Intelligent Design

Materialist “Magic”

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I am finally getting around to an in-depth read of Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos, and I am gratified to learn that an honest materialist agrees with my assessment of “emergentism.”  It is a confession of ignorance disguised as an explanation.  In Materialist Poofery I wrote:

the materialist . . . must come up with a theory that reduces the mind to an epiphenomenon of the electro-chemical processes of the brain.  What do they do?  They say the mind is an ‘emergent property’ of the brain.  Huh?  Wazzat?  That means that the brain system has properties that cannot be reduced to its individual components.  The system is said to ‘supervene’ (I’m not making this up) on its components causing the whole to be greater than the sum of the parts.

And what evidence do we have that ‘emergence’ is a real phenomenon?  Absolutely none. Emergence is materialist poofery. . . . The materialist knows that his claim that the mind does not exist is patently absurd.  Yet, given his premises it simply cannot exist.  So what is a materialist to do?  Easy. Poof – the mind is an emergent property of the brain system that otherwise cannot be accounted for on materialist grounds.

In Mind and Cosmos Nagel is just as dismissive of emergentism, but instead of “poofery” he uses the more conventional “magic”:

Merely to identify a cause is not to provide a significant explanation without some understanding of why the cause produces the effect.

To qualify as a genuine explanation of the mental, an emergent account must be in some way systematic.  It cannot just say that each mental event or state supervenes on the complex physical state of the organism in which it occurs.  That would the kind of brute fact that does not constitute an explanation but rather calls for an explanation.

If emergence is the whole truth, it implies that mental states are present in the organism as a whole, or its central nervous system, without any grounding in the elements that constitute the organism, expect for the physical character of those elements that permits them to be arranged in the complex form that, according to the higher-level theory, connects the physical with the mental.  That such a purely physical elements, when combined in a certain way, should necessarily produce a state of the whole that is not constituted of of the properties and relations of the physical parts still seems like magic even if the higher-order psychophysical dependencies are quite systematic.

Emphasis added.

35 Replies to “Materialist “Magic”

  1. 1
    Box says:

    I still prefer the term “poofery” 🙂
    On a more general perspective: how and why do physical parts constitute wholes, as we see in life? No fermion or boson cares for the whole (organism) they are part of. If there are only indifferent parts why do we see so many wholes?

  2. 2
    leodp says:

    Intriguing word of the day for this commoner: “psychophysical”. Add to that the multiplier, “higher-order”, and to that “seems like magic” and then *systematic*!?. And this from people who as a matter oblation to metaphysical naturalism deny a mind/matter distinction (and quibble that there is such a thing as either mind or intelligence). Somehow a materialist invoking magic to explain that which his premises preclude brings a smile to this pleb (at least *mentally* — though I’m certain I don’t truly understand… and someone here will no doubt ‘splain it to me).

    In an unrelated bit of promotion… some propositions I somehow understand a bit better:
    http://leodp7.wix.com/godspaparazzi

  3. 3
    Mapou says:

    Never underestimate the superstitious nature of a materialist. They are dirt worshippers who believe in the magic of dirt to self-organize into complex living organisms.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    I liked Nagel’s comment here:

    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.,,,
    http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/pro.....9919758.do

    And Quantum Mechanics is certainly not shy in helping Nagel, and everybody else, ‘abandon a purely materialist understanding of nature’.

    “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
    Max Planck – Originator Of Quantum Mechanics – Das Wesen der Materie [The Nature of Matter], speech at Florence, Italy (1944)

    That consciousness is integral to quantum mechanics is fairly obvious to the unbiased observer (no pun intended). I first, much like everyone else, was immediately shocked to learn that the observer could have any effect whatsoever in the double slit experiment:

    Quantum Mechanics – Double Slit and Delayed Choice Experiments – video
    https://vimeo.com/87175892

    Dr. Quantum – Double Slit Experiment – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1YqgPAtzho

    Double Slit Experiment – Explained By Prof Anton Zeilinger – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6101627/

    Quantum Mechanics – Double Slit Experiment. Is anything real? (Prof. Anton Zeilinger) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayvbKafw2g0

    Prof. Zeilinger makes this rather startling statement in the preceding video:

    “The path taken by the photon is not an element of reality. We are not allowed to talk about the photon passing through this or this slit. Neither are we allowed to say the photon passes through both slits. All this kind of language is not applicable.”
    Anton Zeilinger

    Feynman said in regards to the double slit experiment with electrons,

    “has in it the heart of quantum mechanics” and “is impos­sible, absolutely impos­sible, to explain in any clas­sical way.”
    http://thisquantumworld.com/wp.....xperiment/

    Feynman also stated in regards to quantum mechanics,,,

    …the “paradox” is only a conflict between reality and your feeling of what reality “ought to be.”
    Richard Feynman, in The Feynman Lectures on Physics, vol III, p. 18-9 (1965)

    Dean Radin, who spent years at Princeton testing different aspects of consciousness, recently performed experiments testing the possible role of consciousness in the double slit. His results were, not so surprisingly, very supportive of consciousness’s central role in the experiment:

    Consciousness and the double-slit interference pattern: six experiments – Radin – 2012
    Abstract: A double-slit optical system was used to test the possible role of consciousness in the collapse of the quantum wavefunction. The ratio of the interference pattern’s double-slit spectral power to its single-slit spectral power was predicted to decrease when attention was focused toward the double slit as compared to away from it. Each test session consisted of 40 counterbalanced attention-toward and attention-away epochs, where each epoch lasted between 15 and 30 s(seconds). Data contributed by 137 people in six experiments, involving a total of 250 test sessions, indicate that on average the spectral ratio decreased as predicted (z = -4:36, p = 6·10^-6). Another 250 control sessions conducted without observers present tested hardware, software, and analytical procedures for potential artifacts; none were identified (z = 0:43, p = 0:67). Variables including temperature, vibration, and signal drift were also tested, and no spurious influences were identified. By contrast, factors associated with consciousness, such as meditation experience, electrocortical markers of focused attention, and psychological factors including openness and absorption, significantly correlated in predicted ways with perturbations in the double-slit interference pattern. The results appear to be consistent with a consciousness-related interpretation of the quantum measurement problem.
    http://www.deanradin.com/paper.....0final.pdf

    Of course, atheists/materialists were/are in complete denial as to the obvious implications of Mind, with a capital M, in the double slit (invoking infinite parallel universes and such wild imaginations as that to try to get around the obvious implications of ‘Mind’). But personally, not being trapped in the atheists self imposed prison of materialism,,,

    Creed – My Own Prison – music
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBBqjGd3fHQ

    ,,,not being imprisoned in materialism, my curiosity was aroused and I’ve been sort of poking around, finding out a little more here and there about quantum mechanics, and how the observer is central to it. In fact, due to advances in quantum mechanics, the argument for God from consciousness can now be solidly 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.

    One of the first interesting experiments in quantum mechanics I found after the double slit, that highlighted the centrality of the observer to the experiment, was Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries. Here is Wigner commenting on the key experiment that led Wigner to his Nobel Prize winning work on quantum symmetries,,,

    Eugene Wigner
    Excerpt: When I returned to Berlin, the excellent crystallographer Weissenberg asked me to study: why is it that in a crystal the atoms like to sit in a symmetry plane or symmetry axis. After a short time of thinking I understood:,,,, To express this basic experience in a more direct way: the world does not have a privileged center, there is no absolute rest, preferred direction, unique origin of calendar time, even left and right seem to be rather symmetric. The interference of electrons, photons, neutrons has indicated that the state of a particle can be described by a vector possessing a certain number of components. As the observer is replaced by another observer (working elsewhere, looking at a different direction, using another clock, perhaps being left-handed), the state of the very same particle is described by another vector, obtained from the previous vector by multiplying it with a matrix. This matrix transfers from one observer to another.
    http://www.reak.bme.hu/Wigner_.....io/wb1.htm

    Wigner went on to make these rather dramatic comments in regards to his work:

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) from his collection of essays “Symmetries and Reflections – Scientific Essays”; Eugene Wigner laid the foundation for the theory of symmetries in quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963.

    “It will remain remarkable, in whatever way our future concepts may develop, that the very study of the external world led to the scientific conclusion that the content of the consciousness is the ultimate universal reality” –
    Eugene Wigner – (Remarks on the Mind-Body Question, Eugene Wigner, in Wheeler and Zurek, p.169) 1961

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Also of note:

    Von Neumann–Wigner – interpretation
    Excerpt: The von Neumann–Wigner interpretation, also described as “consciousness causes collapse [of the wave function]“, is an interpretation of quantum mechanics in which consciousness is postulated to be necessary for the completion of the process of quantum measurement.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V.....rpretation

    “I think von Neumann’s orthodox QM gives a good way to understand the nature of the universe: it is tightly tied to the practical test and uses of our basic physical theory, while also accounting for the details of the mind-brain connection in a way that is rationally concordant with both our conscious experiences, and experience of control, and the neuroscience data.”
    Henry Stapp

    Then after I had learned about Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, I stumbled across Wheeler’s Delayed choice experiments in which this finding shocked me as to the central importance of the observer’s free will choice in quantum experiments:

    Alain Aspect speaks on John Wheeler’s Delayed Choice Experiment – video
    http://vimeo.com/38508798

    “Thus one decides the photon shall have come by one route or by both routes after it has already done its travel”
    John A. Wheeler

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    Excerpt: Now, for many billions of years the photon is in transit in region 3. Yet we can choose (many billions of years later) which experimental set up to employ – the single wide-focus, or the two narrowly focused instruments. We have chosen whether to know which side of the galaxy the photon passed by (by choosing whether to use the two-telescope set up or not, which are the instruments that would give us the information about which side of the galaxy the photon passed). We have delayed this choice until a time long after the particles “have passed by one side of the galaxy, or the other side of the galaxy, or both sides of the galaxy,” so to speak. Yet, it seems paradoxically that our later choice of whether to obtain this information determines which side of the galaxy the light passed, so to speak, billions of years ago. So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....choice.htm

    Genesis, Quantum Physics and Reality
    Excerpt: Simply put, an experiment on Earth can be made in such a way that it determines if one photon comes along either on the right or the left side or if it comes (as a wave) along both sides of the gravitational lens (of the galaxy) at the same time. However, how could the photons have known billions of years ago that someday there would be an earth with inhabitants on it, making just this experiment? ,,, This is big trouble for the multi-universe theory and for the “hidden-variables” approach.
    – per Greer

    “It begins to look as we ourselves, by our last minute decision, have an influence on what a photon will do when it has already accomplished most of its doing… we have to say that we ourselves have an undeniable part in what we have always called the past. The past is not really the past until is has been registered. Or to put it another way, the past has no meaning or existence unless it exists as a record in the present.”
    – John Wheeler – The Ghost In The Atom – Page 66-68

    Then, a little bit later, I learned that the delayed choice experiment had been extended:

    The Experiment That Debunked Materialism – video – (delayed choice quantum eraser)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xKUass7G8w

    (Double Slit) A Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser – updated 2007
    Excerpt: Upon accessing the information gathered by the Coincidence Circuit, we the observer are shocked to learn that the pattern shown by the positions registered at D0 (Detector Zero) at Time 2 depends entirely on the information gathered later at Time 4 and available to us at the conclusion of the experiment.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....ly-web.htm

    And then I learned the delayed choice experiment was refined yet again:

    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

    “If we attempt to attribute an objective meaning to the quantum state of a single system, curious paradoxes appear: quantum effects mimic not only instantaneous action-at-a-distance but also, as seen here, influence of future actions on past events, even after these events have been irrevocably recorded.”
    Asher Peres, Delayed choice for entanglement swapping. J. Mod. Opt. 47, 139-143 (2000).

    i.e. The preceding experiment clearly shows, and removes any doubt whatsoever, that the ‘material’ detector recording information in the double slit is secondary to the experiment and that a conscious observer being able to consciously know the ‘which path’ information of a photon with local certainty, is of primary importance in the experiment. You can see a more complete explanation of the startling results of the experiment at the 9:11 minute mark of the following video:

    Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser Experiment Explained – 2014 video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6HLjpj4Nt4

    And then, after the delayed choice experiments, I learned about something called Leggett’s Inequality. Leggett’s Inequality was, as far as I can tell, a mathematical proof developed by Nobelist Anthony Leggett to prove ‘realism’. Realism is the belief that an objective reality exists independently of a conscious observer looking at it. And, as is usual with challenging the predictions of Quantum Mechanics, his proof was violated by a stunning 80 orders of magnitude, thus once again, in over the top fashion, highlighting the central importance of the conscious observer to Quantum Experiments:

    A team of physicists in Vienna has devised experiments that may answer one of the enduring riddles of science: Do we create the world just by looking at it? – 2008
    Excerpt: In mid-2007 Fedrizzi found that the new realism model was violated by 80 orders of magnitude; the group was even more assured that quantum mechanics was correct.
    Leggett agrees with Zeilinger that realism is wrong in quantum mechanics, but when I asked him whether he now believes in the theory, he answered only “no” before demurring, “I’m in a small minority with that point of view and I wouldn’t stake my life on it.” For Leggett there are still enough loopholes to disbelieve. I asked him what could finally change his mind about quantum mechanics. Without hesitation, he said sending humans into space as detectors to test the theory.,,,

    (to which Anton Zeilinger responded)

    When I mentioned this to Prof. Zeilinger he said, “That will happen someday. There is no doubt in my mind. It is just a question of technology.” Alessandro Fedrizzi had already shown me a prototype of a realism experiment he is hoping to send up in a satellite. It’s a heavy, metallic slab the size of a dinner plate.
    http://seedmagazine.com/conten....._tests/P3/

    Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007 (Leggett’s Inequality: Verified to 80 orders of magnitude)
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    The following video and paper get the general, and dramatic, point across of what ‘giving up realism’ actually means:

    Quantum Physics – (material reality does not exist until we look at it) – Dr. Quantum video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1ezNvpFcJU

    Macrorealism Emerging from Quantum Physics – Brukner, Caslav; Kofler, Johannes
    American Physical Society, APS March Meeting, – March 5-9, 2007
    Excerpt: for unrestricted measurement accuracy a violation of macrorealism (i.e., a violation of the Leggett-Garg inequalities) is possible for arbitrary large systems.,,
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2007APS..MARB33005B

    But, as if all that was not enough to demonstrate consciousness’s centrality in quantum mechanics, I then learned about something called the ‘Quantum Zeno Effect’,,

    Quantum Zeno Effect
    The quantum Zeno effect is,, an unstable particle, if observed continuously, will never decay.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_Zeno_effect

    Quantum Zeno effect
    “It has been experimentally confirmed,, that unstable particles will not decay, or will decay less rapidly, if they are observed. Somehow, observation changes the quantum system. We’re talking pure observation, not interacting with the system in any way.”
    Douglas Ell – Counting to God – pg. 189 – 2014 – Douglas Ell graduated early from MIT, where he double majored in math and physics. He then obtained a masters in theoretical mathematics from the University of Maryland. After graduating from law school, magna cum laude, he became a prominent attorney.

    The reason why I am very impressed with the Quantum Zeno effect as to establishing consciousness’s primacy in quantum mechanics is, for one thing, that Entropy is, by a wide margin, the most finely tuned of initial conditions of the Big Bang:

    The Physics of the Small and Large: What is the Bridge Between Them? Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: “The time-asymmetry is fundamentally connected to with the Second Law of Thermodynamics: indeed, the extraordinarily special nature (to a greater precision than about 1 in 10^10^123, in terms of phase-space volume) can be identified as the “source” of the Second Law (Entropy).”

    How special was the big bang? – Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: This now tells us how precise the Creator’s aim must have been: namely to an accuracy of one part in 10^10^123.
    (from the Emperor’s New Mind, Penrose, pp 339-345 – 1989)

    For another thing, it is interesting to note just how foundational entropy is in its explanatory power for actions within the space-time of the universe:

    Shining Light on Dark Energy – October 21, 2012
    Excerpt: It (Entropy) explains time; it explains every possible action in the universe;,,
    Even gravity, Vedral argued, can be expressed as a consequence of the law of entropy. ,,,
    The principles of thermodynamics are at their roots all to do with information theory. Information theory is simply an embodiment of how we interact with the universe —,,,
    http://crev.info/2012/10/shini.....rk-energy/

    In fact, entropy is also the primary reason why our physical, temporal, bodies grow old and die,,,

    Aging Process – 85 years in 40 seconds – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A91Fwf_sMhk

    *3 new mutations every time a cell divides in your body
    * Average cell of 15 year old has up to 6000 mutations
    *Average cell of 60 year old has 40,000 mutations
    Reproductive cells are ‘designed’ so that, early on in development, they are ‘set aside’ and thus they do not accumulate mutations as the rest of the cells of our bodies do. Regardless of this protective barrier against the accumulation of slightly detrimental mutations still we find that,,,
    *60-175 mutations are passed on to each new generation.
    Per John Sanford

    Entropy Explains Aging, Genetic Determinism Explains Longevity, and Undefined Terminology Explains Misunderstanding Both – 2007
    Excerpt: There is a huge body of knowledge supporting the belief that age changes are characterized by increasing entropy, which results in the random loss of molecular fidelity, and accumulates to slowly overwhelm maintenance systems [1–4].,,,
    http://www.plosgenetics.org/ar.....en.0030220

    And yet, to repeat,,,

    Quantum Zeno effect
    Excerpt: The quantum Zeno effect is,,, an unstable particle, if observed continuously, will never decay.
    per wiki

    This is just fascinating! Why in blue blazes should conscious observation put a freeze on entropic decay, unless consciousness was/is more foundational to reality than the 1 in 10^10^120 entropy is?

    Related notes on ‘interaction free’ measurement:

    The Mental Universe – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: The only reality is mind and observations, but observations are not of things. To see the Universe as it really is, we must abandon our tendency to conceptualize observations as things.,,, Physicists shy away from the truth because the truth is so alien to everyday physics. A common way to evade the mental universe is to invoke “decoherence” – the notion that “the physical environment” is sufficient to create reality, independent of the human mind. Yet the idea that any irreversible act of amplification is necessary to collapse the wave function is known to be wrong: in “Renninger-type” experiments, the wave function is collapsed simply by your human mind seeing nothing. The universe is entirely mental,,,, The Universe is immaterial — mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy.
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/The.mental.universe.pdf

    The Renninger Negative Result Experiment – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3uzSlh_CV0

    Elitzur–Vaidman bomb tester
    Excerpt: In 1994, Anton Zeilinger, Paul Kwiat, Harald Weinfurter, and Thomas Herzog actually performed an equivalent of the above experiment, proving interaction-free measurements are indeed possible.[2] In 1996, Kwiat et al. devised a method, using a sequence of polarising devices, that efficiently increases the yield rate to a level arbitrarily close to one.
    per wiki

    Experimental Realization of Interaction-Free Measurement – Paul G. Kwiat; H. Weinfurter, T. Herzog, A. Zeilinger, and M. Kasevich – 1994

    Interaction-Free Measurement – 1995

    Realization of an interaction-free measurement – 1996

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    The following video also clearly demonstrates that “decoherence” does not solve the measurement problem:

    The Measurement Problem in quantum mechanics – (Inspiring Philosophy) – 2014 video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qB7d5V71vUE

    Verse and Music:

    Colossians 1:17
    And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

    Evanescence – The Other Side (Lyric Video)
    http://www.vevo.com/watch/evan.....tantsearch

    Supplemental Notes:

    The Galileo Affair and Life/Consciousness as the true “Center of the Universe” https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BHAcvrc913SgnPcDohwkPnN4kMJ9EDX-JJSkjc4AXmA/edit

    Two very different eternities revealed by physics:
    General Relativity, Special Relativity, Heaven and Hell
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_4cQ7MXq8bLkoFLYW0kq3Xq-Hkc3c7r-gTk0DYJQFSg/edit

  8. 8
    Mung says:

    Barry, why do you insist on denying mystery to materialists?

    Regardless of how, we know what must have happened.

    We may not know how x came to be [a mystery], but we know it must have been by y, because z is the only acceptable option, and z entails y, therefore x [mystery solved].

    QED

  9. 9
    Mung says:

    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….

    Interesting how this dovetails with the other thread, in which RDFish denigrated dualism as providing no basis for scientific theorizing.

    Modern science is Cartesian through and through.

    Nagle’s book is an invitation to face this contradiction and resolve it, else materialism is pure wishful thinking.

    Science itself cannot bear the burden demanded of it by materialists.

  10. 10
    Mapou says:

    It takes two complementary opposite entities for consciousness to exist: a knower and a known. So to deny dualism is to deny logic. But this is common fare in materialist circles.

  11. 11
    News says:

    Barry, yer News writer here (hi!), hope this is a help: I know mind isn’t a material thing because I deal with people with cognitive problems all the time. It is just something I do every day.

    All my life, actually.

    The only way I have ever found to make sense of mind is: The brain is a mechanism that connects the mind to the physical world.

    Materialists don’t like that approach because they want to make mind part of the physical world but it cannot by its very nature be so.

    It’s not that we can’t research the mind, of course we can.

    But can we just get the junk, thunk, and clunk out first?

  12. 12
    Mung says:

    Mapou,

    “I am thinking, therefore I exist”

    Am I not both subject and object? What else could Descartes have been thinking about?

  13. 13
    Mapou says:

    Mung:

    Mapou,

    “I am thinking, therefore I exist”

    Am I not both subject and object? What else could Descartes have been thinking about?

    This is where Descartes’s castle in the air comes crashing down, IMO. He was a dualist and yet he believed that thinking was somehow immune to dualism, untouchable in its own private realm. What he failed to understand is that dualism is synonymous to Yin and Yang. In everything, it is always about two opposite entities. Unity comes from the balance of opposites.

    So the “I” in “I am thinking” could not possibly be its own opposite. If your “I” is thinking, it must be thinking about something, no? The “I” is the knower or spirit and the known is somewhere in the nervous system of the brain. Conscious disembodied spirits? I don’t think so.

    At least, this is how I see it.

  14. 14
    Box says:

    Mapou, so

    1. you rule out self-awareness.
    2. the “I” doesn’t think, but something else (the nervous system of the brain) takes care of the thinking.
    3. the “I” doesn’t know about this thinking.

    I do hope I misunderstood?

  15. 15
    Mapou says:

    Box:

    Mapou, so

    1. you rule out self-awareness.

    Direct self-awareness? Absolutely. We can only sense the self via the mirror of the brain, IMO. As a Christian, I can tell you that not even God can sense the spirit directly. This is why every spirit must be tested and judged by the way it behaves through life.

    2. the “I” doesn’t think, but something else (the nervous system of the brain) takes care of the thinking.

    For conscious thinking, it takes both the knower and the known. For unconscious thinking, as in the cerebellum (during certain routine tasks), only the brain does it. The brain is required in both types of thinking, IMO.

    3. the “I” doesn’t know about this thinking.

    I’m not exactly sure what you mean by the “I” but the knower does. Incidentally the brain (the known) cannot know anything. IMO, the “I” consists of both knower and known.

    I do hope I misunderstood?

    I think you did but not in the way I think you’d expect.

  16. 16
    Box says:

    Mapou: Direct self-awareness? Absolutely. We can only sense the self via the mirror of the brain, IMO.

    You rule out direct self-awareness. However, when the brain mirrors the knower, the knower must ‘think’: Hey, that ‘s me! However this insight already presupposes direct self-awareness.

    Mapou: As a Christian, I can tell you that not even God can sense the spirit directly.

    So God must have a material brain in order to be self-aware and to able to think?
    How do you explain near death experiences?

  17. 17
    Mapou says:

    Box:

    You rule out direct self-awareness.

    If by self, you mean the knower, then yes I do. The knower (spirit) cannot be known and the known (brain) cannot know. The spirit can only know the brain. Personally, I define the self as being both the brain and the spirit.

    However, when the brain mirrors the knower, the knower must ‘think’: Hey, that ‘s me! However this insight already presupposes direct self-awareness.

    The knower cannot think by itself, IMO. It must use a brain to think.

    So God must have a material brain in order to be self-aware and to able to think?

    Absolutely. I am not one of those Christians who believes in Christian doctrines just because some church or some Christian thinker believes in it. The master said, “Search and you shall find”. He did not say, “Let someone else do your searching for you.”

    How do you explain near death experiences?

    I don’t. I have no way of knowing what is going on in such situations. Reports of such experiences are subjective.

  18. 18
    Box says:

    Mapou,

    I wrote: “However, when the brain mirrors the knower, the knower must ‘think’: Hey, that‘s me! However this insight already presupposes direct self-awareness.”

    You answered: “The knower cannot think by itself, IMO. It must use a brain to think.”

    The point I was trying to get across is that the knower thinking “Hey, that’s me” presupposes direct self-awareness by the knower – irrespective of your notion that the knower needs a brain in order to think. Direct self-awareness is presupposed in order for such an act to be performed. So, I’m saying that self-awareness is impossible when the knower doesn’t sense itself directly. If the knower is not self-aware there is nothing a brain can do in order to change that. Even if the brain is prompting the knower “Hey, that’s me”, the words would me without meaning to the knower. Especially the “me”-part would not ring a bell.
    If there is ‘nobody home’ the brain cannot induce self-awareness in the knower.

  19. 19
    StephenB says:

    According to the Bible, God does not have a material brain. God is pure spirit.

    John 4:24: “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” This means God has no body. As Jesus says, “a spirit has not flesh and bones.”

    Of course “having” a spirit, as humans do, is different from “being” a spirit, as is the case with God and the angels. That is why a humans, who have spirits, can also be animals, i.e., rational animals.

  20. 20
    Querius says:

    bornagain77,

    What’s amazes me is the religious tenacity with which matericalists continue to ignore the implications of the numerous experimental results of quantum mechanics! Also, ignored are the demonstrated results of chaos theory, which falsified scientific determinism, as well as Kurt Gödel’s incompleteness theorems.

    As one of your videos points out, this can be attributed only to metaphysical prejudice—that while accepting the active role of an an observer in a system, they deny the consciousness-induced collapse of the wave function.

    Mung,

    Nagle’s book is an invitation to face this contradiction and resolve it, else materialism is pure wishful thinking.

    And it is wishful thinking. People hide behind science, claiming that only scientifically observable phenomena are real, but when science itself is used to experimentally proves the fundamental and active interaction of consciousnessness on reality, they refuse to be pried out of their irrational position.

    This demonstrates that their commitment to a belief of their choice is stronger than their commitment to the scientific method.

    Science itself cannot bear the burden demanded of it by materialists.

    Nicely stated!

    -Q

  21. 21
    Mapou says:

    StephenB:

    According to the Bible, God does not have a material brain. God is pure spirit.

    John 4:24: “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” This means God has no body. As Jesus says, “a spirit has not flesh and bones.”

    I dispute the traditional interpretation of these verses. For one, John never specified what he meant by spirit in the Greek language. In those days, even the wind was considered to be a spirit. In fact, many languages, including Hebrew and probably Greek too, use the same word for ‘wind’ when referring to ‘spirit’. Spirit probably meant anything that is not ordinary matter. Ordinary matter is not the only possible form of matter, IMO.

  22. 22
    Mapou says:

    Box @18,

    At this point, all I can say is that I believe in Yin and Yang. Your wanting to make the knower self-aware, makes no sense in my worldview. It takes 2 to tango. Sorry we don’t seem to agree.

  23. 23
    Axel says:

    Querius, Nils Bohr was always inviting the public to laugh with him at the absurd, counter-rational features of matter (or, indeed, its solely possible perception) at the quantum level.

    Today, having had time to ponder it, materialists still can’t bring themselves to admit such blasphemies against scientism. Indeed, I don’t believe I have ever come across any reference to such mysteries, such paradoxes, as other than, ‘counter-‘intuitive’; in other words, side-stepping any consideration of the ‘absurdity’, counter-rationality, illogic concerned.

    I’m not sure they’re even keen on invoking paradoxes. In such a context, invocation of intuition is beyond farcical. To me, for someone to describe the Holy Trinity or Christ’s incarnate, dual nature as true God and true man, as counter-intuitive would, itself, be the height of absurdity. They are mysteries which defy our logic, plain and simple. No getting round it.

    Surely, that tells its own story.

  24. 24
    Axel says:

    Mapou and SephenB, you are talking about possibly the profoundest mystery known to man, so you may be over-estimating our capacity to understand or define the precise nature of God in Christ, through the prism of his Incarnation.

    ‘When you see me, you see the Father.’
    ‘Call no man good.’

    St Thomas Aquinas taught that God is impassible, and that makes sense to us, doesn’t it? Yet Jesus could scarcely have stressed more emphatically that we should understand God to be not less human and all together more grand than us, but as being more human, more full of compassion, more full of love and solicitude for us than we can imagine. A fact more than attested for us by Jesus’ incarnation and crucifixion, of course.

    I think the term, godhead, though, is meant to convey the infinite unknowableness of God, the infinite amount of knowledge of his nature we can never know.

  25. 25
    Axel says:

    On that basis, Stephen, your objection that Mary can’t be the Mother of God, seems to me something of a cavil. The title is a very old one, going back to, I believe, the 3rd century; certainly, the early Church.

    I suppose, on the other hand, it might be fair to say, Mary could not have been the mother of the Godhead. But then again, is not Mary’s giving birth to Jesus, itself, an imponderable mystery? See what I mean?

    I’m grateful for the definitions of the various mysteries the church has seen fit to define – some of which were taken on trust and placed on the back-burner, so to speak. Yet, eventually, I have become convinced of their truth. It’s usually a matter of appropriateness.

    God always uses the most appropriate means for a given task. And the Holy Family being particularly precious, I now find definitions of the mysteries which would reflect such appropriateness, duly sublime.

  26. 26
    StephenB says:

    Mapou,

    I dispute the traditional interpretation of these verses. For one, John never specified what he meant by spirit in the Greek language. In those days, even the wind was considered to be a spirit. In fact, many languages, including Hebrew and probably Greek too, use the same word for ‘wind’ when referring to ‘spirit’. Spirit probably meant anything that is not ordinary matter. Ordinary matter is not the only possible form of matter, IMO.

    I submit that the following passage contradicts that view: (Lk 24:39: “A spirit does not have flesh and bone.”).

    When the Bible says that we are made in God’s image, it doesn’t mean we’re like him physically. It means that, like God, we possess spiritual faculties that empower us to know, will, and love.

    If God had a body, He could not be everywhere, being located in only one place, and He could not transcend His own creation, being bound up its material aspects.

  27. 27
    Popperian says:

    A concrete example of emergence is the universality of computation, which emerges from a particular repertoire of computations. I relied on this daily when running an Intel 386 version of Windows XP on a Power PC Macintosh.

    Babbage stumbled upon this universality in 1837 when designing his analytical engine. However, it was only until 1936 that Alan Turning got around to formalizing it as any device that is Turing complete. Had Babbage actually managed to built his analytical engine, it would have been the first universal computer, despite being made out of cogs, rather than transistors.

    Another example is universality that emerges from the Arabic number system, which can represent any number. We stumbled upon this as well, as many previous number systems could have been easily adopted to become universal in reach. However, most were limited to the range of numbers people actually worked with on a daily basis.

    It’s unclear how this emergent universality represents “magic.”

  28. 28
    Box says:

    Mapou #22,
    Self-awareness can only be understood by invoking the metaphysical concept of oneness. The concept of a distinct inert “knower” who reaches a state of self-awareness with the assistance of brain chemicals doesn’t do the same job.

  29. 29
    Barry Arrington says:

    Popperian, I think you can answer your own question if you read the OP again and then come to understand how neither of your examples is germane. Go ahead. Give it a try.

  30. 30
    Querius says:

    Axel,

    Thanks for your observations in 23. I agree that scientists and mathematicians only reluctantly label surprising phenomena as paradoxes. By labeling them as paradoxes, however, they can also marginalize them as in “Oh, that’s the well-known xyz paradox.”

    I’m also committed to the recognition that I cannot comprehend God beyond what God has revealed in his Word, and revealed in my life through experience. I’m limited to a relationship with God on God’s terms. Comprehension hasn’t been granted to me.

    Nevertheless, there are hints and possibilities, but I don’t hold on to them firmly since they are speculative, and the certainly aren’t given any central role in the scriptures. Preincarnate manifestations of Jesus in the garden of Eden and as Melchizedek come to mind, as do some interesting but speculative interpretations of Biblical prophesy.

    As I’m mentioned elsewhere, Jesus as the only begotten son of God, had been difficult for me to understand beyond plain anthropomorphic terms (which I was OK with). Then, some Indian brothers described Jesus as the only avatar of God, and I felt that in a heartbeat, I understood much more. Whether this is true in all senses is not clear to me, so I hold on to the concept loosely and pragmatically.

    I hold more strongly to the Word of God than novel speculations, academic analysis, or church tradition.

    -Q

  31. 31
    StephenB says:

    Axel

    Mapou and SephenB, you are talking about possibly the profoundest mystery known to man, so you may be over-estimating our capacity to understand or define the precise nature of God in Christ, through the prism of his Incarnation.

    Well, Axel, I appreciate your comments because it shows that even we can disagree about something [insert smiley face].

    While our capacity to know anything at all is certainly limited, and while our knowledge of God consists primarily of mere analogies, there are certain things that we can know from revelation. The point of God’s revealing them, after all, is so that we can know and believe them, insofar as our mode of being allows it.

    Yes, St. Thomas did, indeed, teach that God is impassible, primarily because God is also unchangeable, which is an attribute of being a pure spirit. Matter changes. Yes, the incarnated Son of God is just as human as we are, given his human nature, but He is not a human person. He is a Divine person and is not, in any way, a human person. That is why the Arian heresy was a heresy. It declared otherwise.

    Further, God the Son “took on” human flesh. It is not part of God’s eternal nature to have a body, Jesus is special in that sense. The First and Third person’s of the Trinity remain as pure spirits.

    Accordingly there is no problem with Mary being the “mother of God” because she is not the mother of Jesus’ human nature, (nature’s don’t have mothers) she is the mother of Jesus the person, who is the Second person of the Blessed Trinity.

    It is in that context, I think, that we can understand the Godhead to mean the Blessed Trinity. I don’t think it connotes unknowability about the fact that God, as God, does not have a body, and God, as God, does not change.

    Jesus did not undergo change as God. As God He knows everything there is to know, and is unchangeable, but as man, He “grew in wisdom and stature.” These are things that we can know because they have been revealed to us. Reason helps us to understand them better.

    On that basis, Stephen, your objection that Mary can’t be the Mother of God, seems to me something of a cavil. The title is a very old one, going back to, I believe, the 3rd century; certainly, the early Church.

    Clearly, you misunderstood me if you interpreted my remarks to mean that Mary cannot be the mother of God.

    I’m grateful for the definitions of the various mysteries the church has seen fit to define – some of which were taken on trust and placed on the back-burner, so to speak. Yet, eventually, I have become convinced of their truth. It’s usually a matter of appropriateness.

    Yes. Same here.

    God always uses the most appropriate means for a given task. And the Holy Family being particularly precious, I now find definitions of the mysteries which would reflect such appropriateness, duly sublime.

    Good point!

  32. 32
    Popperian says:

    I was responding to….

    BA: And what evidence do we have that ‘emergence’ is a real phenomenon? Absolutely none.

    Universality is a concrete example of emergent phenomenon that we use on a daily basis.

    Are you suggesting it’s not an example of emergence? Or perhaps you only object to emergence in the case of the mind? Or perhaps you think explanations should be reductionist in nature, as apparently Nagel does?

  33. 33
    aqeels says:

    BA:

    Thanks for the post. Whilst I agree with you that emergentism is nothing more that a special word that describes our ignorance of how the mind arises, we must be careful of dismissing it out of hand as a concept.

    Emergent properties can be found in many instances. For example, take a look at the work carried out by Stephen Wolfram on cellular automata. He demonstrates that simple rules operating in a given context (in this case colouring a matrix of cells either black or white) can give rise to unexpected phenomena. For example, some of his rules give rise to complex non-repeating patterns. These patterns were obviously not anticipated or coded for, so we can say that they are emergent properties.

    The real issue for mind being described as an emergent property of our neurochemical interactions is that it needs to be causal with respect to those interactions, and have the ability to actually influence the overall system.

    As far as I can tell, emergent properties tend to be passive manifestations, without any causal power or influence. This is the real dilemma for those that want to describe mind as an epiphenomenon of our physical brain.

  34. 34
    anthropic says:

    StephenB 26, you’re wasting your time with Mapou.

    In another thread he claimed that no scriptures or logic backed the notion that God was a spiritual being, rather than a material one. When I pointed out a number of scriptures and logical arguments that backed this notion, he shifted his claim to the notion that the scriptures were unimportant and even evil. My arguments from logic, such as how God could be omnipresent and material, he ignored.

    Whether his other posts may be taken seriously I’ll leave to others. But on this subject he’s not worth bothering with.

  35. 35
    StephenB says:

    anthropic @34, I know what you are saying. Of course, we also argue for the sake of lurkers, many of whom may be sincerely seeking the truth.

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