Intelligent Design

Two quotes for the day

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Recently I came across two thought-provoking articles which contained insightful quotes that I wanted to share with my readers. One is from a former magazine writer and editor named Misty, who is now actively involved in home-schooling, and the other is from a theologian and philosopher named Callie Joubert, who holds degrees from the UKZN (Ph.D.), Univ of Johannesburg (D.Phil), Univ of Stellenbosch (M.Phil./B.Phil.) and Unisa (BA).

The first quote comes from an account by Misty of her personal pilgrimage from unbelief to faith:

I had lived as an avowed atheist for more than a decade and couldn’t imagine that The Truth even existed, much less it could be found. Especially when I couldn’t even accept that God was real.

Fortunately, God literally changed my mind about Him with a thunderbolt. One day, I was reading an article about the human genome project (I was a technical writer), when I was drawn to look at my own hand. What had before been a clever machine of flesh and bone was suddenly revealed to me as a pure miracle of creation. It was truly that instant; one second I was an atheist, and the next I was a believer. I knew with absolute certainty that only an intelligent designer–God–could have created something as incredible as me!

But accepting God’s existence didn’t solve anything; in fact, it created new problems. I’ve had friends who are Deists, who believe God created the universe (including humanity) and then left it alone…much like a clockmaker might create a masterful clock he sets into motion and then ignores. To me, it was simply unthinkable that God would create the glorious universe–including all the amazing people such as my husband–and then just walk away. I realized that the beauty that had brought tears to my eyes even as an atheist could only be interpreted as the uniquely personal stamp of a loving God who delighted in His creation. If God created the majestic earth, gave us the joy of music, and gave me the mind to appreciate it, then it made no sense that he’d create all that just to turn His back on it.

I found Misty’s chronicle of her personal journey very moving.

The second quote comes from an article in the Answers Research Journal (published by Answers in Genesis) titled, “Christians, the Brain, and Person: Conceptual Confusion, Unintelligibility, and Implications.” I would recommend the article to readers who are interested in the mind-body problem. It concludes as follows:

Neuroscientists (and many Christians) assume that the brain has a wide variety of capacities: the brain interprets and stores information, recognizes symbols, analyzes, thinks, believes, knows, designs computers, determines what is true, paints pictures, deciphers images, analyzes, prioritizes, learns, understands, remembers, and makes decisions. I have attempted to show why I think all such thinking and talking is incorrect, incoherent, and unintelligible, and what some of the implications are if Christians adopt the thinking and way of talking about the brain as most neuroscientists do. The initial reaction of readers may well be indignation and incredulity. Of first importance is for Christians to be careful not to convert the wine of Scripture into the water of neuroscience. Of second importance for Christians interested in understanding the brain is to understand the moving spirit behind neuroscience. And of third importance is to realize that conceptual clarity contributes to understanding what is known, and to clarity in the formulations concerning what is not known.

A person or self (a soul), as I have argued, is not a brain. Mental (psychological), moral, and spiritual properties define us as the kind of things we are. In simple terms, human beings are created in the image of their Creator (Genesis 1:27–28; James 2:7), to be like Him, meaning imitating and mirroring Him—spiritually, intellectually, and morally—in and through their bodies. Christians therefore accept their Creator as a paradigm Person, and accept God as ontologically, epistemologically, and morally analogous with themselves. A human being is a unity of an immaterial soul or spirit and a material body. A person is self-conscious and not brain-conscious, and needs no knowledge of the brain to function as an imitator of God (cf. Ephesians 5:1). The brain, no doubt, makes it possible for us (not the brain!), to sense, perceive, think, reason, believe, feel, learn, know, understand, remember, and decide, and hopefully, to change our minds about how we think and talk about a person and the brain.

Much food for thought there.

Comments are welcome.

17 Replies to “Two quotes for the day

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    I like this comment:

    when I was drawn to look at my own hand. What had before been a clever machine of flesh and bone was suddenly revealed to me as a pure miracle of creation. It was truly that instant; one second I was an atheist, and the next I was a believer.

    Reminds me of this humorous song:

    Life Got You Down? Just Remember You Got Opposable Thumbs! – music video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_s8y9a12saU

    🙂

    Nut seriously, here are few testimonies I’ve collected:

    Jennifer Fulwiler: Scientific Atheism to Christ – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aw8uUOPoi2M

    What caused Jennifer Fulwiler to question her atheism to begin with? It was the birth of her first child. She says that when she looked at her child, the only way her atheist mind could explain the love that she had for him was to assume it was the result of nothing more than chemical reactions in her brain. However, in the video I linked above, she says:

    “And I looked down at him, and I realized that’s not true.”

    Or as CS Lewis succinctly put it:

    “Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.”
    CS Lewis – Mere Christianity

    Even Kristen Powers, the liberal democrat who is often called upon to counter Bill O’Reilly’s conservative point of view on Fox News, had a powerful experience that turned her from her atheism to Christianity.

    Kirsten Powers’ Reluctant Journey from Atheism to Christian – 2013
    Excerpt: Then something very unusual happened to Powers on a trip to Taiwan in 2006.
    “I woke up in what felt like a strange cross between a dream and reality. Jesus came to me and said, ‘Here I am.’,,,
    Powers doesn’t recall what Kathy Keller taught on that day, but when she left the Bible study she knew everything had changed. “I’ll never forget standing outside that apartment on the Upper East Side and saying to myself, ‘It’s true. It’s completely true.’ The world looked entirely different, like a veil had been lifted off it. I had not an iota of doubt. I was filled with indescribable joy.”,,,
    “Everywhere I turned, there He was. Slowly there was less fear and more joy.
    http://crossmap.christianpost......stian-6355

    The following video is a beautiful testimony in explaining the difference between merely knowing about Jesus and having a personal knowledge of Jesus:

    Have You Experienced Jesus – Episode 8 – video
    Excerpt: At the 6:40 minute mark of this video, Kay Sorenson a former Las Vegas Singer at the age of 46 had an amazing born again experience
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNcXkMxQjDU&feature=player_detailpage#t=400s

    Even John Lennox talks of ‘small’ coincidental miracles:

    One of John Lennox´s Great Personal Stories Told to Harvard Students – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wh0M0EG2jKY

    Dr. Craig weighs in here:

    God Can Be Personally Known and Experienced – Dr. Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWL5QhBQB30

    I’ve had my own ‘moment of clarity’ when I finally realized that God is indeed ‘personal’:

    Strange But True – Miracle Testimony
    https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AYmaSrBPNEmGZGM4ejY3d3pfNTNocmRjZGtkdg&hl=en

  2. 2
    RDFish says:

    The brain, no doubt, makes it possible for us (not the brain!), to sense, perceive, think, reason, believe, feel, learn, know, understand, remember, and decide, and hopefully, to change our minds about how we think and talk about a person and the brain.

    Indeed! We have no reason to suspect that anything could do any of these things without a brain (or some other highly complex physical mechanism capable of storing and processing information). That makes it impossible for something with these mental attributes to have produced the very first complex physical organisms, and that makes ID false.

    Also, VJT, you suggested in a recent thread that definition for “intelligence” in the context of ID was something that can select among options and “explain its reasons”. Can you suggest a way we might scientifically ascertain that the Designer of Life was capable of explaining His reasons? Thanks! (I’m dying to find out why He created so many different kinds of beetles!)

    Cheers,
    RDFIsh

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    RDF, you consistently ignore the evidence of a fine tuned cosmos, which has been pointed out to you, as well as that of the categorical difference between computation and contemplation. I simply note that our designed cosmos points, at root to designer beyond matter-energy composite entities. KF

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    J. Warner Wallace, an ex-homicide detective and author of ‘Cold Case Christianity’, utilizes the ‘law of identity’ to separate properties of the mind from properties of the brain, and to thus demonstrate that the mind is not the same thing as the brain:

    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/

    Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor lists the same six properties of mind that are not reducible to brain states here:

    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

    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

    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

    Another argument for the mind/soul is the ‘argument from divisibility’:

    Case for the Existence of the Soul – (Argument from Divisibility at 38:20 minute mark) – JP Moreland – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....age#t=2299

    hemispherectomies are rather dramatic, and convincing, empirical confirmation for the ‘argument from divisibility’ for the mind/soul:

    Dr. Gary Mathern – What Can You Do With Half A Brain? – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrKijBx_hAw

    Removing Half of Brain Improves Young Epileptics’ Lives:
    Excerpt: “We are awed by the apparent retention of memory and by the retention of the child’s personality and sense of humor,” Dr. Eileen P. G. Vining; In further comment from the neuro-surgeons in the John Hopkins study: “Despite removal of one hemisphere, the intellect of all but one of the children seems either unchanged or improved. Intellect was only affected in the one child who had remained in a coma, vigil-like state, attributable to peri-operative complications.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/1997/08.....lives.html

    Strange but True: When Half a Brain Is Better than a Whole One – May 2007
    Excerpt: Most Hopkins hemispherectomy patients are five to 10 years old. Neurosurgeons have performed the operation on children as young as three months old. Astonishingly, memory and personality develop normally. ,,,
    Another study found that children that underwent hemispherectomies often improved academically once their seizures stopped. “One was champion bowler of her class, one was chess champion of his state, and others are in college doing very nicely,” Freeman says.
    Of course, the operation has its downside: “You can walk, run—some dance or skip—but you lose use of the hand opposite of the hemisphere that was removed. You have little function in that arm and vision on that side is lost,” Freeman says. Remarkably, few other impacts are seen. ,,,
    http://www.scientificamerican......than-whole

    i.e. if the mind of a person were merely the brain, as materialists hold, then if half of a brain were removed then a ‘person’ should only be ‘half the person’, or at least somewhat less of a ‘person’, as they were before, but that is not the case. The ‘whole person’ stays intact even though the brain/body suffers severe impairment during a hemispherectomy.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    Moreover, per Decartes ‘I Think therefore I am’, the fact that we have a mind is the most sure thing that we can know about reality. Materialism is at a complete loss to explain how consciouness ’emerges from a materialistic basis. Materialism’s sheer inability to account for our subjective sense of self, i.e. consciousness, is known as the ‘hard problem of consciousness’:

    David Chalmers is semi-famous for being able to get the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness across to lay people in a very easy to understand manner:

    David Chalmers on Consciousness (Philosophical Zombies and the Hard Problem) – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK1Yo6VbRoo

    a bit more in-depth look at the ‘hard problem’ is here:

    The impossible Problem of Consciousness – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FglKcWBKEu8

    Here are a few more comments, from leading atheists, who agree with Chalmers on the insolubility of ‘hard problem’ of consciousness,,

    Darwinian Psychologist David Barash Admits the Seeming Insolubility of Science’s “Hardest Problem”
    Excerpt: ‘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
    – per UD News

    “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

    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. Since minds are features of biological systems that have developed through evolution, the standard materialist version of evolutionary biology is fundamentally incomplete. And the cosmological history that led to the origin of life and the coming into existence of the conditions for evolution cannot be a merely materialist history.
    http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/pro.....9919758.do

    Moreover, advances in quantum mechanics have verified that consciousness precedes material reality and does not emerge from material reality:

    ,due to advances in quantum mechanics, the argument for God from consciousness can now be 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.

    Four intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1G_Fi50ljF5w_XyJHfmSIZsOcPFhgoAZ3PRc_ktY8cFo/edit

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

    That consciousness (mind/soul) can exist apart from the body is verified by Near Death Experience testimonies. Moreover, the evidence from those Near Death testimonies is far more robust in its empirical integrity than any ‘observational’ evidence for Darwinian evolution is:

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species (or origin of life), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

    “A recent analysis of several hundred cases showed that 48% of near-death experiencers reported seeing their physical bodies from a different visual perspective. Many of them also reported witnessing events going on in the vicinity of their body, such as the attempts of medical personnel to resuscitate them (Kelly et al., 2007).”
    Kelly, E. W., Greyson, B., & Kelly, E. F. (2007). Unusual experiences near death and related phenomena. In E. F. Kelly, E. W. Kelly, A. Crabtree, A. Gauld, M. Grosso, & B. Greyson, Irreducible mind (pp. 367-421). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

    Ironically, researchers, who were apparently atheistic/materialistic in their philosophy, set up some tests to prove that Near Death Experiences were merely imaginary. Their results, to put it mildly, were not what they expected:

    ‘Afterlife’ feels ‘even more real than real,’ researcher says – Wed April 10, 2013
    Excerpt: “If you use this questionnaire … if the memory is real, it’s richer, and if the memory is recent, it’s richer,” he said.
    The coma scientists weren’t expecting what the tests revealed.
    “To our surprise, NDEs were much richer than any imagined event or any real event of these coma survivors,” Laureys reported.
    The memories of these experiences beat all other memories, hands down, for their vivid sense of reality. “The difference was so vast,” he said with a sense of astonishment.
    Even if the patient had the experience a long time ago, its memory was as rich “as though it was yesterday,” Laureys said.
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/09/.....periences/

    Thus, overall, the evidence for the Theistic view of reality, besides being multifaceted, is extremely robust in its empirical integrity, whereas the evidence for the materialistic view of reality, i.e. that life and mind ’emerge’ from a materialistic basis, is non-existent.

    Verse and Music:

    Mark 12:30
    Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

    Shatter Me Featuring Lzzy Hale – Lindsey Stirling
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49tpIMDy9BE

  6. 6
    RDFish says:

    Hi KF,

    RDF, you consistently ignore the evidence of a fine tuned cosmos

    No, I don’t ignore this at all. I think it is a fascinating question what caused the values of the physical constants to be what they are.

    At present, we don’t know anything about the cause of the universe. There’s no good reason to think that it was conscious, or had beliefs, desires, intentions, emotions, or any other particular attribute of human beings. There’s no good reason to think that it was the sort of thing that could think, plan, hope, anticipate, love, or hate. We have no good reason to think the cause of the universe was sentient in any way, and some reason to think that it wasn’t (unless it had a human-like brain, which wouldn’t really make sense).

    My guess is that the cause of the universe is unknowable. Maybe our trying to imagine what the cause of the universe was like is a bit like a mouse trying to understand calculus. It’s just a cognitive non-starter.

    I understand that religious people argue about these things all the time, and have since history began. But if you’re going to talk about science, there’s just nothing to go on here: Nobody can possibly figure out how to tell if the cause of the universe could explain its reasons, or if it was even aware of what it was doing. Human beings are aware, have emotions, can learn, can see and hear, and so on, but whatever caused the universe, it sure wasn’t a human being.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  7. 7
    Robert Byers says:

    AMEN. We are just souls. Our hearst are priority conclusions and our minds priority memories.
    Our memory is the thing to enlarge as a machine in understanding human thought.
    We ONLY read our memory for its translation from our senses.
    Our memory is everything We are trapped in it until death.
    This is all important because healing could be furthered if all mental problems were not seen as brain problems but merely triggering problems with the memory.
    I think drugs could fix everything.

  8. 8
    StephenA says:

    At present, we don’t know anything about the cause of the universe.

    That is not quite correct. We know that it caused the universe. And learning about causes by studying the effects they create is foundational to science.

    My guess is that the cause of the universe is unknowable. Maybe our trying to imagine what the cause of the universe was like is a bit like a mouse trying to understand calculus. It’s just a cognitive non-starter.

    This is not an unreasonable position for a non-theist to take, but this is a belief founded in philosophy, not science.

    It also leads one to the question “If the cause of the universe is unknowable, why do we believe anything is knowable at all?”

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    RDF: There you go again, recategorising an empirically based inductive inference as “religious,” at least through guilt by implicitly invidious association. And, the fact that such an issue as fine tuning pointing to design of cosmos is on the table, implies that the attempt to demand a computing, material substrate to discuss mindedness and design, is a begging of big questions. KF

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: you also need to re-examine the GIGO principle, as it relates to hard and soft ware. Because materially based computation is a blind material process resting on signal/glyph flows and mechanical processing, and is a manifestation of FSCO/I, it is critically dependent on separate intelligent and sound design. If anything is out of whack, the blind process will churn out garbage results. So, brains, just like logic gate/switch processors and Thomson mechanical integrator cascades, etc, is not self explanatory. Nor are blind chance and necessity driven trial and error processes feasible as designers. Where also, design is therefore evident from tested reliable signs such as FSCO/I, and points beyond itself to purpose, skill and creative designing imagination. None of which are algorithmic, but instead point to contemplative, volitional, actively oracular conscious intelligence. As an example, the text of your post, if it were the product of a blind mechanical and/or chance process, would reliably have been garbage and if by beyond astronomically improbable luck it occurred without contemplative mind, it would be utterly a-rational and literally meaningless. If it came about be programming, that simply pushes the design back one step. On the cosmos, the underlying physics, on OBSERVATIONS, shows fine tuning, and that points to extra-cosmic mind. And that is beyond opinion and say-so games.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: On similar physically anchored analysis, functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information point to design. Blind chance and mechanical necessity as search mechanisms for config spaces, simply cannot search enough of a space for 500 bits [solar system] or 1,000 bits [observed cosmos] to be appreciably different from zero. As in a one straw size sample from a cubical haystack as thick as our galaxy and beyond. But, over years, it has been made abundantly clear that determined objectors are impervious to such sampling challenge analysis. Which in the end is simple. That leads to the unfortunately well warranted conclusion that we are dealing with a priori ideological commitments and rhetoric in defense, not reasonable responsiveness.

  12. 12
    Axel says:

    Loved your litany of ‘no good reason’s, RDF! You really stuck it to them, there…

    I’ll bet if God grabbed you by the throat, you’d try to tell Him you’d no good reason to believe he existed, and to let go of your throat. ‘Please…?’

  13. 13
    Barry Arrington says:

    Awareness of the subjective self that is aware has been called the “primordial datum.” It can be denied only on pain of descent into absurdity on the order of “I do not believe that I exist.” Sadly, these pages have seen all too many who have rushed eagerly off that particular cliff.

  14. 14
    Joe says:

    There’s no good reason to think that it was conscious, or had beliefs, desires, intentions, emotions, or any other particular attribute of human beings.

    Maybe not for you but to people who can understand the evidence there is plenty of good reasons to think that it was intentional.

    As I said, thankfully RDF is not an investigator nor has any say wrt science.

  15. 15
    OldArmy94 says:

    RDF, I encourage you to take a look at some of the writings of Ed Feser. He is a philosopher and classical theist, and he does a great job of explaining why we have NO rational or reasonable alternative than to believe in God.

    Here are a couple of YouTube videos by Dr. Feser that layout the framework. These are lengthy, so give yourself about 3 hours for all of it:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1Dkp1U9pek
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-O40N4nNGUc

    Of course, there are brilliant scholars like KF here on this site, and others like William Lane Craig elsewhere, who also do a fantastic job of explaining the certainty of a Divine Creator.

  16. 16
    vjtorley says:

    Hi RDFish,

    Thank you very much for your comments. I’ll be putting up a post in reply to your criticisms in about 16 hours. Stay tuned! Have a good day.

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    Jewel – Hands (Official Video)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfsS3pIDBfw

    “I was drawn to look at my own hand. What had before been a clever machine of flesh and bone was suddenly revealed to me as a pure miracle of creation. It was truly that instant; one second I was an atheist, and the next I was a believer.”

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