. . . it is time to look at the implications of several common lab coat-dressed atheistical talking points that imply that the human mind is deeply delusional and so inadvertently back-fire through self-contradiction.
A good place to begin is a recent Daily Mail article, reflecting on the reliably anti-theistic NewScientist:
This sort of thinking is of course the sub-text behind the dismissal of "gods," "angels" and "devils" in the FFRF poster.
Brains 'are hardwired to believe in God and imaginary friends'By Fiona Macrae
Religion is part of human nature and our brains are hard wired to believe in God, scientists believe.
The evidence includes studies of babies and children which have shown the brain is programmed to think of the mind as being separate from the body.
This distinction allows us to believe in the supernatural, to conjure up imaginary friends - and to conceive of gods, this week's New Scientist reports.
Other studies suggest our minds come with an overdeveloped sense of cause and effect, which primes us to see purpose and design everywhere, even when there is none.Children as young as seven or eight believe that rocks, rivers and birds have been created for a specific purpose.
Taken together, the two traits mean were are perfectly programmed to believe in god.
Professor Paul Bloom, a psychologist at Yale University in the US, said: 'There's now a lot of evidence that some of the foundations for our religious beliefs are hard-wired.'All humans possess the brain circuitry and it never goes away.'
The Daily Mail article also cites the dean of the so-called new Atheists:
Then of course, we can cite prof William Provine of Cornell in the well known 1998 Darwin Day keynote address at University of Tennessee:Richard Dawkins. Britain's most famous atheist, argues in his book the God Delusion that religion is propagated through indoctrination, especially of children.
Evolution predisposes children to swallow whatever their parents and elders tell them, he argues, as trust and obedience are important for survival.
Asked about the idea of pre-programming, the Oxford University professor said: 'I am thoroughly happy with believing that children are predisposed to believe in invisible gods - I always was.
'But I also find that indoctrination hypothesis plausible. The two influences could, and I suspect do, reinforce one another.'
Nor should we neglect remarks by Nobel Prize holder Sir Francis Crick in his 1994 The Astonishing Hypothesis and their implications:
. . . that "You", your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll's Alice might have phrased: "You're nothing but a pack of neurons." This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.And, we must not forget Harvard Biologiest Richard Lewontin:
[T]he problem is to get [people] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . . It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Bold emphasis and notes added. If you have been led to imagine that this is "quote mined" kindly see the filler citation and notes here.]Game over, religion is myth and superstition, childish projections of imaginary friends up to the sky and so on. Science, duly dressed in the lab coat, has spoken.
Not so fast:
1 --> Provine and Crick actually inadvertently expose the real problem: evolutionary materialism -- which, let us not forget, Lewontin reminds us is now being imposed before the evidence is allowed to speak and is thus allowed to censor the evidence -- drastically undermines the credibility of the human mind. So, it refutes itself. This was recognised publicly as long ago as the turn of the 1930's by the noted evolutionary thinker J. B. S. Haldane:
"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. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” ["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays , Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]2 --> In short, if the thoughts of a Crick are nothing but the molecular agitations in his brain, and if a Provine has no sufficient freedom to choose and decide for himself, then thought, reasoning, knowledge, decision, ethics and more collapse into delusion.
3 --> Without a real mind, so that we are genuinely capable of capable of thinking, knowing and deciding for ourselves, we become little more than whatever we have been wired up in our brains or indoctrinated by whoever had control of our formative years up to College.
4 --> But, on the presupposition of evolutionary materialism, that matter, energy, space, time and resulting blind chance and mechanical necessity are all that exist, we do inescapably end up in the problem envisioned by Haldane over eighty years ago: sawing away the branch on which we must sit.
5 --> 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." Oops.
6 --> With that in mind, let us look afresh at how NewScientists' sources and Dawkins as well as FFRF etc. try to displace this problem of self-refutation by projecting it unto belief in God:
a: our brains are hard wired to believe in God7 --> But obviously, the sauce that stews the goose cooks up the gander just as well. The basic problem is, that a rock has no dreams, and evolutionary materialism is forced to make the jump from rocks and molecules derived from rocks (our bodies are all formed "out of the dust of the earth"!) to self-aware, thoughtful, deciding, conscience-lashed conscious mindedness. For, plainly:
b: the brain is programmed to think of the mind as being separate from the body. This distinction allows us to believe in the supernatural, to conjure up imaginary friends - and to conceive of gods
c: our minds come with an overdeveloped sense of cause and effect, which primes us to see purpose and design everywhere, even when there is none
d: All humans possess the brain circuitry and it never goes away
e: Evolution predisposes children to swallow whatever their parents and elders tell them
f: I am thoroughly happy with believing that children are predisposed to believe in invisible gods
g: humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will
h: "You", your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.
i: You're nothing but a pack of neurons
j: there is only our natural [i.e. material] world
8 --> We are conscious and conscious that we live in a common external world, a world in which we perceive, think, reason, communicate, discuss, believe we know some things and more. So, if we try to reduce this all to genetically based brain chemistry and ion currents in neurons, multiplied by accidents of psycho-social conditioning, we are deeply undermining our first, undeniable fact: consciousness.
9 --> Let's take up the classic brain in vats delusion in the diagram just above, as an illustrative example.
10 --> This is of course a modern form of the classic parable of Plato's cave, in which men have been held prisoner from childhood and are forced to only see shadow-shows projected on the opposite wall of the cave, which they naturally imagine to be reality. Then, one is somehow released, and sees the cheat,t hen is dragged up into the real world, where he learns just how deluded he was. Taking pity on his fellows, he tries to return and help them, only to be targetted with dismissive hostility:
11 --> The inevitable problem in this sort of scheme of course is that once we project a notion of general delusion unto any major aspect of the human mind, there are no firewalls. So, who is to say that the world in which we perceive ourselves as brains in the vats is not in turn another cave of shadow shows, or the apparent outer world of reality is not another cave in turn, and so on in an infinite regress of delusions. Which, is patently absurd.
12 --> Instead, we use a bit of common good sense and upend the lot: that we are conscious, self aware and thinking creatures who by multiple senses are also aware of a common external world is manifest and so, it makes no sense to imagine that we are subjects of general delusion. Yes, it is possible to err (which is something we can realise is undeniably true not just a matter of fact), but that is itself a point of certain truth. So, we recognise there are some things we can be certain of, and that we can make mistakes.
13 --> In particular, if we try to undermine freedom to think, decide, act and respond to the voice of conscience by imagining such are generally delusional or childish, comparable to having imaginary friends, we end up with the problem of general delusion. As the list of atheistical pronouncements made while dressed up in the lab coat above manifestly do.
14 --> No wonder ID thinker Philip Johnson has replied that Sir Francis Crick should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: "I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules." Johnson then acidly commented: “[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [Reason in the Balance, 1995.]
15 --> In short, the lab coat clad materialists here are plainly sawing off the branch on which they, too, are sitting. CRAACK!
16 --> Instead, UD Blog's W J Murray is apt:
If you do not [acknowledge] the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not [admit] the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not [recognise] libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not [accept] morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.17 --> So, we have no good reason to deny that we are conscious, minded, enconscienced (so, morally governed and morally struggling . . . ) creatures who have significant freedom to think, decide and act, and we are living in a world that in ever so many ways gives every good reason to see it as patently designed. (Start from how the world we live in -- the only world we actually observe -- on very strong evidence had a beginning, which implies that it has a begin-ner of awesome power. Multiply by the evidence that from its basic physics, it is finely tuned in ever so many ways, to support Carbon chemistry, watery medium cell based life. [Try here for a start, and look here at UD's V J Torley as he replied to P Z Myers' attempt to dismiss W L Craig's short arguments presented here at KF, last time.])
18 --> So much so, that the evolutionary materialists (as we have seen) are forced to project confident manner talking points that such are childish delusions to be dismissed . . . only to saw off the branch on which they too must sit.
19 --> But of course, to see that, we need to pause and think about the self-referential implications of what they are saying. Do that for a few minutes, and, OOPS -- CRAACK!
20 --> A particularly pivotal point is the sense we generally have that we are under moral government, as attested by the voice of conscience. This is a major point of our thoughts, life and conscious experience, so we have no good reason to imagine it is the delusion that has been suggested, on pain of sawing off the branch on which we all must sit.
21 --> That is we live in a world where OUGHT is credibly real. That means, there is a foundational IS in our world that grounds OUGHT. For which IS, across centuries of serious debate and discussion, there has been just one serious candidate: the inherently good, Creator God and Loving, utterly Just Lord.
22 --> So, the above attempts to brush aside such evidence as childish delusions projecting imaginary friends unto the sky, falls apart. Instead, what we see is that the evidence is so plain and so widespread that those who wish to deny it have to make up a story of general delusion that then saws off the branch on which they too must sit.
23 --> In short, we are back to the force of one of the most uncomfortable texts in the Bible, where the Apostle Paul, in rebuke to the decadence and monstrous evil of Rome -- by that time horrifically manifest in the person of the Emperor himself . . . Nero, argued:
24 --> Looks like the old apostle had a serious point.Rom 1:19 For that which is known about God is evident to [men] and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them.
20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification], 21 Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and [c]godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened.22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves]. 23 And by them the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God were exchanged for and represented by images, resembling mortal man and birds and beasts and reptiles. [--> in those days, idols in temples surrounded by often scandalous myths, nowadays, images in museums and on the web or TV, or in textbooks surrounded by a priori materialist ideologies dressed up in a lab coat serve much the same purpose]24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their [own] hearts to sexual impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves [abandoning them to the degrading power of sin], 25 Because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever! Amen (so be it).26 For this reason God gave them over and abandoned them to vile affections and degrading passions. For their women exchanged their natural function for an unnatural and abnormal one, 27 And the men also turned from natural relations with women and were set ablaze (burning out, consumed) with lust for one another—men committing shameful acts with men and suffering in their own [d]bodies and personalities the inevitable consequences and penalty of their wrong-doing and going astray, which was [their] fitting retribution.28 And so, since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or approve of Him or consider Him worth the knowing, God gave them over to a base and condemned mind to do things not proper or decent but loathsome, 29 Until they were filled (permeated and saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, iniquity, grasping and covetous greed, and malice. [They were] full of envy and jealousy, murder, strife, deceit and treachery, ill will and cruel ways. [They were] secret backbiters and gossipers, 30 Slanderers, hateful to and hating God, full of insolence, arrogance, [and] boasting; inventors of new forms of evil, disobedient and undutiful to parents.31 [They were] without understanding, conscienceless and faithless, heartless and loveless [and] merciless. 32 Though they are fully aware of God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them themselves but approve and applaud others who practice them. [AMP]
So, it is back to whose report will we believe? Why? END
PS: At Christmas season, this of course leads back to why believe in angels any more than Santa Claus, which is duly mocked by Dan Barker and his FFRF. The answer is, first, that while there are many legends about Santa, there is a historical basis, the old bishop of Smyrna, St Nicholas. So, if we have no good reason to dismiss the reality of God, there is no good reason to doubt that he may have created other orders of being, whom we may call angels . . . messengers. And, some such angels may be fallen from their original estate, and so there is no in principle reason why devils are necessarily superstitious myths also. Yes, there may be legends aplenty and dubious reports, but let us keep an open mind.