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Friday, April 25, 2008

Materialism: When the store is on fire ... hold a fire sale!

Prestigious science journal Nature, originally founded in the 19th century by Darwin's materialist associates, seems to want to go down fighting. In a recent Futures feature in the April 9, 2008 edition, Nature writer Neale Morrison offers "All Over, Rover" a science fiction scenario in which materialists prove that there is no soul. (Citation: Nature 452, 780 (10 April 2008) | doi:10.1038/452780a)

And just when it is so obviously not happening.

Similarly, in "Biased brains, messy memories," Sandra Aamodt reviews Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind by Gary Marcus (Houghton Mifflin) and A Portrait of the Brain by Adam Zeman (Yale), both asserting materialist theories as if there wwere any reason to believe t hey are correct.

Marcus (Kluge), for example, concludes,
that evolution has left us with something of a mess. In an argument reminiscent of David Linden's The Accidental Mind, Marcus makes his case by describing cognitive difficulties, including false beliefs, linguistic ambiguity, impulsiveness and mental illness.
The blame, he asserts, rests with our imperfect memory, "arguably the mind's original sin". Perhaps we would reason more effectively if the brain could store and retrieve data as accurately and as simply as a computer. Instead we must contend with a limited system. Brains locate memories by matching them to the current context rather than having unbiased access to all of our experiences. This contextual dependence makes it hard during an argument, for example, to recall how often our spouse does the housework, because thinking of one failure inclines our brains to remember similar situations rather than contrary examples.

You mean, self-interest has nothing to do with such lapses? In which case, Dawkins's famed selfish gene (another theory that was supposed to explain everything) must be sleeping on the job.

Similarly, Adam Zeman outlines
how brains that are predisposed to tell stories and that attribute actions to agents rather than chance might lead us to believe in an immortal soul. His own view is that this is "no more than a wonderful fiction". (Marcus makes the same point less gently.) Zeman struggles with science's failure to find an emotionally satisfying replacement story, conceding that such questions may be more in the realm of art than science.

So this is the latest pseudo-explanation of the soul? I could do better myself! How about this: Minds that are accustomed to think in terms of a future have difficulty grasping the idea that there is no future after death.

Way simpler, to be sure, but materialists wouldn't buy it because I forgot to drag in the Paleolithic cave guys telling stories around the fireside - the staple of evolutionary psychology.

Sorry guys, Cave Thug just didn't fit my screenplay. Anyway, I don't believe the materialist theory because I think our minds' intuition is correct. Mario Beauregard and I set out reasons for our view in The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul.

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