Intelligent Design

The Mental Dilemma of the Materialist

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The materialist position is that the mind is an effect of biology and physics.

If the materialist appeals to a person’s mind (logic, reason, thoughts, conscience, emotion) to try and get them to change their views/beliefs, they are necessarily assuming that the mind is not limited to being only an effect of biology/physics, because they would be appealing to an effect (the mind) to change itself, or to itself act in a top-down, causal manner, circumventing the physical causes the materialist supposedly believes actually produces the state-of-mind effect.

Appealing to the minds of others necessarily means assuming those minds are not caused by biology/physics and that those minds have the causal ability to change themselves based on concepts and arguments.  Since those concepts and arguments do not rely upon any particular physical medium of delivery in order for them to be considered by the mind of another – text, sound, braille – it obviously is not the expectation of the materialist that it is the nature of the physical medium employed that causes a physical reaction towards the change in mind – if so, why bother arranging words and sentences so carefully into arguments and concepts at all?

Who knows which string of perceived letters will have what effect on the mind of another?  Wouldn’t you have to know the physiological cause and effect system that culminates in their caused mind to know which set of perceived letters will generate the desired effect?  Yet, where do our materialist counterparts ever try to understand the physiological causes that generate our beliefs and views before they begin their argument?  They act as if the actual physical, cause-and-effect interactions of medium and the physical state and physical processing mechanisms of the recipient are irrelevant!

Materialists argue and act as if the particular physical medium carrying their messages isn’t important at all, but rather that it is the mental concepts contained in the physical medium that is the important thing, as if the mind of the other person can comprehend the message regardless of the medium (conceptually top-down, not physically bottom-up), and as if changing the mind of the other person isn’t at all a matter of the biology and physics of the message-carrying medium, but rather of the argument and concepts regardless of the medium.

IOW, whenever a materialist argues, they can only do so based on non-materialist assumptions, and they do so in contradiction to their own stated core beliefs.

85 Replies to “The Mental Dilemma of the Materialist

  1. 1
    awstar says:

    IOW, whenever a materialist argues, they can only do so based on non-materialist assumptions, and they do so in contradiction to their own stated core beliefs.

    So why would some scientists try to persuade other scientists to believe something they don’t even believe themselves? Only a creationist can give a rational holistic explanation.

  2. 2
    StephenB says:

    So why would some scientists try to persuade other scientists to believe something they don’t even believe themselves?

    ….”It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

    Richard Lewontin

  3. 3
    humbled says:

    It is sad to see great minds clouded and corrupted by materialism. This insane view not only goes against rational thought and everyday reality but it also ultimately warps the mind.

  4. 4
    Graham2 says:

    I believe the great majority of the Neurological community dont believe in dualism. Perhaps someone here can provide some numbers on this.

  5. 5
    Mark Frank says:

    The materialist position is that the mind is an effect of biology and physics.

    No. The materialist position is that the mind is biology and physics. If it were an effect that would imply it were something different from biology and physics. You seem to be describing eiphenomenalism.

  6. 6
    awstar says:

    from #5

    No. The materialist position is that the mind is biology and physics. If it were an effect that would imply it were something different from biology and physics. You seem to be describing eiphenomenalism.

    “biology” and “physics” are words, which are assigned a meaning by the mind. How can the mind then be “biology” and “physics”?

  7. 7
    Mark Frank says:

    #6 awstar

    I don’t get your argument. One of things that material minds do is assign meanings to words. Why should these minds have any more trouble assigning a meaning to “biology” and “physics” than to any other words (e.g. “mind”)?

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    MF, AW is pointing out circularity and asking that it be resolved. If you want a bit of elaboration on the matter cf. here from a couple of months back. As just one clue, blind, GIGO-limited cause effect computation is not self-aware, meaingful insight ground and consequent based contemplation, nor is it even headed that way. To conflate the two — rather common today per imposition of a priori Lewontinian materialist ideology — is to try to get North by heading Due West. KF

  9. 9

    Mark Frank said:

    No. The materialist position is that the mind is biology and physics. If it were an effect that would imply it were something different from biology and physics. You seem to be describing eiphenomenalism.

    This is nothing but semantic diversion that avoids the real issue. Because an effect is caused by biological processes according to the laws of physics doesn’t mean that the effect is “something else”.

  10. 10

    Needs more cowbell boldface.

  11. 11
    Mark Frank says:

    #9 WJM

    (To save space I will abbreviate biological and physical processes to BPPs below)

    I am really confused by what you are claiming.

    My key point is that materialism is the position that minds are BPPs. So for minds to affect minds means BPPs are affecting other BPPs. Nothing radical there!

    You that minds are the effects of BPPs. I thought you were implying that they were somehow different and therefore incapable of also being causes. Maybe I misunderstood you. Can you clarify? Why can’t minds be causes of effects no other minds?

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    Mr. Frank you claim:

    “One of things that material minds do is assign meanings to words”

    REALLY??? And assigning meaning, i.e. creating information, is no big deal for ‘material minds’???

    Algorithmic Information Theory, Free Will and the Turing Test – Douglas S. Robertson
    Excerpt: Chaitin’s Algorithmic Information Theory shows that information is conserved under formal mathematical operations and, equivalently, under computer operations. This conservation law puts a new perspective on many familiar problems related to artificial intelligence. For example, the famous “Turing test” for artificial intelligence could be defeated by simply asking for a new axiom in mathematics. Human mathematicians are able to create axioms, but a computer program cannot do this without violating information conservation. Creating new axioms and free will are shown to be different aspects of the same phenomena: the creation of new information.
    http://cires.colorado.edu/~dou...../info8.pdf

    Mr. Frank how did you, apart from just assuming it to be true, prove that mind is ‘material’?, (much less that a material mind can assign meaning, i.e. create information?)

    I’m certainly not the only one who would like to know how you proved this precise point!

    “We have so much confidence in our materialist assumptions (which are assumptions, not facts) that something like free will is denied in principle. Maybe it doesn’t exist, but I don’t really know that. Either way, it doesn’t matter because if free will and consciousness are just an illusion, they are the most seamless illusions ever created. Film maker James Cameron wishes he had special effects that good.”
    Matthew D. Lieberman – neuroscientist – materialist – UCLA professor

    So are ‘you’, like Coyne, merely a neuronal illusion of your deterministic brain with no free will Mr. Frank?

    The Confidence of Jerry Coyne – Ross Douthat – January 6, 2014
    Excerpt: then halfway through this peroration, we have as an aside the confession that yes, okay, it’s quite possible given materialist premises that “our sense of self is a neuronal illusion.” At which point the entire edifice suddenly looks terribly wobbly — because who, exactly, is doing all of this forging and shaping and purpose-creating if Jerry Coyne, as I understand him (and I assume he understands himself) quite possibly does not actually exist at all? The theme of his argument is the crucial importance of human agency under eliminative materialism, but if under materialist premises the actual agent is quite possibly a fiction, then who exactly is this I who “reads” and “learns” and “teaches,” and why in the universe’s name should my illusory self believe Coyne’s bold proclamation that his illusory self’s purposes are somehow “real” and worthy of devotion and pursuit? (Let alone that they’re morally significant:,,) Read more here:
    http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.c.....oyne/?_r=0

    Mr. Frank, despite your blatant bluff to the contrary, you simply have no empirical warrant for your extraordinary claim that your ‘mind’ is merely emergent from, or epi-phenomenal to, material:

    First off, “emergent property” is one of those hand-wavey terms people like to throw around without much substance behind it. A basic definition is something like complex properties that results from the interaction of simple behaviors.
    That doesn’t actually answer the how of consciousness particularly well by itself.,,,
    How do you explain the subjective experience of “redness”, let’s say. Saying simply that it’s the correlate of the neurophysiological response to certain rods and cones sensitive to certain light waves does not answer the question of why there is a gestalt qualitative experience of red.
    – Marc Ettlinger, Research Neuroscientist, Department of Veterans Affairs

    David Chalmers on Consciousness – (Philosophical zombies and the hard problem of consciousness) – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK1Yo6VbRoo

    ‘But the hard problem of consciousness is so hard that I can’t even imagine what kind of empirical findings would satisfactorily solve it. In fact, I don’t even know what kind of discovery would get us to first base, not to mention a home run.’
    David Barash – Materialist/Atheist Darwinian Psychologist

    David Barash is not exaggerating in the least.

    One way that an atheist might try to ‘get on first base’ as to explaining consciousness is to try to explain how the ‘almost beyond belief’ complexity of the brain originated,,,

    Human brain has more switches than all computers on Earth – November 2010
    Excerpt: They found that the brain’s complexity is beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief, says Stephen Smith, a professor of molecular and cellular physiology and senior author of the paper describing the study: …One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor–with both memory-storage and information-processing elements–than a mere on/off switch. In fact, one synapse may contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth.
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-2708.....2-247.html

    Component placement optimization in the brain – 1994
    As he comments [106], “To current limits of accuracy … the actual placement appears to be the best of all possible layouts; this constitutes strong evidence of perfect optimization.,, among about 40,000,000 alternative layout orderings, the actual ganglion placement in fact requires the least total connection length.
    http://www.jneurosci.org/conte.....8.abstract

    But alas, atheists cannot even tell us how a single neuron of that ‘optimal’ complexity operates,,,

    “Complexity Brake” Defies Evolution – August 2012
    Excerpt: “This is bad news. Consider a neuronal synapse — the presynaptic terminal has an estimated 1000 distinct proteins. Fully analyzing their possible interactions would take about 2000 years. Or consider the task of fully characterizing the visual cortex of the mouse — about 2 million neurons. Under the extreme assumption that the neurons in these systems can all interact with each other, analyzing the various combinations will take about 10 million years…, even though it is assumed that the underlying technology speeds up by an order of magnitude each year.”,,,
    Even with shortcuts like averaging, “any possible technological advance is overwhelmed by the relentless growth of interactions among all components of the system,” Koch said.
    to read more go here:
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....62961.html

    Nor can atheists even tell us how a single protein of that ‘beyond belief, optimal’ complexity originated

    Stephen Meyer and Doug Axe – “Mount Improbable” – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rgainpMXa8

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    Another simple way of demonstrating that the mind is not the same thing as the material brain is by utilizing the ‘Law Of Identity’ to separate properties of mind from properties of the brain:

    Mind-Body Dualism – Is the Mind Purely a Function of the Brain? by Michael Egnor
    Conclusion: Strict materialism predicts that mental function will always correlate with brain function, because mental function is the same thing as brain function. Dualism predicts that mental function and brain function won’t always correlate, because mental function isn’t the same thing as brain function. The Cambridge findings are more consistent with the dualist prediction than with the strict materialist prediction.
    http://www.godandscience.org/e.....alism.html

    Six reasons why you should believe in non-physical minds – podcast and summary (Law of Identity: 6 properties of mind that are not identical to properties of the brain, thus the mind is not the brain)
    http://winteryknight.wordpress.....cal-minds/

    The Mind and Materialist Superstition – Six “conditions of mind” that are irreconcilable with materialism: Michael Egnor, professor of neurosurgery at SUNY, Stony Brook
    Excerpt: Intentionality,,, Qualia,,, Persistence of Self-Identity,,, Restricted Access,,, Incorrigibility,,, Free Will,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....super.html

    Alvin Plantinga has a humorous way of getting this ‘Law of Identity’ point across:

    Alvin Plantinga and the Modal Argument (for the existence of the mind/soul) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOTn_wRwDE0

    Mind/Consciousness, contrary to what Mr. Frank may prefer to believe, simply refuses to be reduced to material explanation. Thomas Nagel has made this point clear,

    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’.

    A short history of quantum mechanics and consciousness (Double Slit through Leggett’s Inequality)
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-511549

    “No, I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
    Max Planck (1858–1947), the originator of quantum theory, The Observer, London, January 25, 1931

    “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.”
    (Schroedinger, Erwin. 1984. “General Scientific and Popular Papers,” in Collected Papers, Vol. 4. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences. Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden. p. 334.)

    “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 – The Father Of Quantum Mechanics – Das Wesen der Materie [The Nature of Matter], speech at Florence, Italy (1944)

    “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 – received Nobel Prize in 1963 for ‘Quantum Symmetries’

    etc.. etc..

    Verse and Music:

    Romans 11:26
    For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

    Kutless (acoustic)-“Promise of a Lifetime”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3ooFMefOZQ

  14. 14
    Mark Frank says:

    Sorry – rather a lot of typos in #11. Trying again.

    I am really confused by what you are claiming.

    My key point is that materialism is the position that minds are BPPs. So for minds to affect minds means BPPs are affecting other BPPs. Nothing radical there!

    You write that minds are the effects of BPPs. I thought you were implying that they were somehow not BPPs and therefore incapable of also being causes. Maybe I misunderstood you. Can you clarify?

  15. 15
    Joe says:

    The materialist position is that the mind is an effect of biology and physics.

    The materialist cannot explain the mind, biology nor physics.

    Mark Frank:

    The materialist position is that the mind is biology and physics. If it were an effect that would imply it were something different from biology and physics.

    Emergence, Mark, look it up.

  16. 16
    awstar says:

    #7 mark frank

    I don’t get your argument. One of things that material minds do is assign meanings to words. Why should these minds have any more trouble assigning a meaning to “biology” and “physics” than to any other words (e.g. “mind”)?

    because you said “The materialist position is that the mind IS biology and physics” If that were so, then the mind would be able to quantify itself with units of measure such as meter, kilogram, ampere, kelvin, mole, candela and second. Which of these units of measure or combination thereof does the mind assign to itself? If it can’t do it, then it must be something other that biological or physical.

  17. 17
    tjguy says:

    Materialists are stuck here. They have no option but to believe these things about the mind. Experimental evidence is absent. They only hold this position because of their worldview. They are locked into it so them simply assume it is true, but in the end, it is one of their many beliefs.

    As the good professor pointed out, if free will is an illusion, it’s a mighty good one!

    So it follows that no one in their right mind would naturally conclude that free will is an illusion.
    All our experience tells us something different.

    The only reason they take this absurd position then seems to be that their chosen beliefs demand it. In other words, it is a necessary corollary of their worldview.

  18. 18
    Mark Frank says:

    #16 #17 awstar tjguy

    We seem to have drifted away from WJM’s OP.

    awstar

    I don’t see why one day we shouldn’t measure some aspects of mental activity in meter, kilogram, ampere, kelvin, mole, candela or second. Just because it is hard, it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. After all we already measure brain waves.

    tjguy

    I do believe in free will. I am a compatabilist.

  19. 19

    Mark Frank said:

    My key point is that materialism is the position that minds are BPPs. So for minds to affect minds means BPPs are affecting other BPPs. Nothing radical there! You that minds are the effects of BPPs. I thought you were implying that they were somehow different and therefore incapable of also being causes. Maybe I misunderstood you. Can you clarify? Why can’t minds be causes of effects no other minds?

    The point, Mark, lies in the assumption of what it is that is affecting the mind of the other person, and how that assumption drives behavior.

    If one were to assume that mind was a BPP, then the proper methodology going forward is to examine the person’s physiology and conduct physical testing to see what kind of treatments will change that person’s beliefs/views. Trying to argue them out of their beliefs without even conducting a preliminary physiological examination would be like trying to argue a sociopath or schizophrenic out of their illnesses, because sociopathy and schizophrenia are also mental states generated by biology and physics.

    Yet here you are, without even a preliminary workup of any of our physiological/medical situations, throwing out strings of words through this particular medium as if you are confident it is the correct treatment both in medium form and content. If you accepted the ramifications of your own worldview, you’d have to admit that you have absolutely no idea what effect your words, through this particular medium, would have on anyone here.

    Yet you do so confidently, not because you have any understanding of how one individual BPP is going to affect the other individual BPP, but rather because – even if you deny it – you assume it really has absolutely nothing to do with that particular person’s physiological makeup and processes nor with the medium you are transmitting through. You expect them to be able to discern the meaning of the message and implement changes in a top-down fashion regardless of the medium and regardless of their physiological makeup.

  20. 20

    I do believe in free will. I am a compatabilist.

    You don’t believe in free will as it is being utilized here, so this is just more semantic diversion. Just because you use the same term doesn’t mean the definition of that term is the same, which is what matters.

  21. 21
    Mung says:

    Why should we expect that reading words would have the same effect as hearing words? How is it that a deaf child can even lern to read?

  22. 22

    Well, Mung, all it takes is the correct sequence of hand signals, sounds and textures (whether they make cognitive sense or not) and we’ll be able to “convince” Mark F to believe in god. We might also turn him into a sociopath or change his sexual orientation. Who knows what effect we might have on him?

    Yet, here he is arguing as if the biological/physical processes we use should conform to the protocols of a “rational” argument, as if he knows that is what will change his mind (alter his physiology in the necessary ways). I wonder if Mark has a recent brain scan handy? Does he even know what sequence of physical input might have such an impact on his beliefs? Has he had a workup done lately by his MD and psychiatrist?

  23. 23
    Mark Frank says:

    WJM

    If one were to assume that mind was a BPP, then the proper methodology going forward is to examine the person’s physiology and conduct physical testing to see what kind of treatments will change that person’s beliefs/views. Trying to argue them out of their beliefs without even conducting a preliminary physiological examination would be like trying to argue a sociopath or schizophrenic out of their illnesses, because sociopathy and schizophrenia are also mental states generated by biology and physics.

    I don’t see the logic of this at all. Obviously those BPPs which are also mental processes are rather special. But it doesn’t follow they are not BPPs. We don’t in general have the knowledge of the biochemistry of mental BPPs to affect people’s views via injections, pills or surgery but that doesn’t prove that the methods that we do use, words etc, are not in the end reducible to material events.  There are many things that we do with and to our bodies that we do not understand the underlying biochemistry (or at least did not).

    The line between pills and mental approaches is continually being blurred. We give pills for depression. We also argue and persuade people out of it. We treat schizophrenia with pills but also with psychoanalysis. LSD changes perception and opinions. So does exercise. So does a lobotomy, brain surgery and accidents affecting the brain.

  24. 24
    StephenB says:

    Mark Frank:

    I don’t see the logic of this at all. Obviously those BPPs which are also mental processes are rather special. But it doesn’t follow they are not BPPs.

    All the confusion stems from your failure to address the topic as presented. The argument deals with the materialist’s claim that mind comes from matter and the implications that follow. Accordingly, the opening sentence is both easy to understand and true to the facts:

    WFM

    The materialist position is that the mind is an effect of biology and physics.

    Your reaction was to say, “no,” yet you ended by saying, in effect, “Yes–but.” That amounts to a yes and a no, which proves the point of the post. Materialists contradict themselves. In fact, the “but” part of your “yes” (the effect can be of the same substance as the cause) is irrelevant to WJM’s argument. It you had simply begun by agreeing with the facts and addressing their implications, there would have been no confusion at all.

  25. 25
    Mark Frank says:

    #24 StephenB

    I read WJM as saying that the mind was the effect of BPPs and implying the mind is not a BPP itself. If that was wrong I apologise and here is the corrected version:

    The materialist position is that the mind is a BPP which is the result of other BPPs including other minds. Minds influence each other in many ways but a major method as WJM points out is by language. Language is itself a physical process – either sound or sight.
    Where’s the problem?

  26. 26
    StephenB says:

    Where’s the problem?

    If, according to the materialist, communication and influence are the product of a physical processes, then why does he ignore the physical structure or components of the process that is alleged to be responsible for the opinion the he wants to change, and why does he ignore the structure or components of the physical process that is alleged to be responsible for the message he hopes to put in its place?

  27. 27
    Mark Frank says:

    #26 Stephenb

    Because he has very little idea how the physical structure works whereas the physical process of language is quite effective.

  28. 28
    StephenB says:

    27 Mark,

    What are the physical components of language?

  29. 29
    Mark Frank says:

    #28 Stephenb

    Sounds, written signs, symbols on computer screens etc.

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N, FTR: I need to note the following, in the teeth of the obvious prevalence of a zero concessions policy by materialists and fellow travellers:

    GIGO-limited, cause-effect blind computation is not in the same category as insightful, understanding based ground and consequent reasoning or inference on best explanation — nor does it even begin to tend towards it. To try to derive the second from the first is a fallacy of trying to get North by heading due West.

    Beyond, materialist accounts of the brain as a neural network computational substrate are repeatedly coming up short in trying to account for the massive FSCO/I in both the neurons as hardware and the software expressed in network patterns and weighted connexions. The only vera causa plausible, empirically observed, needle in haystack plausible search challenge warranted causal factor known to account for FSCO/I is design.

    But, there is a zero concession policy in force, which locks out what the empirical observations and linked reason so strongly point to.

    It is time to take that bull by its horns that it imagined was its strength.

    KF

  31. 31
    Joe says:

    Mark Frank:

    he materialist position is that the mind is a BPP which is the result of other BPPs including other minds.

    Great- when are they going to figure out how to test that claim?

  32. 32
    Joe says:

    Mark Frank:

    One of things that material minds do is assign meanings to words.

    What is a “material mind”?

  33. 33

    Mark,

    My entire point is predicated on the assumption (arguendo) that mind is a BPP. My point is that materialists do not actually behave as if mind is a BPP, but rather act as if mind is not a BPP when they appeal to the minds of others in their arguments.

    You said:

    Because he has very little idea how the physical structure works whereas the physical process of language is quite effective.

    I assume you mean that “the use of language” is “quite effective” in correspondence to what my OP is about; appealing to the minds of others to get them to change their beliefs.

    1. What scientific support do you have for believing that the specific language methodology you are employing here (I would assume, use of reason & evidence) and medium employed is effective in changing the beliefs of others (the individual BPPs of which are a complete unknown to you) in the manner you wish them to be changed?

    2. If “changing the beliefs of others” can be effected in the manner you are attempting – by using perhaps a largely lucky combinatorial string of words that would physically cause the other person to change their belief – aren’t you, in effect, “brainwashing” them … coercing them through physical techniques into changing their views?

    3. If convincing others to change their mind is not the same as physical coercion under materilism, why not?

  34. 34
    Box says:

    Summary: A materialist holds that changing a persons ‘mind’ is not based on the strength of an argument, but instead based on chemical stuff (BPP).
    Materialists are, in effect, totally irrational debaters.

  35. 35
    Upright BiPed says:

    MF,

    Because he has very little idea how the physical structure works whereas the physical process of language is quite effective.

    Specifically in your case, would it not be more accurate to say that the materialist isn’t interested in the physical structure of communication (signs, symbols) – given the implications?

  36. 36
    Phinehas says:

    Mark Frank:

    We don’t in general have the knowledge of the biochemistry of mental BPPs to affect people’s views via injections, pills or surgery but that doesn’t prove that the methods that we do use, words etc, are not in the end reducible to material events.

    So, in effect, you are only a surgery away from believing in God? Sure, we don’t understand the biochemistry of the brain enough to pull this off yet, but if we did, all we’d need to do is flip the right bit(s) in your brain, and presto, Mark Frank would be a bible-thumping Creationist?

    Seriously? You really believe that? Have you considered that this belief would also be subject to the aforementioned surgical bit flipping? Are you also aware that bits in computers sometimes get flipped randomly by things like solar flares and the like? How confident can you be that your belief isn’t what it is because of solar activity, radiation, or a host of other random physiological influences? And have you considered that the confidence itself might be subject to the same influences? How is it not turtles all the way down?

    The mental house of the materialist is built on sand. Refusing to look down won’t change this.

  37. 37
    Mark Frank says:

    WJM

    My entire point is predicated on the assumption (arguendo) that mind is a BPP. My point is that materialists do not actually behave as if mind is a BPP, but rather act as if mind is not a BPP when they appeal to the minds of others in their arguments.

    I understand that now. Thanks.

    1. What scientific support do you have for believing that the specific language methodology you are employing here (I would assume, use of reason & evidence) and medium employed is effective in changing the beliefs of others (the individual BPPs of which are a complete unknown to you) in the manner you wish them to be changed?

    I don’t know if scientificis the right word – that implies something rather rigorous. It is more everyday experience – but that is a good reason for believing it is likely to work. Just as I have good reason to suppose that if I use appropriate tools  and techniques a shelf will stay up (well not so very good reason in my case ). I can’t say I ever did a scientific study to back that up!

    2. If “changing the beliefs of others” can be effected in the manner you are attempting – by using perhaps a largely lucky combinatorial string of words that would physically cause the other person to change their belief – aren’t you, in effect, “brainwashing” them … coercing them through physical techniques into changing their views?

    Why largely lucky? All my experience shows that certain types of argument often work. I don’t see why that is brainwashing.  I develop arguments (a BPP), I articulate those arguments as language (a BPP), the other person hopefully understands the language (a BPP) and is convinced by the arguments (a BPP). Remember that materialism is the view that all mental activities including reasoning and understanding are BPPs.

    3. If convincing others to change their mind is not the same as physical coercion under materilism, why not?

    Because physical coercion is forcing someone to do something against their will. I am (hopefully) giving them good reason to change their mind. But being a materialist I believe that having a good reason and acting on it is a BPP.

  38. 38
    Mark Frank says:

    Phinehas

    It is of course true that people can have false beliefs induced by surgical means – although we do not have the sophistication to control what those beliefs are. I am pretty confident that my beliefs are mostly true because they keep on matching up against experience and are consist with each other i.e the same reasons we all have confidence in our beliefs. Of course the whole thing might be an illusion. But that is a philosophical conundrum that confronts all of us – not just materialists.

  39. 39
    Mark Frank says:

    Phinehas

    It is of course true that people can have false beliefs induced by surgical means – although we do not have the sophistication to control what those beliefs are. I am pretty confident that my beliefs are mostly true because they keep on matching up against experience and are consist with each other i.e the same reasons we all have confidence in our beliefs. Of course the whole thing might be an illusion. But that is a philosophical conundrum that confronts all of us – not just materialists.

  40. 40
    DavidD says:

    Upright BiPed
    “Specifically in your case, would it not be more accurate to say that the materialist isn’t interested in the physical structure of communication (signs, symbols) – given the implications?”

    Of course, it’s never ever been about the science. It never was for Darwin, so why would his faithful followers & specifically his Proselytes here on U.D. be any different than their own holy man ?

  41. 41
    Mark Frank says:

    UB

    Specifically in your case, would it not be more accurate to say that the materialist isn’t interested in the physical structure of communication (signs, symbols) – given the implications?

    I am very interested in the way communications work. I think perhaps you are alluding to your specific position on this. I am no longer interested in that as I have seen debated it many, many times.

  42. 42
    Phinehas says:

    Mark Frank:

    WJM: 3. If convincing others to change their mind is not the same as physical coercion under materilism, why not?

    MF: Because physical coercion is forcing someone to do something against their will.

    Against their what? Are the “will” bits privileged in some way over the other bits? Would surgically changing the “will” bits be the same as this nasty “coercion” thing? When you are flipping bits, how is it that some flipping gets categorized differently than other flipping? Does this categorization arise from the physical properties of the bits?

  43. 43
    Upright BiPed says:

    Mark,

    …and yet, you cannot point to a single refutation of the observations made. You know this to be true.

    This is what is meant by “isn’t interested” in the implications.

  44. 44

    Mark F said:

    I don’t know if scientific is the right word – that implies something rather rigorous. It is more everyday experience – but that is a good reason for believing it is likely to work.

    It appears to me that you are saying here that your personal experience with attempting to change the minds of various people via the specific methodology you are now employing has had success in the past, and so you expect it to be successful in the future with other people.

    What do you think your success rate is in changing the minds of IDists and/or creationists, using this online reason/evidence technique?

    Why largely lucky?

    Because you said the BPP was largely not understood, so I assumed that matching the right technique with virtually unknown BPPs would be considered mostly chance.

    All my experience shows that certain types of argument often work.

    As I asked before, how many IDist and/or creationist minds have you changed online using this technique? How many have you attempted to change? What is your success rate?

    I don’t see why that is brainwashing.

    I didn’t think that you would, which is why I asked how you justify your view that they are different.

    My question is: under materialism, how does the use of logic, reason, evidence, in principle, physically differ from what we would call “brainwashing”? Aren’t logic, reason, evidence simply specific uses of language and medium, much like threats, intimidation, repetition, etc., simply forms of physical language input that can cause someone’s beliefs to change, even if they don’t want them to change,, and even if they were perfectly happy with their old beliefs?

    Under materialism, how is reasoned, logical, evidence-based argument in principle different than use of threats, intimidation, repetition, appeal to emotion, rhetoric, jingoism, and other such language-based brainwashing techniques to acquire the change of a particular person’s beliefs?

  45. 45
    Upright BiPed says:

    MF,

    I am very interested in the way communications work.

    You can’t be “very interested” in the structure of communications while at the same time deny a valid model of that structure which you cannot refute.

    Holding both these positions is incoherent.

  46. 46
    Phinehas says:

    Mark Frank:

    It is of course true that people can have false beliefs induced by surgical means

    I think you may have attempted to shift the subject slightly here. We were discussing philosophical beliefs, but your response is more about sensory accuracy, isn’t it?

    Again, do you really believe the following?

    Phin: So, in effect, you are only a surgery away from believing in God? Sure, we don’t understand the biochemistry of the brain enough to pull this off yet, but if we did, all we’d need to do is flip the right bit(s) in your brain, and presto, Mark Frank would be a bible-thumping Creationist?

  47. 47
    Upright BiPed says:

    oops … sorry WJM … I’ll leave it alone.

    Mark is intelligent enough to know being impervious to evidence on this topic is the only solution he has.

  48. 48

    Mark F said:

    Because physical coercion is forcing someone to do something against their will.

    Under materialism, aren’t all things considered “physical”? Your entire case here is that language, minds, arguments are all physical processes. Isn’t all coercion, even that of language, concepts and arguments, physical coercion?

    Mark, do you ask people if they want to have their minds changed before you attempt to physically cause them to change? Or do you recklessly run around the internet throwing arguments around, hoping that your arguments change minds regardless of whether or not those other people want to have their minds changed, and regardless of the potential consequences to those people’s BPPs and their overall lives?

    Do you believe whatever you want to believe, Mark? Or, can a good argument and evidence force you to change your mind and believe something else?

  49. 49
    Mark Frank says:

    Phinehas

    Against their what? Are the “will” bits privileged in some way over the other bits? Would surgically changing the “will” bits be the same as this nasty “coercion” thing? When you are flipping bits, how is it that some flipping gets categorized differently than other flipping? Does this categorization arise from the physical properties of the bits

    It is grossly over-simplifying extremely complicated and poorly understood processes to refer to the “will” bits. There are some mental processes which are voluntary actions and others that are not. Such processes are the result of many billions of interactions in the central nervous system and possibly other parts of the body. It might in principle I suppose be possible to artificially recreate some aspects of that process through surgery/chemicals or whatever which would create deep philosophical, legal and ethical problems. Luckily we are nowhere close to being able to do that.

  50. 50
    Phinehas says:

    Mark Frank:

    As a follow up, have you considered that evolution (that incredible force of nature that both caused the first perfect dragonfly to appear and then also perfected it over the next 300 million years), was responsible for flipping the God-believing bits in our brains to the “on” position in the first place? Have you considered that it may well have done so for the purpose of fitting the human race for survival? Or that misguided attempts to flip these bits “off” (through surgery or other methods) could have a detrimental effect on the work of evolution over millions of years? In other words, why should true beliefs about God be more important to you, me, or the continued evolution of mankind than beliefs that help us survive? Yet you appear to behave as if they are.

  51. 51
    Phinehas says:

    Mark Frank:

    It is grossly over-simplifying extremely complicated and poorly understood processes to refer to the “will” bits.

    How fortunate for materialists to have this complexity as a buffer between their beliefs and reality. If we could examine the will closely enough to see that it was no more than physicochemical states in the end, that might be inconvenient to the supposition that arguments have any sort of logical force to them.

    It might in principle I suppose be possible to artificially recreate some aspects of that process through surgery/chemicals or whatever which would create deep philosophical, legal and ethical problems. Luckily we are nowhere close to being able to do that.

    Whew. We’ve narrowly avoided blundering into the “ethical” bits.

    Wait. Why luckily?

  52. 52
    Mark Frank says:

    WJM. This interrogation is getting rather long and time-consuming. Please understand if I do not respond to everything you write.

    What do you think your success rate is in changing the minds of IDists and/or creationists, using this online reason/evidence technique?

    I was thinking of much more mundane arguments – such as the best way to drive to London airport on a Monday morning. Arguing with people on “deep” issues is rarely successful and I guess we usually do it for other reasons.  I still think my chances of success are a lot higher than they would be through brain surgery! I fail to see what this has to do with materialism.

    Because you said the BPP was largely not understood, so I assumed that matching the right technique with virtually unknown BPPs would be considered mostly chance.

    It is quite common to use a process because it works without understanding how it works. Most people have almost no idea about how the Internet works but happily use it. That doesn’t mean they throw out keystrokes at random and are lucky.

    My question is: under materialism, how does the use of logic, reason, evidence, in principle, physically differ from what we would call “brainwashing”?

    We don’t know nearly enough about the BPPs to describe the processes in terms of chemistry and neurons.

    Aren’t logic, reason, evidence simply specific uses of language and medium, much like threats, intimidation, repetition, etc., simply forms of physical language input that can cause someone’s beliefs to change, even if they don’t want them to change,, and even if they were perfectly happy with their old beliefs?

    If they really don’t want to change their beliefs then I doubt rational argument will do the job. Occasionally people are more interested in having true beliefs than beliefs they are comfortable with and they will be susceptible to argument.  I admit this is quite rare. Again – I fail to see what this has to do with materialism.

  53. 53
    Mark Frank says:

    UB

    You can’t be “very interested” in the structure of communications while at the same time deny a valid model of that structure which you cannot refute.

    Holding both these positions is incoherent.

    That doesn’t actually follow. Nevertheless if someone presented a valid model of that structure then I would very likely find it interesting. I am convinced that yours is not valid and will not waste time going over it again.

  54. 54
    Mark Frank says:

    WJM

    Under materialism, aren’t all things considered “physical”? Your entire case here is that language, minds, arguments are all physical processes. Isn’t all coercion, even that of language, concepts and arguments,physical coercion?

    “Physical” can take on many shades of meaning depending on context. We often contract mental with physical but that doesn’t mean the mental is not a BPP. But if by physical you mean can ultimately be reduced to a BPP then all coercion is physical coercion. That doesn’t meant that every physical process is coercion.

    Mark, do you ask people if they want to have their minds changed before you attempt to physically cause them to change? Or do you recklessly run around the internet throwing arguments around, hoping that your arguments change minds regardless of whether or not those other people want to have their minds changed, and regardless of the potential consequences to those people’s BPPs and their overall lives?
    Do you believe whatever you want to believe, Mark? Or, can a good argument and evidence force youto change your mind and believe something else

    As I said in a previous post many people have beliefs because they feel comfortable with them or want to have them for various reasons. Others want to believe the truth whatever it is. Most people have a mixture of the two. So what?

  55. 55
    Joe says:

    Mark Frank:

    Nevertheless if someone presented a valid model of that structure then I would very likely find it interesting. I am convinced that yours is not valid and will not waste time going over it again.

    LoL! Upright Biped’s model is valid, is supported by the data and only hand-waving or willful ignorance can say otherwise.

  56. 56

    WJM. This interrogation is getting rather long and time-consuming.

    I’m well satisfied with the current state of our exchange – no further “interrogation” necessary. I appreciate your participation.

    I fail to see what this has to do with materialism.

    That’s okay. I never thought you would.

  57. 57
    Joe says:

    If materialism is true then CS Lewis stands- we cannot expect one accumulation of accidents, ie humans, to be able to give a correct accounting of other accumulations of accidents.

  58. 58
    Upright BiPed says:

    MF,

    That doesn’t actually follow. Nevertheless if someone presented a valid model of that structure then I would very likely find it interesting. I am convinced that yours is not valid and will not waste time going over it again.

    Articulate an invalid observation.

    You can’t.

    You know you can’t. And I know you can’t.

  59. 59
    Phinehas says:

    Mark Frank:

    Occasionally people are more interested in having true beliefs than beliefs they are comfortable with and they will be susceptible to argument.

    But why would they ever be more interested in having true beliefs than beliefs that are beneficial to survival? Such an interest would seem ripe for natural selection’s pruning work over deep time, would it not?

  60. 60
    StephenB says:

    SB: What are the physical components of language?

    Mark

    Sounds, written signs, symbols on computer screens etc.

    Mark, I don’t think you are grasping the problems associated with the materialist’s explanation of persuasion. How does he disabuse a person of idea A and replace it with idea B, both of which are reportedly made up of material manifestations of a symbol or language?

    How does he identify the material manifestations that comprised the old message [bits and bytes?, software processes?, computer screens?, sound waves,? Fog horns?, paper and ink?, etc], and how does he decide on which new material manifestations of a symbol or language will displace idea A with idea B?

    How does he replace the old with the new if he doesn’t know exactly what the old is made of? Even if he could find out, how does he know that the physical manifestations of the old idea [bits, bytes, and software] will be changed by physical manifestations of the new idea [ink, paper, or sound waves]?

  61. 61
    Box says:

    StephenB #26: If, according to the materialist, communication and influence are the product of a physical processes, then why does he ignore the physical structure or components of the process that is alleged to be responsible for the opinion the he wants to change, and why does he ignore the structure or components of the physical process that is alleged to be responsible for the message he hopes to put in its place?

    Mark Frank #27: Because he has very little idea how the physical structure works whereas the physical process of language is quite effective.

    StephenB #28: What are the physical components of language?

    Mark Frank #29: Sounds, written signs, symbols on computer screens etc.

    Still, the materialist holds that it is not about meaning of language nor the strength of an argument. Instead it is about the chemical reactions that the physical components of language invoke in the other guy’s brain.
    IOW the materialist doesn’t believe in argumentation, instead he believes in chemical stuff.

    Mark Frank #7: One of things that material minds do is assign meanings to words.

    Even if that is true, that doesn’t make your position any less irrational. Even meaning has no meaning in a purely material world, since meaning reduces to chemical processes. Chemical processes are not interested in meaning and they run the whole show.
    So ultimately it is not about meaning, not about the strength of argument. According to the materialist it’s just about chemical processes.
    IOW the materialist is an irrational debator.

  62. 62
    Popperian says:

    We change our preferences when we adopt new ideas about how the world works, in reality.

    And why do we adopt new ideas? We adopt ideas for which we have the least criticism. For example, I cannot choose to adopt the idea that knowledge (or meaning) comes from authoritative sources due to having been exposed to significant rational criticism of the idea. It’s a bad explanation

    And where do the contents of new ideas come from? Conjectured solutions to problems. And where does specific criticisms come from? We devise tests that we think will expose an error in at least one theory, but not others. These are all creative processes in which we get more out than we put in.

    Was I brainwashed by being exposed to criticism unless the mind isn’t a BPP? This appears to be a false dilemma based on the idea that knowledge, or meaning, comes from infallible, authoritative sources. So, the false dilemma is we can only either be foundationists or disappointed foundationists.

    From this article on Fallibilism….

    Fallibilism, correctly understood, implies the possibility, not the impossibility, of knowledge, because the very concept of error, if taken seriously, implies that truth exists and can be found. The inherent limitation on human reason, that it can never find solid foundations for ideas, does not constitute any sort of limit on the creation of objective knowledge nor, therefore, on progress. The absence of foundation, whether infallible or probable, is no loss to anyone except tyrants and charlatans, because what the rest of us want from ideas is their content, not their provenance: If your disease has been cured by medical science, and you then become aware that science never proves anything but only disproves theories (and then only tentatively), you do not respond “oh dear, I’ll just have to die, then.”

    The theory of knowledge is a tightrope that is the only path from A to B, with a long, hard drop for anyone who steps off on one side into “knowledge is impossible, progress is an illusion” or on the other side into “I must be right, or at least probably right.” Indeed, infallibilism and nihilism are twins. Both fail to understand that mistakes are not only inevitable, they are correctable (fallibly). Which is why they both abhor institutions of substantive criticism and error correction, and denigrate rational thought as useless or fraudulent. They both justify the same tyrannies. They both justify each other.

  63. 63
    Mark Frank says:

    #61 Box

    Still, the materialist holds that it is not about meaning of language nor the strength of an argument. Instead it is about the chemical reactions that the physical components of language invoke in the other guy’s brain

    This is a false dichotomy. The materialist view is that the meaning of language is in the end reducible to mental activities which are BPPs. You obviously don’t agree but there is nothing inconsistent in this view.

  64. 64
    Mark Frank says:

    #61 Box

    Still, the materialist holds that it is not about meaning of language nor the strength of an argument. Instead it is about the chemical reactions that the physical components of language invoke in the other guy’s brain

    This is a false dichotomy. The materialist view is that the meaning of language is in the end reducible to mental activities which are BPPs. You obviously don’t agree but there is nothing inconsistent in this view.

  65. 65
    Mark Frank says:

    I apologise for the duplicate comments. I don’t think it is anything I am doing. I only click Post Comment once.

  66. 66
    Mark Frank says:

    Looking at the various comments above I think there is a basic point to be made.  The same event, process or state can be conceptualised at different levels.

    As a materialist I believe that mental processes and states can in theory be reduced to physical processes and states – this includes meanings, ideas, arguments, beliefs, intentions etc. However, current science is such that we have very little idea how to describe these mental concepts in terms of biology, chemistry and physics. We only know how to describe them using concepts like the ones I have just listed: meanings, ideas, arguments, beliefs, intentions. This is not a theoretical problem for the materialist. There are many things we can describe at one level but struggle to describe at another level. At one time we could only describe disease in terms of temperatures, inflammation, nausea, pulse rate etc with no idea how this manifested itself at the cellular or molecular level. We have made progress there, but still it is often simpler and more effective to think in terms of the larger scale. There are any number of similar examples e.g. you don’t describe ocean currents  in terms of water molecules or give instructions for creating sulphuric acid in terms of subatomic particles. Breathing is an involuntary activity and most of us have no idea what is happening at a biochemical level when we breath – but we still do it and have an effective way of describing it at a level we are familiar with e.g. deep breaths, filling lungs, holding our breath etc.

    Once you accept that then I think supposed philosophical problems to do with the physical manifestation of mental concepts go away.  Of course there are massive practical problems. The biology of mental activity is extremely hard.

  67. 67
    StephenB says:

    Mark

    The materialist view is that the meaning of language is in the end reducible to mental activities which are BPPs.

    When the materialist admits that he can’t identify the physical components that make up his arguments, or the physical components of opinions he wants to change, or the physical components of the attendant mental states of both parties, he is also admitting that he doesn’t know what he is doing when he presumes to persuade anyone. If he knew what he was doing, he would analyze and re-arrange the physical components that he claims are responsible for the hoped-for results.

  68. 68
    Box says:

    Mark Frank: The materialist view is that the meaning of language is in the end reducible to mental activities which are BPPs.

    If the evaluation of the strenght of an argument is identical with 2C + O2 -> 2CO, then the physical properties of the reactants are evaluating the strength of the argument. However physical properties of reactants (and the reactants themselves) are not interested in evaluating anything.
    So indeed, the materialist claims that evaluating the strength of an argument is identical with a totally irrational process, which makes him an irrational debater. Thank you for proving my point.

  69. 69
    Joe says:

    Mark Frank:

    As a materialist I believe that mental processes and states can in theory be reduced to physical processes and states

    What theory would that be?

  70. 70
    Mark Frank says:

    #67 Stephenb

    When the materialist admits that he can’t identify the physical components that make up his arguments, or the physical components of opinions he wants to change, or the physical components of the attendant mental states of both parties, he is also admitting that he doesn’t know what he is doing when he presumes to persuade anyone. If he knew what he was doing, he would analyze and re-arrange the physical components that he claims are responsible for the hoped-for result

    That doesn’t follow at all.  When you send an e-mail you probably cannot identify the physical components that are used to transmit the e-mail (unless you are extremely technical). It doesn’t follow you don’t know what you are doing or that the best way to send an e-mail would be to analyze the components and rearrange them to get the result. See my comment #66 about levels of understanding.
    I am surprised I have to explain this. I would have thought an educated person like yourself would understand this.

  71. 71
    Joe says:

    Mark’s response doesn’t follow from Stephen’s post. If you don’t know how emails are sent then you really don’t know what you are doing when you are sending one.

    I am not surprised that Mark doesn’t understand that simple concept.

  72. 72
    Mung says:

    Popperian:

    For example, I cannot choose to adopt the idea that knowledge (or meaning) comes from authoritative sources due to having been exposed to significant rational criticism of the idea.

    Criticism that came from authoritative sources.

    Oddly enough.

  73. 73
    Mung says:

    Mark Frank:

    As a materialist I believe that mental processes and states can in theory be reduced to physical processes and states – this includes meanings, ideas, arguments, beliefs, intentions etc.

    So you are a nominialist and an anti-realist. No wonder you’re confused.

    Since science presuppses realism, I don’t see how science can offer anything useful to you. Even if you were capable of providing a scientific account, it would contradict your materialism, and perhaps that is the real crux of the problem. It’s not from lack of details.

  74. 74
    Mark Frank says:

    #73 Mung

    Nominalist yes – but how on earth did you conclude I was an anti-realist?

  75. 75
    Box says:

    Box #68: (….) So indeed, the materialist claims that evaluating the strength of an argument is identical with a totally irrational process, which makes him an irrational debater. Thank you for proving my point.

    Mark Frank: … *crickets chirping*

  76. 76
    Mung says:

    Mark Frank:

    Nominalist yes – but how on earth did you conclude I was an anti-realist?

    Thus Nominalism, in both senses, is a kind of anti-realism. For one kind of Nominalism denies the existence, and therefore the reality, of universals and the other denies the existence, and therefore the reality, of abstract objects.

    Nominalism in Metaphysics (SEP)

  77. 77
    Mark Frank says:

    #76 Mung

    I should have been more precise. Anti-realism is a meaningless term unless you specify anti-realist about what. If you mean I am anti-realist about abstract objects and universals then that is exactly the same as saying I am a nominalist and I wondered why you bothered writing:

    So you are a nominialist [sic] and an anti-realist. No wonder you’re confused.

    I rather assumed you meant I was an anti-realist in some sense other than being a nominalist.

  78. 78
    Mung says:

    Mark Frank:

    I should have been more precise.

    Why OUGHT you have been more precise?

    If you mean I am anti-realist about abstract objects and universals then that is exactly the same as saying I am a nominalist

    No, it isn’t exactly the same. There are categories of nominalism (which in itself seems to defeat the entire enterprise). See the previously linked article to SEP.

    I rather assumed you meant I was an anti-realist in some sense other than being a nominalist.

    The one logically follows from the other, and you want to fault me for pointing it out?

    Ought I have been more precise in identifying precisely which kind of anti-realist you are?

    Why?

  79. 79
    Mark Frank says:

    Mung – I am going to leave it at that. I doubt anyone else is reading our little dialogue but I hope they do.

  80. 80
    StephenB says:

    Mark

    When you send an e-mail you probably cannot identify the physical components that are used to transmit the e-mail (unless you are extremely technical).

    The materialist claims to believe that those same material components are the means why which he communicates. Still, he cannot identify those elements, which means that he cannot possibly know what he is doing–until, of course, he confesses (quietly and only to himself) that it is really the non-material arrangements of letters and characters that define his message. It is only then that he, and the receiver of that information, know what he is trying to say.

    No one can receive the material components of a message and know what it means, which means that the sender also cannot know what it means. Indeed, you don’t know, nor do I, all the material components involved in this comment, but you understand it because you also know that it is the non-material elements that define it.

  81. 81
    Mark Frank says:

    #80 StephenB

    The materialist claims to believe that those same material components are the means why which he communicates. Still, he cannot identify those elements, which means that he cannot possibly know what he is doing’–until, of course, he confesses (quietly and only to himself) that it is really the non-material arrangements of letters and characters that define his message. It is only then that he, and the receiver of that information, know what he is trying to say.
    No one can receive the material components of a message and know what it means, which means that the sender also cannot know what it means. Indeed, you don’t know, nor do I, all the material components involved in this comment, but you understand it because you also know that it is the non-material elements that define it.

    There are all sorts of things that are necessary for me to understand your comment – conventions of the English language, sufficient context to interpret your intentions, technology etc.  Did you really think that materialists are not aware of these things? We believe that they can all in theory be reduced to material objects and events (of course there is a whole debate about counts as material but I suggest we don’t tackle that).

  82. 82
    Box says:

    Still no response from Mark Frank 🙁

    Box #68, #75 (….) So indeed, the materialist claims that evaluating the strength of an argument is identical with a totally irrational process, which makes him an irrational debater. Thank you for proving my point.

    … *crickets chirping* …

  83. 83
    Box says:

    A striking example of irrationality:

    For solid evolutionary reasons, we’ve been tricked into looking at life from the inside. Without scientism, we look at life from the inside, from the first-person POV (OMG, you don’t know what a POV is?—a “point of view”). The first person is the subject, the audience, the viewer of subjective experience, the self in the mind.
    Scientism shows that the first-person POV is an illusion. Even after scientism convinces us, we’ll continue to stick with the first person. But at least we’ll know that it’s another illusion of introspection and we’ll stop taking it seriously. We’ll give up all the answers to the persistent questions about free will, the self, the soul, and the meaning of life that the illusion generates.
    The physical facts fix all the facts. The mind is the brain. It has to be physical and it can’t be anything else, since thinking, feeling, and perceiving are physical process—in particular, input/output processes—going on in the brain. We can be sure of a great deal about how the brain works because the physical facts fix all the facts about the brain. The fact that the mind is the brain guarantees that there is no free will. It rules out any purposes or designs organizing our actions or our lives. It excludes the very possibility of enduring persons, selves, or souls that exist after death or for that matter while we live. Not that there was ever much doubt about mortality anyway.

    [A.Rosenberg, “The Atheist’s Guide to Reality”, Ch.9]

  84. 84
    Mark Frank says:

    #82 Box

    Still no response from Mark Frank

    I just noticed this comment. I haven’t been following this thread since Aug 30th. Response to what? It is kind of hard to respond to the phrase “Crickets chirping”.

  85. 85
    Box says:

    Mark Frank #5: The materialist position is that the mind is biology and physics.

    Somehow materialists, like Mark Frank, don’t realize how utterly insane their theory makes them look.

    “The mind is biology and physics …”

    It doesn’t require any effort in order to refute materialism. In order to refute it one just has to point out the simple fact that atoms and molecules are not interested in anything related to the mind, e.g. meaning, logic, truth, understanding or love.
    Materialism fails for a similar reason as the theory that amoebae have written the first bible, which is that amoebae are not interested in writing a bible.

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