Re: [asa] mind/body/supernatural/natural from scientific fact vs. ideology?

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Mon Mar 30 2009 - 15:40:20 EDT

On Wed, Mar 18, 2009 at 7:43 PM, David Clounch <> wrote:

> What does all this do to the use of science to study human minds?  What does
> this do to Gregory's social science?  What if each brain was made
> differently?  What if some brains have extra features?  The imagination goes
> a bit wild.

The nature and identity of our spiritual component(s) and the
relationship to the physical brain is highly debated and difficult to
test. Under any model of spirit/soul/body/etc., there must be some
sort of interaction between the components that are not identical.
Thus, contrary to the claims of some popular secular sources,
detecting specific physical brain activity associated with a
particular "spiritual" aspect (often rather poorly defined) cannot
rule out a dualist view of a spirit entirely distinct from the brain.
Such a spirit would interact with the brain, so the existence of
particular neurological patterns cannot rule them out. (For what it's
worth, I'm more inclined to a monistic view but recognize that science
doesn't do any good in deciding between them.)

One's view of the nature of the spirit-body relationship will
influence what seems most probable with regard to the way it was
created (and, for that matter, also relates to recognition of
personhood, etc.) Again, science is not much help here. You could
have a specific model that incorporates particular scientific claims,
but a slightly different model could lack those claims.

> All this seems to be rather contrary to previous  attitudes on the list that the legitimate realm of knowledge is just what science can study.<

I don't think anyone on the list at the moment holds that position (a
naive scientism), but there are certainly people who think that the
legitimate realm of science is relatively constrained-is that what you
meant to convey?

> And the last observation is - when one  does retreat into the supernatural
> to avoid "design recognizers in the mind" one is  committing the same
> mistake for which the YEC crowd receives so much derision and
> vilification.  This is the last list on earth I'd expect people to commit
> that error.

Claims about "design recognizers in the mind" need to address certain
key points:

Humans are very good at seeing patterns, even ones that don't exist
(e.g., the ease with which a "face" can be found, gambler's
strategies, etc.) In general, noticing patterns is useful, so it
makes sense to be selected for. However, pattern does not equal
design. Design needs to be carefully defined, not by trying to find a
definition that applies to complex biochemical systems.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Mon Mar 30 15:41:03 2009

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