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Language fraud alert: There is nothing “controversial” about materialism

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Or denying free will. Contrary to what is claimed here.

A vivid cross-section of what makes us human.

Based groundbreaking new research, We Are Our Brains is a sweeping biography of the human brain, from infancy to adulthood to old age. Renowned neuroscientist D. F. Swaab takes us on a guided tour of the intricate inner workings that determine our potential, our limitations, and our desires, with each chapter serving as an eye-opening window on a different stage of brain development: the gender differences that develop in the embryonic brain, what goes on in the heads of adolescents, how parenthood permanently changes the brain.

Moving beyond pure biological understanding, Swaab presents a controversial and multilayered ethical argument surrounding the brain. Far from possessing true free will, Swaab argues, we have very little control over our everyday decisions, or who we will become, because our brains predetermine everything about us, long before we are born, from our moral character to our religious leanings to whom we fall in love with. And he challenges many of our prevailing assumptions about what makes us human, decoding the intricate “moral networks” that allow us to experience emotion, revealing maternal instinct to be the result of hormonal changes in the pregnant brain, and exploring the way that religious “imprinting” shapes the brain during childhood. Colour emphasis added.

Note the continued obsession with denying free will and explaining away religion. There is nothing controversial about that stuff either.

Yet another wagon joins the Circus That Never Leaves Town. It can’t leave town, actually, because the clown car in the lead is full of methodological naturalists, who are leading the circus parade round and round in a circle on the town square. And now, yet another wagon joins the parade, as soon as a gap forms.

When I started this beat maybe twelve years ago, I wondered if they would indeed come up with something significant. Now I know they won’t because they can’t. They can only make room for another wagon, widening the circle. The God of the Gaps, I presume.  – O’Leary for News

8 Replies to “Language fraud alert: There is nothing “controversial” about materialism

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    News: Don’t the folks who make such assertions see that not only are they circular but self-referentially incoherent? If “Far from possessing true free will . . . we have very little control over our everyday decisions, or who we will become, because our brains predetermine everything about us, long before we are born” then the argument that asserts such is a case in point and fatally undercuts itself, for just one instance. KF

  2. 2

    I would have to agree at least that most people do not employ free will beyond setting a course and turning on the autopilot.

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, go with the flow is easy, and to have a capacity and an opportunity are not to be confused with actually making the most of it. KF

  4. 4
    Box says:

    In the Netherlands – Dick Swaab is Dutch – the title of the book ‘We Are Our Brain’ (We Zijn Ons Brein) did not cause any controversy; not the slightest ripple. The reaction by the public on the title was:‘what else is new?’ – as if Swaab was stating the obvious.

  5. 5
    turell says:

    This guy sounds like Dennett on steroids. And what is his ground breaking research? We don’t know the origin of human consciousness and he presumes to deny free will? I guess he was born to write his book, just as I was born to be a physician. We are all robots in the grand plan, run by whom or what? Faith in nothing produces empty thought.

  6. 6
    Mung says:

    We are our brains makes no sense.

    Maybe I am your brain and my brain is you?

    Why not?

    I wonder who my body belongs to.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    If free will truly did not exist, and we were ‘deterministic’, then the following experiment would be impossible. The following experiment is a recent variation of Wheeler’s Delayed Choice experiment, which highlights the ability of the conscious observer to effect ‘spooky action into the past’, thus further solidifying consciousness’s centrality in reality. Furthermore in the following experiment, the claim that past material states determine future conscious choices (determinism) is directly falsified by the fact that present conscious choices are effecting past material states:

    Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past – April 23, 2012
    Excerpt: The authors experimentally realized a “Gedankenexperiment” called “delayed-choice entanglement swapping”, formulated by Asher Peres in the year 2000. Two pairs of entangled photons are produced, and one photon from each pair is sent to a party called Victor. Of the two remaining photons, one photon is sent to the party Alice and one is sent to the party Bob. Victor can now choose between two kinds of measurements. If he decides to measure his two photons in a way such that they are forced to be in an entangled state, then also Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair becomes entangled. If Victor chooses to measure his particles individually, Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair ends up in a separable state. Modern quantum optics technology allowed the team to delay Victor’s choice and measurement with respect to the measurements which Alice and Bob perform on their photons. “We found that whether Alice’s and Bob’s photons are entangled and show quantum correlations or are separable and show classical correlations can be decided after they have been measured”, explains Xiao-song Ma, lead author of the study.
    According to the famous words of Albert Einstein, the effects of quantum entanglement appear as “spooky action at a distance”. The recent experiment has gone one remarkable step further. “Within a naïve classical world view, quantum mechanics can even mimic an influence of future actions on past events”, says Anton Zeilinger.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-04-q.....ction.html

    In other words, if my conscious choices really are just merely the result of whatever state the material particles in my brain happen to be in in the past (deterministic) then how in blue blazes are my choices instantaneously effecting the state of material particles into the past?,,, I consider the preceding experimental evidence to be a vast improvement over the traditional ‘uncertainty’ argument for free will, from quantum mechanics, that had been used, for decades, to undermine the absurd deterministic belief of reductive materialists:

    Why Quantum Physics (Uncertainty) Ends the Free Will Debate – Michio Kaku – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFLR5vNKiSw

    In fact, free will and consciousness are now “considered axioms (founding principles) of standard quantum physics theory.”

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

    Moreover, quantum theory can never be improved above what it currently is by removing consciousness and free will as axioms to it,

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: Building on nearly a century of investigative work on this topic, a team of physicists has recently performed an experiment whose results show that,, quantum theory still seems to be the optimal way to predict measurement outcomes.,,
    However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (*conscious observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free choice, free will, assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory. The findings imply that quantum theory is close to optimal in terms of its predictive power, even when the predictions are completely random.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    *What does the term “measurement” mean in quantum mechanics?
    “Measurement” or “observation” in a quantum mechanics context are really just other ways of saying that the observer is interacting with the quantum system and measuring the result in toto.
    http://boards.straightdope.com.....p?t=597846

    Now this is completely unheard of in science as far as I know. i.e. That a mathematical description of reality would advance to the point that one can actually perform a experiment showing that your current theory will not be exceeded in predictive power by another future theory is simply unprecedented in science! In my personal opinion, the preceding experiment should have generated a lot more attention than it seems to have done for the milestone it represents in science!

    Of related note, people who do not believe in the reality of free will are shown to more unethical than people who do believe in it:

    Scientists say free will probably doesn’t exist, but urge: “Don’t stop believing!” -2010
    Excerpt: Studies found people who were told there is no such thing as free will were more likely to cheat under experimental conditions. “One of the most striking findings to emerge recently in the science of free will is that when people believe—or are led to believe—that free will is just an illusion, they tend to become more antisocial.” For example, in an experiment involving money, some participants were randomly assigned to what was called a determinism condition:
    They were asked to read statements such as, “A belief in free will contradicts the known fact that the universe is governed by lawful principles of science.” Those participants stole more money than those who had been randomly assigned to read statements from what was called a free-will condition–who had read statements such as, “Avoiding temptation requires that I exert my free will.”
    http://blogs.scientificamerica.....believing/

    Of note: since our free will choices figure so prominently in how reality is actually found to be constructed in our understanding of quantum mechanics, I think a Christian perspective on just how important our choices are in this temporal life, in regards to our eternal destiny, is very fitting:

    Is God Good? (Free will and the problem of evil) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rfd_1UAjeIA

    we must measure our choices by the measure of
    1) eternity
    2) morality
    3) accountability
    4) charity
    Ravi Zacharias – How To Measure Your Choices – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Op_S5syhKI

    Verses and Music;

    Deuteronomy 30:19
    This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

    John 7:17
    If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.

    CHOOSE LIFE [Big Tent Revival] – music
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eX4fC4WFCIU

  8. 8
    Barb says:

    From the OP:

    we have very little control over our everyday decisions,

    Except when we change our minds.

    or who we will become, because our brains predetermine everything about us, long before we are born,

    So no criminals can ever be rehabilitated? Except the ones that have been rehabilitated, of course.

    from our moral character to our religious leanings to whom we fall in love with.

    So we’re religious or nonreligious. Except for those who convert to Christianity (or another religion) or those who lose their faith.

    The more they deny free will, the sillier their arguments become.

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