CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth




no Empirical Data:

There is No Empirical Data that proves reducibility


Atheists always assume mind is brain and this a proven fact, science proves it, the truth is they no empirical evidence. Remember the atheists stock in trade is empirical evidence. They demand it of God and they say if there is none then no God. Yet they don't have it this, one their most cherished views.

Both sciences and the general public have come to accept the idea that the mind is dependent upon the brain and that we can reduce mental activity to some specific aspect of the bran upon which it is dependence and by which it is produced. Within this assumption neuroimaging studies are given special credence. These kinds of studies are given special credence probably because the tangibility of their subject matter and the empirical data produced creates the illusion of “proof.”[15] Yet EEG and MRI both have resolution problems and can’t really pin point exactly where neural activity is located.” In short, neuroimaging studies may not be as objective as some would like to think. There are still large gaps between observation and interpretation – gaps that are ‘filled’ by theoretical or methodological assumptions.”[16] Learning is not hard wired but is the result of “Plasticity.” This plasticity is what allows us the flexibility to learn in new situations. This means that most of our neocortex are involved in higher level psychological processes such as learning from experiences.[17] Our brains are developed by new experiences including skills acquisition.[18] Exercise and mediation can change the brain.[19]

Classical psychological reductionism assumes the mind is essentially the brain. Mental behaviors are all explained totally in terms of brain function. Mental states are merely reduced to brain states.

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?[20]

Reducing mind to brain confuses mechanism with meaning.[21]

Raymond Tallis was a professor of Geriatric medicine at University of Manchester, and researcher, who retired in 2006 6o 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….”[22]

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.[23]

Specifically Tallis has refernce to experiments where the brain is scanned while the subject does some activity and the differences are attributed to some structure in that part of the brain. Tallis is highly skeptical of this method.

Why is this fallacious? First, when it is stated that a particular part of the brain lights up in response to a particular stimulus, this is not the whole story. Much more of the brain is already active or lit up; all that can be observed is the additional activity associated with the stimulus. Minor changes noted diffusely are also overlooked. Secondly, the additional activity can be identified only by a process of averaging the results of subtractions after the stimulus has been given repeatedly: variations in the response to successive stimuli are ironed out. Finally, and most importantly, the experiments look at the response to very simple stimuli – for example, a picture of the face of a loved one compared with that of the face of one who is not loved. But, as I have pointed out elsewhere (for the benefit of Martians), romantic love is not like a response to a stimulus. It is not even a single enduring state, like being cold. It encompasses many things, including not feeling in love at that moment; hunger, indifference, delight; wanting to be kind, wanting to impress; worrying over the logistics of meetings; lust, awe, surprise; imagining conversations, events; speculating what the loved one is doing when one is not there; and so on. (The most sophisticated neural imaging, by the way, cannot even distinguish between physical pain and the pain of social rejection: they seem to “light up” the same areas!)[24]

Hal Pashler’s study, University of California, San Diego is discussed in an an editorial in New Scientist, he is quoted as saying “In most of the studies that linked brain regions to feelings including social rejection, neuroticism and jealousy, researchers … used a method that inflates the strength of the link between a brain region and the emotion of behaviour.”[25]



[15] Brad Peters, Modern Psychologist, “the Mind Does not Reduce to the Brain.” On line resource, blog, 2/4/12

URL: http://modernpsychologist.ca/the-mind-does-not-reduce-to-the-brain/ visited 5/3/12

Brad Peters, M.Sc. Psychologist (Cand. Reg.) • Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

[16] Ibid.

[17] ibid

[18]Schore, A. N. 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).

[19] Peters, ibid.

[20] ibid.

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

[22] Raymond Tallis New Haumanist.org.uk Ideas for Godless People (blog—online researche) volume 124 Issue 6 (Nov/Dec 2009) URL: http://newhumanist.org.uk/2172/neurotrash visited 5/9/12

[23] ibid

[24] ibid

[25] quoted by Tallis, ibid.

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