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Why a Kid Can Demolish Materialism

May 17, AD 2013 108 Comments
Grace Ballerina

Go ahead, give me your money.

Suppose a teacher from a university Philosophy 101 class told you that the logic in most philosophical arguments is sound, but the premises need to be questioned. This is a common modern-day attitude towards knowledge; doubt everything, even fundamental axioms. It sounds smart like Descartes.

But is it really?

To reason, you have to accept basic axioms and go from there, so questioning axioms that solid reasoning is already built upon is kind of like destroying the foundation of your house because you’ve started to doubt your house is really there — while your standing in the middle of it.

Now, I make no pretense, I am not a philosopher, but in studying theology I’ve studied enough of it to know that this doubt-the-foundation attitude is not something we should ever impose on children. Think about it.

Who’s going to begin a math class by explaining that the logic being taught is sound, but the meaning of the numbers and the symbols needs to be questioned? What’s the point of sitting there wondering if the numbers really mean what they mean? She could do that for the whole third grade year, and at the end of it will not have learned a darn thing.

And while people certainly do question fundamental axioms such as the existence of the human soul, I find that question to be about as sensible as the math class scenario I just described. It just seems obvious that our powers of intellect and free will are not relegated to colliding atoms. If our thoughts were no more mental than marbles banging into each other, then how could we even trust ourselves to know truth? It’s a self-defeating argument, materialism.

Perhaps that’s why so many other names have been invented for it — naturalism, physicalism, reductionism, behaviorism, and I’d even put functionalism and compatibilism in that category. Some of those may seem to explain free thought and free will, but they really all point back to matter as the source. That can be argued (has been argued, is still being argued) but that’s how I see it.

I could no more explain materialism (and its buddy-isms) to a five year old than I could sit her down and teach her to count by doubting what numbers mean. If any premise could be called into question it’s the premise of materialism, not the premise that the child has a body and soul. (Yes, I intentionally avoided an “ism” there.)

Consider how un-brilliant this approach would be with kids:

“Alright Susie, let me tell you what you are. You are matter. What’s matter, Susie? Well it’s the particles that make you up. And that’s all you are, so whenever you think or learn, decide or choose, do good or do bad, it’s all because those particles are colliding and making you do it. Got that, Susie? Now, open up your history book and let’s see what other people’s particles made them do. Oh, by the way, when you die, those particles that are you just decompose like rotting trees, and hey, when I die, same thing. Love ya, kid.”

That is insanity. How do you teach the child about morality and responsibility given that ridiculous premise? You cannot even justify punishment or consequence. How do you teach a child about music, sports, or that great thing called science? You cannot justify work and determination over a lazy hope that particles will someday just collide the right way. Sure you could tell the child she needs to train her particles to collide more efficiently, but that’s hardly convincing when there’s a television full of entertainment and a plate of Twinkies that could just as well probably do the same. Believe me, if you teach kids it’s good to doubt the obvious, they can get all philosophical on you in a hurry.

But here’s what really gets me, the kicker as I like to say: In science today, especially neuroscience, it is practically accepted that materialism is true. This is how those scientists (for the most part) study the “mind” which isn’t really considered a mind anymore, and is instead taken as something more like a soulless machine just waiting to be figured out. But who really believes you can cut open the brain and see the thoughts?

On the other hand there is the long accepted idea that a person is both body and soul, corporeal and incorporeal, material and immaterial, matter and spirit, however you want to say it. That goes through my mommy-philosopher filter much better.

I hold that a child needs to be taught that he or she has a body and a soul. She needs to be taught that she experiences the world through her senses of taste, smell, touch, sight, and sound. She has a brain that processes those experiences, and she also has a soul, a spirit that goes with her body, an aspect of herself that can take those sensed experiences and reason about the world with them. Her soul can choose to do good or do wrong. Her soul can lift her to think higher thoughts, to explore the world and see how it all fits together, to appreciate art and music beyond the striking of metal and wood and flow of air, to love her family and friends, to aspire to grow and mature. She needs to be taught that these things are important, and that in her private thoughts her mind has these powers of intellect and will, which comes with great responsibility, for people are ultimately held accountable for their choices.

If you think that’s too heavy, then also consider something simpler. Even a child knows that birthday cakes are more than atoms that interact with the brain. Birthday cakes are a celebration of birth and life. Materialism has no explanation for why a birthday cake would be any more meaningful than a tongue cell trigger. Further, a child knows that a home is more than a bunch of wood, concrete, and fabric. It is a place that has meaning, a place where the child belongs to a family, a place of privacy. A child knows that a mother and father are not just soulless robots too. Parents do not love the child merely because some particles collided and poof! unaffected, uninspired hugs resulted. What a devastating thing to teach a child.

Kids understand the reality of body and soul because it speaks to who they are. I’ll even go so far as to say that I suspect materialists want to teach materialism to kids not because they care about the kids, but because they are too afraid to admit the truth, and all it demands, to themselves, which sadly goes right along with the me-first, children-are-commodities culture an over-reliance on science to reveal all truth has brought us.

So what do I tell my children then? See above — body and soul, baby. And if they ever encounter someone who tries to impose the tenets of materialism and all its destructive conclusions on them, I give them my enthusiastic permission to demand the person hand over all his money to my child. After all, it’s just paper. Right?

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Hello, and thank you for reading. My name is Stacy Trasancos. I am a wife, mother of seven, and joyful convert to Catholicism. I write from my tiny office in a 100-year-old restored Adirondack mountain lodge that overlooks a small spring-fed lake. Read more about me here. Find me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or contact me by email. God bless you!
  • http://www.2catholicmen.blogspot.com Ben @ 2CM

    Nice post Stacy.
    I tell my confirmation kids that the brain is the tool that the intellect uses while with the body. They seem to get it when I use the eyes as an example. We normally don’t say “your eyes are looking at the white board”. We say, “YOU are looking at the white board”. The eyes are the tools you are using. It’s the same with thinking. YOU are thinking; the brain is the tool being used.

  • The Ordinary Catholic

    “I’ll even go so far as to say that I suspect materialists want to teach materialism to kids not because they care about the kids, but because they are too afraid to admit the truth, and all it demands, to themselves, which sadly goes right along with the me-first, children-are-commodities culture an over-reliance on science to reveal all truth has brought us”

    I think you just hit the nail on the head. Afraid to admit the truth and all it’s demands. I always believed that those that also push sex education for school kids and say that kids will do it anyway are the ones that cannot discipline and control their own sex drives. In other words since they cannot control themselves neither can kids.

    I think that some materialists/atheists are afraid of the Truth. I think they are afraid of their own ignorance when it comes to faith and what it involves and its demands as you said. I’ve been lurking in StrangeNotions and in your own blog Stacy with your postings about atheism and I sense a lot of fear from some of the comments I’ve read from some atheists. When parents fear something themselves it naturally flows to the children too.

    • Stacy Trasancos

      TOC,

      There is a fear. I sense it too, I’ve felt that fear myself. I have heard atheists accuse Catholics of child abuse for teaching a child about hell, but hell is only one side of what we teach. We teach that Heaven is what we are made for. What does an atheist teach? Total annihilation. Very healthy.

      • Michael

        I had nightmares as a child about hell. Our parish priest, especially in the fall would preach some of the most frightening sermons and to a child it was terrifying. It may only be one side of the heaven/hell coin but for some children it petrifies them.

        Atheists teach that no one really knows what happens when we die but to make the best of this life and leave the world better than you found it.

        • Micha Elyi

          I’d like to see some writings of those atheists Michael mentions. Most modern atheists of my acquaint are fully materialist and steeped in scientism, they are sure they know what happens when we die: it’s lights out and nothing of the person remains. “Multiplying by zero” is what I recall the darling Jennifer Fulwiler declaring it to be back in her own atheist days.

        • The Ordinary Catholic

          Christ spoke about the consequences of hell in full detail more often than what people would like to admit. Was it frightening? I’m sure. Did it petrify certain sensibilities? Again, of course, and it should petrify anyone that has any inklings of what hell signifies; total separation from God for eternity. What is a priest to do? Should he just give a homily only on the nicey nice stuff that Jesus said and did and ignore his warnings of straying from God? Is that it?

          “do we alter scientific truth to keep people happy. If so why can’t we alter theological truth the same way?”

          This is a society where we do not want to hear anything that may be offensive to us, that we are good people who do good things, and that we are special as everyone is special and God would never ever send anyone to hell. He doesn’t, we do that ourselves in the choice we make while in this world.

          Do we alter this also?

          • Michael

            No, preach hell if you must, but not to children. But be warned society, in my opinion, will not accept hell as ethical.

        • Stacy Trasancos

          Michael,

          My children have nightmares too, it’s common for children. About hell? What’s hell to a child? Any nightmare is hellish. The question is: What do we tell them?

          A) Don’t worry, there’s probably no hell. You’ll just die someday, maybe in pain, maybe quickly, who knows, and after that you’ll just rot and become dirt.

          B) This: http://stacytrasancos.com/like-a-shield-mommy/

          Michael, philosophical reason alone can establish the possibility of demons and angels. The Bible and the Church give testimony that they do exist. A number of people, myself included, know they exist from personal experience. Exorcists certainly give ample testimony of their real and present existence.

          Now, you may not believe this, but let me ask you something. You may not believe that crocodiles exist either, and you may say that it is psychologically unhealthy to tell children they exist…

          But isn’t more psychologically unhealthy to pretend they don’t?

          • Mjeck

            You think you can compare the evidence for a crocodile to a demon?

            Growing up in a religiously abusive home is a very real thing. I find no reason for you to be so dismissive; only because you have not experienced it for yourself

          • Stacy Trasancos

            Mjeck,

            Yes, and it’s not dismissive to make a real comparison. Abuse is abuse independently of what used to abuse.

          • Michael

            Just don’t scare them unnecessarily. And also teach them to be good without needing a reward or punishment. That’s hard to do for children because they often only respond to that level of morality. But work to raise it.

            Teach them to appreciate this world and to make it better. If there is a next world, bonus.

            As I get older, death becomes less and less an issue. I’d like to postpone it, I’d like to minimize the pain, but I don’t fear what comes next or oblivion. I just fear not being as positive a person as I can for my family and friends.

            As for crocodiles, I’ve seen them in a zoo. I’ve never seen a Komodo dragon but I’ve seen pictures and if I wanted to I could go where they live and look at them. But no matter what I could do, I could never seen an angel or demon or Jinn, or a picture of them or any other non subjective evidence of their existence.

          • Stacy Trasancos

            Michael,

            I agree with the first part Michael.

            You can see a crocodile in the zoo. Exorcists have seen people possessed and then released by demons. People who have battled demons have protected themselves with prayer. I’m not asking you to believe it without having experienced it yourself, but don’t deny what other people do experience.

            The point I don’t want to be lost also — it’s not abusive to teach kids about hell and demons, any more than it is abusive to teach them about crocodiles, and even if both could be used to abuse a child.

  • http://nuthouseonwheels.wordpress.com Newman Ireland

    Ideas have consequences. I remember listening to a lecture by Dr. Ronald Nash on Materialism. He told a story about how a student, after listening to Bertrand Russel’s theory on Materialism, went to a near by bridge and jumped to his death. Also, I think it was the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus who according to his theory thought heat would cure his particular infirmity. He then had his students bury him in cow dung. He died. I know this wouldn’t fly in an intellectual debate but Materialism offers no hope for man. Thanks for the article.

    • Michael

      One hears the statement (primarily from fundamentalists) that if you teach children they come from animals, they will behave like animals. Leaving aside that many animals behave better than some humans do, do we alter scientific truth to keep people happy. If so why can’t we alter theological truth the same way?

      • Stacy Trasancos

        I don’t have a problem teaching children about evolution, so long as it isn’t extended past science and into a metaphysical claim that the child has no soul.

        • Michael

          Evolution makes no claim about souls. The point I was trying to make with the evolution comparison was that scientific truths that people find troublesome should not be discarded if peoples don’t like the facts.

          If astronomers were to reveal a large comet on collision course with earth to impact in a few months time, would one be right to refuse to accept it because one doesn’t agree with the consequences of such an action?

          • Stacy Trasancos

            Maybe you don’t think evolution makes claims about the soul (which I appreciate) but scientists certainly do. There are schools of evolutionary scientists and philosophers who think the soul isn’t real, and that all your thoughts are no more mental than marbles banging together.

          • Michael

            I don’t think the soul is real either but that has nothing to do with evolution. I know the Catholic Church maintains that at some point in the past a soul was implanted (?) in humans. I assume it applied to all humans then living rather than just two specific ones. I understand the need for that doctrine, but have no idea what the Church proposes as how it happened.

          • Stacy Trasancos

            Michael,

            Yes, sort of. “Created” and “infused” not implanted though. As to how it happens there have been different opinions advanced, but the vast majority of the Church Fathers and modern theologians hold that each individual soul is created by God out of nothing at the moment of its unification with the body.

    • Stacy Trasancos

      Newman,

      That is painfully sad about that student. The cow dung? Okay I chuckled at that one. But yes! I do think “hope” should fly especially in an intellectual debate. I wish more intellectuals would use those terms, they speak to the heart.

  • Mjeck

    Self-preservation

  • Ben

    I understand that many people don’t like what they see as the implications of materialism, but that’s not actually a reason to think materialism is incorrect. Neither is the fact that it strikes anyone as an uncomfortable thing to talk to your kids about. When you find yourself on the opposite side from neuroscientists when it comes to understanding how the brain works, it doesn’t prove you’re wrong, but it’s not encouraging.

    Adam Lee (of Daylight Atheism) has written an article going over a fairly impressive collection of evidence suggesting what is scoffed at here, that the brain is the mind/personality. It’s a pretty decent place to start if people are actually interested in examining reasons for thinking this is the case. Longish read though, by internet standards.

    I can understand the reasons for wanting to disbelieve in a materialism, but find myself stuck, based on the world I see around me, as a materialist. I am matter arranged in an amazing and complicated way. And as far as I can tell the form that matter is arranged in is both fragile and perishable: one day my brain will be dead/destroyed, and that’ll be the end of me, my body just a “rotting tree” as Stacy puts it. I can understand tying oneself in knots, using any sort of rhetorical trick available, to try to avoid awareness of that, but that’s what I think is going to happen to me. And to my wife. And to any children we have.

    But to me that doesn’t make my emotions, beliefs, thoughts, desires, relationships less real. Is your love for your children real? I don’t doubt it for a second, and think of it as a powerful and measurable force in the universe, as empirically true as gravity. If it turns out that I’m right, that we’re “just” matter, what that means is matter, arranged the right way, is a lot more amazing and wonderful than you think.

    • http://www.littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com Leila

      No, it just means that everything is ultimately meaningless, and there is nothing amazing and wonderful about that.

      • Ben

        “Ultimately?” Maybe. I mean, from what I understand ultimately the universe will suffer heat death, and that may be the ball game. But you know what? I like books even though they only have so many pages, and plays even though they come to an end. One day my wife or I will die, and our relationship will end (here’s hoping we make it that far, so far so good), but I find meaning in it even knowing it won’t last forever.

    • Stacy Trasancos

      Ben,

      “I am matter arranged in an amazing and complicated way.”

      The question is: Is that all you are? There are no proofs that materialism is true. It’s an assumption. Why not at least explore whether it is true or not rather than just accept on faith an uproven dismal assumption? You believe emotions are real? Emotions are immaterial.

      • Michael

        Of course there’s no proof that materialism is true. Any evidence needs to come from anyone who claims that there is some aspect of the mind that is not caused by matter. And the evidence can’t just be because that would be dismal.

        • Micha Elyi

          “Any evidence needs to come from anyone who claims that there is some aspect all aspects of the mind that is not are only caused by matter.”

          Fixed it for you, Michael.

          The obvious conclusion from ordinary, casual experience is that minds are not solely material, else one must explain why everything material does not have mind.

          So the ball is in your materialist scientism court, Michael.

          • Andre

            “The obvious conclusion from ordinary, casual experience is that minds are not solely material, else one must explain why everything material does not have mind.”

            What would these experiences pointing to more-than-material be?

          • Andre

            I would agree with you here:

            “Any evidence needs to come from anyone who claims that all aspects of the mind are only caused by matter.”

            in that you can’t prove a negative.

          • Michael

            Can you offer any evidence of a aspect of the mind that can not be shown to have a materialist cause? There’s a Nobel Prize in it if you can.

        • Stacy Trasancos

          “Of course there’s no proof that materialism is true.”

          Then why do people believe it?

          “Any evidence needs to come from anyone who claims that there is some aspect of the mind that is not caused by matter.”

          On what basis do you justify putting the burden of proof on the people who say they are more than matter? Think about what you are asking. If it’s true that people are just matter banging around, then none of us can know truth anyway. Knowledge is all an illusion.

          On it’s face, a reasonable and rational person can reject that, which puts the real burden of proof on the people who are arguing things like proof and evidence mean nothing.

          • Mjeck

            If you believe there is more than matter, than you need to accept there being an infinite number of possibilities; Catholicism only being one possibility.

  • Ben
    • Michael

      Thanks for the excellent link.

    • Stacy Trasancos

      Ben,

      I looked at the article. I am currently reading Descartes’ actual (well, translated) writing, Discourse on the Method and after that I have Meditations on First Philosophy lined up. I am also reading Prof. Edward Feser’s Philosophy of Mind with Aristotle lined up after that. Plus I’m reading six other books in the last two theology courses I’m taking.

      I say all of that for this reason. I’m fine with you linking a 5-part blog article that delves into the philosophy of why materialism is true and dualism is false, but I do not have time — nor do I have the inclination — to read a blog post from an avowed atheist and Salon.com writer and activist who waxes philosophical when he isn’t even a philosopher; it’s painfully like trying to listen to Boy George sing the National Anthem. That’s not to say I don’t read people I disagree with. I do.

      I do not agree with Descartes completely and reading his hubristic rambling is like listening to a child scrape fingernails on chalkboards to me, but he IS a serious philosopher and writing style aside, his philosophy drastically changed the modern culture.

      What I would rather you do is read your own sources (as I do) and defend them here. Read them, assimilate them, toss the ideas around in your mind, and then put it in your own words up against what we argue here. That is mutually beneficial. We both learn something. Please, consider that a friendly request. I really do want to know what *you* think.

  • Michael

    I can imagine the reluctance to accept that the mind is product of the brain is akin to 150 years ago when people were told they were related to animals. Many people couldn’t (and some still don’t) accept it. The fact that there is no evidence for a non materialist constituent of the mind and as science progresses fewer and fewer areas that are not understood may be disquieting at first but with thought and acceptance, like evolution, becomes a wonderful fact about the world.

    • Stacy Trasancos

      Michael,

      No, it’s more because the belief in materialism is only an assumption. There is no proof that it is true. Can you show me how it is not even conceivable logically that the mind could exist apart from the brain or the material world?

      “The fact that there is no evidence for a non materialist constituent of the mind…”

      Yes there is. It is your own mind. It is conceivable that the mind is separate. You can conceive of it, you can understand that who *you* are is indivisible even if you cut off a part of your body, which is divisible. You can even conceive of mentally seeing yourself without a body.

      Those two things taken together ought to at least urge you to consider that materialism is a presumption, not a proven fact.

      Science is not proving it either. Science tells us that your brain is made, just like all other material things, of atoms and voids. The matter your brain is made of is tasteless, colorless, odorless particles that have no meaning at all. They have no purpose. How is it that from that cluster of meaningless, purposeless particles you even find meaning in the words you are reading now? Can you explain that?

      • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com Qu Quine

        Stacy, did you read the article at the link Ben gave you? It is a very good collection of evidence pointing to the position that your mind is what your brain is doing. If bits of your brain are cut out, the “you” definitely does change.

        One need not take materialism on faith (I don’t) in order to seek natural explanations and to reject unsupported supernaturalism. (See this post on my blog from back in 2008) You have presented the well known “just fizzing” argument in which you object to your experience of life being reduced to atoms bouncing against each other. That is a failure to analyze on the appropriate level of organization as happens when someone says that a tornado is just air molecules bouncing against each other, or the behavior of an ant colony is just the behavior of the individual ants. Collectives of things can have emergent properties that are not manifest in the individual things, themselves, as in the collective of active nerve cells that act to produce our consciousness.

        I have raised children, I have had to answer their questions. You can’t give them details beyond what they are prepared to understand, but you can keep to truth, to the best you know it, and continue to fill them in as time goes on. It has been my experience that “just fizzing” has not stopped children from seeing and enjoying the wonder of it all.

        • Stacy Trasancos

          Qu Quine,

          It isn’t very good evidence. The books I’m reading by real philosophers, some for materialism and some against, go way beyond that blog post. I read enough to know that those were not serious objections. I prefer to spend my time, too, reading the serious philosophers. That’s one reason I try to keep my writing grounded in the books I’m reading, and … short.

          Did you see what he wrote in his About Me page?

          “Religious authorities are routinely treated as experts in ethics, philosophy, even science, regardless of whether they have any knowledge or qualification in those fields.”

          Yet he goes on to say that he has no qualifications either in philosophy. He is a “writer” and an “activist”.

          To be fair though, because I do enjoy discussion, if you think he made a salient point, then share it and defend it.

          “Collectives of things can have emergent properties that are not manifest in the individual things…”

          Thanks, but I’m familiar with naturalism, functionalism, and behaviorism. They all basically say that matter is solely responsible for our thoughts, which means they are only varieties of materialism. They still do not provide any serious argument for the fundamental truth that matter is responsible for rational thought. They do not refute any claim of dualism. If you think the only serious objection to materialism is “just fizzing” then you are not informed of the arguments.

          Why wouldn’t you give me all your money? It’s only paper right? Just because you “think” it has meaning and value doesn’t make it so, any more than a ball “thinks” it ought to fall when dropped. It’s an illusion. So — want my address? I’ll take your paper. :-D

          “…but you can keep to truth, to the best you know it…”

          So you KNOW materialism is true? I don’t think you do know that. Wish for it? Maybe, but why is it true? Burden of proof goes both ways.

          • Ben

            What the author did, regardless of his personal credentials, is gather together a number of reputable scientific studies and medical case histories showing ways in which the mind is effected by physical changes to the brain. I don’t see much point in parroting each example he gave here, but in essence the author collected evidence showing that people’s ability to remember their past is dependent on their physical brains, as is their ability to form new memories; changes in the brain also alter personality and perception, as well as the ability to understand or produce language. They can make one’s emotional connections to certain individuals disappear, in bizarre and frightening ways: there exists a type of brain damage that will make a mother convinced that her child is actually an imposter, a duplicate, and not worthy of love. And that’s hardly an exhaustive list.

            Materialists like me have looked at this evidence, recognized that personality, memory, and perception require a properly functioning brain and can be altered by alterations to the physical brain, and concluded that it is the brain that is responsible for these things. Where is the comparable evidence for the existence of a soul, and what is the theory of soul that accounts for the ways in which a person’s mind/personality/memory/consciousness are dependent on the physical state of their brain?

      • Ben

        “Can you show me how it is not even conceivable logically that the mind could exist apart from the brain or the material world?”

        I have no idea how a mind could exist apart from the physical world. We’re having a hard enough time working out exactly how a mind works that has the benefit of 100 billion neurons and hundreds of quadrillions of synapses: it sure seems to take really complicated matter to make a human mind! I can’t begin to conceive of what a non-material alternative would be, or how it could work. But no, I don’t know how to show it’s “logically” impossible.

        • Stacy Trasancos

          Ben,

          “Conceivable” means can you think it without contradiction.

          If you can’t show that it’s logically impossible, then (philosophers argue) you should at least explore the idea because it is genuinely possible.

          There’s a reason they have a hard time working out how the brain works down to the neuron. Even if you figured out how local parts of the brain respond to certain stimuli, you couldn’t possible even map out all the global situations that would definitively tell us which people will prefer Oreo cookies to Hydrox.

      • Michael

        “It is conceivable that the mind is separate” Yes, that’s true, but there’s no evidence for it. I don’t believe in materialism any more than I believe in evolution. I accept them because of the predominance of evidence to support that position and the lack of evidence to proffer a competing theory.

        • Stacy Trasancos

          Michael,

          Believe can mean different things.

          1) You can believe that it will be sunny today, an opinion based on experience and information. You can believe your teacher, a trust in a reliable source of information. You can believe as an act of faith, submission to a truth that is beyond you, like religious belief.

          Don’t be afraid to say believe. You do believe lots of things.

          But you are wrong that there is a predominance of evidence for materialism. Even people who have studied the question for their career and think that it might be true that our thoughts are reducible to computations, admit we are far away from proving it.

          Jeff McLeod mentioned Jerry Fodor in another comment recently and I’ve started reading his book about the scope and limits of computational psychology.

          He says in the beginning:

          “Over the years, I’ve written a number of books in praise of the Computational Theory of Mind [...] There are facts about the mind that it accounts for and that we would be utterly at a loss to explain without it; and its central idea-that intentional processes are syntactic operations defined on mental representations-is strikingly elegant. There is, in short, every reason to suppose that the Computational Theory is part of the truth about cognition. But it hadn’t occurred to me that anyone could think that it’s a very large part of the truth [...] the most interesting-certainly the hardest-problems about thinking are unlikely to be much illuminated by any kind of computational theory we are now able to imagine. I guess I sort of took it for granted that even us ardent admirers of computational psychology were more or less agreed on that.”

          The Mind Doesn’t Work That Way: The Scope and Limits of Computational Psychology

          What do you say to that?

          • Michael

            The word believe can have many meanings. Because of that when a fundamentalist asks if I believe in evolution, I say no. I do this less for the shock value of my response (although I do enjoy that) but primarily because I then go on to say I accept evolution based upon the evidence which I then list.

            I say believe all the time. I told my son today as he left for school when he asked the weather. I told him I believe it was going to be dry (we had rain in the night). I used it colloquially but at I had checked two reliable sources of weather that morning.

            I don’t doubt that there’s a lot to be explained with the mind. There’s still a lot to be explained in evolution, let alone chemistry and physics. We probably never will be able to explain all of it but just because we can’t explain everything within the context of a theory of the mind that is both increasing predictive and explanatory doesn’t mean we have to postulate an entirely different method of explanation, especially one where the only support for its existence is that we don’t like being entirely material.

            I had a friend in university who was extremely smart and went on to get her doctorate in English and teach at an American university. She was a Christian Scientist (the denomination) and took her dislike for materialism to such a degree in Christian science that she honestly denied the existence of the material world at all. All is Spirit (a la Bishop Berkeley) she maintained with all sincerity. As a physics student (and one who at that time was a practicing RC) it amazed me. When pressed it was her revulsion against the idea of being matter taken to its logical conclusion. There is nothing wrong with matter.

          • Stacy Trasancos

            Michael,

            Gotcha on the fundamentalist response. I get that you have to be careful using the word believe with a fundamentalist. I assure you I am not a fundamentalist, I’d make a bad one. I understand that you accept evolution based on the evidence.

            “… especially one where the only support for its existence is that we don’t like being entirely material.”

            Oh, but those are not the objections. It has nothing to do with what we like. There are sound philosophical arguments for the existence of the soul/mind that come from reason. How is it that *you* cannot be divided into two people, but your body can be divided in millions of ways? There are legitimate distinctions. Many of them have to do with how do you know what you know. How do you know it’s all not a delusion? An illusion? How do you know if someone crying in pain is really feeling pain? What is pain anyway? You can’t point to it like you can point to a splinter. I’m tossing out things from all over the place, only to show you that there are serious philosophical reasons to doubt materialism that go way beyond, “I don’t want it to be true.”

            Your friend committed what Mortimer Adler (philosopher and pagan) would have called an angelistic fallacy, thinking of herself as being perfect without a body, an unembodied mind. She denied her body, which is going against all experience. We do have bodies and they do affect our thoughts. They are part of our humanity. She went to the other extreme, not to a logical conclusion that lay somewhere in the middle.

          • Michael

            I agree with the fundamentalist and I use that reference only as an analogy and I don’t mean to impute that rationalization upon you.

            The body can’t be divided into pieces without end. At some point death occurs. The same way with the mind. Keep cutting away bits of the brain, with through surgery or stroke or disease and the mind loses more and more of its abilities. At some point the mind stops. Does this cutting away affect the soul? If so, why?

            As to dividing the soul, one could ask what happens at with Monozygotic or identical twins. It shows the shows soul can be divided or that ensoulment occurs only after division occurs or the possibility of division stops.

            As for pain, if you remove the pain receptors there is no pain. Neurologists can detect pain receptor activation and determine a person’s pain. Ironically the brain has no pain receptors which allows surgeons to operate on the brain with a conscious patient.

  • http://nuthouseonwheels.wordpress.com Newman Ireland

    A quote from Bertrand Russell’s Mysticism and Logic, and a comment from me

    “That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve and individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins – all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of the unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.

    [it goes on...]

    Brief and powerless is Man’s life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way; for Man, condemned today to lose his dearest tomorrow, himself to pass through the gate of darkness, it remains only to cherish, ere yet the blow falls, the lofty thoughts that ennoble his little tomorrow.”

    I know this is an over simplification when it comes to these kinds of debates; however, it seems to me Materialism necessarily leads to Nihilism. When all the arguments are finished the above thought is all the Materialist has. That’s it. So what’s the point of anything? You love; marry; have children; want the best for them — and for what? You “…are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins.”

    It would almost be laughable if Mr. Russell were not the champion of some. This could be part of that lecture Russell gave which caused one of students to kill himself. Do you blame the poor guy? All he did was take Russell’s argument to its logical conclusion. (Forgive me; I don’t have a source for this story other than Dr. Ronald Nash’s class on A History of Philosophy.)

    My Materialistic friends, Christ Jesus is your only hope for personal survival after death. Deep down in that collocations of atoms you call a heart — you know the God of the Bible has revealed Himself though what He has made. There’s not a single rogue atom or molecule which He does not providentially and directly sustain by the Word of His power. Now that’s amazing. Thanks.

    • Andre

      Newman,

      It’s quite a silly thing to hang some poor man’s suicide on Russel. Unless you’ll concede that this can cut both ways. I remember listening to a podcast on ‘This American Life’ (http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/473/transcript ) discussing how suicidal Catholics in 16-17th century Europe would, in order to avoid having a mortal sin be their last earthly act, murder children that had been baptized – but not yet of the age of reason – in order to then turn themselves in, be tried, and sentenced to death. Of course, they wouldn’t be executed until after having had the chance to go to Confession and remove that awful stain from their souls, and their victims would be safe in the hands of God, having been baptized and not yet old enough to sin. That was what logically followed from their beliefs.

      • Micha Elyi

        False. You and they omitted the Catholic belief in the Ten Commandments and the two Great Commandments. Oops!

        Try again.

        • Andre

          Could you be more specific?

      • Stacy Trasancos

        No Andre, that isn’t what logically follows at all. That is a terrible and tragic delusion on that woman’s part. There is nothing about her action that is supportable by Church teaching then or now. It’s not a valid Confession is you pre-plan to sin and then confess it to excuse it. Her choice was the result of poor teaching and bad logic.

        But consider the young man Newman wrote of. How is a choice to end your life if life is nothing but atoms and voids anyway illogical? How did the man’s logic not follow Russell’s premises?

        • Andre

          Stacy,

          Russel’s premise – materialism – does not need to be viewed in the terms Russel uses to describe it. It’s entirely subjective to the person whether or not this presumed reality renders their life meaningless. That man’s choice might be *a* logical conclusion, but as I argued earlier, it’s not *the* logical conclusion. I would venture that the man in the anecdote (if accurate) was suicidal / depressive before hearing Russel’s views. That was his “tragic delusion”.

          As for the example I gave, this was apparently a real problem in Europe during the 1700s (300 documented cases in Germany). I’m not arguing that they’re what follows from a correct interpretation of Catholic teachings – it’s precisely my point that suicidal people often have ideas twisted by their mental state.

          http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=2151568

    • Stacy Trasancos

      Newman,

      Thanks for that. Those are indeed dark words. But, you’re right, that is the logical conclusion. He was also so logical that he admitted that after eating meals all your life, none of us could be certain that the next meal would be nourishing in any way. So much for intellectual certainty, huh? Empiricist deduction as the only reason for anything leaves one in a stupor.

      “There’s not a single rogue atom or molecule which He does not providentially and directly sustain by the Word of His power. Now that’s amazing.”

      Amen! :-)

      • http://nuthouseonwheels.wordpress.com N.Ireland

        I just went over your article again. It’s good, especially this —

        “Alright Susie, let me tell you what you are. You are matter. What’s matter, Susie? Well it’s the particles that make you up. And that’s all you are, so whenever you think or learn, decide or choose, do good or do bad, it’s all because those particles are colliding and making you do it. Got that, Susie? Now, open up your history book and let’s see what other people’s particles made them do. Oh, by the way, when you die, those particles that are you just decompose like rotting trees, and hey, when I die, same thing. Love ya, kid.”

        I love irony. You post an article on how materialism in so many words is a philosophical & moral failure which gives no hope for man. Russell, in his attempt at poetic prose says the same thing. Then what happens? You get arguments from materialist who make the same point. Sorry I’m late to conversation but I was Canada Monday night and all day Tuesday. Thanks for the heads up and a good conversation. keep on, keeping on.

    • Longshanks

      I gave a formal fond farewell at my last stop, and this will serve for here as well.

      You and Stacy are either incapable of reading what you don’t already *know* is there, or dishonest. I don’t much care which, the strain on the eyes and brain to one who IS able and willing is much the same in both cases.

      Like in so many great works of literature, music, argument, logic, architecture or painting, there is in this quote an inflexion point. If you read descriptions of old battles where fortifications and trenches were of utmost value, you might come across the term ‘salient.’ If you were to go back in time and walk along the lines of one of these earthworks, and you come to a point where the trench changes direction so drastically that the interior angle formed is less than 90 degrees, that is called a salient.

      Russel’s salient point here, the ‘crux’ if you will, the thing which you totally, absurdly, and I believe intentionally failed to grasp is this: “it remains only to cherish, ere yet the blow falls, the lofty thoughts that ennoble his little tomorrow.”

      To claim that the “logical” conclusion of this quote, as people of your ilk so very, very often attempt to do, is a complete rejection of life is not only personally insulting, it is incorrect and unsupported. You are not only dishonest and conceited, you are deeply wrong.

      My offence at this mischaracterization will be fleeting. I will not be back here to debate or defend, nor will I complain if/when this comment gets taken down, as these sorts of things so often are here. Eventually the annoyance of having read such sloppy and arrogant slander will fade. I will take my solace, as Churchill famously did, in futurity.

      “Bessie Braddock: “Sir, you are drunk.”
      Churchill: “Madam, you are ugly. In the morning, I shall be sober.””

      Eventually I will stop caring that you are so thoroughly, discreditably ugly in your use of words and their meanings.

      For you, tomorrow is another day.

      • Stacy Trasancos

        Bye, Longshanks. (Again) Quite the sweeping exit!

        • Andre

          “Quite the sweeping exit!”

          Which, it should be noted, leaves one finding your response lacking by comparison.

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  • http://nuthouseonwheels.wordpress.com N.Ireland

    Dear Andre. Is it a silly thing? Sure it cuts both ways; however, I was speaking from the perspective of Christian hope. The Russell position above is the most miserable thought to hold in one’s head. It can twisted any way you wish. Throw some sugar on it if you like, but it is the logical conclusion to materialism. Good point and thanks.

    • Andre

      “Dear Andre, and you already agreed ideas have consequences. Sure it cuts both ways, but I would not say it’s a silly thing.”

      Unless you’re willing to blame religions for all the deaths they needlessly cause, it most certainly is a silly thing to blame Russel for that man’s death (just as blaming Catholicism for those who chose to murder innocents in the hope of capital punishment). Assuming there’s any truth to your anecdote, it’s almost certainly the case that, in your example, the man’s health / mental state predisposed him to suicide, and that he would have done so regardless of Russel.

      “It can twisted any way you wish; throw some sugar on it if you like, but it is the logical conclusion to materialism.”

      Sorry, but it would seem to me that either “it can be twisted any way you wish” or “it is the logical conclusion.” I don’t see how it can be both. I happen to think that suicide is not “the logical conclusion” of materialism, as do most of the atheist/agnostics I know. If anything, I tend to find it’s quite the opposite, more of a ‘carpe diem’ approach to things.

      • Micha Elyi

        Wrong again, Andre.

        Russell’s student only carried out a logical conclusion of Russell’s teaching.

        Your murders of innocents violated Catholic teaching.

        Don’t see the difference, do you?

        Try again.

        • Andre

          Micha,

          “Russell’s student only carried out a logical conclusion of Russell’s teaching.”

          I see we’ve downgraded from *the* logical conclusion, to *a* logical conclusion. That’s a start. However, Russell wasn’t telling people to kill themselves, was he? How would taking the approach of living everyday to it’s fullest not be an equal, or better conclusion to make?

          “Your murders of innocents violated Catholic teaching.

          Don’t see the difference, do you?”

          The point was that, given Catholic teaching on redemption and sin, suicide was a worse evil than murder – in that there could be no redemption for the soul with suicide. Murder, on the other hand, can afford the killer a chance to repent for their sins. That being the case, if you found yourself overcome by suicidal thoughts as a Catholic at the time, it was thought better to kill an innocent who would surely go to heaven, and then repent of your crime before execution. That seems logical to me, if we’re playing this game.

          • Micha Elyi

            You still fail, Andre.

            Committing murder with the explicit intention of abusing the sacrament of confession in order to get away with the sin is itself contrary to Catholic teaching.

            Try again.

            As for your cheap semantic quibbling between “the consequence” and “a consequence” of Russell’s teaching – the student’s suicide was certainly the consequence for him.

            Your desperation is getting boring, Andre.

          • Andre

            Micha,

            “You still fail, Andre.”

            Aw, man…again? Let me rub my St. Jude medal, spray some holy-water on my keyboard, and give this one last try.

            “Committing murder with the explicit intention of abusing the sacrament of confession in order to get away with the sin is itself contrary to Catholic teaching.”

            You’ll have to grant that there’s a chance that the sinner will realize he’s done an awful thing in trying to game the system, feel genuine remorse, and thus be forgiven even that. In any case, this route at least affords one a slight chance of salvation, whereas committing suicide has a 100% failure rate where salvation is concerned.

            “As for your cheap semantic quibbling between “the consequence” and “a consequence” of Russell’s teaching – the student’s suicide was certainly the consequence for him.”

            Look, I can’t help that you tied yourself to Newman’s faulty premise. I don’t think it’s a cheap quibble – that distinction means two different things.

            In what I imagine the state-of-mind of somebody considering suicide, both of these scenarios seem reasonable. My point was that it’s faulty reasoning to say that either Russel or Catholic teaching are the cause of the suicide (or suicide by proxy). In each case the person was likely in a great deal of psychological / emotional pain that lead them to twist both “teachings”.

            “Your desperation is getting boring, Andre.”

            Well if I’m boring even you, I suppose my only recourse is to google “tall bridges”.

        • Stacy Trasancos

          “Your murders of innocents violated Catholic teaching.”

          Exactly. Thank you Micha.

  • Micha Elyi

    Stacy, when I followed a link here I was expecting a real-life example of a kid demolishing materialism.

    That’s not asking much, little kids are pretty good at demolishing catechists – ask one some time! True story:

    Kleintje (in first grade) blurts in a suspicious tone: “God is fake. Nobody can see you everywhere and know everything you think and be invisible.”

    Lutheran religion teacher: “You believe in Santa Claus don’t you?”

    Kleintje – slowly, then with confidence: “Yeah… but I seen him!

    Note to catechists: never use appeals to Santa Claus as proof of anything. Kids will getcha every time!

    • Stacy Trasancos

      Micha,

      I asked my 9 year old, “What if someone told you that all you are is atoms and voids?”

      She just winced, crossed her arms, and said, “What? I’ve got a soul.”

      And ran off to play. I guess kids don’t complicate things as much as adults do. LOL.

    • Stacy Trasancos

      And good point about Santa. :-D

  • cowalker

    “She has a brain that processes those experiences, and she also has a soul, a spirit that goes with her body, an aspect of herself that can take those sensed experiences and reason about the world with them. Her soul can choose to do good or do wrong. Her soul can lift her to think higher thoughts, to explore the world and see how it all fits together, to appreciate art and music beyond the striking of metal and wood and flow of air, to love her family and friends, to aspire to grow and mature.”

    If you teach a child that that is how the mind works, how will you explain bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, brain injury or dementia? If reasoning and moral choice and love come from the soul, what is going on when a chemically impaired young adult stabs her parent to death after she stops taking her medication? Why does grandma verbally abuse grandpa over his girlfriend when he doesn’t have one? Why does the uncle who was in a humvee blown up in Iraq no longer want to play with his nieces and nephews?

    If injuries and/or changes to brain chemistry are enough to block the proper function of the soul in one’s life, it seems pretty likely that we don’t need the hypothesis of the soul to explain its normal functioning. Assuming that the personality is the observable expression of the physical brain is a simpler explanation. The only reason to inject the hypothesis of the soul is to take away the natural fear of extinction.

    • Michael

      One could maintain that there is a soul but it is clearly subservient to the physical brain. The simpler, and for some (myself included at first), disquieting conclusion that the mind is a function of the physical brain.

    • Stacy Trasancos

      Cowalker,

      The brain can still have illness, chemical imbalance, or injury, but just as a deformed leg doesn’t have to keep a person from finishing a race, neither do those brain infirmities have control over free will unless a person grants it.

      The physical issues of an illness need to be treated physically and the spiritual issues treated spiritually.

      “If injuries and/or changes to brain chemistry are enough to block the proper function of the soul in one’s life, it seems pretty likely that we don’t need the hypothesis of the soul to explain its normal functioning.”

      That would only be proven and true if brain states could be mapped to mental states. Just because the mind is affected by the brain doesn’t mean they are the same thing.

      Not to mention that even if there were a way to completely map all possible finite brain states, how would you know how to match them to mental states? You can’t quantify subjective emotions, much less all the intersections of emotions and abstract thoughts.

      “The only reason to inject the hypothesis of the soul is to take away the natural fear of extinction.”

      Only? If that’s how you want to word it, then the only reason to deny the soul is to take away the natural fear of free will and responsibility.

      • Michael

        “neither do those brain infirmities have control over free will unless a person grants it.” Yes they do. You’re sounding like my Christian Science friend in university that refused to admit that bacteria and viruses that caused illness could have any power over her.

        A couple of years ago my cousin started reacting strangely, yelling at her mother and children and becoming violent. We didn’t know what was wrong until a few days later she didn’t show up at work. She was found unconscious and was diagnosed with a fast growing brain tumour. It was removed but it had spread and she died a week later. She was back to her old self. After her huge Catholic funeral, many current and former patients at the addiction facility where she worked (she was a nurse) attested that she changed their life and that a they had never met a kinder, gentler person in all their life.

        She didn’t grant that infirmity control over her, she never had a choice. It wasn’t her soul that changed, it was her mind caused by pressure on her brain.

      • cowalker

        ” . . . neither do those brain infirmities have control over free will unless a person grants it.”

        So the Alzheimer’s patient simply has to exert her free will to become the honest, outgoing, non-violent, good-natured person she used to be. You should attend some Alzheimer’s support groups and share this insight. I’m sure they’d find it helpful.

        • Stacy Trasancos

          Cowalker,

          No. You totally misunderstood. Of course the brain affects the mind, no one here has said otherwise. The point is — just because the brain affects the mind doesn’t mean it is the mind. Very different things.

          • cowalker

            Than what does your remark about brain infirmities not constraining free will mean? Do you imagine the mind witnessing the actions of the brain disapprovingly?

  • http://nuthouseonwheels.wordpress.com N.Ireland

    I’m out of my league here but I have a question for the materialist – what is the point of your existence? Thanks.

    • Ben

      Tell you what: I’ll do my best to answer if you can first show me that it’s a reasonable question to be asking of materialists in particular. Let’s work out first in what ways having a non-material mind creates meaning to life that wouldn’t be there otherwise.

      • Andre

        Is this some weird version of “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours?” :)

        • Ben

          Kind of. But I’m reminded here of conversations where people demand to know how there can be “objective” morality without the existence of God, but who haven’t shown that the existence of God gets you any farther. N.Ireland seems polite and sincere, but before I try to justify the point of a material existence I want to understand what he sees as the qualitative difference between the two situations in this regard.

    • Andre

      “what is the point of your existence?”

      Trying as many whisk(e)ys, eating as much dry-aged steak, and having as much sex as possible.

      Ok, was this a serious question? Sorry.

      I suppose the point of my existence is that I quite enjoy it and wish to experience as much of it as possible, and to help others enjoy theirs as much as possible. I’m fine with that being *all* there is to this life, given what I view is the lack of evidence of alternatives.

    • Michael

      First of all is asking “What is the point of your existence” a question that has an answer or a question that we want there to be an answer.

      If you want there to be an answer then one picks one of the hundreds (thousands?) of religions/denominations and accepts that religion’s purpose.

      Or one says the only meaning to one’s existence is what one makes of life. You can make a choice in the meaning of your life and choose to act in a way to make it meaningful.

      In either case you choose the meaning in your life, either indirectly or directly.

  • http://nuthouseonwheels.wordpress.com N.Ireland

    One benefit of driving over the road is the scenery. Boy! Kentucky is a beautiful country, worth fighting for. Wait a minute, not according to the Materialist’s view –you guys are cheating.

    Before I explain, Mrs. Trasancos already did an excellent job destroying your position so anything I have said or about to say is excessive. Besides, she did it with humor and wit and I don’t have a sense a humor. This is why I couldn’t tell if Andre was trying to be funny with his reply. Twice he has said my arguments were silly, and something about him wanting to show me his? What does this mean, and how is it relevant to the discussion?

    He wants concessions. He thinks I should be willing to concede to this or that. My philosophical friends, the burden of proof isn’t on me because it is you who must demonstrate how you get an “ought” out of “is”? You can’t. This is a widely accepted fact admitted by your own intellectual heroes.

    Moreover, Andre says his philosophical position doesn’t mean a thing when applied to reality. He wants to live “The Good Life”(I wonder if he’s read Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics?) and tries to help others do the same. Why? Because – “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.” If he would have stopped there at least he would have been consistent. Why help others, why live a moral life, and who gives a flying rats butt about the tornado victims in the OK? He can’t even apply his own philosophy to real life and he says my arguments fail? (which they don’t)

    It is you, sirs, who are importing (stealing) theistic morals into your own. If you want any kind of morality you have to beg, borrow, and steal. The materialist system is inconsistent in application, logically self-defeating, and I’d like to add my fellow man — a pathetically, depressing world view. I can see it now, Your friends wife commits adultery and feeling a little low. “Look on the bright side Jack, you have nothing to live for anyway!” You can’t even think in terms of hope and future, “there is no future and England’s dreaming.” — Sex Pistols. How’s that Mr. Longshanks? I can quote English people too.

    I mean, come on! You’ve even admitted according to the laws of energy everything will come to absolute entropy. And you think my question, “What’s the point of your life?” is silly? Look, why not just give the universe the big middle finger and end it right now? Thank you Mr. Camus.

    In sum, empirical data can only tell us what is the case, (I doubt if it even says that much) but it can’t tell us what should be. For instance, scientists say the earth is 2 degrees hotter. Fine, so where’s evidence that suggests it ought to be cooler? In the same way you can’t derive moral absolutes from an atom. Or to put it other words, you can’t have an unchanging, inherent morality in a materialistic world view. The ball is in your court.

    Thank you Mrs. Trasancos for allowing me to join this discussion, and thanks Andre and Ben, you made me think. Mr. Longshanks, a big “yawn”. Sorry for any typos. This is the best I can do for now. I told you I’m out of my element here. Good night.

    • Andre

      “Twice [Andre] has said my arguments were silly”

      I didn’t say your argument was silly, I was pointing out the double-standard of holding Russel responsible for people twisting his views while not also holding religions similarly responsible.

      “something about him wanting to show me his? What does this mean, and how is it relevant to the discussion?”

      Actually, I was responding to Ben. You can tell, because: A) that’s where my comment was, and B) Ben responded back. Not only that, but I was lightly chastising Ben for not answering you directly.

      “He wants concessions. He thinks I should be willing to concede to this or that. My philosophical friends, the burden of proof isn’t on me because it is you who must demonstrate how you get an “ought” out of “is”? You can’t.”

      When you interpret a passage that concludes with a call to cherish life as, in fact, logically leading to suicide, the burden of proof rests with you. Is this unreasonable?

      “This is a widely accepted fact admitted by your own intellectual heroes.”

      I (we?) have told you who my intellectual heroes are? You’ve somehow, otherwise deduced their identities?

      “Moreover, Andre says his philosophical position doesn’t mean a thing when applied to reality. He wants to live “The Good Life”(I wonder if he’s read Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics?) and tries to help others do the same.”

      As a matter of fact, me and Aristotle go way back: Poli Sci 101, Fall of 2001. Good times. Though, I’ll admit, I’m always mixing him and that Plato fellow up.

      “Why? Because – “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.” If he would have stopped there at least he would have been consistent. Why help others, why live a moral life, and who gives a flying rats butt about the tornado victims in the OK?”

      You’re confused as to why helping others might benefit an individual in the long run? As if charity might not be undertaken by the non-believer with no hope of reciprocity?

      “It is you, sirs, who are importing (stealing) theistic morals into your own. If you want any kind of morality you have to beg, borrow, and steal.”

      You know, this is actually something I wonder about with myself. Since I was raised Catholic, it’s very hard for me to say for sure. Here’s the thing though, should read up on some of the apologetics done by the Church leaders on why Christian tradition tolerated such things as slavery for so long. You’ll find a great deal of ‘it would have been too disruptive to society at the time’ and ‘better to have a gradual revelation’. So when you tell me I wouldn’t know right from wrong were it not for religion, I’m always left wondering: A) how did we survive so long (over a hundred thousand years) as a species without the knowledge that was just (relatively) recently given us, and B) why was the Church not more ahead of the rest of the world on things as fundamental as slavery, capital punishment, and torture?

      “And you think my question, “What’s the point of your life?” is silly? Look, why not just give the universe the big middle finger and end it right now?”

      Yes, it was a silly question to ask in a conversation where people are giving each other the barest benefit of the doubt. Surely you’re not unaware that there is a growing segment of the world population that no longer considers itself religious. Surely you’ve noticed that there’s no epidemic of suicide among this group. Yet you insist that the logical conclusion of materialism must be to end ones life. I’ll pay you the compliment of assuming that you wouldn’t end your life immediately should your religious belief fail someday.

      “In sum, empirical data can only tell us what is the case, (I doubt if it even says that much) but it can’t tell us what should be. For instance, scientists say the earth is 2 degrees hotter. Fine, so where’s evidence that suggests it ought to be cooler? In the same way you can’t derive moral absolutes from an atom. Or to put it other words, you can’t have an unchanging, inherent morality in a materialistic world view. The ball is in your court.”

      Yes, I suppose when it comes to the question of whether or not to remove the foreskin of male infants, or the clitoris from females, one can really only look to scripture for the answers. There’s no way to derive the ‘ought’ otherwise.

  • http://nuthouseonwheels.wordpress.com N.Ireland

    Here it is my friend. We have 2 competing systems. On the one hand Materialism, on the other Christianity. Empirically, the materialist can’t be so confident in his assertions. When all the arguments are finished the best he say is I don’t know.

    Maybe I shouldn’t have asked the point of your existence because I had already dealt with it in a previous post. The point is, there is no point to your existence. Russell’s quote and the little story about his student may or may not be true. It doesn’t matter. However, if you were to apply your doctrine to real life suicide might be one course you could take, and it would be the logical conclusion. I think Bertrand’s quote perfectly sums up your world view. You have no hope.

    Christians do have hope and a future. We also know there is a unchanging universal morality that God has commanded through His word. You want to see hard evidence that God exist? We can’t provide that for you for same reason you can’t prove that He doesn’t. This also applies to whether there is a soul. The rest is saber rattling and refining arguments, and I suppose there is some profit in it.

    I’m done here. For what it’s worth I have prayed that you will come to faith in Jesus Christ so you will have hope and a future. God isn’t some cosmic masochist hiding behind a burning bush waiting for you to screw up. He’s long suffering, compassionate, and full of mercy. I suggest you read and study the Gospel of John. Thank you and have a good day.

  • http://aol Jim

    On Hell : to think of God condeming a soul to everlasting suffering, dare say with some intelligent Christians relishing the idea, suggests a dark and sadistic thought process unworthy of salvation. In time, the death penalty will be seen for the vengeance it is. Now, if we humans are moving beyond condemning, what would that say about a Creator who could not ? Eastern deism has the proper notion and
    it doesn’t exclude the wheel of perpetual life and death but by the same token it allows a myriad of chances to get it right.

    • Bobby

      ” Eastern deism has the proper notion and
      it doesn’t exclude the wheel of perpetual life and death but by the same token it allows a myriad of chances to get it right.”

      You say Eastern deism has the proper notion. And who makes that decision Jim? You? Me? Obama? How pray tell do you KNOW it is the proper notion? What insight have you? Is it because it makes you feel better? How do you know that the Judeo/Christian notion IS wrong? Have you no sense of justice? Is justice of no consequence to you? Why do we have a court system that dispenses justice to begin with if it is wrong? There are actions that are wrong and the person committing that action is punished for it if it is against the law but you are unwilling to allow God his want of justice? If a person dies and in his final moments still rejects God’s love then how can that person live his eternal life in God’s presence? He can’t Jim. That’s the sad reality.

  • http://homeschoolingphysicist.blogspot.com PhysicistDave

    Stacy wrote:
    >But here’s what really gets me, the kicker as I like to say: In science today, especially neuroscience, it is practically accepted that materialism is true.

    Stacy, that is just not true. Last spring, I had a chance to have a chat with Gerald Schneider, a senior neuroscientist at MIT, about just this issue, what philosophers call the “hard problem” of consciousness — i.e., the connection between consciousness and the brain.

    My wife and kids and I had had the chance to sit in on Prof. Schneider’s class, and I had mentioned to him that I was a physicist. When I mentioned the “hard problem,” he turned to my kids, and, with a twinkle in his eye, told them that physicists like me thought that neuroscientists should be focusing on the “hard problem,” but that it was just too hard right now and they did not know how to really study it. I grinned in response and told him we physicists accept their judgment that they will just have to deal with easier problems first.

    Neuroscientists are not all dogmatic materialists: they just do not know how to scientifically study consciousness. They do know how to study neurons, and so that is what they do.

    I’m an atheist, incidentally, but not a materialist: numerous atheists are not materialists. Check out, for example, the very readable The Mysterious Flame by philosopher Colin McGinn or the massive tome The Conscious Mind by David Chalmers. Chalmers and McGinn are both atheists; neither is a materialist.

    Dave Miller in Sacramento

    • Stacy Trasancos

      Dave,

      Cool experience!

      When I say, “it is practically accepted that materialism is true” I mean “as seen in practice, effectively.” Nominally? I don’t know what different scientists call themselves which is why I avoided saying they admit materialism.

      But, practically speaking, it seems that rarely is the mind spoken of as spiritual. The general assumption is that the mind is reducible to, is caused by, the brain.

      I understand that neuroscience is the study of the material body, but metaphysical assumptions are needed to interpret the data. If the scientist assumes materialism is true, then he will also assume that the mind can be understood by studying the brain, even if the gap of understanding is not filled yet.

      McGinn and Chalmers still both assume that mental processes are rooted in and emerge from the brain. I have read/am reading about them in Feser’s book, Philosophy of Mind. At the risk of oversimplifying, isn’t that still a form of materialism — to say that even mysterious forces that are non-physical arise from physical objects? It still owes all reality to material things.

      • http://homeschoolingphysicist.blogspot.com PhysicistDave

        Stacy wrote to me:
        > McGinn and Chalmers still both assume that mental processes are rooted in and emerge from the brain. I have read/am reading about them in Feser’s book, Philosophy of Mind. At the risk of oversimplifying, isn’t that still a form of materialism…

        Stacy, while Ed does, from time to time, make some valid points in his writings, he is, quite intentionally, very contentious: he rarely provides a balanced view of his opponents’ opinions.

        I won’t recommend that you read all the way through (though I did manage it!) Chalmers’ The Conscious Mind, which is written largely for his fellow philosophers and is therefore ponderously massive; however, McGinn’s The Mysterious Flame is short and very readable, and I would strongly encourage you to read that for yourself.

        I also very strongly recommend reading Colin’s whimsical exposition of Cartesian dualism, “Consciousness and Cosmology,” published in Davies’ and Humphreys’ Consciousness: Psychological and Philosophical Essays. The essay is presented in the form of a sci-fi story, and, officially, Colin is not a dualist; however, I think the essay makes very clear that Colin does see some plausibility to dualism. The truth is that Colin does not know and does not pretend to know how consciousness works; he also emphasizes that no human (yet) really knows how consciousness works.

        Chalmers’ tentative conclusion is a form of panpsychism, which I find quite implausible (Occam’s razor), but to call it “materialism,” well, no. If you read both authors, they just are not materialists, and if Ed says they are, he is misrepresenting them.

        I suppose both authors probably do doubt that consciousness survives death (I doubt that, too), but post-mortem survival and materialism are two different issues.

        Stacy also wrote:
        > I understand that neuroscience is the study of the material body, but metaphysical assumptions are needed to interpret the data. If the scientist assumes materialism is true, then he will also assume that the mind can be understood by studying the brain, even if the gap of understanding is not filled yet.

        Well, coming at this from rather different perspectives, you and I agree that a purely physicalist approach will not succeed in fully understanding consciousness. But, what can either of us suggest to neuroscientists as an alternative approach to research? For the life of me, I cannot think of any approach except to plod away as they are doing, trying to understand the brain. I suspect that eventually they will hit a “brick wall” and realize that this is just not going to fully explain consciousness.

        I can think of some approaches – replacing neurons one by one by electronic equivalents, simulating the brain on a computer – that may in principle clarify some of the issues, but these approaches are not practically feasible at the present time.

        Perhaps I am more positive than you because I am older than you and remember when trying to point out the problem of consciousness got one labeled as a kook (or a “closet Christian”). Now, thanks to McGinn, Chalmers, Tom Nagel, John Searle, Roger Penrose, and a number of other physicists and philosophers, the issue can be discussed publicly in a somewhat rational manner and independent of religious commitments (all of those I just mentioned are atheists).

        So, I think there is a much better understanding of the issue than there was five decades ago when I got interested in it. I was frankly gratified that Prof. Schneider used the phrase “hard problem” and showed an understanding of the issue, even if neither he nor anyone else knows how to scientifically attack the problem: at least, it is no longer just being swept under the rug.

        Dave

  • Bobby

    Jim if what you say is the case then why would Jesus repeatedly warn us about hell? Just for **its and giggles? Really? Nothing, I repeat NOTHING impure can reside in the Kingdom of Heaven before the face of God. We have been given a road map to heaven. We have been given instructions on how to strive for heaven. We have also been given warnings multiple times what will happen if we do not live a life that is consistent with what we have been taught by Christ. We have also been given free will in which we choose what path in life we wish to follow. There is only ONE path to life, eternal life and any other path leads away from life. This path, this Way is Christ.

    God allows us to choose what path to follow. If you think for one second that God relishes the thought of condemning people to hell then you have no clue why Christ died in our stead. None. We choose hell by how we live our lives here in this world. We are the ones making that choice, not God. He has given us a way out big time. It is up to us to take it or reject it.

    Hell is no laughing matter to those of us that are faithful Christians and that is why it is taught to our children. I love my children. I do not want to see any of them damned and if it takes a nightmare or two to convince them of the consequences of being separated (hell) from God for eternity then so be it. But I will ask you this. What loving parent that would not teach their children of the dangers of life should they pursue a course of action that one knows could endanger their life or lose it? Teaching them of the consequences of hell and how to avoid it IS loving our children. Abuse is sending your children out into life unprepared and I refuse to do that.

    Removing the death penalty may give the criminal a chance to repent of his crime, but he is still being punished by life imprisonment. FOR LIFE. Away from society. We have been given a WHOLE life to repent of our sinfulness and seek salvation for our souls. If we don’t, WE choose hell for life eternal, away from God and the heavenly hosts. No one else chooses it for us. It is our choice alone.

    • http://aol Jim

      No Bobby, certain Christians love the idea of hell – it makes them feel
      superior. Listen, you’re the one that brought kids into the world. You
      had no guarantee that they would be part of the chosen as opposed to the many that are called. Who are you to presume that they are going to heaven ? if you interpret this warning conservatively it makes me wonder why you let them drive on this dangerous highway to begin with. So why did you bring them – as co-creator – into this world ? In the first place, if the odds are so high that they would be called, not chosen, then its like driving even without a seatbelt. Not that they save you every time either. You did it because you DESIRED ( a Buddhist term ) children. Screw the odds – unless you PRESUMED for them that they are going to be the rare exception. And, like all parents, your fondest wish is that they get to watch you die, and not the other way around. Sounds pretty selfish to me, assuming all will be well with these lives you are responsible for in part, now outside of your control as they make their way in this “veil of tears” that you knew would be waiting for them. I can feel safe knowing that Jesus will call us as many times as He needs, over as many lives as our little souls will journey on these human adventures. And you really need to pursue parellel theology yourself if you want to understand what and why almost one-in-four believe about a loving God.

      • Bobby

        Those that love the idea of hell to make themselves feel superior do not understand what it means to love your neighbor and this so-called love they have is completely contrary to what the Church teaches. This is the sin of pride and presumption on their part. Pride that they are better than those others and presumption because they believe themselves saved already when they have no idea if they are. They, like all of us that desire it have HOPE of salvation! Our salvation is a life long process and if anyone thinks themselves saved already may find themselves in for a rude awakening at their last breath. If you knew what the Church teaches in this regard then you would have known that those who love the idea of hell for others were completely wrong!

        Ever wonder why we are asked to love our enemies? I know that in our parish as well as some blogs I’ve read that fervent Catholics are reacting to Gosnell, an enemy of life, by praying for him, not wanting him to go to hell, hoping he repents so that he is not lost in eternity. THIS is the meaning of love your neighbor. Our neighbor has no qualifier but all people being made in the image of God.

        Yes I brought my children into the world and yes I desired them and without presumption on my part that they will go to heaven. But I do however have a fervent faith and hope in the promises of Christ who tells us for “man it is impossible, but all things are possible in God.” I believe it when I read, “His mercy endures forever.” I also believe we have been redeemed and in cooperating with God’s graces in order to follow Christ as the, “Way, Truth and the Life” will bring me to eternal life DESPITE the odds you keep flashing before me. Yes I desired my children but my desires for them didn’t stop there once I had them. I took my duty and responsibility as a parent seriously and raised them to prepare for this life AND the next! I loved them before they were born. I loved them after they were born and wanted them to live the happiest and most fulfilling life they could have, in this world and the next! That is not being selfish. Do you really think it is selfish to want to bring children into this world knowing what was ahead? Were your parents selfish also? Do you really and truly believe that God would tell us to be fruitful and multiply if it was a selfish act to bring children in this dangerous world?

        ” if you interpret this warning conservatively it makes me wonder why you let them drive on this dangerous highway to begin with.”

        >Lol! Jim!! We are born into this life, this world, and there were never any guarantees that all was going to be safe and without risks. What do you want us to do? Live in a bubble to make life as safe as possible and not have to take the normal risks that life throws at us? Jim, God created you and me not to merely exist but to LIVE life in its fullest despite all the dangers and risks involved. We do not send our children out into the world without warning them what is out there. Our warnings in how to deal with life began from the moment of their birth right up to the point of their flying the coop! It was a process that was part of their upbringing and it will go on as they continue on their own.

        Though many are called and few are chosen does not make me presumptuous in the least Jim because I desire salvation for my children. Because the odds are high against attaining heaven you seem to want me to throw up my hands and give up raising my children in the Faith. You’ve gone as far as calling me selfish for bringing them in this world! If I am presumptuous in any way it is in believing our Lord when he says he will be with us until the end of time. I am presumptuous in believing that when I pray for the salvation of MY soul as well as the souls of my children that my will is one with God’s will who desires all to be saved and hears all prayers!

        Yes I knew what was waiting for my children as they would make their way in this life. It is the same thing that awaited me and my parents before me! As I said, this life has no guarantees and we make the best of life as we can and what we have been dealt with. I find this life worth living Jim though I suspect you do not. I BLESS my parents for bringing me into this world despite their ‘selfishness’ and because of them I have come to know my Father in heaven in whom I have all trust, confidence and love and that he wills the salvation of my soul. If I am selfish in wanting my children to have a chance at knowing God by bringing them into this world then so be it.

        “I can feel safe knowing that Jesus will call us as many times as He needs, over as many lives as our little souls will journey on these human adventures.”

        You may believe this if you want Jim, but I believe what inspired scripture tells us concerning how many lives we will have here on Earth:

        Hebrews Chapter 9
        “27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

        “And you really need to pursue parallel theology yourself if you want to understand what and why almost one-in-four believe about a loving God.”

        Jim, if you really believe that Catholics have faith only because of the sheer number of Catholics then you have no clue as to what has brought us to have faith in God. My decisions in faith are not based just on how many others believe in a certain thing but what our Church(Christ) teaches me. The Church, the pillar and foundation of Truth that is Christ himself. There is no other Truth. There is no other way to the Father but through Christ. No one comes to the Father except through Christ, not through Buddha, Hinduism, New Age or Mohammed. It is through Christ alone.

    • http://homeschoolingphysicist.blogspot.com PhysicistDave

      Bobby wrote:
      > Hell is no laughing matter to those of us that are faithful Christians and that is why it is taught to our children. I love my children. I do not want to see any of them damned and if it takes a nightmare or two to convince them of the consequences of being separated (hell) from God for eternity then so be it.

      Of course, Bobby, if you were even close to being a decent human being, you would refuse to worship a Father who condemns his children to eternity in Hell merely because they are mistaken in their beliefs about some rather debatable events two thousand years ago.

      Based on the trends (see, e.g., the multi-decadal ARIS surveys) there is a pretty good chance your kids will not follow your religious path.

      Can you live with worshiping a God who will send them to Hell?

      I could not look myself in the mirror if I were that kind of person.

      The face of evil.

      I was, by the way, one of those kids who had nightmares because of the threats of Hell. Fortunately, I am a strong person (I was born with a severe physical handicap I have had to deal with all my life), and I was able to resist those monstrously evil threats: I adamantly refused as a child to be baptized, to join the church, etc.

      But I will never forgive the monstrous adults who caused me to have nightmares.

      I do not know whether or not there is a God in Heaven. But if there is, I am quite certain he is sending people like you and the adults who threatened me to Hell. I hear Hell is unpleasant, Bobby, but you deserve it.

      I hope the day will come in a few decades when your kids will say the same thing openly to you.

      Beware what you sow, Bobby.

      Dave Miller in Sacramento

      • Bobby

        “Can you live with worshiping a God who will send them to Hell?”

        David I’m sorry you feel that way, but it is based on your ignorance of what God wants for us, that all of us be saved. God does not choose hell for us, we do that on our own. We’ve been given free will by God even
        though he knows some of us will choose to reject him
        rather than accept his love. It is our willful rejection of
        God that will separate us from Him in eternity. We choose to be separate from Him.

        And before you go judging me and condemning me to
        hell, let me tell you what I taught my children concerning hell. I didn’t have to tell them about monsters, beasts, or demons, everlasting fire and so forth. No, I gave them the example of our family. I asked them to think what it would feel like if they rejected the love their mother and I gave them to the point where they no longer wanted to live at home and chose to find some other place instead, never to be with us again, never to see their brothers and sister again, never feeling the love we all have for each other and all of this forever and ever with no coming back. This David, my children could relate to rather than trying to envision an everlasting fire. If that is monstrous to you then there is not much I can do for you or say to you. If they had nightmares I was never aware of it. By the way David, my children are all adults now and no, I haven’t been condemned to hell by them but I have been loved by them beyond anything I thought possible.

        “I hear Hell is unpleasant, Bobby, but you deserve it.”

        Yes David, hell is unpleasant and I hope my children do not choose its path. As far as my deserving hell, you are right. I do and that is why I pray for the graces and mercy that will give me God in heaven rather than hell in my last breath. I will pray for you.

      • Stacy Trasancos

        Dave,

        “I hear Hell is unpleasant, Bobby, but you deserve it.”

        Dang. If you felt abused by such comments, why do you hurl them at others?

        I do hope you find the peace of forgiveness, Dave, and I’m sorry you were so hurt as a child.

  • http://aol Jim

    Bobby, the whole string I through out there was to show that Hope is
    alive in all faiths and persons of good will. But really, if this life, this
    world is so good to you what problem do you have with coming back
    if this is a reality in God’s great plan ? You see, this Hope thing is a
    Catch-22 because anyone can use it – and everyone does. Listening to
    Raymond Arroya on EWTN make the official announcement (5/23) that
    Pope Francis said even atheists can get to heaven I had to marvel at
    just how great our Church is. So don’t write those Orientals off yet.
    You get so wound up, Bobby. It’s no wonder people just love to yank
    your chain. Peace.

    • Anonymous

      ” Listening to Raymond Arroya on EWTN make the official announcement (5/23) that Pope Francis said even atheists can get to heaven I had to marvel at just how great our Church is. So don’t write those Orientals off yet.”

      Lol wow Jim. So now I had written off Orientals? :) JIm, Pope Francis did not say anything new! Of course everyone has a chance for heaven, Christ redeemed the whole world! We have known this for 2000 years! What people seem to be mistaken about redemption is that not all of us will accept His redeeming love and seek out salvation! That’s the key Jim. Redemption is not salvation. Yes, Christ redeemed(ransomed) us on the cross, but unless we cooperate with God’s grace and accept both his redemption and his invitation to salvation, well…now you know the rest of the story.

      Please Jim, in the future it would be nice not to put words in my mouth. No where did I ever say I wrote off *orientals*. I firmly believe we all have a chance for salvation.

      Check this link out for a clear explanation on what the Pope said. It is what the Church has taught all along! Peace.

      http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2013/05/pope-francis-knows-difference-between.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FLittleCatholicBubble+%28Little+Catholic+Bubble%29

      • Stacy Trasancos

        Bobby, thank you for linking that. Love it!

        • Bobby

          No problem Stacy

  • Bobby

    Sorry Jim, that was my comment above but forgot to sign it. Peace

  • http://aol Jim

    ” … but salvation is an individual choice that we each must make, a gift that we can accept or reject even up to our dying breath.”

    Yes, Anon, I know all this. I have 12 years of parochial education with
    two orders of very fine nuns. You seem to be equating that without belonging to the Catholic church and upholding its dogmas that this redemption doesn’t get you saved. I respectfully decline that notion.
    Jesus gave the world a set of instructions. It doesn’t matter what faith you profess as long as it includes loving God (whatever you conceive him to be ) and neighbor. If you don’t believe in gravity but obey its laws you will never die by falling. And moreover, this thread of mine on Stacy’s site had to do with the eastern dogma of reincarnation, which thanks to understanding parellel theology – two points make a straight line – I was able to overlay onto everything those good sisters taught. One of the harder concepts they sought to impart to us kiddos was that our minds or parts therein must always be on God. Right ! we said but that’s impossible. Forty years later I pick up the Bahagavad-gita and what does Krishna say to those of us living in this last age of Kali. The only hope is to practice God-Consciouness. Then it all came back. It’s why Dismas, the good thief on the cross went to heaven. symbolically, he never repented, Just kept his dying mind on Jesus and his kingdom. Ones last thoughts are what matters most. If you train your mind to always have some part of it on God, to God you will go. Where your heart is there also is your treasure, your reward. Matt 6:19. People who live with just mundane ideas may also have treasure in heaven. Just not enough to get them there in one life. God will give you what your heart desires, and what you deserve, justice, but I think it takes many lives to work it all out – this purgatory -and I believe that our great Church will someday teach this dogma.

  • Bobby

    “… but I think it takes many lives to work it all out – this purgatory -and I believe that our great Church will someday teach this dogma.”

    And until the Church does I ain’t buyin’ it :)

  • benedict1

    Many years ago Jaques Maritain wrote a little book called “Three Reformers: Luther, Descartes, Rousseau” A reading of it plus a large dose of Adler’s thoughtful Common Sense approach to Philosophy will lead you inescapably to Stacy’s conclusion. Materialism is the absurd denial of common sense. The birthday cake example above is profound! Stacy has destroyed the nonsense in a few common sense paragraphs. I would also recommend Ed Feser’s book on Philosophy of the mind and his books on St. Thomas’ work. His books are tough and pull no punches. He really hammers secular materialism in my view.

    • http://stacytrasancos.com/ Stacy Trasancos

      I am half way through Feser’s book for the second time, oh you are so right, he pulls no punches. I have to read it slowly though, if I miss a sentence I get lost.

      It was in Adler’s angel book that the absurdity of materialism snapped into view for me. He makes the case that everyone should think about angels even if their existence can’t be proven, minds without bodies. He explained that materialism requires faith just as much as belief in immaterial beings does, but faith in materialism to be true is the more unreasonable belief. I was pumping my fists! Yes!

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