Statesboro, GA, USA
I wonder what it will take to convince you that you are not qualified to speak authoritatively on this broad and complex, scientific subject?
And I wonder what it will take to convince you that I'm not trying to speak authoritatively on the biological science of the human brain regarding ethics. Having done a smattering of lay reading (as I have), are you qualified?
I also wonder what it will take to convince you that your insistence that the metaphysical philsophical and spiritual implications of human ethics must be explained by biological description, is reductionistic and too narrow.
You've dodged some very good questions, with serious implications for your ideas about God and your philosophy of ethics. You can do better than point out that I (like you) have only a lay-understanding of biological systems.
Inference made by whom? Again your writing lacks detail and specifics.
What I meant was that, yes, even scientific theories of cosmology and origins of species are made against a backdrop of ignorance, that admittedly is a modicum better than the ancients.
Actually I respect most of the descriptive biological and geologic science that is out there. (though do think the theory of common descent is a stretch). What I reject is the amateur philosophy and theology piggybacked onto science in the works of certain writers and frequenters to infidels.org
Again, take just a moment, and humble yourself
I guess humility must have good genetic survival value in your opinion (though the philosopher Nietzsche would disagree) and you're trying to help me out. But wait a minute ... I thought it was this kind of thing you were going to refrain from from now on.
much of the natural theology I have mentioned can be called an inference to the best explanation
I have no idea what you mean by 'natural theology' it sounds like a ridiculous oxymoron, like natural supernaturalism. Theology deals with the unseen realm of 'supernaturalism'...things that theologians create in their fervent imaginations, after reading the ancient sacred writings of other men's fervent musings about such things.
If I'm forced to concede I'm a tyro in the realm of science, you should do the same with theology.
Not believing in God, it would be hard for you to even grasp what "natural theology" is even referring to, I'm sure. But try to think of it this way: Christian Theology has always understood God to be both "unseen" in his full disclosure to humanity, and yet "seen" in the natural realm. Divine revelation about his righteousness, goodness, his promises, salvation, etc ... are accepted on authority (though there are historical and 'natural' examples in the real world which demonstrate them, albeit there must be some degree of 'faith' to not try and explain them away). Differently, natural theology involves those things about God which are more 'clearly seen', such as the design inference in creation, the universal belief that there is moral good and evil that is more than just subjective preference (like coffee over tea), the universal and historical tendency to believe in a 'higher power'. These all constitute "natural theology".
Alister McGrath has written a book you might consider called "The Open Secret", along these lines. I would recommend it, just in case you think natural theology is an easily dismissible or simple idea.
Tell me Stephanos, do you ever see children with autism, or old people with dementia or Alzheimer’s or a schizophrenic in your work? I wonder what is wrong with their ‘moral behavior’?…did your god screw up some how? Did their magical moral spirit take a vacation? Or is there something wrong with their brains that researchers are trying to figure out so doctors can treat them? Why not ask a neurologist next time you see one…get his opinion.
Did I ever say a violation of the integrity of the brain would not affect cognition (including the cognition of morality)?
Your argument only makes any sense if this is the only thing that affects morality. People with medically normal brains can be nasty or virtuous. And the ways in which YOU respond to them, belies that you don't think it to be deterministic or merely physiologic. I've seen enough moral persuasion (both disapproval and praise) from you, even in these few pages of text you've supplied me with, to know that you are not advocating a purely "scientific" approach in dealing with morality. If it's so darn deterministic in the biological realm and social realm, then quit preaching at the preachers.
Neurology and Theology are not antithetical as you suggest.
Me:But then again, the naturalist (atheist, et al) has what I consider to be a more profound epistemological problem in a universe where throughts are wholly chemical effects of preceding causes.
VB: Again, you're being incredibly fallacious here with this question begging. Are you familiar with that fallacy as well? Or should I explain?
Again, this is not a problem for philosophers like Descartes anymore…sorry, you were born 3 centuries too late for that.
Of course I am familiar with begging the question. But I also realize that presuppositions and first principles (held by faith) are unavoidable. You use them yourself. A circle is unavoidable. Which is the right circle? Which circle makes the most sense of the data we have?
As to your anachronistic statement about philosophy ... You do realize that it was after Descarte that existentialism and nihilism in philosophy became prominent? Try David Hume, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, Albert Camus, Jean Paul Sartre, Soren Kirkegaard just to name a few post-Cartesian thinkers who show that the problem I mentioned is anything but settled. The fact that there's a large tradition of philosophy since Decarte which refutes your point, which you are not even acknowledging, makes me think you may be the one born too late.
Scientists who study the myriad processes that lead to a specific behavior pattern in a human or dog or rat, in situations where they make a fight or flight decision, have absolutely NO problem assigning these behaviors to purely natural causes that arise from senses, that connect to the CNS, and are processed by various centers in the brain and result in behaviors.
Do you deny that humans possess a moral/ psychic dimension that does not apply to either dogs or rats?
But I digress ... I'm still not denying secondary causes, or intermediary processes. I'm just denying the determinism your philosophy necessitates. To keep bringing up physiologic process is a red herring, since no one is denying it. And the conclusion that it proves naturalism is a non-sequitur.
A nice pithy Sunday sermon on being kind to strangers comes to mind…unless of course they are Muslim terrorists…then we must kill them.
At least, from a Judeo-Christian perspective, it can be asked whether religious-belief can become too mixed up with nationalism (at best) and vengeance (at worst), and whether such is true to the standard taught by Christ.
From a purely naturalistic perspective, no such moral disapproval against warmongering (for example) makes much sense. The survival value could be an argument. But then again, there is still a moral principle involved in helping others survive which must be accepted prima-facie by the atheist, quite apart from their atheistic philosophy or amoral biological theories about genetic transmission through time.
I have no problem being mortal, knowing I'm going to die someday and that my life will be over, just like the life of the turkey I ate for dinner last night is over.
The dehumanizing element in your philosophy is evident in your reply.
Only you haven't been as bold as some philosophers (and monomaniacs who embraced those philosophies) who have taken your road to the logical conclusion: Human life, on the level of a fowl, is not sacred, therefore Might makes Right.
And I have absolutely no problem with my brain being an incredibly complex product of eons of evolution, that has lots of specialized systems, cells, synapses and chemicals, that regulate my balance, my body temperature, my perspiration, my sexual arousal, and also makes decisions about when I should either fight someone, or be nice to them. It all happens in the same place…my brain.
Secondary causes, or intermediary process, I don't deny ... so I don't either.
What you can't explain by mere biological description of the brain, is why it is wrong to break covenant with your wife and right to suppress sexual desire for another woman. The fact that it happens "IN" your brain does not rule out other non-spacial dimensions to the moral question.
I am satisfied with simply reading the latest books and literature being produced by the experts in these fields. Men like Christof Koch, Daniel Dennett, Joseph Ledoux, Antonio Damasio and others. I could recommend specific reading here if you are truly interested…though it will be far more challenging reading than any C.S. Lewis fantasy.
Not all who are scientifically saavy are atheists. I could give you my own reading list too. Maybe we could exchange a book or two along the way, and comment.
Have you ever read Lewis (not read about Lewis)? It is not all child's fantasy, like Narnia. I suppose you are not making a real statement about genre here, but rather expressing your own view that Theology is illegitimate ... fantasy in disguise. That much is expected by me.
I think, however, if you really read a work like "Til We Have Faces", "Miracles", "The Problem of Pain", or "The Great Divorce", you would see that they are challenging ... and great reading, whether you agree or not.
I also have no problem being a mammal, or sharing a common ancient ancestor with other primates and mammals, like so many Christians do, despite I'm told by Ron and moonbeam, that the battle between science and religion is now long over, or never was…I forget...
Of course I have no problem being a mammal either (I reject common ancestry on lack of evidence). But you act as if you're more than an animal, by telling us about "truth", and having insight about the whole show.
No one ever said that religion and science were tension-free. But it is not evident or reasonable to think them antithetical, just as different scientific theories are not tension-free. I think you are bifurcating again (either faith and science are totally antithetical or bosom buddies), by denying the subtlety of Ron's argument here. (Drat, that's twice now I've used your sardonic little imp).
Again, as I said, our relationship is permanently damaged, by my actions, because one thing the human brain does, is forms very powerful, and amazingly quick, first impressions that are very hard to overcome
Quit being melodramatic. I already said I liked you.
There is no shame in answering “I don’t know” when it comes to understanding how really complex phenomena arise and work.
That is the humility of science and the bane of theologians.
The first part is true. Your second clause is mistaken. It's funny how the Judeo-Christian concept of God is maligned as a 'God of the Gaps' fallacy on one hand, and then theologians as modernistic priests of certitude on the other. You're just upset they won't capitulate to your view that God doesn't exist. It really has little to do with whether theologians admit ambiguity or agnosticism in areas. Has there been conceitedness? I guess it's just a sad part of human nature. But in your paradigm (and judging by your usual approach) I don't see how you can decry it anyway.
enjoying the debate, Ventricular Fibrillation.