Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Science and the Soul

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Dr. Jacobus Erasmus.[2] I will not concern myself here with that former discourse. My argument with Parsons here is simply that he rejects all belief in anything like soul or spirit based upon one basic idea of substance dualism and doesn't leave any room for theological development. in effect he;snot attacking a straw man per se but he's lumping all non phsyicalist belief into one pile and assuming that he's dealt with that because he argues against some philosophers. There are theological possibilities that would allow for more of a combined view between the scientific and the theological.
For reasons that are embedded in his previous discussion he presents as the bedrock of his arguments the authority of neuroscience to reduce mind to brain, He quotes Owen Flanagan’s conclusions in The Problem of the Soul. "Modern mind science regulates its inquiry by the assumption that mind is the brain in the sense that perceiving, thinking, deliberating, choosing, and feeling are brain processes…That the mind is the brain is thus a regulative assumption that guides contemporary mind science."[3] After a slew of quotes of this nature,all of the information gathered are assumptions not proven facts assumptions made by neroscinetistss reducing mind to brain. David Eagleman, "The strange computational machinery in our skulls is the perceptual machinery by which we navigate world, the stuff from which decisions arise, the materials from which imagination is forged. Our dreams and our waking lives emerge from its billions of zapping cells."[4] Perceptual machinery not exactly technical  scientific  term, one wonders might it also include a less tangible aspect as well? I guess that depends upon how "strange" it is. All of the quotes are like this. 

Parsons is arguing a long string of experts hold the to the same opinion so he is justified in assuming they are right. "These quotes should be sufficient to indicate that I was not making an idiosyncratic or groundless claim about the assumptions of neuroscience about the efficacy and sufficiency of the brain for the mental. Given more time and space, I am sure I could adduce quite a few more such quotes."[5]But all he's really saying when we come right down to it is he has a lot of quotes about the opinions of experts in  a field that has produced little in the way of basic knowledge. They understand a lot about the processes of the brain but but don't really understand enough to rule out the soul. Parson's asserts that we can because a lot of them say they think so. Those statements do not apply to reducing mind to brain as the first quote would have it. 

Classical psychological reductionism assumes the mind is essentially the brain. Mental behaviors are explained totally in terms of brain function. Mental states are merely reduced to brain states.(I also have my own sources:)

But while it may be true that certain psychological processes are contingent on some neurophysiological activity, we cannot necessarily say that psychological processes reduce to ‘nothing but’ that activity. Why not? – Because much of the time we are not dealing with cause and effect, as many neuroscientists seem to think, but rather two different and non-equivalent kinds of description. One describes mechanism, the other contains meaning. Understanding the physical mechanisms of a clock, for example, tells us nothing about the culturally constructed meaning of time. In a similar vein, understanding the physiological mechanisms underlying the human blink, tells us nothing about the meaning inherent in a human wink (Gergen, 2010). Human meaning often transcends its underlying mechanisms. But how does it do this?[6]

Reducing mind to brain confuses mechanism with meaning.[7]
            Raymond Tallis was a professor of Geriatric medicine at University of Manchester, and researcher, who retired in 2006 to devote himself to philosophy and writing. Tallis denounces what he calls “neurohype,”  “the claims made on behalf of neuroscience in areas outside those in which it has any kind of explanatory power….”[8]

The fundamental assumption is that we are our brains and this, I will argue presently, is not true. But this is not the only reason why neuroscience does not tell us what human beings “really” are: it does not even tell us how the brain works, how bits of the brain work, or (even if you accept the dubious assumption that human living could be parcelled up into a number of discrete functions) which bit of the brain is responsible for which function. The rationale for thinking of the kind – “This bit of the brain houses that bit of us...” – is mind-numbingly simplistic.[9]

Parson's states: "As for the piece by Manzotti and Moderato, it does not deny what I assert, namely that neuroscientists explicitly invoke assumptions about the mental arising from the physical." [10] But obviously they don't all agree, Nor do any of his quotes prove that they agree with Phsyicalism as metaphysics. 

Parson's first argument is what he calls "the interaction problem" On substance dualism  mind and matter are defended in mutually exclusive terms. Mind has no physical properties and is not composed of atoms.It is not physical and cannot be detected by the physical. Essentially it works by assumiomg that we know so much through science and yet science confirms nothing of substance dualism."With putative soul/body interactions there is a lot of speculation and hand-waving, but nothing definite—certainly nothing to compare to the detailed, coherent, rigorous, testable theories of fundamental physics. It is with justification that Flanagan says that dualists believe in psychokinesis." The real issue here reduces to believe the one with the empirically demonstrable properties. While that may be a good abductive reason to be a physicalist it;s not a disproof of soul by any means. In fact it's just  the argument  is really a bait and switch, it says these two positions are diametrically opposed. Matter is entirely empirically demonstrable and spirit has no physical substance and that's why the former  is provable the latter is not. Sp accept the former and pretend the latter is nonexistent, But since it's not amenable to empirical demonstration that it's not open to empirical disproof.

Second argument:

My second argument against souls is that soul-theory thinks of the self as a simple, abiding, spiritual entity that constitutes our personal identity. This is the theory of the self as a Cartesian Ego. I opposed to this theory a version of what is normally called the “Bundle” theory of the self, which is traced back to Hume, but which also has roots in Buddhism. On this theory, personal identity is not constituted by a spiritual essence or entity, but is a nexus of heterogeneous experiences and traits.

That is basically a straw man argument. There are other versions of soul or spirit that do not require a ghost in the machine. The mind itself,or consciousnesses, can be equated with spirit. In God and the new Physics[11] Paul  Davies (an atheist at the time) argued that theoretically God could change Constantine for the electrical pattern firing across the synapse and thus transfuse our consciousness to other bodies. Why can't that constitute a soul  if it could mean  eternal life? 

Third Argument

My third objection to souls begins with the simple and undeniable observation, backed by enormous empirical research, that non-human animals have minds, that is, they are capable of quite sophisticated acts of cognition and intelligence and display many of the emotions that we do. Soul-theory holds that we think, feel, etc. with our souls. So, do animals have souls? If we say “no,” then we admit that the brain is sufficient for the mental life of non-human animals. At what level of cognition or consciousness, then, are brains no longer sufficient and why? How do we give a principled, non-arbitrary answer here? If brains can do that much, then why not more?

First of all Argument 3 begs the question in assuming animals have no soul-like quality. Moreoever,a second problem is that the argument turns on a stark dichotomy creating a sharp division between body and soul. He assumes that the soul  given all the heavy lifting of personality and decision making and that brain is just housing. In so assuming he is asserting the Greek understanding of soul. Apparently that is the tradition  among philosophers m to take theirs ques fro Aristotle rather than the Bible. We see this is true from Parson's historical account of the subject: 

...the historical context needs to be considered. For Homer, the soul is that animating or vitalizing principle that accounts by its departure at death for the transformation of an active hero into a motionless corpse. Seemingly, Hector's body is still there after he has been slain by Achilles, but obviously something essential has departed. You can then follow the development of thinking about the soul to the explicit dualism of the Pythagoreans and Plato, to Aristotle's complex treatment in De Anima. The upshot is that my remarks about what is "obvious" were not historically sensitive. Indeed, many things we now think of as obvious were not at all to ancient people, who were not thereby simply being obtuse. For instance, hard as it is imagine today, until early modern times fossils were not recognized as the records of living things. So you are quite right that my remarks were ahistorical and your remarks are a needed corrective. One really does need to be aware of the cultural and historical context before making pronouncements about obviousness![12]

The problem with the Greek understanding is that they assume an estrangement between body and soul They saw the soul as using the body like a vehicle, like a man sailing a ship or using a tent, but the Hebrews understood a more unified relationship. The more apt image here would be marrow in the bone rather than a man in a tent, as the Hebraic author  illustrates.[13] The upshot being that a more unified view would see the soul less as a smaller self inside the body but as a more organic  part of the whole person thus sharing more activity with the brain. Consciousness as soul (or spirit) fits here. It would allow us to see the soul  as consciousness not as a ghost in the machine, and it would leave something  for life after death,

[1] Keith Parsons, "Response to Dr. Jacobus Erasmus on the Soul, " Secular Outpost (Jan 10, 2019)
(accessed 1.22.2019)
[2] the two previous arguments:
He gives his reply at:
[3] Owen Flanagan quoted in Parsons, "Response to Dr. Jacobus Erasmus" Op Cit, Original  in Flanagan  The Problem of the Soul., 2002, pp. 77-78
[4]David Eagleman, quoted in Parsonis, "Response to Dr. Jacobus Erasmus" Op Cit
[5] Parsons, "Response..." Op Cit
[6] A. N Schore, Affect regulation and the origin of the self: The neurobiology of emotional development. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. (1994).
See also: Siegel, D. J. The developing mind: How relationships and the brain interact to shape who we are. New York, NY: Guilford Press. (1999).

[7] K. Gergen, The accultured brain. Theory & Psychology, 20(6), (2010).  795-816.

[8] Raymond Tallis New Ideas for Godless People (blog—online researche) volume 124 Issue 6 (Nov/Dec 2009) URL:  visited 5/9/12

[9] ibid

[10] Parsons, "Response..." Op Cit
[11] Paul Davies,  God and the new Physics, Hew York, NY: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition October 16, 1984.

[12] Parsons, "Response..."  comment section

[13] Hebrews 4:12
"For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

Monday, January 21, 2019

Science and Social Construct

An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1768.jpg

An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pumpis a 1768 
oil-on-canvas painting by Joseph Wright of Derby
The painting departed from convention of the time by depicting a 
scientific subject in the reverential manner formerly reserved for 
scenes of historical or religious significance. [Wikipedoia]

Steven Novella us an atheist activist and apologist but he is also an MD in highly specialized setting (academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine).[1] To me this means highly accomplished and highly qualified.He connected with Committee for Skeptical Inquiry  to says highly ideological. He is clearly dedicated to science and typical of many who react against the notion that science is a social construct. He writes:
Such ideas were a necessary counterpoint to quaint notions of Western cultural superiority, and were often framed in the context of colonization and cultural oppression. However, much like Thayer, some postmodernists took a good idea and, in their desire for simplicity and perhaps also conceit, decided that it applied completely to everything. The real problems began when non-scientists decided that postmodernist ideas applied equally to science as they did to literature or art.These notions took hold partly because they played well into extreme left political philosophy, but also because some philosophers started arguing that science was mere culture. For example:
Paul Feyerabend, former philosophy professor at the University of California (Berkeley) maintains that what is called science in one culture is called voodoo in another: “To those who look at the rich material provided by history, and who are not intent on impoverishing it in order to please their lower instincts—their craving for intent on impoverishing it in order to please their lower instincts—their craving for intellectual security in the form of clarity, precision, ‘objectivity,’ [or] ’truth’—it will become clear that there is only one principle that can be defended under all circumstances and in all stages of human development. It is the principle: anything goes.”[2]
Some philosophers and scientist became quite alarmed at this view, however. It seems to imply that there are not facts in science, that there is no way to determine that one scientific idea is better than than another. Philosophers, however, have already moved beyond these critiques of science. The core problem with the “anything goes” criticism is that it confused the “context of discovery” with the “context of later verification.” In other words, science is different than all other human intellectual disciplines, because it is empirical. Ideas are not just examined and argued, they are rigorously tested against reality.[3]
The idea of a social construct comes out of the early stirrings of postmodernism in the1960s with sources such as Berger and Luckmann's The Social Construction of Reality published in 1966,.[4]
Thomas Kuhn played an important role, although I think of his views as "constructivism light."[5][6]
Social constructs aspects of reality that are taken for granted and assumed to be typical unalterable aspects of reality and yet are relieve to the society in which they occur. Examples include democracy, gender (not sex but the affectations and trappings that demarcate sexual identity). A good example of the constricted nature of an idea is restroom signs. Imagine you are in a restaurant and you need the restroom but rather than saying "male" and "female" they just have pictures of a butterfly and crab, would you know which to go in? I think most people would.[7] 

There different degrees of constructivism. There are extremists who say there are no facts. But most of that is just misunderstood. There is a group called "Edinburgh Strong Programme" which is one of the more radical views,[8]

D.C. Philips says, somewhat tongue in cheek,
Across the broad fields of educational theory and research, constructivism has become something akin to a secular religion....As in all living religions, constructivism has many sects-each of which harbors some distrust of its rivals. This descent into sectarianism, and the accompanying growth in distrust of nonbelievers, is probably the fate of all large-scale movements inspired by interesting ideas; and it is the ideological or ugly side of the present scene, which is reflected in my article's title.....The rampant sectarianism, coupled with the array of other literature that contain pertinent material, makes it difficult to give even a cursory introductory account of constructivism, for members of the various sects will object that their own views are nothing like this! But to get the discussion underway, this oversimple gloss should convey the general idea (a more precise account of the issues at stake shall emerge as the discussion progresses): These days we do not believe that individuals come into the world with their "cognitive data banks" already prestocked with empirical knowledge, or with pre-embedded epistemological criteria or methodological rules. Nor do we believe that most of our knowledge is acquired, ready formed, by some sort of direct perception or absorption.[9]
Novella pays homage to the good intersessions of the pioneers of constructivism but he still wants to hold out for the total uniqueness of science. Other ideas are mere constructs but science is different. Why? Because it seeks knowledge? Because its based upon math?Its still interpreted by humans. Meaning is a shared human endeavor [10]and any scientific data or theory must be a shared idea. 

Yet Novella holds out he says: "No matter the construct, no matter the origin of a scientific idea, regardless of how well it plays with our current political or social order, at the end of the day a scientific idea lives or dies by how well it predicts the outcome of observations and experiments."[11]
That is all fine and good, but when we start interpreting the world according to scientific world view we merely guiding the Lilly. The world according to our understanding of science is not a scientific fact it's a construct with added knowledge of some facts. His piece is full of well worded statements in fairness to  the constructionists: 
"Now of course, humans are not perfect, and science is a human endeavor, and so the practice of science is not perfect. I write frequently about the many ways in which science can be flawed and biased."[12] 

But he still holds out. Science is different,unique, science is the key to truth. Not a constructed truth but the real thing.Why ? Checking, kinetics verification this guarantees that we are not just checking our construct we are getting the unvarnished truth.

The history of science is the best evidence against the post-modernist view of science. They and critics of science will point to all the times that science was proven wrong as evidence that it is a construct, but they have it backwards. The very fact that we can look back from out modern perspective and understand that previous scientific ideas are objectively wrong demonstrates the true nature of science.The history of science is one of breaking cultural constructs – not just because a competing idea came along, but because the facts so relentlessly smashed against the pillars of our most beloved social constructs that eventually they crumbled.[13]
He thinks the issue is about being factually wrong. Those times don't matter because there is a  progressive ongoing re-checking of everything,So we get it  next time when we check again. It's not about being factually wrong. It's not a matter of we being factually wrong it's a matter of our consciousness being constrained by the constructs we live in. We do live in them. Thus we are doing all our checking through a socially constructed lens. This is especially problematic when they start hitch hiking ideological views like naturalism on top science's coat tails. There is noway to grantee unvarnished truth, I am sure theoretically it exists but there  is no way for humans to find it on their own. We are subjective creatures,we are not applicable of objectivity on our own. If we check through the lens of social constructs we can never get outside the to know truth from a perspective beyond our language games; because our language themselves are social constructs.

Novella argues that science breaks the mold of social construct, it has time and time again broken the constructs. That's true but  what he doesn't realize is that science also creates it's own constructs. The ideas that we can be objective if we use "objective methods" that "objective" = truth are social constructs engineered by science. We can see the propagandist approach to science working to construct the sides sin the work Leviathan and The Air Pump [14] which traces the propaganda campaign of Robert Boyle to write Thomas Hobbes out of the history of natural philosophy. That he did in order to secure his theories of  vacuism and defeat Hobbe's plenism.[15]
Ironically Boyle was right scientifically but Hobbes was right  about the way Boyle's approach was more propaganda than science. The real lesson of the book is how the ear marks of objectivity ,contrived to lend credence to Boyle came to set the stage for experimental procedure,merely because they do telegraph the impression of  objectivity and reinforce the cultural construct of the authority of science,.

Shapin and Shaffer are "playing the Stranger" (their own words) [16] that is they are trying to avoid attaching their cultural constructs and temporally bound cultural understanding as a filter for getting at the motive of Boyle and other historical questions. To do that they play the stranger,   act like I have not been here before  what is science  and why does one do it? That is not a hatred of science nor is it an attempt at shocking  to seem avaunt guard, it's an attempt to avoid falling into the trap of thinking we already know the answers. In that context the stuff minded "everyone knows that" is very telling,Everyone knows science is truth.. If we are not willing to think about fundamental questions then we are probably working thorium the lens of social constructs, We must have the quality of  x-ray vision when it cones to preconceived attitudes toward science that  sentimentalize it's function in human progress. Of course it is this kind of cavalier take  on science that makes the real scientistic types so angry and is construed as "hating science.." It's not hate nor is it disvalue but merely lack of awe.

The biggest mistake Novellla makes is in thinking of social constructs as criticisms,or a portraits of  untruth, He thinks the counter to construction is the imposition of fact.Social constriction is not a synonym for lie, His answer to social constriction  is to fact check and to bolster scientific methods to strengthen verification. Verification is not the issue because constructs are not lies, the are representations of truth as we know it through our undertaking based upon pastiche of previous accretions of understanding, We can have situations such that a construct might represent truth and yet be a construct. Science can be objective and yet view reality through the constructionist lens at the same time.

In Joseph Wright's  painting of Boyle's air pump experiment, (above) we see the fact and the construct illustrated at once, (which I;m sure was not Wright's intention). The event is factual. the fact is there portrayed realistically for all to see, but in such a portrait we see portrait of the experiment as propaganda staged for the public to convey the image of the scientist as rational and objective, to unseat Thomas Hobbes as the expert on natural philosophy.[17]

Mind you in we have seen in recent times a greater need to band together with the scientific guys and support good empirical scientific work as the basis for policy.

Notes and Sources

[1] , "Science is not (entirely) a social Construct" Neurologica blog

Steven Novella is an academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine. He is the president and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society. He is the host and producer of the popular weekly science podcast, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe. He is also a senior fellow and Director of Science-Based Medicine at the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) and a founding fellow of the Institute for Science in Medicine.

[2] "Postmodern Science," All About World View, blog, quoted by Novella, op cit quoted in

[3] , op cit

[4]Berger and Luckmann's The Social Construction of Reality published in 1966

[5] Kukn

[6]  I use the term "constructivism" that is the term we used in graduate school in the 19990s. I've seen it called constructionism, and other things. But I stick with my grad school trialing.

[7] Based upon a lecture by a professor at SMU in the early 90's,  who described a real restaurant that actually employed such signs. The circle and square are my idea. My friends and I developed a game of inventing such signs to see if we could always tell which was which. We always could.


[9]D.C. Philips, "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: The Many Faces of constructivism." Educational Researcher, vol 24. No. 7,1995 5-12,

[10] Leeds-Hurwitz, W. (2009). Social construction of reality. In S. Littlejohn, & K. Foss (Eds.), Encyclopedia of communication theory. (pp. 891). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. 

[11] Steven Novella, Op. cit.

[12] Ibid

[13] Ibid.

[14] Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and The Air Pump: Hobbes: Boyle,and The Experimental life. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1985, 3.

[15] Ibidid, 20.

[16] Ibid., 4.

[17] Ibid.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

My Dialogue with Jeff Lowder Concerning his Arguments for Nnaturalism

 photo European-lab-Close-to-finding-God-particle-NAN19NH-x-large.jpg

Lowder summarizes his debate with  Frank Turek [1] "what best explains reality: naturalism or theism?" He defines his terms: “naturalism” "the physical exists and, if the mental exists, the physical explains why the mental exists. If naturalism is true, then there are no purely mental beings which can exist apart from a physical body and so there is no God or any person or being much like God." He defines supernaturalism: "...the mental exists and, if the physical exists, the mental explains why anything physical exists. If supernaturalism is true, then there is no purely physical matter which can exist without some sort of ultimate mental creator."

He has three contentions but I will only deal today with matters pertaining to the definitions, I will deal with the contentions in days to come. Lowder defines Naturalism as "the view that the physical exists and, if the mental exists, the physical explains why the mental exists.[1] If naturalism is true, then there are no purely mental beings which can exist apart from a physical body and so there is no God or any person or being much like God." Then Supernaturalism is just the reverse, if it exists then mental explains physical.[2] 

This asserts that God is a being one among many, (" purely mental beings"). The theological trajectory developed by Tillich, John Macquarrie, (and others) voiced at Vatican II, indicates God is not a being but being itself. Moreover we have a problem in understanding what "mental" is when divorced from the physical process involving brain. I guess I don't mind your definition in principle but it is kind a metaphysical constrict to assert that we can see into the black box deeply enough to know that God's mental process well enough to critique it. I just assume that is part of what is meant by "God transcends our understanding."

If I were to say the physical is only a form of energy and matter is not the primary state or the primordial state of energy, you would probably say I am being too literal about the physical. It's not matter per se that makes something physical, such that energy is a from of the physical. I assume you might say something like that? I say we don't know all forms of energy. We don't know all that is involved in reality. Thus since the mental is a form of energy how do you know all physical doesn't reduce to the mental? Why make this sharp distinction between physical physical ?

  • Apart from the Being itself thing I wish you would address what I said about energy
    We don't know all that is involved in reality. Thus since the mental is a form of energy how do you know all physical doesn't reduce to the mental? Why make this sharp distinction between physical physical and mental especially when dealing with the ultimate ends of existence?

    • Avatar

      Sorry, Joe. With all due respect, I have no idea what you are talking about.

    Don't worry about it man, No one else does why should you? Look you say SN = physical depends upon the mental. right? You say N = mental depends upon the physical. My question is assuming that I can assert rationally that mind is a form of energy (I can't think what else it would be), since we know that matter is just another form of energy how do we know that the N and SN don't meet at some point where they are both energy?

      • Avatar

        If mind is a form of energy, then "naturalism" as I have defined it, a/k/a "source physicalism," is true. In fact, in that case, I think eliminative materialism might even be true. Welcome back to atheism, Joe! 😂🤗

    I suppose you are assuming there's only one kind of energy and we know all about it? I don't think we actually know what energy is. For example what is it made of? Most scientists will say charges but charges are comes out to be more charges. If Mind is energy it could as easily be that your view reduces to a form of idealism.;-)

    The reductionst/materialists and phsyicalists assume and often argue that there is no proof of anything not material and not ‘physical” (energy is a form of matter).  The hard tangible nature of the physical is taken as the standard for reality while the notion of something beyond our ability to dietetic is seen in a skeptical way, even though the major developments in physics are based upon it. Is the physical world as tangible and solid as we think? Science talks about “particles” and constructs models of atoms made of wooden tubes and little balls this gives us the psychological impression that the world of the very tiny is based upon little solid balls. In reality subatomic particles are not made out of little balls, nor are these ‘particles” tangible or solid. In fact we could make a strong argument that no one even knows what they are made of. 
    We keep talking about "particles", but this word doesn't adequately sum up the type of matter that particle physicists deal with. In physics, particles aren't usually tiny bits of stuff. When you start talking about fundamental particles like quarks that have a volume of zero, or virtual particles that have no volume and pop in and out of existence just like that, it is stretching the everyday meaning of the word "particle" a bit far. Thinking about particles as points sooner or later leads the equations up a blind alley. Understanding what is happening at the smallest scale of matter needs a new vocabulary, new maths, and very possibly new dimensions.(quoting me from my article)
    This is where string theory comes in. In string theory fundamental particles aren't treated as zero-dimensional points. Instead they are one-dimensional vibrating strings or loops. The maths is hair-raising, and the direct evidence non-existent, but it does provide a way out of the current theoretical cul-de-sac. It even provides a route to unifying gravity with the other three fundamental forces - a problem which has baffled the best brains for decades. The problem is, you need to invoke extra dimensions to make the equations work in string-theory and its variants: 10 spacetime dimensions to be precise. Or 11 (M-theory). Or maybe 26. In any case, loads more dimensions than 4.9 (my article fn 9)

    Particles are not solid; they are not very tiny chunks of solid stuff. They have no volume nor do they have the kind of stable existence we do. They “pop” in and out of existence! This is not proof for the supernatural. It might imply that the seeming solidity of “reality” is illusory. There are two kinds of subatomic particles, elementary and composite. Composite are made are made out of smaller particles. Now we hear it said that elementary particles are not made out of other particles. It’s substructure is unknown. They may or may not be made of smaller particles. That means we really don’t know what subatomic particles are made of. That means scientists are willing to believe in things they don’t understand.10 While it is not definite enough to prove anything except that we don’t know the basis of reality, it does prove that and also the possibilities for the ultimate truth of this are still wide open. To rule out “the supernatural” (by the wrong concept) on the assumption that we have no scientific proof of it is utterly arrogance and bombast. For all we know what we take to be solid unshakable reality might be nothing more than God’s day dream. Granted, there is end to the spinning of moon beams and we can talk all day about what ‘might be,’ so we need evidence and arguments to warrant the placing of confidence in propositions. We have confidence placing evidence; it doesn’t have to be scientific although some of it is. That will come in the next chapter. The point here is that there is no basis for the snide dismissal of concepts such as supernatural and supernature.[3]

    • Avatar

      With the caveat that I'm not a physicist, I'm going to stipulate that anything "physical" has a spatial location. So, when you ask, "what if minds are a form of energy?", my reply is, "Do minds, on your view, have a spatial location?" If yes, then they're what I would call "physical." If no, then they're an example of what I would call something "mental" existing without something "physical" supporting or causing it.
    Joe Hinman 

    Good point but unfortunately it makes the same fallacy as the solidity argument. Look, take a solid object it seems clearly physical. At the subatomic level,however, its mostly nothing. Go down to the level of the particles that make up the object, they are not little balls. In order to explain what they are we have to enter into a recursion and pretend it's not not recursive. Solidity is an illusion.
    In the same way location is an illusion as well for the same reason, places are just points amid objects and space. Everything is mostly space and objectives are not really that solid,so places are not where they seem. Now the mental aspect of our lives is highly dependent upon physical apparatus. But since that is illusory it's more parsimonious to assume that the whole rests upon some basic formation that not dependent or illusory.
    • Just because life that emerges within the complicity of physical depends upon the illusion of solidity for the production of the mental doesn't mean that the ultimate foundation of reality would be as well, That would not be physical since that is illusory. Nor would it be dependent upon the physical, it would have to be some third thing we don't understand.
      As for cation if we assume,for the sake of argument,that a universal mind produced all of reality where would the mind be located? It would not be in it;s owns thoughts except as an object reason.

    [1] JEFFERY JAY LOWDER,  Opening Statement from My Debate with Frank Turek, Secular, Outpost Blog, (Dec,29, 2018)

    the debate is also on You tube.

    [3] J.L. Hinman, "Can Sciece Really  Prove The Basis of Modern Physics,"   Metacrock's Blog (APR 30,2017)

    I am quoting my fn 4 and 9 in that article:

    STFC “are there other dimensions,” Large Hadron Collider. Website. Science and Facilities Council, 2012 URL: