This acclaimed scientist gives a friendlier face to atheistic neuroscience |331|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Oct 25, 2016.

  1. Dean Esmay

    Dean Esmay Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2016
    Messages:
    2
    Home Page:
    I find some of the assumptions here interesting, simply because a lot of what people used to all know has been forgotten. "God" as a concept, the THEOS in Greek, has been understood since Before Christ as not belonging to any one religion. Plato believed in the THEOS, the GOD, the ultimate source of everything. So did Socrates. So did Aristotle. Many Greeks, when they came across the Hebrew scriptured, immediately recognized the concept of God in there with the various names like YHWH and Elohim were the same idea. Early Christians like Justin Martyr and Polycarp argued that the Christian God was God. Most theologists think the Zoroastrian Aharu-Mazda and the Iwazu of the Bantu philosophers and the idea of the Brahman of deep Hinduism all are the same basic idea once universally known as "GOD"--the ultimate source of all reality, the thing that's making time and space go right now: GOD. That's what the word MEANS.

    So it's interesting we now see an "atheist" quoting Plato and not knowing that Plato not only wrote extensively about God, which he believed in, but that he described why he thought God was a necessary condition for the universe to make sense at all, for physical OR moral OR ethical phenomena, or for even ideas themselves to exist. It is very strange we now all think that if you say "God" you're going to be offending someone's religion, when for thousands of years, this idea of God as the Ultimate Source That's Making Reality Go, has been bedrock knowledge. 800 years ago, in describing the Prime Mover and the source of all reality and motion, visible or invisible, physical or intangible, said, "This ALL PEOPLE call God."

    You may think I'm crazy, but I think there's a genuine GOD-PHOBIA underlying a lot of "skeptic" behavior. And I say that as someone who is very much a recovered Atheist.
     
    Roberta, ChadWooters, Alex and 2 others like this.
  2. Silence

    Silence Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2016
    Messages:
    393
    Interesting interview Alex and probably about as collegial a dialogue between the differing viewpoints I have seen.

    He does seem like a "good guy".

    What continues to amaze me as I delve further into things is the lack of intellectual honesty when it comes to language and specifically words like "science" and "faith". I just don't understand why the prototypical scientist clings so ardently to the close-mindedness on the proverbial bigger questions that humans have been most interested in for eons. Why must they extrapolate the current limits of science to declare seemingly contra-possibilities as fantasy; as primitive? It would seem much more sincere and honest to say something like, "My particular world view doesn't drive me to contemplate answers to the bigger questions you're asking of me Alex. That said, I can happily concede that we may ultimately find that brain does not equal mind, etc. In the meantime, I keep following the evidence where it leads."
     
    Alex likes this.
  3. E.Flowers

    E.Flowers New

    Joined:
    May 20, 2015
    Messages:
    1,052
    I would not say that it encompasses all skeptics, but there is certainly a strong sentiment against "moral accountability" among *a lot* of them, which always seems to get interpret as "punishment" and "hell" in virtually everything that falls outside their camp (even when not posited or even frowned upon).

    A nice percent of these people are traumatized by the most literalist version of Christianity possible, likely due to their upbringing, which is probably why that castrated version of buddhism that some of them practice has gained some traction without the "weird nonsense".

    A "life without consequence"... Without doubt a very adolescent way to see the world.
     
    Sciborg_S_Patel likes this.
  4. Last edited by a moderator: Oct 27, 2016
  5. malf

    malf Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2013
    Messages:
    4,049
    Are you saying there was some positive evidence for god for the ancients beyond the term being used as a catch all for stuff that couldn't be understood?
     
    steve001 likes this.
  6. whitehouseufo

    whitehouseufo New

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2015
    Messages:
    10
    This interview with the dear Dr. is one of those interviews where fact checking will produce a headache before it is all over. Therefore I will choose just one. The Dr, suggested that you read Dr. Michael Gazzaniga. I have read most of Gazzaniga and talk about it when I lecture on consciousness.It is good stuff. As with most arguments the Gazzaniga defense of atheism is only as good as the facts Paxinos wishes to leave out, because the split brain research hardly back up the 1st grade Sunday School view that Paxinos is promoting.

    The fact that there are two brains hardly makes it easier to believe that this formation happened by accident. Gazzaniga also points out a bigger problem that there are potentially thousands of independent modules in the brain, such as sight, sound, balance, speech etc. Without getting into the complexity of genetic mutations forming this Jumbo Jet in the junkyard after numerous tornados, it raises the realization to any neuroscientist that he is reality attending Trump University. The ugly unspoken word at Trump University is the binding problem. How do these potentially thousands of modules work together to almost instantly create the super virtual reality we call qualia?

    We are expected to believe that some massive committee of modules is making collective decisions (otherwise known as Oneness) to chose correctly each word as we put it in a sentence, walk talk and chew gum at the same time etc, or run the thousands of other unconscious functions like healing wounds, regulating blood pressure, sugar levels, heart rate yada yada.The insistance that this multi moduled brain is a randomly created self-organizing system rivals any and all miracles in the Bible.

    The other wonderful thing about the split-brain research that Paxinos chose to ignore is the "storyteller" or "interpeter" that Gazzaniga was created with discovering. It is located in the scientific rational anylytical left brain and is as close to a "scientific fact" as one gets. It was discovered that when an instruction was given to the right brain, the left scientific rational analytical brain was ignorant of it because there are no signals being exchanged between the brain halves. When the right brain was told to get up and walk around or go get a drink, Gazzaniga would ask the "verbal" left brain, "Why did you get up and walk around or get a drink?"

    In every case, the left brain would make something up and in every case it was wrong. It would immediately say "I was thirsty" or "I needed to stretch." It was given the name storyteller as the left brain consciousness (and it appears to be an independent consciousness so now we have three consciousnesses in the same brain) was trying to fill the gap in the suddenly inconsistent situation. The appropriate name for the storyteller in the rational left brain is pathological bullshitter.

    This is where skepticism comes from. Science is a method to investigate the world around us. The idea that skepticism is a part was added later. Skepticism is the atheistic rational analytical consciousness's way of dealing with things when their religious scientific beliefs start to fail.

    A prime example from the interview. Alex confronts the Dr. with the evidence of near-death experience and how it invalidates the materialistic brain Sunday School story. Because there is now a big hole in Paxinos's world view, his left brain storyteller jumps in immediately with "the evidence wasn't published in a major journal." The story is now consistent again.

    So Alex then brings up the fact that the evidence was written in the Lancet, and again there is a hole in Paxinos's world view. The storyteller jumps in immediately with a questioning of the controls used in the experiment. If Alex had killed that the storyteller would have come up with something else. This is not theory. READ GAZZANIGA.

    Just for interest sake the split brain research also shows that when the left brain is shut down as is found in autistic savants, even though many of them cannot dress themselves, speak, or go to school, can produce many things that they have never been taught. These include calendar counting for specific dates thousands of years in the future, multiplying six digits numbers against each other, producing 15 or 16 digital prime numbers, telepathically pick of 162 digits in a row, and instantly counting hundreds of small items instantly that have just dropped to the floor. ANY reading in savant literature shows clearly that these skills do exist and are completely reproducible. It would not be fair to bring these things up with Paxinos, as he is still in grade one when it comes to the complexity and what consciousness can do through the brain.
     
    Ian Gordon, Judith, north and 3 others like this.
  7. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2016
    Messages:
    829
    Can you link some of these studies?
     
  8. gabriel

    gabriel New

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2013
    Messages:
    1,644
    Yes! What proponents are hoping for is someone who has examined the edges of the skeptical world, remained convinced, and can come back to tell us why. Most don't get anywhere near the margins, show no desire to, but confidently expound on the completeness of their world view. Those who have looked over the edge and examined the data, are all proponents, including former card carrying atheist materialists. I suspect the well informed skeptic (informed beyond their preconceptions, that is) exists in theory only.
     
    Roberta, tim and Typoz like this.
  9. gabriel

    gabriel New

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2013
    Messages:
    1,644
    There's no doubt that's the case, you'll sense well informed proponents cringe at the word God, too. Skeptical scientists use it as a term of abuse (The god of the gaps). Speaking as someone who grew up with Latin as the language of the numinous, I've never had a problem with different terms expressing the same idea.

    Here's a video showing an idea translated through different languages and vying visuals, none of which look anything like a C1st teenage mother from Palestine! Does that matter as a projection of hope and invocation? I suspect not, so long as none are thought to be representative of the reality. (Ignore the cheesy singing)

     
  10. Typoz

    Typoz Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2013
    Messages:
    2,407
    At about 9 minutes into the podcast, Paxinos talks about for example being born in The United States or in Afghanistan as examples of how our outlook is a result of these external influences. But he doesn't explain how we can break free of that conditioning and see what we really are.

    For example, in an article entitled "Why psychology lost its soul" he writes at the start, the provocative statement, "Psychology is the study of behaviour". Now I'd always understood it to be the study of the psyche or the mind. By redefining the mind out of existence at the outset, there is really nothing further to be discussed. The book is closed before it is even begun.

    Since however, one's outlook is produced by the environment in which one was raised, Paxinos here is playing the victim. He is unable to break free of this conditioning, the poor bewildered creature is doomed to continue to believe those things which he was taught.
     
  11. JD1

    JD1 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2016
    Messages:
    33
    Well, his own philosophy precludes the very idea of breaking free from the conditioning. No free will, no control over one's actions or beliefs.

    It's "Shut up and calculate" for the human mind. All that matters to people like that is that they get something that has a "practical application" - in this case, being able to alter people's behavior. Of course, determinism means altering behavior is inherently impossible.

    Good point.

    I get the sense that he somehow considers himself exempt from his own logic. Somehow, he thinks it's simultaneously true that no humans have control over their actions and that he does have control. I have no doubt that he holds his own conditioning in higher regard because he believes his ideas will lead to more moral behavior, but what he fails to realize is that, according to his logic, the only reason he considers that behavior more moral in the first place is because of his conditioning.
     
  12. malf

    malf Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2013
    Messages:
    4,049
    Organised religion has always understood this.
     
  13. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Messages:
    4,468
    But some of us escape pretty well from our religious upbringing! I was brought up a Church of England Christian - I hope that isn't obvious any more!

    David
     
  14. malf

    malf Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2013
    Messages:
    4,049
    Nice and gentle I imagine? ;)

    Perhaps you were exposed to other inputs?
     
  15. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Messages:
    4,468
    The C of E is a fairly gentle church, and when I left, I thought of it as well meaning but hitched to a false doctrine. Gradually I stopped thinking of it as being even well meaning. It dragged its feet on things like homosexuality, and I also felt it could have done more to help stop the Northern Ireland troubles.

    After I stopped being a Christian, I was totally atheistic and materialistic for many years. It was the fact that AI was hyped as being almost inevitable in the 80's, and then just crumbled that put the first chink of doubt into my mind - so many professors were proved utterly wrong, and had thus wasted a huge amount of public funds, but they did their best to hide that fact (as you would expect).

    David
     
  16. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2016
    Messages:
    829
    Is this story on your blog? Would be interesting to read
     
  17. Mat

    Mat Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2016
    Messages:
    8
    Hi everybody,

    this is my first post at Skeptiko, let's start with my thoughts about the TV-analogy you, Alex, have suggested as the one alternative to a naturalistic framework.

    I do appreciate you question notions like "the mind is what the brain does" because they are really not thought through well.

    In the other hand, I am not happy with the TV analogy.

    Usually it is not some "pure conscious event" that strikes us first, but the contents of consciousness. Intuitively, I'd say the magic thing is e.g. the consciously experienced pain itself and not an extra ingredient "consciousNESS".

    I am pointing this out because it is really the brain that shapes the contents of our conscious experience. And this is different from what a TV set does. A TV set doesn't shape the contents of a TV show.

    Maybe there is some truth to the analogy on a higher level of abstraction. But I suppose the main purpose of the analogy is to convince others and I fear that instead, it gives the impression that non-naturalists underestimate the role of the brain.

    Does that make sense?
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2016
  18. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,134
    Speaking for myself, no it doesn't. Maybe you can express it more clearly?
     
  19. Typoz

    Typoz Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2013
    Messages:
    2,407
    Nor am I.

    I've always consider it to be a kind of metaphor, a way of representing a kind of idea. It just falls apart too easily if one takes it as a literal scientific model. But I do appreciate those who use it, for example Pim Van Lommel has referred to this idea, and he has my respect for at least trying to explain a different way of looking at things.
     
  20. sbu

    sbu Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2013
    Messages:
    50
    Yes - I don't like the transmission theory.
     

Share This Page