Richard Dawkins reviewed Mike Behe’s new book The Edge of Evolution in the June 30 New York Times Book Review. Dawkins offered no surprises. Much of the review was simply a sneer: I had expected to be as irritated by Michael Behe’s second book as by the first. I had not expected to feel sorry for him…[this] is the book of a man who has given up. Trapped along a false path of his own rather unintelligent design, Behe has left himself no escape. Poster boy of creationists everywhere, he has cut himself off from the world of real science. Nothing new here. Dawkins uses the standard Darwinist ad-hominem attacks. What’s remarkable about the review is Dawkins’ lack of substantial Read More ›
P.Z. Myers and I have been discussing this question for a while: is the brain sufficient for the mind? It’s clearly necessary for the mind, in everyday experience. Strokes and ethanol affect the brain and alter the mind. But necessity is not sufficiency. Is the brain alone — just matter — entirely sufficient for the mind? I think the mind needs an immaterial cause, like the soul. Myers doesn’t. How, from a scientific standpoint, could we resolve our disagreement? We would have to show, empirically, whether matter alone could, under the right circumstances, give rise to a mind. This is an experimental question, and it turns on the ability to create artificial intelligence (A.I.). If we could build machines that Read More ›
A recent study in American Scientist should ignite a blaze of research in evolutionary psychology. In Evolution, Religion, and Free Will, Gregory Graffin and William Provine report their survey of the religious beliefs of eminent evolutionary scientists. The results are striking. Evolutionary scientists hold views about God and religious belief that are radically at odds with those of most Americans. To evolutionary scientists such extreme variance from the mainstream views would normally raise fascinating questions about selection factors associated with atheist adaptation. Graffin and Provine’s study should give rise to scores of papers about the evolutionary origins of atheism. But it won’t.
The journal Nature published an editorial recently in which the editors criticized Senator Sam Brownback’s New York Times essay What I Think About Evolution. Senator Brownback wrote: Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order. Those aspects of evolutionary theory compatible with this truth are a welcome addition to human knowledge. Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as atheistic theology posing as science. In reply to Brownback, the editors at Nature made some stunning assertions:
P.Z. Myers’ reply to my observation that ideas like altruism have no physical properties, like location, leaves a thoughtful observer to wonder: why do materialists have so much difficulty with this basic philosophical principle? It’s clear that ideas share no properties with matter. Ideas have no mass, or length, or temperature, or location. They’re immaterial. Clearly, under ordinary circumstances the brain is necessary for our ideas to exist, but, because matter and ideas share no properties, it’s hard to see how the brain is sufficient for ideas to exist. Yet Myers insists that altruism is located in the brain. He’s had some trouble with my previous thought experiments, so I’ll try another: