The post by News here about how an atheist believed that miracles are impossible because “science,” reminded me of the atheist who responded to one of my posts a few weeks ago. He said he cannot believe in an immaterial mind because in his view the interaction problem is hopeless for dualists. The problem of course is that the atheist was attacking a strawman caricature of what most dualists believe, not actual dualism. It is as if our A-Mat thinks all dualists hold to a sort of hyper-Cartesian substance dualism in which an immaterial homunculus sits in a material seat in the brain (perhaps in the pineal gland) and pulls levers to operate the body, and his knock-down objection to that theory is that an immaterial homunculus has no way to grip a material lever. Of course I exaggerate, but you get the picture. Our A-Mat gives no indication that he has ever heard of (far less considered and rejected) dualist arguments addressing the interaction problem, especially Aristotelian-Thomistic Hylomorphism which makes the interaction problem go away by rejecting the very concept of substance dualism. I am willing to grant that maybe Aristotle and Aquinas got it wrong, and their arguments don’t really solve the interaction problem after all. But, Mr. A-Mat, if you are going to advance that proposition at least give us some evidence that you are aware of who Aristotle and Aquinas were, what they said, and why you think they are wrong. Arguments that sound like “an immaterial homunculus has no way to grip the levers in the pineal gland” just make you sound silly.
But wait; there’s more. Our A-Mat is mistaken at an even more basic level. He seems to believe there are two kinds of people — rational A-Mats like himself who deal with “things and facts” and irrational theists who try to bring immaterial concepts like the mind into the discussion. He is wrong, and I will let Werner Heisenberg explain why:
In the experiments about atomic events we have to do with things and facts, with phenomena that are just as real as any phenomena in daily life. But atoms and the elementary particles themselves are not as real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts … The probability wave … mean[s] tendency for something. It’s a quantitative version of the old concept of potentia from Aristotle’s philosophy. It introduces something standing in the middle between the idea of an event and the actual event, a strange kind of physical reality just in the middle between possibility and reality.
Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy. London: Allen and Unwin. (1958), p. 41