Saturday, September 28, 2013

Rom 1 reply, 41: J Warner Wallace puts forward six reasons for an immaterial mind -- food for thought

In a podcast, J Warner Wallace argues for an immaterial mind:

In an era where naturalism dominates the academy, this is quite controversial at that level.

WK summarises the six main points in the context of an overarching case:

The case:
  • The law of identity says that if A = B’ if A and B have the exact same properties
  • If A = the mind and B = the brain, then is A identical to B?
  • Wallace will present 6 arguments [--> forming a cumulative case] to show that A is not identical to B because they have different properties
Expanding, in excerpted form:
1) First-person access to mental properties
  • Thought experiment: Imagine your dream car, and picture it clearly in your mind . . . .
2) Our experience of consciousness implies that we are not our bodies
  • Common sense notion of personhood is that we own our bodies, but we are not our bodies
3) Persistent self-identity through time
  • Thought experiment: replacing a new car with an old car one piece at a time [--> that is, a merely physical body does not endure such a change, but or selves are a distinct identity despite change. WK notes that it seems even brain cells continue to be replaced through adulthood] . . . . 
4) Mental properties [--> though a primary reality, e.g. consciousness without which you could neither read nor be aware that you understand this] cannot be measured like physical objects . . . . 
5) Intentionality or About-ness
  • Mental entities can refer to realities that are physical, something outside of themselves
  • A tree is not about anything, it just is a physical object
  • But you can have thoughts about the tree out there in the garden that needs water
6) Free will and personal responsibility
  • If humans are purely physical, then all our actions are determined by sensory inputs and genetic programming
  • Biological determinism is not compatible with free will, and free will is required for personal responsibility
  • Our experience of moral choices and moral responsibility requires free will, and free will requires minds/souls
To this, I would add the insight of the two-tier controller Smith cybernetic model :

Here, we see how the brain-body cybernetic loop interacts with and is supervised by a higher order controller. Perhaps through a process of quantum level influence and/or control, as has been suggested. That opens up conceptual space for thinking about a mind capable of interacting with matter.

Similarly, I would point out that so long as it is possible that the observable physical, contingent world we inhabit is a creation by a necessary, eternal -- thus necessarily material -- being, we should not dismiss out of hand that matter can be influenced by mind.

As far as the reality of consciousness -- a key "exhibit" -- goes, let us ponder:

This brings up a further point highlighted by Paul Copan in Part IV of a series of responses to Richard Dawkins, a cluster of significant challenges faced -- but often not acknowledged -- by evolutionary materialistic, naturalistic views:

Richard Dawkins is a four-point naturalist --> i.e. he believes a:  "nature" is all that exists, b:  reality is or is rooted in matter, c:  there is no supernatural, d:  "Science" is the only/unchallengeably "best"  means to  credible knowledge].  Such a position, however, defies our most basic intuitions and assumptions about human experience. Naturalism’s logically leads to:
  • the impossibility of knowledge;
  • the unreliability of reason;
  • the denial of free will and personal responsibility;
  • the undermining of human rights and dignity . . . .
[If] Dawkins is right—that we just dance to the music of our DNA—then he himself is dancing to his own DNA.  Dawkins has accidental true belief, but that’s not knowledge. If our beliefs are determined and we believe that determinism is true, then this is just a lucky coincidence—again, not knowledge.  Those who reject determinism are still determined to believe what they do . . . . If naturalistic evolution is interested in survival rather than truth, I may believe a lot of things that help me to survive—human dignity and worth, human rights. But these beliefs may be completely false.  On the other hand, if we are truth-seeking beings (a reflection of what the Bible calls “the image of God”), this makes a lot better sense if a rational, intelligent being created us to think or reason—to have genuine knowledge. Being made in the image of a rational God means we have good reason to trust our minds as generally reliable rather than malfunctioning or systematically misleading us . . . . 

If matter is all the reality there is, how could free will emerge?  Our beliefs are the necessary result of certain physical inputs.  It’s like a prism of colors that is inevitably formed when sunlight is refracted through mist or rain.  Certain physical inputs lead necessarily to certain outputs.

On naturalism, there is no self that makes decisions, and no “decisions” really matter.  The buck doesn’t stop with the agent since “no one” is making those decisions.  “Choices” are not up to me.  They are the product of material forces that impose themselves on each of us—forces over which we have no control.
In short, it is not just mind but knowledge, rationality, right and wrong, rights, responsible freedom and more that are at stake. If naturalism rooted in evolutionary materialism is right, man is dead.

But, the evidently absurd consequences -- e.g. the naturalist is in no position on his premises to reason and warrant the claim that he is correct and knows that naturalism is so -- allow us to see that maybe it is time to accept that the Emperor is leading the parade without a stitch of clothing on him, but stubbornly refuses to admit the fact.

And down that road, there is hope. END