialist propaganda that humans are just meat machines with no immaterial souls. It is easy to prove that we do have a soul, however. Consider beauty. It is not a physical property of the universe and yet we sense it. How? Since the brain is physical, it cannot sense beauty either. It follows that beauty is a property of something order than the brain.

    The beauty that we see in nature is not in nature. It’s the beauty of our own souls. Nature just awakens it. Don’t let any brain-dead materialist tell you you are just a meat machine with no soul. Resist the propaganda.

    Peter Carruthers is a fake philosopher, in my opinion. It takes courage to to be a seeker of truth. Happy new year.

  45. 45
    hazel says:

    Ed’s idea about a thread for just feedback on the new site is good,. But until then, a button at the top of the thread to jump to the last post would save a lot of scrolling through posts one has already seen.

  46. 46
    Ed George says:

    ET@43, thank you for providing an example as to why an ignore button would be a good idea.

  47. 47
    ET says:

    Ed George@46- Just leave, Ed. You clearly don’t have anything of substance to offer.

  48. 48
    john_a_designer says:

    Besides Peter Carruthers I know of at least a couple other “philosophers” who try to defend the view that consciousness is just an illusion. I have already mentioned Daniel Dennett who is a professor at Tuft’s University (see my comment #25.) Alex Rosenberg is another professor (Duke) who makes basically the same claim.

    Here is a blog by a self-identified atheist, Gregg Henriques, who takes exception to the title of Rosenberg’s book, The Atheist’s Guide to Reality, because he “found Rosenberg’s vision to be a deeply misguided, misleading, and blatantly self-contradictory approach to both atheism and scientific knowledge.”

    “The major argument that Rosenberg makes,” he writes, “is that physics is the ultimate arbiter of truth, that the physical reality is the only reality, that nihilism is unfortunately true, and that everything that doesn’t easily and immediately fit into a physical property framework—things like thoughts, consciousness, the self, purpose, and morality—are all illusions. If Rosenberg’s work is not about atheism, then what is it about? In short, the book advocates for a narrow, reductionistic philosophy of science called physicalism.”

    He then goes on to point out how physicalism is self-refuting.

    Consciousness, thoughts, the self, purpose and morality can’t exist for the physicalist because physicalists don’t know how to translate bouncing fermions and bosons into these entities. So they point to some evidence that commonsensical views of these concepts are wrong and go on to conclude that, because the commonsense view is wrong, these entities don’t really exist. And yet all while claiming that such entities as the self, thoughts and propositions don’t really exist, Rosenberg is authoring these claims with propositions designed to change belief-desire systems of his readers. It doesn’t take a philosopher to see why this is self-contradictory.

    In other words, you don’t need to be an ID’ist or a theist to see the logical flaws with the view that consciousness is an illusion. Of course, you have to know something about logic to understand whether or not someone is making a logically valid claim. On the other hand, if you don’t believe in logic then there is no reason for you to even consider any kind of logical claim. One has to wonder if Rosenberg, Dennett or Carruthers disbelief extends to logic and reason itself. After all, to think at all don’t you at least have to be conscious?

  49. 49
    hazel says:

    to JAD at 48. Carruthers is not arguing at all that consciousness is an illusion, I don’t think. The first four paragraphs make that clear, I think. Can you point to someplace in the article where he says, or implies, that consciousness is an illusion?

    This is why I think non-materialists, such as myself, can find some interesting things to think about in the article.

  50. 50
    hazel says:

    to ET at 47: But you could push the Ignore button on Ed also. Why bother reading people who have nothing to offer?

    This is probably more programming than is possible, but an ignore button could hide all the text (just a Read More link), but still leave the post there in case someone want to read something by someone they had marked as Ignore.

  51. 51
    ET says:

    Hazel- I love exposing the willfully ignorant for what they are. The only people I would ignore aren’t allowed here anymore.

  52. 52
    hazel says:

    More to JAD at 40. Your “(3) probably true” doesn’t apply to math, as in math things are either assumed true or proven true. Sometimes we have a conjecture that we think might be true but is unproven, and then the goal is to start from that which is already established and prove the conjecture.

    There are two ways that we occasionally assume that something is true that is in fact yet unproven. The first is with proof by contradiction: we want to prove that P is true, so we assume not-P is true and show that leads to a logical contradiction, thus proving that P is true. The iconic example is the proof that sqrt(2) is irrational.

    Also, and I have done this a few times, we assume an unproven fact as true as a way of exploring its consequences to see if it will lead us to some ideas about a possible proof. For example, if I assume unproven fact P is true, and then deduce Q, which I know is true, that might help me find a way to start with Q and work backwards to prove P. In this case, assuming that P is true is a learning tool, but not something that directly leads to deductive truth.

    Just some more thoughts on your post.

  53. 53
    bornagain77 says:

    JAD @ 48, as to:

    “The major argument that Rosenberg makes,” he writes, “is that physics is the ultimate arbiter of truth, that the physical reality is the only reality, ”

    If only Rosenberg really believed that were true.

    Quantum Mechanics has, in no uncertain terms, refuted, not only the reductive materialism that undergirds Darwinian thought, but has also refuted ‘realism’, which is the belief that a physical reality exists ‘out there’ completely independent of conscious observation.

    A few notes to that effect:

    “[while a number of philosophical ideas] may be logically consistent with present quantum mechanics, …materialism is not.”
    Eugene Wigner
    Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism – video playlist

    “As a physicist, that is, a man who had devoted his whole life to a wholly prosaic science, the exploration of matter, no one would surely suspect me of being a fantast. And so, having studied the atom, I am telling you that there is no matter as such! All matter arises and persists only due to a force that causes the atomic particles to vibrate, holding them together in the tiniest of solar systems, the atom.
    Yet in the whole of the universe there is no force that is either intelligent or eternal, and we must therefore assume that behind this force there is a conscious, intelligent Mind or Spirit. This is the very origin of all matter.”
    – Max Planck, as cited in Eggenstein 1984, Part I; see “Materialistic Science on the Wrong Track”.

    “The conception of objective reality of the elementary particles has thus evaporated not into the cloud of some obscure new reality concept but into the transparent clarity of a mathematics that represents no longer the behavior of particles but rather our knowledge of this behavior”
    – Werner Heinsenberg – The Representation of Nature in Contemporary Physics – pg. 100

    The Death of Materialism – video

    Why Quantum Theory Does Not Support Materialism – By Bruce L Gordon:
    Excerpt: Because quantum theory is thought to provide the bedrock for our scientific understanding of physical reality, it is to this theory that the materialist inevitably appeals in support of his worldview. But having fled to science in search of a safe haven for his doctrines, the materialist instead finds that quantum theory in fact dissolves and defeats his materialist understanding of the world.,,
    The underlying problem is this: there are correlations in nature that require a causal explanation but for which no physical explanation is in principle possible. Furthermore, the nonlocalizability of field quanta entails that these entities, whatever they are, fail the criterion of material individuality. So, paradoxically and ironically, the most fundamental constituents and relations of the material world cannot, in principle, be understood in terms of material substances. Since there must be some explanation for these things, the correct explanation will have to be one which is non-physical – and this is plainly incompatible with any and all varieties of materialism.

    “If you go back and look at the premises which underlie materialism, They are all presumptions that were made back in the 17th and 18th century. Those (presumptions) are: reality, locality, causality, continuity, and determinism. All of those concepts were assumed to be self evident. And all of them have been disproved by quantum theory. The last one to fall was locality. (John Bell’s theory of non-locality disproved locality, which has now been proven I think 11 times in 11 different experiments throughout the world.),,, Anyone who says, “Well, I want to believe materialism and I don’t want to believe quantum physics.” Okay then, get rid of your cell phone, along with anything you have with a transistor in it. Get rid of your MRIs, get rid of all those things. Because quantum electro-dynamics is the theory which allows those things. It is the most proven theory in all of science.”
    Dr. Alan Hugenot – Hugenot holds a doctorate of science in mechanical engineering, and has had a successful career in marine engineering, serving on committees that write the ship-building standards for the United States.

    “Reality is in the observations, not in the electron.”
    – Paul Davies

    “No phenomenon is a physical phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon.”
    — John Wheeler
    Quoted in Robert J. Scully, The Demon and the Quantum (2007), 191

    New Mind-blowing Experiment Confirms That Reality Doesn’t Exist If You Are Not Looking at It – June 3, 2015
    Excerpt: Some particles, such as photons or electrons, can behave both as particles and as waves. Here comes a question of what exactly makes a photon or an electron act either as a particle or a wave. This is what Wheeler’s experiment asks: at what point does an object ‘decide’?
    The results of the Australian scientists’ experiment, which were published in the journal Nature Physics, show that this choice is determined by the way the object is measured, which is in accordance with what quantum theory predicts.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Truscott in a press release.,,,
    “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,” he said.
    Thus, this experiment adds to the validity of the quantum theory and provides new evidence to the idea that reality doesn’t exist without an observer.

    The Strange Link between the Human mind and Quantum Physics – By Philip Ball – 16 February 2017
    Excerpt: The physicist Pascual Jordan, who worked with quantum guru Niels Bohr in Copenhagen in the 1920s, put it like this: “observations not only disturb what has to be measured, they produce it… We compel [a quantum particle] to assume a definite position.” In other words, Jordan said, “we ourselves produce the results of measurements.”

    “I’m going to talk about the Bell inequality, and more importantly a new inequality that you might not have heard of called the Leggett inequality, that was recently measured. It was actually formulated almost 30 years ago by Professor Leggett, who is a Nobel Prize winner, but it wasn’t tested until about a year and a half ago (in 2007), when an article appeared in Nature, that the measurement was made by this prominent quantum group in Vienna led by Anton Zeilinger, which they measured the Leggett inequality, which actually goes a step deeper than the Bell inequality and rules out any possible interpretation other than consciousness creates reality when the measurement is made.”
    – Bernard Haisch, Ph.D., Calphysics Institute,

    An experimental test of non-local realism – 2007
    Simon Gröblacher, Tomasz Paterek, Rainer Kaltenbaek, Caslav Brukner, Marek Zukowski, Markus Aspelmeyer & Anton Zeilinger
    Abstract: Most working scientists hold fast to the concept of ‘realism’—a viewpoint according to which an external reality exists independent of observation. But quantum physics has shattered some of our cornerstone beliefs. According to Bell’s theorem, any theory that is based on the joint assumption of realism and locality (meaning that local events cannot be affected by actions in space-like separated regions) is at variance with certain quantum predictions. Experiments with entangled pairs of particles have amply confirmed these quantum predictions, thus rendering local realistic theories untenable. Maintaining realism as a fundamental concept would therefore necessitate the introduction of ‘spooky’ actions that defy locality. Here we show by both theory and experiment that a broad and rather reasonable class of such non-local realistic theories is incompatible with experimentally observable quantum correlations. In the experiment, we measure previously untested correlations between two entangled photons, and show that these correlations violate an inequality proposed by Leggett for non-local realistic theories. Our result suggests that giving up the concept of locality is not sufficient to be consistent with quantum experiments, unless certain intuitive features of realism are abandoned.

    Should Quantum Anomalies Make Us Rethink Reality?
    Inexplicable lab results may be telling us we’re on the cusp of a new scientific paradigm
    By Bernardo Kastrup on April 19, 2018
    Excerpt: ,, according to the current paradigm, the properties of an object should exist and have definite values even when the object is not being observed: the moon should exist and have whatever weight, shape, size and color it has even when nobody is looking at it. Moreover, a mere act of observation should not change the values of these properties. Operationally, all this is captured in the notion of “non-contextuality”: ,,,
    since Alain Aspect’s seminal experiments in 1981–82, these predictions (of Quantum Mechanics) have been repeatedly confirmed, with potential experimental loopholes closed one by one. 1998 was a particularly fruitful year, with two remarkable experiments performed in Switzerland and Austria. In 2011 and 2015, new experiments again challenged non-contextuality. Commenting on this, physicist Anton Zeilinger has been quoted as saying that “there is no sense in assuming that what we do not measure [that is, observe] about a system has [an independent] reality.” Finally, Dutch researchers successfully performed a test closing all remaining potential loopholes, which was considered by Nature the “toughest test yet.”,,,
    It turns out, however, that some predictions of QM are incompatible with non-contextuality even for a large and important class of non-local theories. Experimental results reported in 2007 and 2010 have confirmed these predictions. To reconcile these results with the current paradigm would require a profoundly counterintuitive redefinition of what we call “objectivity.” And since contemporary culture has come to associate objectivity with reality itself, the science press felt compelled to report on this by pronouncing, “Quantum physics says goodbye to reality.”
    The tension between the anomalies and the current paradigm can only be tolerated by ignoring the anomalies. This has been possible so far because the anomalies are only observed in laboratories. Yet we know that they are there, for their existence has been confirmed beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, when we believe that we see objects and events outside and independent of mind, we are wrong in at least some essential sense. A new paradigm is needed to accommodate and make sense of the anomalies; one wherein mind itself is understood to be the essence—cognitively but also physically—of what we perceive when we look at the world around ourselves.

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

    A Short Survey Of Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness
    Excerpt: Putting all the lines of evidence together 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.
    Five intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Double Slit, Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect)
    Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness: 5 Experiments – video

    None of this should be surprising. After all, modern science itself was born out of basic Christian presuppositions of the (rational) Mind of God creating this universe and upholding this universe in its continual existence. In other words, consciousness, although it gives modern day materialists unending headaches, was not a problem at all for the medieval cosmologists who gave rise to modern science in the first place,, Especially since they presupposed the Mind of God, not material particles, as the primary basis for reality:

    How exactly did consciousness become a problem? by Margaret Wertheim – Dec. 1, 2015
    Excerpt: Heaven and Earth were two separate yet intertwined domains of human action. Medieval cosmology was thus inherently dualistic: the physical domain of the body had a parallel in the spiritual domain of the soul; and for medieval thinkers, the latter was the primary domain of the Real.,,,
    But perhaps most surprisingly, just when the ‘stream of consciousness’ was entering our lexicon, physicists began to realise that consciousness might after all be critical to their own descriptions of the world. With the advent of quantum mechanics they found that, in order to make sense of what their theories were saying about the subatomic world, they had to posit that the scientist-observer was actively involved in constructing reality.,,,
    Such a view appalled many physicists,,,
    Just this April, Nature Physics reported on a set of experiments showing a similar effect using helium atoms. Andrew Truscott, the Australian scientist who spearheaded the helium work, noted in Physics Today that ‘99.999 per cent of physicists would say that the measurement… brings the observable into reality’. In other words, human subjectivity is drawing forth the world.,,,
    Not all physicists are willing to go down this path, however, and there is indeed now a growing backlash against subjectivity.,,,
    when I was a physics student the MWI (Many Worlds Interpretation) was widely seen as a fringe concept. Today, it is becoming mainstream, in large part because the pesky problem of consciousness simply hasn’t gone away.,,,


    Colossians 1:17
    He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

  54. 54
    hazel says:

    to Jack Cole, web designer: Could you possibly put that Subscribe feature back in? That would be extremely convenient.

  55. 55
    hazel says:

    Also, I’ll note that when at the bottom of the comments, as I am know in writing this, the name of the post is not visible. Could there be a header with that info that was always visible no matter how many comments there were?

  56. 56
    math guy says:

    h@41, 52 referring to jad@40
    In mathematics, most of the traditional axioms/postulates were self-evidently true to the Greeks of 300 BC. The parallel postulate is completely obvious to someone who is only considering ordinary planar geometry. It took people like Hilbert to illustrate naive assumptions underlying Euclid’s arguments, such as the Axiom of Completeness which is now taken as self-evident since its denial would leave the real number line full of gaps.

    I would have to say that the Axiom of Choice was the first major principle whose validity was somewhat doubted (almost everyone at that time believed the Continuum Hypothesis would be derived as a theorem). Cohen and Godel have shown us that Choice is independent of and consistent with the rest of ZF set theory. But lots of interesting mathematics flows from (or is logically equivalent to) Choice: Zorn’s Lemma, Tychnov’s Theorem, the existence of a non-measurable set. I am unaware of significant mathematics arising from the denial of Choice.

    p.s. hazel writes:
    “Sometimes we have a conjecture that we think might be true but is unproven, and then the goal is to start from that which is already established and prove the conjecture.”
    to which I ask in response:
    What is the truth status of the conjecture prior to its proof? What if I were to find a truly marvelous proof, but lack space in the margin to write the proof. Only I know its veracity. What is the truth status of the conjecture to the rest of the world?

  57. 57
    hazel says:

    Hi math guy. I think we discussed this on the Ed George thread, and I had a number of posts about the general topic over there. Math facts are true, or not, within the appropriate logical system, irrespective of whether anyone had proved them, or not, I think. Also, I’m inclined to think that Fermat did not have a proof of his Last Theorem, but maybe he did.

  58. 58
    Jack Cole says:

    to Jack Cole, web designer: Could you possibly put that Subscribe feature back in? That would be extremely convenient.

    Hazel, that was part of the plugin that had some of the other features that were undesirable. I’ll have to check to see if there is a standalone plugin for that.

  59. 59
    hazel says:

    I figured as much. I know how these things work. However, it would be great to get an email when there was a post on a thread I was interested in. I wonder how others feel about the usefulness of such a feature.

    Again, I think we all appreciate the work you’re doing.

  60. 60
    math guy says:

    I’ll use this thread to answer a question you posed: who are the A-mats that are conspicuously absent from discussion of the platonic realm? That would be those answering to the nom de plume of Seversky, goodusername, William Spearshake, Elizabeth Liddle, and several others which have slipped my mind.

  61. 61
    hazel says:

    Thanks. Seversky is the only one of those that I recognize as having posted here, so perhaps the others were before my time and are gone now. At 51, ET refers to people who are not allowed here anymore, so that might be some of them.

  62. 62
    hazel says:

    Hmmm. All of a sudden the comment numbers are one higher than they were. How did that happen? If that is a feature and not a bug, that would not be good, as we often refer back to previous comments by number.

    Jack Cole, do you know how a comment got inserted somehow?

  63. 63
    kairosfocus says:

    probably things from moderation

  64. 64
    hazel says:

    I see, kf. You’re probably right.

  65. 65
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: A reminder of how some naturalists think, and of the evolutionary materialistic scientism that drives it:

    Alex Rosenberg as he begins Ch 9 of his The Atheist’s Guide to Reality:

    >> FOR SOLID EVOLUTIONARY REASONS, WE’VE BEEN tricked into looking at life from the inside. Without scientism, we look at life from the inside, from the first-person POV (OMG, you don’t know what a POV is?—a “point of view”). The first person is the subject, the audience, the viewer of subjective experience, the self in the mind.

    Scientism shows that the first-person POV is an illusion. [–> grand delusion is let loose in utter self referential incoherence] Even after scientism convinces us, we’ll continue to stick with the first person. But at least we’ll know that it’s another illusion of introspection and we’ll stop taking it seriously. We’ll give up all the answers to the persistent questions about free will, the self, the soul, and the meaning of life that the illusion generates [–> bye bye to responsible, rational freedom on these presuppositions].

    The physical facts fix all the facts. [–> asserts materialism, leading to . . . ] The mind is the brain. It has to be physical and it can’t be anything else, since thinking, feeling, and perceiving are physical process—in particular, input/output processes—going on in the brain. We [–> at this point, what “we,” apart from “we delusions”?] can be sure of a great deal about how the brain works because the physical facts fix all the facts about the brain. The fact that the mind is the brain guarantees that there is no free will. It rules out any purposes or designs organizing our actions or our lives [–> thus rational thought and responsible freedom]. It excludes the very possibility of enduring persons, selves, or souls that exist after death or for that matter while we live.>>

    Then, Provine in the 1998 U Tenn Darwin Day address:

    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 responsible freedom, mind, reason and morality alike disintegrate into grand delusion, hence self-referential incoherence and self-refutation. But that does not make such fallacies any less effective in the hands of clever manipulators] . . . [1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address, U of Tenn — and yes, that is significant i/l/o the Scopes Trial, 1925]

    And we must not forget Crick:

    . . . 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.

    Philip Johnson has replied that Sir Francis should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: “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.” Johnson then acidly commented: “[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [Reason in the Balance, 1995.]

    In short, it is at least arguable that self-referential absurdity is the dagger pointing to the heart of evolutionary materialistic models of mind and its origin. For, there is a very good reason we are cautioned about how easily self-referential statements can become self-refuting, like a snake attacking and swallowing itself tail-first. Any human scheme of thought that undermines responsible [thus, morally governed] rational freedom undermines itself fatally. We thus see inadvertent, inherent self-falsification of evolutionary materialism. But, “inadvertent” counts: it can be hard to recognise and acknowledge the logically fatal nature of the result. Of course, that subjective challenge does not change the objective result: self-referential incoherence and irretrievable self-falsification. (An audio clip, here, by William Lane Craig that summarises Plantinga’s argument on this in a nutshell, is useful as a quick reference.)

    That wider context colours how we should understand Sci Am’s editorialising in the subhead (which purports to quote or at least summarise Carruthers) and how we should understand the ideas he presents.

    All of this fits with a dominant view of mind which is fatally self referentially incoherent and necessarily false.


  66. 66
    bornagain77 says:

    kf and JAD, and let’s not forget Thomas Nagel, an atheist professor who has spent a long distinguished career studying consciousness, devastating critique of purported materialistic explanations of consciousness in his book sub-titled, “Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False”.

    Mind and Cosmos – Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False – Thomas Nagel
    Excerpt: If materialism cannot accommodate consciousness and other mind-related aspects of reality, then we must abandon a purely materialist understanding of nature in general, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology. Since minds are features of biological systems that have developed through evolution, the standard materialist version of evolutionary biology is fundamentally incomplete. And the cosmological history that led to the origin of life and the coming into existence of the conditions for evolution cannot be a merely materialist history.

    “I have argued patiently against the prevailing form of naturalism, a reductive materialism that purports to capture life and mind through its neo-Darwinian extension.” “…, I find this view antecedently unbelievable—a heroic triumph of ideological theory over common sense”.
    Thomas Nagel – “Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False” – pg.128

    Nagel is also brutally honest as to why he rejects Theism: i.e. he has a “cosmic authority problem”.

    “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.
    My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about human life, including everything about the human mind.”
    – Nagel, Thomas, The Last Word, pp. 130–131, Oxford University Press, 1997

  67. 67
    Seversky says:

    On the new format, I think that, on balance, I prefer it. The only problem is that I find the font a little small and faint for my aging eyes but nothing I can’t cope with.

  68. 68
    Seversky says:

    Math Guy@ 61

    I’ll use this thread to answer a question you posed: who are the A-mats that are conspicuously absent from discussion of the platonic realm?

    For what it’s worth, as an a/mat, I regard Platonic ideals as occupying the same realm as Middle Earth or The Shire or the Star Wars universe – that of the human imagination. They can be said to exist to that extent but whether or not they are ‘real’ depends on how you define reality.

  69. 69
    Ed George says:

    Math Guy

    I’ll use this thread to answer a question you posed: who are the A-mats that are conspicuously absent from discussion of the platonic realm? That would be those answering to the nom de plume of Seversky, goodusername, William Spearshake, Elizabeth Liddle, and several others which have slipped my mind.

    Is it not equally as likely that this is a topic that does not interest those opposed to ID?

  70. 70
    ET says:


    For what it’s worth, as an a/mat, I regard Platonic ideals as occupying the same realm as Middle Earth or The Shire or the Star Wars universe – that of the human imagination.

    That is too funny coming from a person whose entire position is nothing but imagination.

  71. 71
    john_a_designer says:

    Here is a brief lecture by Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor where he defends the idea that even though we use our brains to think and reason that conscious thought is not something that can be reduced to brain activity. He agrees with other modern dualists, like UCLA’s neuropsychiatrist Jeffrey M. Schwartz* who argues that “you are not your brain.”

    [*Egnor doesn’t mention Schwartz in this lecture but he has written about him elsewhere.]

    So who has the better argument? Ivory tower “philosophers” who begin their arguments with self-refuting premises, or researchers who actually study the brain first hand? Egnor is a surgeon who understands how the brain works and has opened up peoples skulls to treat neurological disorders. Schwartz has studied the brain using PET scans and fMRI. He has also developed therapies to help people afflicted with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) that assumes that people have free-will and there really is such a thing as mind-over-matter.

    PS here is an article where Egnor covers much of the same ground as he does in the video.

  72. 72

    Math Guy:

    Equally interesting is the fact that so few non-materialists are willing to discuss it., and that while A-Mats keep trying to find a materialist theory of mind, non-materialists seem large uninterested in developing a theory of mind, which must simultaneously account for shared absolutes that are universally experienced, AND non-consensual imaginative features.

    It seems to me that you cannot have it both ways – you can’t dismiss the mind as a solipsistic experiential category while insisting it is home to universal forms and values AND the home of critical thinking, which we rely on in making determinations about the relative reality values of our experience.

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    FourFaces says:

    To the site administrator and/or programmer:

    A deleted comment should be replaced with a blank comment with the same comment number so as not to skew the numbers.

    Thank you

  74. 74
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky (assuming that “he” really exists), states:

    “I” regard Platonic ideals as occupying the same realm as Middle Earth or The Shire or the Star Wars universe – that of the human imagination.

    And just who is this imaginary “I” that “you” refer to in “your” sentence that does not believe in imaginary mathematics?

    What Does It Mean to Say That Science & Religion Conflict? – M. Anthony Mills – April 16, 2018
    Excerpt: Barr rightly observes that scientific atheists often unwittingly assume not just metaphysical naturalism but an even more controversial philosophical position: reductive materialism, which says all that exists is or is reducible to the material constituents postulated by our most fundamental physical theories.
    As Barr points out, this implies not only that God does not exist — because God is not material — but that you do not exist. For you are not a material constituent postulated by any of our most fundamental physical theories; at best, you are an aggregate of those constituents, arranged in a particular way. Not just you, but tables, chairs, countries, countrymen, symphonies, jokes, legal contracts, moral judgments, and acts of courage or cowardice — all of these must be fully explicable in terms of those more fundamental, material constituents.
    In fact, more problematic for the materialist than the non-existence of persons is the existence of mathematics. Why? Although a committed materialist might be perfectly willing to accept that you do not really exist, he will have a harder time accepting that numbers do not exist. The trouble is that numbers — along with other mathematical entities such as classes, sets, and functions — are indispensable for modern science. And yet — here’s the rub — these “abstract objects” are not material. Thus, one cannot take science as the only sure guide to reality and at the same time discount disbelief in all immaterial realities.

    Methodological Naturalism: A Rule That No One Needs or Obeys – Paul Nelson – September 22, 2014,
    Excerpt: methodological naturalism (MN). As (Stephen) Meyer defines MN:
    “scientists should accept as a working assumption that all features of the natural world can be explained by material causes without recourse to purposive intelligence, mind, or conscious agency. (p. 19)”

    Do You Like SETI? Fine, Then Let’s Dump Methodological Naturalism – Paul Nelson – September 24, 2014
    Excerpt: “Epistemology — how we know — and ontology — what exists — are both affected by methodological naturalism (MN). If we say, “We cannot know that a mind caused x,” laying down an epistemological boundary defined by MN, then our ontology comprising real causes for x won’t include minds.
    MN entails an ontology in which minds are the consequence of physics, and thus, can only be placeholders for a more detailed causal account in which physics is the only (ultimate) actor. You didn’t write your email to me. Physics did, and informed you of that event after the fact.
    “That’s crazy,” you reply, “I certainly did write my email.” Okay, then — to what does the pronoun “I” in that sentence refer?
    Your personal agency; your mind. Are you supernatural?,,,
    You are certainly an intelligent cause, however, and your intelligence does not collapse into physics. (If it does collapse — i.e., can be reduced without explanatory loss — we haven’t the faintest idea how, which amounts to the same thing.) To explain the effects you bring about in the world — such as your email, a real pattern — we must refer to you as a unique agent.,,,

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    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, 69: “Platonic” themes first came up in discussing the reality of some very specific abstract entities of vast general utility — numbers. Likewise, mindedness is a very crucial issue. KF

  76. 76
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky (again assuming that “you” really exist as a real person), if mathematics (and agent causality) were truly imaginary as you hold in your A-Mat worldview, then mathematics, like pink fluffy unicorns, should have absolutely no effect on the ‘real’ world of material particles. But that is not the case, virtually all of modern technology testifies to the fact that mathematics, which you hold to be imaginary, has ‘real’ effects on material particles:

    Describing Nature With Math By Peter Tyson – Nov. 2011
    Excerpt: Mathematics underlies virtually all of our technology today. James Maxwell’s four equations summarizing electromagnetism led directly to radio and all other forms of telecommunication. E = mc2 led directly to nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The equations of quantum mechanics made possible everything from transistors and semiconductors to electron microscopy and magnetic resonance imaging.
    Indeed, many of the technologies you and I enjoy every day simply would not work without mathematics. When you do a Google search, you’re relying on 19th-century algebra, on which the search engine’s algorithms are based. When you watch a movie, you may well be seeing mountains and other natural features that, while appearing as real as rock, arise entirely from mathematical models. When you play your iPod, you’re hearing a mathematical recreation of music that is stored digitally; your cell phone does the same in real time.
    “When you listen to a mobile phone, you’re not actually hearing the voice of the person speaking,” Devlin told me. “You’re hearing a mathematical recreation of that voice. That voice is reduced to mathematics.”

    Indeed, without the ‘non-physical’ entities of software and immaterial mind, the computer that you are sitting in front of right now would not exist:

    Recognising Top-Down Causation – George Ellis
    Excerpt: page 5: A: Causal Efficacy of Non Physical entities:
    Both the program and the data are non-physical entities, indeed so is all software. A program is not a physical thing you can point to, but by Definition 2 it certainly exists. You can point to a CD or flashdrive where it is stored, but that is not the thing in itself: it is a medium in which it is stored.
    The program itself is an abstract entity, shaped by abstract logic. Is the software “nothing but” its realisation through a specific set of stored electronic states in the computer memory banks? No it is not because it is the precise pattern in those states that matters: a higher level relation that is not apparent at the scale of the electrons themselves. It’s a relational thing (and if you get the relations between the symbols wrong, so you have a syntax error, it will all come to a grinding halt). This abstract nature of software is realised in the concept of virtual machines, which occur at every level in the computer hierarchy except the bottom one [17]. But this tower of virtual machines causes physical effects in the real world, for example when a computer controls a robot in an assembly line to create physical artefacts.
    Excerpt page 7: The assumption that causation is bottom up only is wrong in biology, in computers, and even in many cases in physics, ,,,
    The mind is not a physical entity, but it certainly is causally effective: proof is the existence of the computer on which you are reading this text. It could not exist if it had not been designed and manufactured according to someone’s plans, thereby proving the causal efficacy of thoughts, which like computer programs and data are not physical entities.

    So Seversky, (again assuming that “you” really exist as a real person), to be consistent in your reasoning you would have to say, besides mathematics and consciousness being imaginary, that the computer sitting in front of you right now is imaginary to.

    Or else, to preserve sanity, you could just admit that Atheistic materialism is completely insane.

    Sadly, after years of dealing with you, I can safely say that you prefer the insanity of Atheistic Materialism rather than ever honestly admitting Christian Theism is true.

    Supplemental notes:

    (December 2018) (the physical reality of immaterial information)

    Information is physical (but not how Rolf Landauer meant) – video

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    Eugen says:

    Seversky @69 so you think numbers and geometric objects are imaginary? You have a good imagination! 😀

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    FourFaces says:

    Eugen @78,

    If something is not composed of particles or does not have physical properties (e.g., mass, energy, orientation, position, etc), it is abstract, i.e., spiritual. Numbers, distance, time, beauty, ugliness fall in that category. It is amazing how many things fall in that category even though most of us, including scientists, swear they exist physically. My favorite is distance. 😀

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