"Brain and Mind Question" and Christian Theistic Philosophers

(*In particular, Greg Bahnsen, and, Victor Reppert, the latter being the author of The Argument from Reason)

By Edward T. Babinski

A dualistic Christian theistic philosopher named Greg Bahnsen once exclaimed during a debate with atheist Gordon Stein: "What are the laws of logic and how do they fit into a naturalistic world view?" Recently, Christian philosopher Victor Reppert even wrote a book on that subject, contra naturalism and pro-supernaturalism, titled, The Argument from Reason.

Of course why stop with asking about the laws of logic, since one could also ask the same thing about the "laws of mathematics," and how they fit into a "naturalistic world view." Perhaps Reppert's next book ought to be titled, "The Argument from Mathematics?" Sir James Jeans used to argue that the mere existence of mathematical equations that fit what we observed about how the physical world reacts, proved the existence of a great Mathematician, i.e., "God." Victor Reppert in his book apparently proposes a "great Logician." While artists of course see God as likewise one of their own, a "great Artist." *smile*

Not to disappoint Sir James Jeans, but the question of how mathematics fits into a naturalistic world view has grown a bit more complicated, both philosophically and mathematically speaking, than it was in Jeans's day:


And Einstein pointed out some of the uncertainties involved in trying to understand nature via mathematical equations:

"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

Isn't that the case with "logic" as well? "Reality" remains a tough nut to crack, no matter how much logic and mathematics we use to help define it and understand it the best we can. We continue refining observations and experiments and even refining our words and terms, as we learn more about how "this thing" follows "that thing," in both a specific and also in a holistic sense, since specific refinements and new experimental results in one tiny area can also affect large scale understandings.

Logic is therefore not a guarantee of truth about nature any more than mathematics is. Both are only engaged in "equalling out" our understanding of our present level of ignorance on both sides of a "logical" or mathematical equation. Neither are "logical proofs" such, not in the face of rival philosophies and rival scientific and mathematical hypotheses that also "equal out," i.e., based on our present level of ignorance of all the data.

Logic is like a scale with two arms that attempts to measure things equally, as are mathematic equations (with an equal sign in the middle). "This" is like "that," but only so far as our present crude definitions and knowledge of "this" and "that" go. Or "this" is "not like" that, so far as our present crude definitions and knowledge of "this and "that" go.

However, even some of the simplest species exhibit reactions to nature based on "resemblances" "unlikeness," or "cause and effect" i.e., reacting in a fashion similar to "logic," call that reaction, "pre-logical logical recognitions," and such reactions exist even among some of the simplest species. So some bridging concepts exist as you compare the spectrum of reactions among living organisms from non-human to human organisms.

Also, a study of the history of philosophy provides plenty of evidence that each school's "logic and reasoning" follows AFTER earlier gut reactions and overall interpretations of things. Their "logic" serves to loosen the tangled skein of their gut hypotheses by tugging at any loose unseemly strands, yanking them out in proportion to one another till they reach equal lengths on all sides of the tangled skein of assumptions that lay at their center. Thus, we see so many attempts to "balance" out the appearance of each philosophical school's tangled skein of thought and make one skein appear "more objective" than other such skeins (and gut guesses) by other philosophers.

The limitations of language also comes into play. As when philosophers bandy about words like "matter" or "mind," enormously crude words, just as our ancestors once bandied about words for the "four basic elements" of which the entire cosmos was composed, earth, wind, fire, water.

My conclusion? It would appear that philosophy awaits the next discoveries in brain science and consciousness, not vice versa. And philosophy is in no position to dictate to science what it may or may not discover about the brain/mind.

True, I agree with Vic and Bill we don't have a full naturalistic explanation for many things. But if the brain was so simple we could easily understand it, then we would probably be too simple to even begin knowing how to go about studying it. As things go, we are proceeding at not a bad pace.

I also think a lot of dualistic theists are growing a bit anxious and wish to keep the world safe for dualism. Even now MONISTIC Christian brain/mind philosophers are arising, to challenge the reign of DUALISTIC Christian mind/brain philosophers. Thus, Christian dualists and monists keep Christian philosophy's options "open" should science resolve brain/mind questions in a more naturalistic way. Some of those Christian monists suspect that science already HAS accumulated plenty of evidence that the brain/mind is more unified than dualists are willing to admit. Christian monists believe that our reasoning processes are inherent in our brains and development throughout life, and that our souls/selves/minds truly do "vanish" with the death of our brains, and it's simply up to God to resurrect us later in whatever form He wants, in some new monistic substrata, after death.

Either way, I suggest Vic and Bill take a vacation from philosophy and spend more leisure time keeping up with the ever-expanding growth of knowledge about the brain and consciousness. Kick yer feet up and read more science, learn more about the natural world, since Christian philosophy has evolved to the point where it already has equally earnest dualists and monists! Is there much more that theistic philosophy can do since it has already covered both the dualist and monist grounds of consciousness? All the bases seem covered. Time to let science do its stuff, relax already. *smile*

Speaking of relaxing, that brings me to the concept of sleep, blissful, unconscious, dreamless (non-REM), unreasoning, sleep, during which time we sometimes grow cold and our arms reach out unconsciously and we tug the covers closer, or even sleep walk.

Is there a dualistic Christian philosophy of sleep walking? I ask that because it's amazing that people rise out of bed and walk around without even dreams, totally unconsciously. "Sleep walking (somnambulism) most often occurs during deep non-REM sleep (stage 3 or stage 4 sleep) early in the night."


Likewise, scientists are currently ignorant of the vast amount of unconscious brain processing that occurs unconsciously before I decide what my next word is going to be. So there's lots left to discover.

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