Precisely what is wrong with today's dogmatic materialism


The author points out today’s flagellation of heretics by dogmatic (erm, ‘openminded’, hehe) atheists, and that philosophy is not the domain of scientists (as scientists, that is). Nagel, an atheist, has the audacity to proclaim that evolution cannot explain the human mind (just like his fellow atheist Tallis does by the way), and is scorned for it.

Just as an aside, I am a full-blown Darwinian like Nagel when it comes to biological evolution, but I also believe that the human mind cannot be reduced to being solely a product of evolution (yes, the brain is, but I do not subscribe to the idea that the brain is the mind).

I am glad you don’t subscribe to that nonsense.

No one in the right “MIND” :wink: would say that “the brain IS the mind”… just like no one would say that “walking IS the legs”. Just like the activity of the legs IS the walking, the activity of the brain IS the mind. To confuse the underlying “hardware” with the activity of that hardware would be an unforgivable error. Whoever would propagate such idiocy should be criticized mercilessly. Of course, I have never heard of anyone to suggest that, but there might be some nincompoops who do it. (As Einstein supposedly said: "There are two things which are infinite, the universe, and human stupidity… and I am not sure about the universe).

  • Is the mind independent from the brain?
  • Is there some kind of “interface” between them?
  • How come that interacting with the brain results in modification of the “mind”?
  • How is it possible that memory is stored in the configuration of the brain?
  • What kind of evidence (physical, repeatable method) is there which would support that the mind is “independent” from the electro-chemical processes of the brain?

It’s funny, because atheist’s tend to rage at God, but, in their theory he does not exist. . . Many atheist’s are atheist’s because they claim to have found the answer’s in science, but, as many find out science cannot and will not explain every phenomena that occurs, atheist’s tend to be simple minded (in lack for a better phrase) individuals that are ignorant to the fact that they can defend very little of what they believe in (believing in no God), but one must not forget that to believe in nothing is believing in something. . . They are still being governed morally by their fellow atheist’s, to be an atheist is to submit yourself to the idea in no God, but you must also believe in that there is no God and they must sustain that ideal. In my opinion, I think atheist’s believe in a higher power by being mad at God for not existing. Plus theories can only explain so much anyways.

Since the mind is not possessed by the brain, is it held by your soul? If so, this got more confusing :shrug:

My thought on the subject of the mind and the brain is that if the soul is the form of the living body then as long as soul and body are united I would intuitively expect all the faculties of the soul to correspond to something that is happening in the body.

Seems like a storm in a teacup. Philosophers have been trying to explain the mind since Kant and have got nowhere, while neuroscience is in its infancy yet explains more every year.

There’s no reason why scientists should give up just because some jealous philosopher hopes they won’t solve everything. Maybe in 100 years if results get thin on the ground, but certainly not now when they’re flooding in.

You might find Dr Eben Alexander’s “Proof of Heaven” helpful in answering these questions. As a neurosurgeon who had a particular “near death” experience, he wrote about it first from a scientific view but later realized how the mind and the brain function together during life but there is no scientist who can explain consciousness. IOW it’s not just a bunch of random chemical processes.

I found the book to be written in an almost dispassionate and scientific (but not boring!) way where Dr Eben tried to demonstrate that none of the current mind/brain theories can explain his experience as well as the experience of others. I read the book a while ago and happened to see him interviewed again today. He said that the brain is a “limiting factor” to the mind and that our minds unleashed from the constrictions of our body (brain) are far more expansive and experiential.


For your consideration…

Ask Father Spitzer: Are the Bible and Darwinian evolution diametrically opposed?
by Magis Center of Reason and Faith (Notes) on Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 1:42pm

Are the Bible and Darwinian evolution diametrically opposed?

ANSWER: Perhaps the best way of answering this question is to begin with the bible and evolution (without your important qualifier “Darwinian”). The Church has taught, since the time of Pius XII, in two encyclical letters that

(1) the bible is not a scientific document, but rather, a theological one (Divino Afflante Spiritu – 1943) and

(2) that evolution is compatible with both the bible and Church teaching (Humani Generis – 1950)

With respect to the point about evolution, “Humani Generis” allows Catholics to believe in natural evolutionary processes. This would allow for evolution on a large scale. However, “Humani Generis” is very careful to specify that the human soul is not a product of mere material evolution. Certain features of the human body may have evolved from other less developed species, but the human soul is not matter, and it therefore could not have arisen from a merely material process.

There is considerable evidence for the immateriality of human beings besides our Catholic and biblical belief in a human soul. For example, there are excellent scientific studies of near death experiences which indicate the survival of human self-consciousness after bodily death – E.G., in the prestigious British medical journal, “The Lancet,” (see van Lommel, MD, van Wees, Ruud; Meyers, Vincent; and Elfferich, Ingrid. 2001. “Near-Death Experience in Survivors of Cardiac Arrest: A Prospective Study in the Netherlands.” The Lancet. Vol. 358, Issue 9298, pp. 2039-2045). There is also evidence of a soul from the transcendental nature of human understanding, conscience, love, beauty, and spiritual awareness (see for example, my book New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy, Chapter 8). This kind of evidence (along with our belief in a soul) indicates that God created the human soul and that this creation of the soul cannot be explained by evolution (which is a material process). Even if the human body arose in its early, middle, and late stages from an evolutionary process, it would have been transformed by an infusion of the soul in its final state.

So what does this mean about “Darwinian evolution”? If this term means pure evolution implying those human beings are merely material (and therefore devoid of a soul and embodiment which is influenced by a soul) then it would be inconsistent with Catholic teaching and also the biblical account. However, if it means something else, then that “something else” would have to be judged according to the Christian beliefs elucidated above.

One final point – is the biblical account of creation diametrically opposed to the scientific account of creation? It is not. There are many parallels. Both accounts allow for a creator transcending our universe (and even transcending time itself); both accounts see stages in the unfolding of creation; both accounts recognize that the universe is fine-tuned for the development of life and even human beings; and both accounts see human beings (and human intelligence) as the highest development in the created order of the universe

The question is the “mind”, not the soul.

“Random” processes? What a joke…

How wonderful… does he also assert that our eyes are an impediment to the ability to see, and our ears prevent us from “real” hearing?

Yes, but by “mind” we usually mean faculties of the soul such as intellect and will.

We’re just walking bags of chemicals responding to outside stimuli. We’re biological machines - that’s all.


Ed :slight_smile:

This is a welcome post. The identity of the person, knowledge of other minds, free will, moral responsibility, the reality (as opposed to the convention of language) of classes of things: these are all much more than the naturalist metaphysic is able to handle.

I wonder why are we fighting this unwinnable battle… after all it was over 2000 years ago that Aristotle established that the brain is simply a cooling organ for the blood and has nothing to do with “thinking” or “decision making”, or “personality”… And whatever Aristotle said is above questioning. Neuroscience? Bah, humbug!!

I cannot help if you use your own nomenclature, which is nonsensical to others. You guys cannot even be consistent upon what the “soul” is supposed to be. Sometimes it is a “form”, other times it is an “animating principle”, yet other times it is the source of “intelligence” and “decision making”… which is supposed to be “immortal”… It would be nice if you would first figure out what you are talking about.

Have you ever heard that the whole is (usually) more than a simple sum of the parts? Is a house simply a pile of bricks, some iron-work, some wooden parts and a little glass here and there? Or is there a special arrangement of these parts, which will render the result more than just a “pile of bricks”?

I think another good evidence for the brain not being mind (the soul) are veredical near death experiences. Veredical Nde’s are different from normal Nde’s because with veredical Nde’s a lot if what the nde experiences sees and hears can be verified by witnesses .

The best case of a veredical nde is the amazing case of Pamela Reynolds who during her nde experience reported floating above her body and seeing things that she couldn’t possibly see throigh her normal visual and auditory senses (like the tool used on her head and nurses talking about problems during her operation ) especially when she had been unconscious with no brain activity or heart activity.

Turin your explanation falls apart, especially considering what happened with Pamela Reynolds during her operation .

Another good site is

Pim Lommel was a materialist before he started studying Nde’s but eventually became more of a spiritualist as a result of his research . He doesn’t believe that Nde’s can be attributed to material causes which makes perfect sense considering the evidence of veredical Nde’s

According to this site, the term NDE was only coined in the '70s. Presumably people either never had them before then or they called them something else, like visions (apparently 25% of people who have them are nowhere near death at the time).

NDEs are very fashionable right now, the current vogue being for floating apparitions, perhaps influenced by the occult notion of astral projection or superhero comic books.

Other than the anecdotes written to sell books there is no evidence that NDEs are anything other than delusions and false memories.

Whereas non-scientists either just accept or reject NDEs, scientists study them to try to understand and explain them. This is basically why science will explain the mind when philosophers couldn’t - scientists are not satisfied with philosophers’ comforting tales.

:smiley: I think the battle is won. After all we only need to have been treated for depression or love someone who has to be certain that personality depends on brain chemicals.

But there will always be differently opinionated people - there’s 421 of them in the flat earth society!

As a thorough remedy for your facile science credulity and your dismissal of philosophical arguments I would suggest reading the book Aping Mankind by Raymond Tallis, a neuroscientist who obviously has no religious interests to pursue on the issue since he is also an atheist.

But of course, if you are not interested in seriously studying the problematic of the mind, you should definitely refrain from reading the book.

I’ll ignore the lack of charity in your post. Perhaps you had a hard day. :slight_smile:

Given the wide choice of differing philosophical arguments, most of which disagree with each other, it’s impossible not to dismiss some. It’s reasonable to start by dismissing all those which plead that the human mind is unnatural and special just because it’s so awesome dude.

In exactly the same way that it’s reasonable to dismiss those who believe the Earth is the center of the universe and all the billions of galaxies revolve around them. They don’t just lack humility, they lack imagination.

Given that (predictable) response, the tone of my previous post may have been justified after all. :wink: :slight_smile:

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