Intelligent Design Mind Naturalism Neuroscience

Materialist Matthew Cobb: We will never “solve” the brain

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As a science historian, he offers a look at some of the difficulties we face in understanding the brain:

In a long excerpt from a soon-to-be-published book, The Idea of the Brain , science historian Matthew Cobb expresses doubt about optimism that we will someday easily understand the brain:

It is hard to see where we should be going, apart from simply collecting more data or counting on the latest exciting experimental approach. As the German neuroscientist Olaf Sporns has put it: “Neuroscience still largely lacks organising principles or a theoretical framework for converting brain data into fundamental knowledge and understanding.” Despite the vast number of facts being accumulated, our understanding of the brain appears to be approaching an impasse.


The future he envisions resembles our understanding of human history more than our understanding of a math problem

That’s not good news for reductive materialism. Wasn’t “science” supposed to explain all this stuff away ages ago? Instead, it’s science causing the problems.

Further reading on “the brain as a computer” (or, as it happens, probably not)

Some people think and speak with only half a brain. A new study sheds light on how they do it.

Why the brain is not at all like a computer. Seeing the brain as a computer is an easy misconception rather than an informative image, says neuroscientist Yuri Danilov.

Brains are not billions of little computers. Despite the hype. Also, life forms are not machines and neurons are not neural networks.

The brain is not a meat computer. Dramatic recoveries from brain injury highlight the difference. (Michael Egnor)


The brain exceeds the most powerful computers in efficiency.

3 Replies to “Materialist Matthew Cobb: We will never “solve” the brain

  1. 1
    Truthfreedom says:

    Materialism is the worst metaphysics.

    “Materialism—the view that nature is fundamentally constituted by matter outside and independent of mind—is a metaphysics, in that it makes statements about what nature essentially is. As such, it is also a theoretical inference: we cannot empirically observe matter outside and independent of mind, for we are forever locked in mind. All we can observe are the contents of perception, which are inherently mental. Even the output of measurement instruments is only accessible to us insofar as it is mentally perceived”.
    Bernardo Kastrup

  2. 2
    groovamos says:

    Can anyone laugh at this sentence: “the brain is an integrated, evolved structure with different bits of it appearing at different moments in evolution and adapted to solve different problems”.

    You know I never looked at a fish tank and thought: “wow what brains, those fish are solving problems right and left” or “amazing to watch those brains appear” when a hatchling pecks its way to daylight.

    And given that nature “evolved” from the Big Bang, what does it mean to say that something is “an evolved structure” except to say “hey you young ‘un’s: get it, you must always invoke Evolution when you say something exists”.

    These people are so willing to investigate anything except their own motives and patterns of discourse. They pretend to impeccable logic and then they invoke such things as “moments in evolution” without any specificity whatsoever.

  3. 3
    Belfast says:

    I read recently, I think it was by a neurologist, that the expression understanding the brain is as ridiculous as understanding New York. Sorry I can’t give the reference, but the opinion still stands.

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