Atheism Science

Who said this? “Only an idiot can be an atheist.”

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Christian B. Anfinsen, c1969

In response to the question, “Many prominent scientists – including Darwin, Einstein, and Planck – have considered the concept of God very seriously. What are your thoughts on the concept of God and on the existence of God?” American Nobelist in Chemistry (1972) Christian B. Anfinsen (1916-1995) replied:

“I think only an idiot can be an atheist. We must admit that there exists an incomprehensible power or force with limitless foresight and knowledge that started the whole universe going in the first place.” – 1972 Nobel Prize for Chemistry

– cited in Margenau and Varghese, ‘Cosmos, Bios, Theos’, 1997, 139)

Other interesting reflections here. Thoughts? We have atheists among our commenters.

49 Replies to “Who said this? “Only an idiot can be an atheist.”

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    Thoughts? We have atheists among our commenters.

    Theism and Atheism – We don’t discourage discussion of the implications ID or evolutionary theories have on religious or irreligious beliefs. We do discourage preaching‚ proselytizing for a particular faith or attacking one. This includes atheistic faith.

  2. 2
    uoflcard says:

    I wouldn’t call an atheist an “idiot”, but I think many have a blend of pride and ignorance…pride in that they think we can boil everything down to laws and chance and ignorance in that they really believe science strongly supports their atheism. I also think many have bought the fallacious argument that the debate is biblical literalism vs. “science” (a.k.a. atheism), that only one can be right, but one MUST be right. So since the Earth is over 6,000 years old, science/reason/atheism wins and it is the only reasonable position. This also applies to the thought process that common descent proves Darwinism right. And then there are the atheists who simply hate religion and blame all/most wars and conflicts on it; this is especially ignorant of human nature…do you not think people would kill over something else if everyone on Earth was an atheist?

    From my point of view, I see brilliant designs littered throughout the cosmos, a need for some explanation of the existence of everything beyond what it contains (i.e., beyond the laws of physics), and my own mind, which I am utterly convinced is not an electrochemical computer and is not reducible to the laws of physics; I see these things and know that I do not have the faith to be an atheist.

  3. 3
    William J. Murray says:

    I would say that strong atheism is patently irrational, since there is no evidence that a god of any sort doesn’t exist, and that weak atheism, in light of all evidence and arguments for god, is also necessarily irrational.

    One can be ignorant of the arguments and evidence for theism, and be a rational weak atheist, IMO.

    But we all have our areas of irrationality, I would suppose, and I’d hate to think that such irrationalities make me an “idiot”. But then, having once been an atheist, I’d rather not see myself as having been an idiot.

  4. 4
    News says:

    Yes, Mung, good point. We hope to spark constructive discussion here.

  5. 5
    allanius says:

    “The fool says in his heart there is no God.”

  6. 6
    WilliamRoache says:

    William,

    I would say that strong atheism is patently irrational, since there is no evidence that a god of any sort doesn’t exist

    Are there any other things where there is also no evidence that those things don’t exist?

    What else is in that set?

  7. 7
    Upright BiPed says:

    WR,

    If you like trivial debating points, then there are lots of things that fit in “that set”.

    However, over here in the real world, there is abundant obseverable evidence that the idea of a God existing is a real live possibility. To the extent that ID can be seen to play a role in that inference, it can be easily said that the evidence for some sort of agency existing prior to Life on Earth is almost overwhelming.

  8. 8
    William J. Murray says:

    WilliamRoache,

    There are lots of things where there is no evidence that such things do not exist. A good policy is not to claim such things do not exist (equivalent to strong atheism), but rather just to say that one is either unaware of evidence for that thing, or is aware of evidence that one finds non-compelling.

    It’s best to keep one’s claims in such matters supportable, which is why strong atheism is not a rational position.

  9. 9
    mike1962 says:

    I have several atheist friends. None of them are idiots. All belief systems and worldviews are ultimate irrational. What you are attracted to is apparently largely a matter of subconscious proclivities. You roll your dice and you take your chances.

    No reason to fling poop around.

  10. 10
    SCheesman says:

    I’m with mike1962. Isn’t there enough vitriol without coming up with quotes like these to “discuss”?

    Come to think of it… can we filter the number of posts down to a couple or three a day?

  11. 11
    bdp says:

    A question I’m starting to wander is:

    How much can we really be sure about in general?

    and also:

    When does the line stop from observational seeing and knowing and cross into speculation?

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    News:

    I express my discomfort with the headline.

    I do think (on grounds as I am linking) that evolutionary materialism, the worldview that is the basis for today’s “scientific” atheism is inherently and inescapably self-referentially incoherent, per reductio ad absurdum.

    In saying that I am echoing say Haldane, in 1927:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. ]

    GEM of TKI

  13. 13
    News says:

    Chill out, guys. That Nobelist said it. Demonstrating that atheists are not the only ones who can/do talk that way. Comments will be closed if discussion would not be constructive.

    SCheesman at 10: If we cut down the number of posts, we would be doing a disservice to the many readers who have joined us since we ramped up our coverage.

    We ramped up our coverage due to increasing news volume.

  14. 14
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    The old adage that everyone is an atheist about most gods, atheists just go one stage further is not as glib as it sounds.

    To turn your question round: what kind of god would it not be idiotic to postulate?

    I came to the conclusion that there was no god that any regular theist would recognise as a god that it would not be idiotic to postulate 🙂

    Well, not “idiotic” but, at best unnecessary, and, at worst, self-contradictory.

    But I’d be very interested to hear of some candidates I perhaps have not considered 🙂

  15. 15
    Mung says:

    But I’d be very interested to hear of some candidates I perhaps have not considered

    Why not put yourself in the running for being god?

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    Dr Liddle:

    The old strawmannish atheist saw has long passed sell-by date, I am afraid.

    It is not that theists disbelieve in the various gods that were suggested in the days of pagan polytheism, but that theists have serious reasons to believe in the one God who is the good Creator and Lord who is the necessary being behind the cosmos. So, the argument for theism is a positive one, not a denial.

    The atheist’s saw distorts the picture materially, almost as badly as their common assertion that “there is no evidence [that I am willing to accept] for God.”

    GEM of TKI

  17. 17
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    kf:

    but that theists have serious reasons to believe in the one God who is the good Creator and Lord who is the necessary being behind the cosmos. So, the argument for theism is a positive one, not a denial.

    Well, I understand (to a point) the concept of “a necessary being behind the cosmos” (in the sense that the question “why is there something rather than nothing” is a valid question), but why should we identify this being* with the “good… Lord”?

    *F/N Indeed why need it be a “being” all? Could it not, more sensibly, be a “not-being”, since it was, in some sense, prior to “being”?

    (Not saying you do not have answers to these questions, but that they are my questions :))

  18. 18
    junkdnaforlife says:

    Kairosfocus: “The old strawmannish atheist saw has long passed sell-by date, I am afraid.”

    If you remember anything about the O.J Simpson trial, you will recall Johnny Cochran’s famous, “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit!”

    How powerful and persuasive that simple talking point was. Enough so to distract the jurors from the complicated, and compelling forensic evidence against O.J. There is reason strawmen are paraded around. They work well with the masses of laymen. But as we see, the house of cards crumbles down as soon as the curtain is pulled away and proper pressure is applied. As evidenced by WLC intellectual dry humping of the best collective global arguments the brightest atheists have produced. Is Dawkings still hiding under his bed?

  19. 19
    lastyearon says:

    It’s not just that there’s no evidence that g-d exists. It’s that there’s plenty of positive evidence that the concept of g-d is a product of our minds:

    – He meets our most basic needs. He answers our prayers. He heals the sick. He gives us eternal life. He destroys our enemies. He provides us with a moral code. He explains the universe and why we exist.

    – His characteristics have changed over the years, and are different between cultures. He is tribal. He is corporeal. He is personal. He is transcendent. He is loving. He is vengeful. etc.

    – His direct involvement with the world has diminished as we learn more about nature.

  20. 20
    Upright BiPed says:

    lastyear,

    It’s not just that there’s no evidence that g-d exists. It’s that there’s plenty of positive evidence that the concept of g-d is a product of our minds:

    Allow me to parse: “There is evidence that God really exist, but we probably made him up anyway.”

    I wonder lastyear, does it occur to you that you are stepping over empirical scientific evidence in order to present a theological argument?

  21. 21
    Mung says:

    He answers our prayers. He heals the sick. He gives us eternal life. He destroys our enemies. He provides us with a moral code. He explains the universe and why we exist.

    If only He did so at our whim. But alas.

    He meets our most basic needs.

    True. But our most basic needs aren’t what you think they are.

  22. 22
    junkdnaforlife says:

    “His direct involvement with the world has diminished as we learn more about nature.”

    This is 19th century thinking. The glory days of atheism. We stand now, thanks to 20th century science, from the perspective of what is understood about the universe, at about 96% (unknown) to 4% (known). And that is granting that every alleged material manifestation from the first replicating cell, to the human mind, has been worked out. Which we all know, have not been. So the real numbers are more likely: 97.5% to 2.5%. Filling in the tiny 2.5% gap with science.

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    as to this quote:

    ‘- His direct involvement with the world has diminished as we learn more about nature.’

    This is a false statement, for the more we learn about nature the more direct God’s involvement is required to be:

    “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)

    Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

  24. 24
    Meleagar says:

    I always find it tellling when atheists make the unsupportable claim “there is no evidence for god” … not only an impossible claim to support, but factually untrue.

    Testimony is evidence by definition. Logical argument is evidence by definition. And then we have the fine tuning scientific evidence.

    There’s plenty of evidence for a god (god as first cause/sufficient cause, creator of a fine-tuned cosmos, source of free will & good); and – as far as I know – no positive evidence that there is no god.

    One must willfully ignore or simply dismiss the monumental ocean of evidence for god, or simply be ignorant of it, in order to simply maintain a weak atheist position.

    Strong atheism, however, in the face of such evidence, is simply prideful defiance … or madness.

  25. 25
    Barb says:

    The scripture in Psalm 14 was already partially quoted above where the Bible refers to an atheist as ‘a fool.’

    Romans 1:20 also comes to mind, particularly in light of the strong evidence from science that to not infer a creator is ‘inexcusable.’

  26. 26
    Barb says:

    mike1962: “All belief systems and worldviews are ultimate irrational. What you are attracted to is apparently largely a matter of subconscious proclivities. You roll your dice and you take your chances.”

    All belief systems are irrational? Then why believe anything at all?

  27. 27
    mike1962 says:

    Barb: All belief systems are irrational? Then why believe anything at all?

    You can’t help it.

  28. 28
    mike1962 says:

    lastyearon: It’s not just that there’s no evidence that g-d exists. It’s that there’s plenty of positive evidence that the concept of g-d is a product of our minds

    Tell that to someone who has had a powerful encounter with God. If the Israelites really did see that “mountain burning with fire” and the “smokey pillar by day and the firey pillar by night” and you were somehow able to transport yourself back in time to the point just after all the Divine Special Effects had disappeared, you’d probably have a difficult time convincing them.

    Do powerful Divine Encounters still happen today? You’ll never know. You seem to think that you have the right to be privy to everything that’s going on here on planet earth. (Ah, that’s one of the effects of the egalitarian minded world we live in.) Well, you’re not. And believe me, anyone fortunate enough to be in such a group is not interested in your gainsaying. In other words, you opinion doesn’t have anything to do with the reality of the situation, except to say that you have no experience in that area. That’s *all* your comment means.

  29. 29
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Can someone explain to me why it is reasonable to conclude that God is good?

    In other words, leaving aside arguments that God is a necessary being, and only by positing God can we explain fine-tuning – let’s say I accept these arguments – why should I believe that this same God is good?

  30. 30
    Ilion says:

    EL:Can someone explain to me why it is reasonable to conclude that God is good?

    In other words, leaving aside arguments that God is a necessary being …

    Asking/expecting someone to leave aside arguments that God is [the] necessary being, while asking him to explain why/how we can know that God is good, is an expression either of ignorance or of dishonesty.

    To put it in terms that perhaps you may be able to grasp, if would be like saying to you, “Leaving aside arguments about ‘differential reproductive success,’ can you explain to me why it is reasonable to conclude that Darwinism essentially/accurately describes biological reality?”

  31. 31
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Ilion

    Asking/expecting someone to leave aside arguments that God is [the] necessary being, while asking him to explain why/how we can know that God is good, is an expression either of ignorance or of dishonesty.

    I am more than willing to admit to the forwer, but declare my self innocent of the latter. I am not dishonest. It’s one of the reasons I don’t mind being thought ignorant – I would rather ask an honest question and be thought ignorant (which would be perfectly true) than fail to ask it and remain in ignorance.

    That’s why I asked 🙂

    To put it in terms that perhaps you may be able to grasp, if would be like saying to you, “Leaving aside arguments about ‘differential reproductive success,’ can you explain to me why it is reasonable to conclude that Darwinism essentially/accurately describes biological reality?”

    Well, if you did say that, I would try to explain exactly why you cannot not divorce the concept of differential reproductive success from the concept of “Darwinism” as Darwin’s hypothesis to account for the Origin of Species was differential reproductive success (aka natural selection).

    So if you think the concept of an omnipotent creator God is as inseparable from the concept of a benevolent interventionist God, as I regard the concept of “Darwinism” (aka differential reproductive success as the mechanism of evolution) is inseparable from the concept of, well, differential reproductive success as the mechanism of evolution, then can you explain why this should be so?

    Because, ignorant or stupid though I may be, I don’t see it!

    Why must a being who is omnipotent also be benevolent?

  32. 32
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Meleager:

    I always find it tellling when atheists make the unsupportable claim “there is no evidence for god” … not only an impossible claim to support, but factually untrue.

    Except that what they mean is that there is no evidence that is not explicable by non-God alternate hypotheses.

    Yes, there is evidence for God, just as there was evidence for phlogiston, and evidence that helium balloons violate gravity.

    But the latter data had better alternative explanations. Atheists who say there is “no evidence for God” are really saying that the evidence advanced for God is not good evidence.

    We can disagree about this, but I think it’s important to be clear what the argument actually is.

    Testimony is evidence by definition. Logical argument is evidence by definition. And then we have the fine tuning scientific evidence.

    Well, “argument” is usually cited in addition to evidence, rather than “as” evidence. You need both evidence and argument to make a case.

    Testimony is indeed evidence, as is “fine tuning”. And indeed there are interesting arguments as to why these are compelling evidence for God. There are also counter-arguments.

    I find them more persuasive 🙂

    There’s plenty of evidence for a god (god as first cause/sufficient cause)

    This is argument rather than evidence, and I think it is a flawed one – one might agree (or might not) that a first cause is “necessary” but why should that first cause be a benevolent god?

    creator of a fine-tuned cosmos

    Not sure I’d want to put too much weight on that. It’s a bit “god of the gaps” – we don’t yet know just how “fine-tuned” our universe is, nor whether it is simply that the only observable universe, or universe region must, by definition, be a universe or region with constants that are compatible with the emergence of observers.

    source of free will & good

    Why is this evidence for God? What is the argument?

    and – as far as I know – no positive evidence that there is no god.

    Well, absence of evidence is evidence for the absence of a god who makes himself known 🙂

    One must willfully ignore or simply dismiss the monumental ocean of evidence for god, or simply be ignorant of it, in order to simply maintain a weak atheist position.

    I don’t think so. I don’t consider the evidence and/or arguments you have presented here “monumental”. And I still haven’t seen an argument that the god who is supposed to be in evidence is a good God.

    I have evidence for goodness. I might (I guess) be persuaded there is evidence for a creator god.

    I have no evidence that the two have the same source.

    Strong atheism, however, in the face of such evidence, is simply prideful defiance … or madness.

    No, I don’t think so. There are other possibilities. I’d call myself a strong atheist (in the sense that I am also a strong-there-is-no-teapot-orbiting-the-sun-ist).

    I don’t think I am especially prideful. After all, when I came to that position, I had a fair bit of humble pie to eat. I ate it nonetheless.

    And I don’t think I’m mad. You may differ in your assessment 🙂

  33. 33
    Ilion says:

    EL:I am more than willing to admit to the forwer, but declare my self innocent of the latter. I am not dishonest.

    I didn’t say you are; I presented the options.

  34. 34
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    Right – but you still did not answer my question!

  35. 35
    Ilion says:

    EL:Why must a being who is omnipotent also be benevolent?

    It’s not from his omnipotence that we know he is good; it is from the fact/argument of his being the necessary being. You know, the reasoning you want to set aside.

  36. 36
    Elizabeth Liddle says:

    But I don’t understand the reasoning. That’s why I want you to spell it out for me.

    Why should a necessary being be good?

  37. 37
    Meleagar says:

    EL said: “Except that what they mean is that there is no evidence that is not explicable by non-God alternate hypotheses.”

    Are you presuming to speak for all strong atheists, or are you just trying to provide cover for atheists in general who make such unsupportable claims?

    Since you have identified yourself as a strong atheist, and you are presenting what such atheists mean when they make that claim, then please support your assertion above that “there is no evidence that is not explicable by non-God alternate hypotheses.”

    EL said: “Yes, there is evidence for God, just as there was evidence for phlogiston, and evidence that helium balloons violate gravity.”

    Good. Then we agree, whether the conclusion is true or not, there is evidence – quite a bit of evidence, given the amount of testimonial evidence, anecdotal evidence, empirical (experiential) evidence, and scientific evidence in play – that supports the theory that a god of some sort exists.

    Whether or not the facts involved can be explained via other theories and hypothesi is irrelevant, unless one is predisposed to take any theory or hypothesis other than the god explanation. The only question is whether or not “god” is the best explanation for some or all of that evidence, in part or in total.

    EL said: “Atheists who say there is “no evidence for God” are really saying that the evidence advanced for God is not good evidence.”

    Even if we accept that it is not good evidence, it is still evidence. Unless one summarily dismisses all such evidence, then the evidence for god – such as it is – outweighs the evidence against a god of some sort.

    EL said: “Well, “argument” is usually cited in addition to evidence, rather than “as” evidence. You need both evidence and argument to make a case.”

    From wiki: “Evidence in its broadest sense includes everything that is used to determine or demonstrate the truth of an assertion.”

    EL said: “There are also counter-arguments.”

    That there are counter-arguments and alternative explanations is entirely irrelevant to the point that such is also evidence for god.

    EL said: “Well, absence of evidence is evidence for the absence of a god who makes himself known”

    Except we’ve already established that there isn’t an absence of evidence; there is only the capacity to offer alternative explanations and theories and hypothesi to whatever degree they may apply – however, that remove the evidence from supporting the god theory, unless one is just prejudiced against it.

    So, we have agreed that there is evidence for god, even if the facts can be used for competing theories, and even if there are counter-arguments and other explanations for the testimony and anecdotal stories. Those are fairly trivial parts of the debate, because all factual evidence, testimony, argument and logic for any hypothesis or theory can be similarly disputed. Disputing it doesn’t make it disappear.

    So, the strong atheist claims “there is no god”; yet, as far as I know, there is no evidence that there is no god; there are only challenges to, alternate explanations for, and doubt about the evidence for god. Is there any positive evidence that no such god exists?

    Since there appears to be no evidence that there is no god, and at least some evidence of some sort that a god of some sort exists, I don’t see any rational support for taking the universal negative position “there is no god”.

    Such a claim, I’m afraid, cannot be logically supported (to my knowledge) and is most likely indicative of something other than reason at work.

    The reasonable person, I think, in light of the evidence, would say “there may be a god, but I haven’t seen any compelling evidence for it.”

    There is no other reasonable position, given knowledge of all the evidence at stake.

  38. 38
    Meleagar says:

    EL asks: “Why should a necessary being be good?”

    Depends on what “necessary” argument you are referring to. God is a necessary entity morally, because without a purpose (final cause) that “oughts” exist in relation to, then “good” is relative and just something we make up.

    Our “final cause” or purpose is what defines “good”. In conjunction with the “first cause/sufficient cause” argument, that which created or creates everything imbues creation with its purpose, which is the only meaningful thing “the good” can possibly refer to, the purpose of existence.

    Unless, of course, the “good” (which morality attempts to describe) is just whatever subjective goals we happen to invent and can justify for ourselves – including torturing babies for fun.

  39. 39
    Meleagar says:

    In #37 above, that should be:

    “… however, that doesn’t remove the evidence from supporting the god theory, unless one is just prejudiced against it.”

  40. 40
    Meleagar says:

    When I say “there is no other reasonable position. ..” I mean, there is no other reasonable non-theistic position.

  41. 41
    Mung says:

    Meleagar,

    Valiant attempt. But what Elizabeth means when she says there is no evidence for God, is that there is no evidence for God which she cannot ignore or dismiss.

  42. 42
    tgpeeler says:

    EL @ 36 “Why should a necessary being be good?”

    I’m not sure that God’s goodness can be derived as an argument from pure reason. Perhaps it can but I tend to think that revelation is required for us to comprehend that. From pure reason we CAN deduce that He is eternal (or infinite), immaterial, purposeful, living, transcendent, immanent, and unchanging. Although this does not completely describe the God of the Bible it is a good start. Of course, one may also find confirmation of these characteristics in the Bible.

    If God exists then miracles are possible. Miracles could be used by God to confirm truth claims from Him or His agents. So now we are into the reliability of the Bible but that is surely outside the scope of this forum.

  43. 43
    Ilion says:

    Mung:But what Elizabeth means when she says there is no evidence for God, is that there is no evidence for God which she cannot ignore or dismiss.

    Yeah, kind of like how on one day she can acknowledge the absurd and self-refuting nature (post 90) of what logically follows when one takes her (absurd) “brains explain minds” dogma to its logical conclusion (i.e. that “minds” are illusions), and on another day she can assert that final absurdity herself (post 133), using indirect language.

  44. 44
    tgpeeler says:

    Meleagar @ 38. Nice. You may be on to something.

  45. 45
    Meleagar says:

    Mung:

    I suppose humility isn’t something I should expect from an animated pile of matter.

  46. 46
    Mung says:

    Elizabeth, why not put yourself in the running for being god?

    I do try to give people the benefit of the doubt, really.

    So one question I always try to offer to the atheist is:

    What would count as evidence for the existence of God?

    And to the ID critic:

    What would count as evidence for intelligent design?

    If they answer nothing, I at least give them credit for being honest (as if honesty matters).

    But then we have folks who say things like:

    …there is evidence for God, just as there was evidence for phlogiston, and evidence that helium balloons violate gravity.

    Do tell. What was that evidence?

    And there’s statements like this:

    Except that what they mean is that there is no evidence that is not explicable by non-God alternate hypotheses.

    By which is meant some alternate fantasy (not even going to to elevate it to a hypothesis level) which merely alleges that God is not responsible. Actual evidence does not matter!

    Elizabeth, was it PaV who was putting forth:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Januarius

    I think I missed that alternative hypothesis.

  47. 47
    junkdnaforlife says:

    Ilion:

    Liz: “I think myself it is best to think of mind as a verb rather than a noun (though people here will disagree!)”

    Should read:

    “I think myself it is best to think of mind as a verb rather than a noun (though people here the merriam-webster dictionary will disagree!)”

    Mind noun

    1. : recollection, memory
    2. a : the element or complex of elements in an individual that feels, perceives, thinks, wills, and especially reasons b : the conscious mental events and capabilities in an organism c : the organized conscious and unconscious adaptive mental activity of an organism.

    —-

    Mind: verb

    1. chiefly dialect : remind
    2. chiefly dialect : remember
    3
    : to attend to closely
    4
    a (1) : to become aware of : notice (2) : to regard with attention : consider important —often used in the imperative with following you for emphasis b chiefly dialect : intend, purpose
    5
    a : to give heed to attentively in order to obey b : to follow the orders or instructions of
    6
    a : to be concerned about b : dislike

    7
    a : to be careful : see b : to be cautious about
    8
    : to give protective care to

    Liz definition:

    I’d say that “mind” is what we call it when the brain does something and that something includes a repertoire of past behaviours (always with some novel tweak) and that memory is the “re-enaction” of past behaviours. So the brain itself is a repository of information about what has happened in the past,

  48. 48
    Ilion says:

    Meleagar:I suppose humility isn’t something I should expect from an animated pile of matter.

    I say “temporarily ambulatory bag of chemicals” … and I sometimes add the ultimate, and only meaningful, fate: “destined, in not too many years, to be worm-dung.”

  49. 49
    tgpeeler says:

    … bag of chemicals… suspended in some really cool water bags… 🙂

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