Wednesday 1 July 2015

Reader's Question: What do you think about the 'scientific' idea that all of our ideas are illusory and reducible to chemical reactions in our brains

My answer: This idea is metaphysics, not science. In other words, it is an assumption, not a finding. The assumption of this idea is that the assumptions of science are ultimate.

So, the assumptions of biology, of brain research, exclude all supernatural factors, exclude anything which is not detectable or measurable - and therefore, not matter how much brain research is done, none of these things will ever be found because they are not included in the methods.

Brain research has not failed to discover the soul, it has assumed the soul is not relevant.

In history, when brain research believed that the soul was potentially detectable, people would often say that they had located it - for example in the pineal gland.

In sum, if you believe (before doing any research) that chemical reactions and wiring are a complete explanation of all ideas, then that is what you will find.


1 comment:

Robert Brockman II said...

Here's something that may be helpful:

The same sort of person who would claim that "people are just a bunch of chemical reactions in your brain" would also try to explain how a piece of computer software works entirely in terms of the physics of the electrons in the circuits of the computer. In both cases these people are dealing with the wrong layer of abstraction -- and will not get very far in terms of understanding what is happening.

The particular physics used to make your computer work is just an *implementation detail* of the information processing. I can prove this by copying your software to another physical architecture, even one wildly different. In principle I could even run a program by getting the population of China together, giving each guy the rules of how to be a transistor and the names of the guys who were going to play the roles of adjacent transistors. I could thus teach China to act as an emulator of a silicon based computer. Running programs would be slooow but it would still work, so long as the *principles of information processing* were obeyed.

The brain is a particular physical implementation for "running" a person. Any being who understood the *person* sufficiently could re-implement them in some other physical - or purely spiritual! - form. Of course God could do this trivially.