Intelligent Design Mind Naturalism

Science journalist: No kidding, consciousness IS a Hard Problem

Spread the love

We don’t usually expect science writers to be as straightforward as Michael Hanlon (1964–2016) was in 2014. The temptation to chase after the latest buzz is probably hard to resist when you know that that’s what the Big Ideas crowd really wants anyway. But Hanlon resisted:

“Consciousness is in fact so weird, and so poorly understood, that we may permit ourselves the sort of wild speculation that would be risible in other fields. We can ask, for instance, if our increasingly puzzling failure to detect intelligent alien life might have any bearing on the matter. We can speculate that it is consciousness that gives rise to the physical world rather than the other way round. The 20th-century British physicist James Hopwood Jeans speculated that the universe might be ‘more like a great thought than like a great machine.’ Idealist notions keep creeping into modern physics, linking the idea that the mind of the observer is somehow fundamental in quantum measurements and the strange, seemingly subjective nature of time itself, as pondered by the British physicist Julian Barbour. – Michael Hanlon, “The mental block” at Aeon (October 9, 2013)”

News, “Science journalist: No hype. Consciousness is a HARD problem!” at Mind Matters News

But now, what about idealism?

Idealism is simply the mirror image of materialism. All mind instead of all matter. As philosopher of science Bruce Gordon has pointed out recently, it is a defensible position, in the light of what we now know from quantum physics. See, for example, In quantum physics, reality is what “we choose to observe. Idealism may be wrong, just as materialism may be wrong — but not in principle. Rather, on the evidence.

News, “Science journalist: No hype. Consciousness is a HARD problem!” at Mind Matters News

Takehome: Perhaps accepting the fact that the mind is immaterial may convert the problem from intractable to difficult but solvable in principle.

You may also wish to read: Mystery: Our brains divide up events but we experience them whole. That’s one of the conundrums of consciousness.

6 Replies to “Science journalist: No kidding, consciousness IS a Hard Problem

  1. 1
    doubter says:

    Takehome: Perhaps accepting the fact that the mind is immaterial may convert the problem from intractable to difficult but solvable in principle.

    Presumably this means solvable using the methods of science. I don’t know about this expectation. Of the various manifestations of consciousness, the paranormal is the hardest nut to crack. I think the paranormal, especially afterlife-implying phenomena like NDEs and reincarnation memories, and even ESP abilities like telepathy and precognition, most likely are of a nonphysical spiritual realm of existence that simply can’t even in principle be successfully investigated using the scientific method.

    The scientific method that has been so successful in at least partially understanding the physical world (and generating the extraordinary high technology of the modern human world) is predicated on investigating physical phenomena that can be objectively observed using physical instrumentation and duplicated at will in the laboratory. Followed by hypothesis-making, testing of the hypothesis using physical instrumentation, formulation of theories inherently involving meathematical models of the physical phenomena, more testing, and so on.

    The basis for the scientific method is an underlying assumption of philosophical naturalism – that matter and energy are absolutely all that exists, and the mental and spiritual are illusory, or epiphenomenal and generated by the workings of matter and energy. The scientific method inherently ignores spiritual phenomena and assumes that all that is real is objectively measurable and testable. This is its foundational assumption.

    Generally, the scientific method has been very successful in uncovering the underlying workings of the physical and applying this understanding to new technology. As if its foundational assumption is actually correct. Of course, it’s really not correct. Things like veridical NDEs, reincarnation memories, ADCs, mediumistic communications, and so on challenge the metaphysical assumptions of modern science, but in my opinion aren’t successfully applicable to the methods of science.

    Not unexpectedly, the paranormal is notoriously elusive of being successfully investigated using these methods. I don’t think huge expensive systems like the large hadron collider, or any other physical instruments are ever likely to detect the underlying essence of spirit which is what is involved in paranormal phenomena. Paranormal phenomena, though unquestionably real, are most probably uninvestigatable by the methods of science.

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    I think we all agree this is a hard nut to crack. Consciousness is clearly closely correlated with the activity of the physical brain but exactly how our personal experience of our conscious selves emerges from that activity is still a mystery. All science can do is keep plugging away at the problem until a solution appears.

  3. 3
    AaronS1978 says:

    Probably the hardest nut to crack and the one that is closest to home

  4. 4
    ET says:

    This is only a hard problem for materialists. Consciousness clearly goes on without a physical brain. Materialists hinder scientific progress.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Doubter claims,

    The basis for the scientific method is an underlying assumption of philosophical naturalism – that matter and energy are absolutely all that exists, and the mental and spiritual are illusory, or epiphenomenal and generated by the workings of matter and energy. The scientific method inherently ignores spiritual phenomena and assumes that all that is real is objectively measurable and testable. This is its foundational assumption.

    Well, actually science is certainly NOT based on the presumption of philosophical naturalism, (nor does modern science find its origins in the presumption of philosophical naturalism), but instead modern science is based on Judeo-Christian presuppositions, (and modern science, in fact, owes its very origins to Judeo-Christian presuppositions.)

    Via Stephen Meyer’s new book “Return of the God hypothesis”, here are the three necessary Christian presuppositions that lay at the founding of modern science in Medieval Christian Europe.

    “Science in its modern form arose in the Western civilization alone, among all the cultures of the world”, because only the Christian West possessed the necessary “intellectual presuppositions”.
    – Ian Barbour
    Presupposition 1: The contingency of nature
    “In 1277, the Etienne Tempier, the bishop of Paris, writing with support of Pope John XXI, condemned “necessarian theology” and 219 separate theses influenced by Greek philosophy about what God could and couldn’t do.”,,
    “The order in nature could have been otherwise (therefore) the job of the natural philosopher, (i.e. scientist), was not to ask what God must have done but (to ask) what God actually did.”
    Presupposition 2: The intelligibility of nature
    “Modern science was inspired by the conviction that the universe is the product of a rational mind who designed it to be understood and who (also) designed the human mind to understand it.” (i.e. human exceptionalism),
    “God created us in his own image so that we could share in his own thoughts”
    – Johannes Kepler
    Presupposition 3: Human Fallibility
    “Humans are vulnerable to self-deception, flights of fancy, and jumping to conclusions.”, (i.e. original sin), Scientists must therefore employ “systematic experimental methods.”
    – Stephen Meyer on Intelligent Design and The Return of the God Hypothesis – Hoover Institution
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_8PPO-cAlA
    April 2021: Defense of all 3 presuppositions
    1
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/brian-keating-on-the-problem-with-follow-the-science/#comment-727893
    2
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/brian-keating-on-the-problem-with-follow-the-science/#comment-727959
    3
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/brian-keating-on-the-problem-with-follow-the-science/#comment-727980

    And those Judeo-Christian presuppositions that lay at the founding of modern science have not somehow evaporated into thin air but those presuppositions are still very much necessary for the continued success of modern science.

    Physics and the Mind of God: The Templeton Prize Address – by Paul Davies – August 1995
    Excerpt: “People take it for granted that the physical world is both ordered and intelligible. The underlying order in nature-the laws of physics-are simply accepted as given, as brute facts. Nobody asks where they came from; at least they do not do so in polite company. However, even the most atheistic scientist accepts as an act of faith that the universe is not absurd, that there is a rational basis to physical existence manifested as law-like order in nature that is at least partly comprehensible to us. So science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview.”
    https://www.firstthings.com/article/1995/08/003-physics-and-the-mind-of-god-the-templeton-prize-address-24

    Science and Theism: Concord, not Conflict* – Robert C. Koons
    IV. The Dependency of Science Upon Theism (Page 21)
    Excerpt: Far from undermining the credibility of theism, the remarkable success of science in modern times is a remarkable confirmation of the truth of theism. It was from the perspective of Judeo-Christian theism—and from the perspective alone—that it was predictable that science would have succeeded as it has. Without the faith in the rational intelligibility of the world and the divine vocation of human beings to master it, modern science would never have been possible, and, even today, the continued rationality of the enterprise of science depends on convictions that can be reasonably grounded only in theistic metaphysics.
    http://www.theistic.net/papers.....cience.pdf

    Moreover, Doubter’s claim that in order to do science properly you must first presume that quote-unquote “matter and energy are absolutely all that exists” has a rather large and gaping hole in it.

    Namely, it presupposes that the immaterial minds of men do not exist and that we, via our minds, are therefore not Intelligently Designing the scientific instruments and experiments, (and analyzing the immaterial mathematics and logic that lay behind the experiments), but instead it presupposes that matter and energy, since they are supposedly “absolutely all that exists”, are somehow, inexplicably, designing the scientific instruments and experiments, (and are somehow, inexplicably, analyzing the immaterial mathematics and logic that lay behind the experiments).

    This is absurd. It leads to preposterous claim from Atheists that Einstein did not really discover the theory of relativity, but matter and energy must have discovered the theory all by their lonesome and then informed the ‘neuronal illusion’ of Einstein of the discovery after the fact.

    As George Ellis explains, “if Einstein did not have free will in some meaningful sense, then he could not have been responsible for the theory of relativity – it would have been a product of lower level processes but not of an intelligent mind choosing between possible options.”

    Physicist George Ellis on the importance of philosophy and free will – July 27, 2014
    Excerpt: And free will?:
    Horgan: Einstein, in the following quote, seemed to doubt free will: “If the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the Earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was traveling its way of its own accord…. So would a Being, endowed with higher insight and more perfect intelligence, watching man and his doings, smile about man’s illusion that he was acting according to his own free will.” Do you believe in free will?
    Ellis: Yes. Einstein is perpetuating the belief that all causation is bottom up. This simply is not the case, as I can demonstrate with many examples from sociology, neuroscience, physiology, epigenetics, engineering, and physics. Furthermore if Einstein did not have free will in some meaningful sense, then he could not have been responsible for the theory of relativity – it would have been a product of lower level processes but not of an intelligent mind choosing between possible options.
    I find it very hard to believe this to be the case – indeed it does not seem to make any sense. Physicists should pay attention to Aristotle’s four forms of causation – if they have the free will to decide what they are doing. If they don’t, then why waste time talking to them? They are then not responsible for what they say.
    – per uncommon descent

    Moreover, although Doubter falsely claimed that science has only been successful because it has supposedly assumed that “matter and energy are absolutely all that exists”, the fact of the matter is that modern science itself has, in no uncertain terms, proven that matter and energy are certainly NOT absolutely all that exists.

    Doubter presumption that “matter and energy are absolutely all that exists” is known as ‘realism’, which is the belief that a ‘objective’ physical reality exists completely independent of anyone’s subjective observation of it.

    Yet, ‘realism’, the belief that matter and energy are ‘absolutely all that exists,’ and that it has a completely independent existence apart from anyone’s subjective observation of it, has now been experimentally shown to be false.

    For instance, the following delayed choice experiment that was done with atoms demonstrated that, “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,”

    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.
    – per mind unleashed

    Likewise, the following violation of Leggett’s inequality stressed “the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it.”

    Quantum physics says goodbye to reality – Apr 20, 2007
    Excerpt: They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. “Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics,” Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. “You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism.”
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/27640

    Moroever, Anton Zeilinger and company, in 2018, closed the “freedom-of-choice” loophole.

    Cosmic Bell Test Using Random Measurement Settings from High-Redshift Quasars – Anton Zeilinger – 14 June 2018
    Abstract: This experiment pushes back to at least approx. 7.8 Gyr ago the most recent time by which any local-realist influences could have exploited the “freedom-of-choice” loophole to engineer the observed Bell violation, excluding any such mechanism from 96% of the space-time volume of the past light cone of our experiment, extending from the big bang to today.
    https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.121.080403

    With the closing of the “freedom-of-choice” loophole, that now firmly establishes the ‘common sense’ fact that the free will choices of the experimenter in the quantum experiments are truly free and are not determined by any possible causal influences from the past for at least the last 7.8 billion years, and that the experimenters themselves are therefore shown to be truly free to choose whatever measurement settings in the experiments that he or she may so desire to choose so as to ‘logically’ probe whatever aspect of reality that he or she may be interested in probing.

    In other words, Einstein really did discover the theory of relativity and it was NOT the “product of lower level processes” as Doubter is forced to believe with his claim that “matter and energy are absolutely all that exists”.

    Thus, directly contrary to Doubter’s claim that we must presuppose philosophical naturalism in order to properly do science, apparently modern science itself could care less for Doubter’s assumption of philosophical naturalism. With the falsification of ‘realism’, and the closing of the ‘freedom of choice’ loophole, matter and energy are definitely shown to certainly NOT be all that exists.

    1 Thessalonians 5:21
    Test all things; hold fast to that which is good.

  6. 6
    doubter says:

    Ba77,

    I should have more extensively termed the “scientific method” as I described it as, “the modern scientific method as practiced and believed in by the great majority of scientists”. Certainly, I agree that the origin and foundational development of modern science owes very much to the “Judeo-Christian suppositions” (this fact ignored by most scientists or at least most members of the AAAS), and that there is an obvious major philosophical error in assuming that matter and energy are all there is since mind (including the mind and the free will of the scientist himself) must be imaginary or epiphenomenal . Unfortunately, this materialistic belief system is held to by most members of the scientific establishment, at least the movers and shakers and acknowledged master practitioners. Even if they do have a spiritual belief system they generally keep it to themselves. That can be a career destroyer.

Leave a Reply