Why I Don’t Believe in a Creator God: Unintelligible Design

Three engineers are discussing what kind of engineer God is. The mechanical engineer says, “look at the complexity of the ball joint that formed by our arm and shoulder. It has so many degrees of freedom that God must be a mechanical engineer.”

The electrical engineer says, “look at the complexity of the nervous system and brain. God is clearly an electrical engineer.”

The civil engineer says, “You’re both wrong. Anyone who would put a waste pipe in the middle of a recreational area is clearly a civil engineer.”

My blog titled, Why I Don’t Believe in the Christian God, argued against God’s benevolence and his existence on theological grounds: Why I Don’t Believe in the Christian God. This blog argues against a Creator by looking at the inefficiencies and errors in the human design.

If we assume that God exists and he is omnipotent, he could design humans anyway he chose. Why would he design us so that we have to breathe, eat, drink, poop and pee? If any of these five functions are interfered with, we could die. In addition, the latter two aren’t particularly pleasant.

However, they are easily the consequence of evolution. The follow the laws of nature. Fuel must be burned in the presence of oxygen to create energy to keep the individual alive. If there were no waste products, you might be able to argue about the efficiency of design. Instead there are waste products which imply the inefficiencies of evolution.

Let’s say for the moment, God works in mysterious ways and in his infinite wisdom, he concluded that we need to breathe, eat, drink, poop and pee, why would he put the sex organs next to the waste organs? Again this seems more of a happenstance of evolution.

Followers of intelligent design love to give the example of the eye as being too sophisticated to be the result of evolution. Let’s look more closely at that assertion?

The eye has a blind spot. This corresponds to the optic disk where the optic nerve connects to the retina. There is no room for photoreceptor cells in this area. We actually don’t see anything that falls on this area. The brain has evolved to fill in this blank space with its best approximation of what should be there. Don’t believe me? Try these tests: Blind Spot Tests

The eye’s foveal avascular zone (FAZ) is at the center of our vision and has the highest acuity. It only corresponds to 1.5°  of the visual field. Surrounding the fovea are two more rings of lower acuity, the parafovea and the macula. At about 18° of the visual field starts the peripheral vision which gets blurrier as you get further from the center of the eye.

Test it out for yourself, while starring straight ahead look at something to the right of you. It will be be extremely blurry. We are not normally aware of this limitation of the eye because mental processing edits it out.

The perception of the colors red and green become poor after only 30° of your visual field. Good night vision only extends to 30° of your visual field.

Healthy people can perceive images that do not correspond to objective reality. We call them optical illusions. Depending on the type, these can be a function of the eyes or of optical processing in the brain.

The brain is full of flaws and biases beyond optical illusions. Because we are unaware of these defects, I have seen this referred to as anosognosia. However, this term usually refers to denial about one’s illness. We are speaking about a healthy brain here.

We experience pareidolia, which is perceiving a familiar pattern where there is none. The brain’s facial recognition system is so extreme, we see faces where there aren’t any. For example, if an appliance has two knobs where eyes might be and below that a horizontal lever, we would see a face. This is also why people have found the Virgin Mary in a piece of toast.

There is the McGurk effect. While watching a video with your eyes closed, you hear one word. When you watch the video, you hear a different word. This is because the person in the video is mouthing a different word. Your sight is influencing your perception of sound. You can try it out for yourself here: McGurk Effect

The mere-exposure effect is where you prefer the familiar and are uncomfortable around the unfamiliar. It has the unfortunate effect of making you believe falsehoods that you have heard a number of times. This latter case also goes by the name the illusion of truth effect.

In addition to the above, there is cognitive ease, the flash lag effect, chronostasis, the Dunning-Kruger effect, cognitive dissonance, etc.

Would a omnipotent creator create us with a flawed brain and then on top of that cause us to be in denial of the flaws? On the other hand, these flaws and denial are easily explained by evolution. As Dean Buonomano, Professor of Neurobiology and Psychology at UCLA points out in The Atlantic:

[There are] three central sources of “brain bugs”—our brains’ evolutionary bias towards survival and reproduction; the cognitive quirks that have resulted from an imperfect and clumsy evolution process, such as optical illusions and impulsivity; and our constantly evolving environment, which forces us to adapt rapidly, in the scale of evolution, and often not in the best ways possible.

Quote from: The Atlantic–Brain Bugs

I may go into more detail how evolution explains these defects in a later post.

Since I addressed theological issues in a prior post (Why I Don’t Believe in the Christian God), I don’t intend to delve too much into theology here. However, I expect theological arguments to be made to counter my essay, so I will address some of them here.

To explain these flaws by saying “God works in mysterious ways” is an ad hoc fallacy. It reminds me of the cartoon of the mathematician working on a proof. In a gap between some equations are the words,”then a miracle occurs.”

Blaming the fall of man is not an explanation for me, because I don’t believe in it. It is the refuge of those who are trying to protect the Creator’s benevolence. However, the sins of the father being visited upon the son is not justice. The sons aren’t the guilty party.

Yes, I am judging God by the standards of man. What other standards do I have? Fundamentalists and evangelicals had been trying to sell me on the creator. If their creator doesn’t meet my standards, I have two options. Either I reject him as unjust or come to the conclusion that there are better explanations for the way things are.

What about a creator that isn’t omnipotent? How about Occam’s razor?

These flaws are just what you would expect for evolution. When a mutation takes place and the animal survives to reproduce and if the offspring are fertile, then this mutation can spread. Evolution is not about optimal design. It is about reproduction. If a being with 500,000 flaws can reproduce and have fertile offspring, it will continue to have progeny. Should environmental factors change to the point where the progeny no longer survives to mating age, then it dies out.

©2016 Stephen L. Martin

Painting: The Card Players by Paul Cezanne

 

26 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Believe in a Creator God: Unintelligible Design

  1. That’s weird. That the brain “fills in” what it can’t see that is actually there, with something that isn’t there but the brain thinks should be. Wicked

  2. Hi Stephen
    Great explanation of the eye.
    Correct me if I am wrong, but your arguments seems to be the following:
    1. If God exists then he would design things to function in a particular way.
    2. Things function in a different way.
    3. Therefore God does not exist.

    Clearly the conclusion does not follow from the premises. Even if the premises are true – the conclusion could still be false.
    I think we would agree that a badly designed car is still a designed car. So bad designs do not show that there is no designer but rather at the very most that the designer is a bad one. The designer could have reasons that are moral, reasons yet to be discovered scientifically about how the eye operates, reasons he only knows, so premise 1 is false and assumes that one would know what the motives of the designer are.
    What do you find to be the most convincing and persuasive evidence for evolution?

    1. I am saying that I find it hard to believe that an omnipotent Creator would be responsible for such shoddy workmanship. However, it is very easy to believe it is the result of evolution.

      I am not telling others not believe in God. I am telling why I don’t believe in God. It’s a case of Occam’s razor for me. Evolution is the simpler explanation.

      You are invoking the “mysterious mind of God” argument, which may be fine for believers, but comes across as hand waving to me. If you don’t understand something, say God works in mysterious ways. That doesn’t encourage exploration or discovery.

      I think it’s great when someone’s faith works for them. My housemate’s faith has made her life richer and given her solace. It doesn’t work for me.

      1. Where I am coming from is that you are bringing up a psychological or theological question into an empirical one. Because you wouldn’t design the eye that way, therefore God would not design it that way either. The reasons for the design (psychological) do not refute the empirical evidence for the design. A typo In a post does not mean I didn’t write it. The question is then what reasons would God have for such errors: For reasons you reject, moral lessons, humility, gratitude.

        You say evolution gives a better explanation? How does evolution explain the complex origin of the bio chemical processes of the eye to begin with?

        What would you consider the most persuasive evidence for evolution?

  3. When I ask why would an omnipotent being create things so poorly, I don’t speculate on what would be in God’s mind. This is because evolution is the simpler explanation. Sure Occam’s razor is not a proof, but for me the simpler explanation in this case works better for me. It feels right.

    If I understand you correctly, you are saying that God would create substandard stuff for moral lessons, humility or gratitude? I like this. Moral lessons and humility are a really interesting point. I will chew on this for a while. I don’t get how mankind being full of imperfections would lead him to gratitude though.

    If you are interested in the theological reasons why I don’t believe in the Christian God, I discuss this in a previous blog: https://stephenmartin17.wordpress.com/2016/06/22/personal-view-why-i-dont-believe-in-the-christian-god/

    I am not a biologist, so I can’t say much about how the eye evolved. If you are really interested, here is the link to the Wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_eye

    Since neither of us are biologists, and discussion about the accuracy of evolution would entail both of us doing Google searches which I know I would like to avoid, I will pitch my response in another way:

    Modern science has led to the safest food supply in history. We are living longer due to advances in science. We enjoy loads of modern conveniences due to science. Why would some people accept all of the above and then choose to disbelieve the big bang and evolution? Wouldn’t this be cafeteria science? 😉 Evolution has been around for 150 years. There’s not much chance of it going away.

    I know that some of the medical advances we rely on today, wouldn’t exist without evolutionary theory. Here is a link to a paper called “How evolutionary principles improve the understanding of human health and disease”. It is on the National Institutes of Health website. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3352556/

    Best yet, I have messaged an acquaintance of mine who is a practicing Christian (evangelical, I think) whose life was saved by a medical procedure made possible by evolution. I asked him for specific examples of things we enjoy that would have been possible without evolution. When I hear back from him. I will post his response to this thread.

  4. But your argument assumes that there are no good reasons why an intelligent designer would design things a certain way – I wanted to get that across. The truth is we don’t know why the eye is designed the way it is. Engineers often have to balance size, efficiency and function which are constrained by laws of nature. Until we have complete knowledge of the eye and its interaction with the brain – what we call a flaw might actually be good engineering. Also I look at an eye, and all the biochemical processes and reactions which must all be coordinated for it to function and see engineering. I look at the flagellum and see a machine as sophisticated as a human machine. All the parts must exist in a highly specific way in order to function. The simpler explanation in that case is design.

    I do accept and love science, but science is done by scientists who are people with philosophical worldviews. Philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn describes how science requires a paradigm that is assumed and forms a framework in which observations and judgements are made. Modern science assumes that explaining how something works is the same as explaining how it originated. An engine obeys the laws of thermodynamics, but the laws of thermodynamics cannot explain the origins of the engine. There is a big conceptual difference between origins and operations. Modern science assumes naturalism – all events and processes must be explained by chance and physical processes. It is a philosophical assumption.
    The Big Bang is completely consistent with the Christian worldview – it is based on empirical evidence that some finite time ago the universe came into existence. On a naturalist view how do you explain what caused the universe (space-time, matter and energy) to come into being?

    On evolution – I do think we have great empirical evidence for what random mutations and selection can produce. There is a review done by Behe published in the Quarterly review of biology ( I think) he surveys the empirical evidence for what random mutations have done. Mostly they cause benefits by the loss of a function, not by a gain of function. They don’t produce new information or functions. Bacteria anti- biotic resistance shows how bacteria actually lose certain functions,to develop resistance. Our resistance to malaria is caused by a mutation which causes sickle cell anaeima – it benefits us but is a loss in the normal function of blood cells.
    So we have not empirically demonstrated how random mutations and selection can produce metabolic processes; the eye; new organs and new body plans.

    My question to you is what do you find to be the most persuasive evidence for evolution rather than what the majority of scientists believe?

    I think it’s important to say that stating that God caused something does not prohibit further inquiry – science is built on the discoveries of great thinkers like Kepler, Newton, Galileo whose belief- that the world is a product of a rational mind who made us to understand it rationally – actually formed the basis for their doing science. A naturalistic view has no philosophical basis for why the world is rational, uniform and works according to laws and is intelligible.

      1. I don’t think one needs to be a biologist to make an informed opinion about the evidence. You clearly have reasons you find persuasive in favor of evolution.

        I read your reasons for why you do not believe in God. It is quite a long list of objections which would take a while to work through. But perhaps before attempting to even answer anyone of them it’s important to recognize our presuppositions.
        Correct me if I’m wrong – your objection is basically that Gods actions and character is not moral.

        Your argument in order for it to be valid – assumes that there must exist objective moral values and duties. In other words there exists a moral standard which determines whether an action is right or wrong, good or bad. Moral standards determine how things ought to be. If there are no objective moral values and duties then your argument is invalid.

        As a naturalist you believe only the material world exists – are moral standards material? Are they made up of material parts? Where do moral values come from?

      2. I think your post begs the question. It does not explain why having a conscience is good and why we ought to obey our consciences. The person with a conscience and the psychopath are both equally a product of random mutations and natural selection. Therefore each person can follow their conscience and instincts because that is how nature has created them.
        Suppose nature creates instincts in Person A with a conscience, and creates Person B who is a psychopath – whose instinct must classified as right and according to whose standard? Person A or Bs? Why?

        Put in another way, if the world was full of psychopaths, we would think it is perfectly okay to behave as psychopaths because that is how nature has created us. But then that means what we consider good or bad now is arbitrary. Depended on contingent events which could have been different.

        https://boammarruri.wordpress.com/2015/08/29/i-dont-need-god-to-do-good/

      3. Having a conscious is good, because social animals need to cooperate to survive.

        The reason the psychopath is immoral, is because the majority has a conscious, so we get to decide what is right.

        If the majority of people were psychopaths, the psychopaths would be preying on each other. The people born with a conscience would see this and separate themselves from the psychopaths. The psychopaths would die out and the people with a conscience would continue to multiply. Thus humanity would evolve so that around 99% of people would have a conscience. In other words, we evolved morality because it allows us to survive.

        As far as God being necessary for morality, Buddhism which has no creator has a moral code. The laity follow the five precepts. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Precepts
        Monks have 227 precepts and nuns have 311. http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=227_bhikkhu_precepts

      4. I think you have misunderstood the moral argument. The moral argument does not mean that (1) a person must believe in God in order to live a morally good life. An atheist can carry out their moral duties even if they don’t believe in God. A Buddhist can have a moral code even if they don’t believe in God.

        The argument rather is – if God does not exist then objective moral values and duties cannot exist. In the absence of God there is no basis for the existence of objective moral values (good or bad) and moral duties right or wrong.

        You illustrate this point quite well as you point out:
        Humans have evolved a conscience.
        The majority of humans have a conscience which therefore determines what’s right or wrong.

        But now this is not valid. What the majority says is right does not necessarily make it right. If the majority of people say slavery is right, like they did 300 years ago that would mean it is right? So you end up with relative moral values and duties – which are as good as having no moral values and duties.

        You say “Having a conscious is good, because social animals need to cooperate to survive.”
        Why is having a conscience good? You will say because it leads to social animals which cooperate to survive. The question is then why is the survival of our species good? Simply saying it is good that our species survive because we say it is good – does not make it good.

        I must point out it is simply an assumption that a world full of psychopaths would tear each other apart and cause our species to be wiped out. For example male lions will fight each other and the strong one will take over the pack and kill all the cubs of the weaker lion and breed his own. If male humans did this we would classify this as psychopathic – but it is happening in the animal world and lions are still alive as a species.

      5. What is your goal in this debate?

        In the original post, I was just reporting on the work of men who know more about their fields than I do. I made an attempt at how things might work if there were a majority of psychopaths and a minority were born with a conscience, but it was mere conjecture. I don’t enjoy creating seat-of-the-pants hypotheses for the purpose of a debate. I can spend a lot of time coming up with new arguments to satisfy your objections, for what? You will poke holes in those and we will go around again. I think each of our perspectives are firmly established.

        I never thought for a moment that I would change your opinion. I hope you didn’t suffer the illusion that you would change mine.

        You may enjoy Jonathon Haidt’s book about moral psychology. My friend, who is an evangelical pastor loved it and I did too. It is called The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. Our debate is like something out of the book.

      6. My goal was not to convince you to change your mind but for me to understand your perspective and you mine. My original question was a simple one – what reasons do you find persuasive that evolution is true? Which you never gave an answer but referred me to your list of objections.

        Your objections are moral objections. Which means it assumes the existence of objective moral values and duties. Materialistic philosophers throughout history have mostly come to the conclusion that in the absence of God – moral values and duties cannot exist. Naturalism has never been able to give a valid basis for the existence of objective moral values and duties. Simply because moral values (kindness, meaning, justice) are not material objects. They have no mass, charge, energy cannot be located in a particular space or time like other material objects. On a materialistic view (only the material exists) values and duties cannot exist.

        In pointing out holes I wanted you to understand that the moral question is not scientific or psychological but rather philosophical. And also I wanted you to share your own opinion on the matter.

  5. I was raised a Christian, have evangelical friends, sometimes I attend my friend Pastor Phil’s church and was an agnostic, who struggled with the question of the soul (spirit) as well as God for many years. I feel I understand the Christian perspective on the soul and the spirit pretty well. So I understand what you are saying. I have been giving the evidence that has swayed my opinion.

    If you read Haidt’s book, he talks about the five (six since writing the book) moral dimensions and how each of us value each dimension differently. This is what causes people to roughly fall into liberal, conservative and libertarian camps.

    People who valued their tribe more that outsiders used their power to subjugate others. As it is the cultural zeitgeist, those who have a universal view of humanity feel powerless to change things. Overtime people with the universal view become emboldened, overthrow the status quo and convince those that have a strong tribal impulse that subjugation is wrong. This is a gross oversimplification, but illustrates how I see how slavery went from being accepted to being seen as immoral.

    Regarding evolution, I am an electrical engineer by training and I am annoyed when I hear someone whose only experience is building a couple of electronic projects arrogantly butcher electronic theory, so I will not pretend to understand the finer points of evolution.

    That being said, evolution is 150 years old and is the basis for biology. It has clearly stood the test of time and shows no sign of going away. This article from Scientific American could do a much better job of satisfying your objections to evolution than I could: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/15-answers-to-creationist/

    Here is a link to a page that lists some of the benefits of evolutionary theory: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA215.html Would you be willing to forego any health care that evolution has made possible?

    Science often settles the conundrums of philosophy. Enough science has been done to show that the subjective is a function of brain structure and chemistry that I am convinced that it all will eventually be explained this way. This includes love, compassion, kindness, generosity, patience, peace, forbearance, gentleness and morality. This list isn’t arbitrary. I work to cultivate these qualities in myself.

    The material affecting the “immaterial” first became apparent in the case of Phineas Gage. In 1848 working as a railroad construction foreman, he was tamping some dynamite into a hole in a rock when the dynamite went off blowing the tamping rod through his skull damaging his left frontal lobe.

    His personality changed to such a degree that his friends said he was no longer Gage. The frontal lobes control our emotions and is the seat of personality. This is why the frontal lobotomy was such a cruel procedure.

    Here is an account of the changes in Gage as reported by the Bulletn of the Massachusetts Medical Society, “His contractors, who regarded him as the most efficient and capable foreman in their employ previous to his injury, considered the change in his mind so marked that they could not give him his place again. He is fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity (which was not previously his custom), manifesting but little deference for his fellows, impatient of restraint of advice when it conflicts with his desires, at times pertinaciously obstinent, yet capricious and vacillating, devising many plans of future operation, which are no sooner arranged than they are abandoned in turn for others appearing more feasible. In this regard, his mind was radically changed, so decidedly that his friends and acquaintances said he was “no longer Gage”.”

    Over time due to the plasticity of the brain and due to social influences, he was able to regain some of who he was before.

    Clearly, the damage affected his morality: “irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity (which was not previously his custom), manifesting but little deference for his fellows, impatient of restraint of advice when it conflicts with his desires”

    Modern neuroscience is exploring the age old question of psychophysical dualism, i.e., is there a soul (spirit)? It has been found that consciousness, thoughts, behaviors and emotions can be predicted by the brain area that has been activated.

    Tests of emotional regulation have shown that the inhibition of emotions is performed by areas in the prefrontal cortex. A brain region corresponding to the sense of self has been located in the prefrontal cortex. Damage to the anterior prefrontal cortex in children affects their ability to develop moral reasoning.

    Many experiments have been conducted in neuroscience in order to understand free will. A complete model has not been developed. There are still a lot of contentious issues. One of which is free will may be an illusion. It has been proposed by one scientist that prior intention and deliberation are functions of the medial prefrontal cortex.

    So far science has been able to explain the mind, the conscience and the emotions without the need for the supernatural concept of soul. A physical explanation of the will should be developed in the near future. The brain structure which most closely resembles the soul is the prefrontal cortex.

    In 2014, Mohamad Koubeissi director of the Epilepsy Center at George Washington University’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences published a paper about an experiment where he used electrical stimulation of a specific brain region to disable consciousness.

    To be continued when I have more time.

    1. Thanks for that, I think you raise some interesting issues that would require further clarification.
      On the question of morality I can put to you this way:

      If life is the product of an impersonal physical cause then it follows there is no objective meaning, purpose or value to life. This follows logically from the fact that only a rational, intelligent agent, with freewill can cause things for a reason, purpose or meaning. It follows as well that only a being with a moral character can ascribe moral value to their actions. If life is caused by purely impersonal physical causes which are mindless, without intention or purpose then life is objectively without meaning and moral value.
      It does not mean however that each particular person cannot define what is meaningful and of moral value for them- but it means meaning and moral value are completely subjective. Each particular person can define for themselves what is meaningful and of moral value. The man that finds raping meaningful is equally justified as the man that finds charity and kindness meaningful -there is no objective (independant of humans) meaning and moral value if life is the product of an amoral physical process.

      Secondly moral values are simply immaterial. For example I can explain the behaviour of the human brain in terms of proteins, cells, electrons etc. However I can never explain the concept of justice, kindness, generosity in terms of basic physical categories. I cannot reduce justice, kindness to physical terms like electrons, energy and mass. The law of identity simply states if something is true for X that is not true for Y they are not identical. Therefore moral values are not identical to physical objects. This is a problem for naturalism – you must either then admit moral values don’t really exist, or you must admit that they do and therefore naturalism is false.

      I think neuroscience is doing amazing work explaining how the brain and consciousness work – however I think the question of the soul is a philosophical one. I am my brain vs I am my mind using my brain are empirically equivalent. The existence of the soul is compatible with the findings of neuroscience that you point out.
      Recall the soul has always required a properly functioning body to operate. If the body gets damaged and dies – the soul cannot function. The same goes for the brain – clearly our brains need to be functioning properly for our souls to operate. If someone hits me in the head and I go unconscious – we won’t necessarily conclude he has no soul. The fact that personality traits, emotions can be changed by changing brain states does not necessarily mean they are identical. Causality and correlation does not mean identity. Heating up a cup of water can cause vaporization – however we would not conclude heat and vaporization are identical. A can cause B does not mean A is identical to B.

      Consciousness consists of 5 states: sensation, thoughts, beliefs, desires, free will. All of these mental states are basic and irreducible to physical categories. For example:
      thoughts are propositions which can be true or false, and have intentionality meaning they are about other things. We have thoughts about other objects. But physical states cannot be true or false. A biological reaction cannot be true or false. Physical states do not have intentionality, they have no aboutness, they cannot be about other physical states. Therefore mental states are not identical to physical brain states.

      Do you not think though that if free will does not exist then it undermines knowledge?

      1. Each particular person can define for themselves what is meaningful and of moral value. The man that finds raping meaningful is equally justified as the man that finds charity and kindness meaningful -there is no objective (independant of humans) meaning and moral value if life is the product of an amoral physical process.

        I can’t quite agree. Throughout Human history, we (humans) have experimented with what works best for our survival as a species, and what doesn’t. The results of that search have become our morality.

  6. I don’t know why you keep saying, “completely subjective” I have said a couple of times we are born with morals, so I don’t consider them subjective in the way you are using the term.

    See the work of Yale psychology professor, Paul Bloom for experiments demonstrating infants’ inborn morality: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/09/magazine/09babies-t.html

    Our consciences tell us rape is wrong. Our belief in the immorality of rape is strong enough to write laws about it. I suspect a cross-cultural study would find it taboo or illegal in most if not all cultures. Not everyone chooses to follow his or her conscience and there may be other factors. I am not an expert in rape.

    How one prioritizes the values they are born with is individual. That is the subjective part and is why liberal and conservatives have different approaches to solving the same problem.

    For the moral dimensions and how their ratios affect out political and religious beliefs, see the Jonathan Haidt book I linked to twice above.

    ” I can never explain the concept of justice, kindness, generosity in terms of basic physical categories. I cannot reduce justice, kindness to physical terms like electrons, energy and mass. ” We measure them buying using questions and can see differences in these states with a brain scan. I am confident that we will be able to explain them in physical term.

    Just because some philosophers are stymied by the law of identity, doesn’t mean it is impossible for science to solve.

    “Recall the soul has always required a properly functioning body to operate. If the body gets damaged and dies – the soul cannot function. ” Why not use Occam’s razor and eliminate the soul? How does belief in a soul improve our understanding? If you keep the soul, then you have to explain how something immaterial like the soul can affect the brain and body?

    “Consciousness consists of 5 states” Where are you getting this definition? Some of those states would not be considered part of consciousness by modern neuroscientists.

    Here is a book called: Neurobiology of Sensation and Reward: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92797/

    Thoughts: http://web.mit.edu/~lyoung/www/Site/Publications_files/Saxe%26Young_CogNeuroToM.pdf

    Here is a book called The Neural Basis of Human Belief Systems: https://www.amazon.com/Neural-Systems-Contemporary-Cognitive-Neuroscience/dp/1841698814

    Desire: http://lsa.umich.edu/psych/research&labs/berridge/publications/Kringelbach%20&%20Berridge%202015%20Motivation%20and%20pleasure%20in%20brain%20chapt.pdf

    The jury is still out on free will. There are some scientists who think based on experiments performed thus far that there is no free will. If this is found to be true, I would be disappointed, but I would accept the finding.

    Here is the Wiki entry about the neuroscience of free will, so you can see what the state of the art is:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroscience_of_free_will

    I think we are beginning to go around in circles. I think this is a good time to agree to disagree.

  7. Yes it seems we are going around in circles, we are clearly not understanding each others arguments. I feel that you have not understood my argument – and perhaps the fault lies in my inability to articulate it properly. I actually agree with all that you say about morality but it does not actually address the philosophical problem of morality. You are giving descriptions of how morality works, how widespread it is. But the philosophical problem is distinct from that. I would suggest reading Immanual Kant’s -The metaphysics of morals.

    “I don’t know why you keep saying, “completely subjective” I have said a couple of times we are born with morals, so I don’t consider them subjective in the way you are using the term.”
    By subjective I mean dependent on humans for its existence. Objective I mean – something that exists independently of humans opinions.

    I feel I have given logical arguments for why morality is not identical to physical states which you do not logically refute but simply assert that moral values can be measured by measuring brain states. But perhaps the problem is my inability to communicate clearly my views and for that I must apologize.
    Thank you for the numerous links, not sure if I will get to them all. Perhaps one of these days I will post an argument for the necessity of the soul.

    I was asking you about free will because it follows logically from naturalism that all events are caused by physical causes. If naturalism is true all our thoughts and actions are determined by laws of physics. If there is no free will there is no one who is reasoning, because reasoning requires the ability to freely think! Without free will there can be no morality because moral choices require the ability to freely choose our moral actions!

    Thank you for the discussion
    Some links below of some posts I have written particularly on morality:
    https://boammarruri.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/an-imaginary-dialogue-between-socrates-and-darwin-on-evolutionary-ethics/
    https://boammarruri.wordpress.com/2015/08/29/i-dont-need-god-to-do-good/
    https://boammarruri.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/unravelling-the-fabric-of-morality/
    https://boammarruri.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/12-years-a-slave/

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