Thursday, May 10, 2007
Mind Transcends Brain
My version of the cosmological argument steers is way around the need to defend direct causality of the universe with the idea that all existing things that we observe have ontologically prior conditions. For example, the universe itself stems from a confluence of space, time, gravitational field, energy. All of this is has an ontologically prior condition in the singularity. I say “ontologically prior” because there is no time beyond event horizon, thus there is no “before” before the big bang. But ontologically prior doesn’t mean that came “before” chronologically. Time begins in the very same increment of nano second with the things that are contingent upon, but they are no less contingent. Take the example of the eternal flute player. As long as the player plays eternally the music is eternal. But if the player were to stop the music would cease. Thus the music is both eternal and contingent. This illustrates the idea that a contingency can be contingent upon a necessity that that does not come before it in time, but the necessity is ontologically prior.
I advance the argument that we have no examples of anything that is not contingent upon an ontologically prior condition. Everything we see in this life. From swizzle sticks to pigs, form dirt to salad cream, from dollars to donuts is contingent. Thus it is the power of inductive reasoning that forces us to accept the concept of a contingent universe, We have no examples, not one, of anything to the contrary. One must fly in the face of all experience of all humans in all of life to argue that we don’t need to assume any sort of ontological priority for naturalistic phenomena. Atheists have, however, turned the tables. They advance the argument that we never observe any form of mind or consciousness apart from brain. Thus, by the same force of inductive evidence that forces us to assume ontologically prior conditions to the universe, we should also assume that minds do not occur without brains. This would mean that God must be the product of a biology, or here cannot be a God possessed of consciousness, will, or volition.
While this seems like a reasonable “turn about is fair play” sort of argument on the surface, rendering Theistic objects as special pleading, it is actually a black-is-white-slide argument on the part of the atheist. This is so because the two cases are really not analogous even though they appear to be at first glance. First, there is nothing to compare to God We can say “we never see anything that is not contingent upon something else in this life, but we cannot say “we never see anything else that is like God, because we never see God, nor can we expect anything to be like God. God is not only unique, but God is beyond any scale of understanding we could produce. There is nothing we can compare to God. Thus, it is not a fair statement “we never see anything like God.” Of course we don’t, God is off scale. That may sound like special pleading but to say otherwise is merely a category mistake. One is trying to hold the absolute necessity the standards of all contingent being. The atheist is merely denying the fact that the two cases, God and naturalistic phenomena are totally different things, they are in different logically categories and one cannot be held in comparison to the to the other.
Moreover, the ontological priority of naturalistic necessities is much more fundamental in our field of experience than is consciousness. While it is true that everything we see in this life, every single physical object and everything we know about, anything and every thing that can be observed or quantified or even theorized based upon its effects upon other physical phenomena, is contingent, we do not know if it is true that minds are only found in connection with brains. That is begging the question, because the argument is made that consciousness is not merely the product of brain chemistry but is actually a basic property of nature, and is produced by the level of complexity in a system. Thus the atheist is imposing functionalistic assumptions based upon a materialist ideology, rather than appealing to any sort of actual observation we really make in the world. We do not know if we only observe consciousness as a product of brain chemistry because if it is a property of nature then we may be seeing it at work in everything. There is a school of thought that says nature is “ground up.” If that is the case it means that rocks and trees have a certain level of consciousness, presumably very low for rocks, because consciousness is a basic property. If this view is true, consciousness is like the electromagnetic spectrum; its in everything, you can’t see it, you can’t compare it to anything. The EM spectrum includes a lot of aspect that we cannot observe directly. Radio waves, microwaves, ultra violet, infa red and others are also aspects of the EM spectrum. So there may be more to consciousness than just brains. I am not suggesting that trees have feelings and are capable of conversation, but if consciousness is a basic property then there’s got to be a lot more to it than we know. To just say no it’s only caused by brain chemistry and is only found in biological organisms is foolish. God is not a biological organism and thus there is no reason to exact that God would conform to the same principles. The real difference in the two cases, is that the prior condition argument and the consciousness argument is that prior conditions are something we can observe and understanding as necessary for the emergence of all physical phenomena, while we do not know the answer to the assumption being made about consciousness and presume we do is merely begging the question.
On the other hand,
there is evidence that mind can appear apart from brain.While this can’t be proven, there are some good indications.