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Can neuroscience tell us anything about the mind?

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From the Christian Scientific Society:

Philosopher J. P. Moreland says no:

“The irrelevance of neuroscience for formulating and addressing the fundamental problems in philosophy/theology of mind.”

In the first part of my talk, I will lay out the autonomy and authority theses in philosophy and identify the central questions in the four key areas of the mind/body problem. In the second section, I will show why neuroscience cannot even formulate, much less address these central questions. I will also clarify what it means to say that two or more theories are empirically equivalent and go on to argue that when it comes to the neuroscience of mirror neurons, (1) strict physicalism (2) mere property dualism and (3) substance dualism are empirically equivalent treatments of the scientific data. More.

Historian Gary Patterson responds:

Without question, J.P. Moreland is a philosopher and holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Southern California. Moreland essentially argued that philosophy is the king of human thought and that all scientific activity is subordinate to philosophical thought. While such a position has a long tradition, exactly where philosophy gets its input becomes a real question for Moreland. While he often appeals to Christian theology, his primary appeal is to the Platonic forms, accessible through his sensus philosophicus. While mere scientists must probe the messy world of matter and energy, philosophers can access Truth! As a result, scientists must first consult their local philosopher before they do anything else.

Beyond his area of competence, he wishes to be the creator and arbiter of a new type of human activity: theistic science. He claims to have access to absolute Truth that must be accepted before any type of science is conducted. Since he knows the Truth, he can direct mere scientists and save them from fruitless searches for useless knowledge. This attitude was displayed at the April 2015 CSS Meeting.

While I employ philosophy regularly as a historian, I do not look to philosophy for the source of my presuppositions. More.

From the newsletter:

We’ve deliberately tried to be provocative at the annual meetings, to get people to see where the issues lie.

That’s the right way to be provocative. Too much “Christians-in-sciencing” these days is provocative only insofar as it sounds like a roundabout way of saying God is so great that he need not exist, and everything would be just the same anyway.

See also: AI will make religion obsolete soon? (Messerly: … the only way for there to be a good future is if we save ourselves. No gods will save us because there are no gods—unless we become gods.)

and Science and philosophy not in competition (The article is a bit confused, due to far too much emphasis on what natural selection supposedly did (individual selection vs. group selection looms large), but still worth reading.)

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2 Replies to “Can neuroscience tell us anything about the mind?

  1. 1
    Robert Byers says:

    If we have a soul then neuroscience is a waste of time if its purpose is to find the seat of human thinking. in fact it starts from a rejection of mans historic conclusion we think in a immaterial soul. Its already settled something before its investigated the mind.
    Good trick.
    The bible puts the mind under the soul/heart/spirit. in fact the bible sees the mind as just a tool for thinking. not the thinker. This tool I say is just a memory machine.
    Jesus was put into this memory machine while a man and thats why he had no memory of when he was God and what he new. The bible says Jesus had to grow in wisdom as a kid. This because he had no memory of wisdom when he was God.

  2. 2
    Axel says:

    ‘The bible says Jesus had to grow in wisdom as a kid. This because he had no memory of wisdom when he was God.’

    But that was the purpose of Jesus’ incarnation, Robert: to be fully human, while remaining fully divine in his own right, so that our natural humanity might one day be made divine by adoption through his Holy Spirit – grafted into the true vine, i.e. to become a sort of clone of himself in his Mystical Body.

    However, while God chose to be subject to the limitations of our human nature in Jesus, on occasions when he deemed it necessary to allow his divine nature to be exerted – always for our sake, never for his own, since his whole life was a sacrifice for us. Remember, meanwhile, he had never left his Father’s side in heaven.

    So, it’s all deeply paradoxical and mysterious to the nth degree. Such supernatural paradoxes will no doubt be understood by us in heaven, through the unitive, spiritual intelligence, presumably superposed over a superior version of our analytical intelligence; though I doubt if even a glorified physical brain would be involved. We’ll all, God willling – be plugged into the Holy Spirit, drawing such knowledge as interests us, and the glory of which we are able to tolerate

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