The God Debates #1: Less Than Meets the Eye

The God Debates #1: Less Than Meets the Eye

Ian Kluge

Let’s start with the good news: The God Debates maintains a civil tone amid the often shrill abuse of the real-world God debates. Nothing like the late Christopher Hitchen’s somewhat hysterical contention that teaching children religion is equivalent to child-abuse;  no suggestion of Harris’s ominously totalitarian claim that even tolerating religious belief and freedom is intolerable; none of Dawkins’ withering scorn for philosophical texts and arguments he obviously hasn’t read and just as obviously doesn’t understand; and no sign of Dennett’s insulting references to atheists as “brights” (which, by implication, relegates Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Leibniz, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Whitehead and Goedel — among others —  to the “dims”).

With The God Debates, a new tone emerges, and for this we are grateful. This book sets a better example for atheist-believer discussions — civil and courteous. Yet, for the most part, tone is often as far as it goes, for welcome as it is, Shook’s civil tone does not improve the quality of his arguments. Though he tries to embed his contentions in a typology of religious and secular beliefs and, thereby, tries to give them an aura of scientific objectivity and rigor, all too often he gives straw-man representations of religious and philosophical viewpoints opposed to his.

To be more precise, he generally presents religious and theist philosophical arguments in their weakest and even silliest forms and then puts on a show of refuting them. This is good strategy for scoring easy — and cheap — points in a high school debate, but it is a poor way to discover truth. To actually find truth, it is necessary to analyze the strongest arguments from both sides.

If Shook has found these straw-man arguments somewhere, he should reference them to demonstrate that reasonable philosophers and/or theologians have actually advanced the theist arguments as he presents them. I doubt he will be able to do that. In my opinion, he has made up his semi-syllogisms as examples of how he believes certain theist arguments run. If his belief is sincere, then obviously he does not understand many of these arguments. If his belief is insincere, then he is presenting straw-man parodies and —  to that extent — is deceiving his readers.

Here is an example of Shook’s method at work, found in premises #7 and #8 in his list of same:

  • We couldn’t enjoy experiencing the world without consciousness.
  • God would want us to experience the world.

Conclusion: God must exist to have endowed our brains with consciousness.(1)

Shook’s tactics are pretty obvious. First, he de-contextualizes the theist argument, stripping it of vital background information; then, he introduces premises irrelevant to proving that God must exist as the origin of consciousness; finally, he leads to a non-sequitur conclusion. The above premises are irrelevant because they are about the alleged wishes of God, and the alleged necessity of consciousness for enjoyment. Interesting topics, to be sure, but there is no logically necessary connection to God’s existence — even as the origin of consciousness.

As presented by Shook, the theist argument is silly. The problem is, that’s not how the theist argument actually works.

The context is the difficulties of explaining consciousness in strictly physical terms — a debate very much alive in our day.(2) The notion that mind-consciousness is identical to brain is far from settled. Moreover, as as Wittgenstein pointed out decades ago, a computer is not conscious in the way people are. It does not reflect, ponder, reconsider, regret, hope, care, question and  hypothesize — all of which are aspects of human consciousness or mind. A computer will not even do an analogue of weeping if I type in, “Dear Computer, although we’ve been intimately connected for six years, I’m going to terminate you and our relationship one minute from now.” The computer doesn’t have a mind-consciousness to know what that means and will go on functioning just as before — not because it doesn’t care but because it is incapable of doing anything else. It doesn’t even ‘not-care.’

The habit of ascribing consciousness to computers is just a scientific misapplication of a literary technique called personification. Personification is not intended to be taken literally — and one would expect scientists and philosophers to know better.

Let’s look closer. The meaning of the ‘break-up’ message to my computer is not in the physical blips on the screen; no amount of scientific analysis of those blips will even begin to hint at the existence of any meaning. However, say those words to your spouse and you’ll get a different response because he or she knows what they mean — and will react accordingly. Your spouse has a mind-consciousness capable of comprehending a non-physical meaning. This mind-consciousness must be non-physical because if it were not, we would be back at the ‘electronic blip problem.’ The brain, after all, is only a ‘meat-computer’ using electro-chemical blips that are also inherently devoid of meaning.

To cut to the chase: if the twin problems of mind-consciousness and meaning lack — even in principle — a physical explanation, then it is not inherently illogical to propose a non-physical entity as the origin of a non-physical phenomenon. Since physical nature cannot explain it, then perforce we must seek a non-physical origin. Eventually, this leads us to God as the origin of consciousness. The problem cannot be solved by simply more scientific, i.e. physicalist research. Put in this context, the theist’s proposition is eminently reasonable.

Once we have established a non-physical origin for consciousness, we can then go on to talk about different concepts of that non-physical entity (that some call ‘God’) and its alleged wishes for humankind. We can also go on to consider why it might make consciousness necessary to enjoy the world or if God wishes us to enjoy it. But for now, it suffices to note that Shook shoe-horns these topics into his faux syllogism to set it up as a straw-man or parody.

Next time: Shook on pseudo-cosmology— is God the necessary condition for the Universe?

=================== References ==================

1 John R Shook, The God Debates, p. 88.

2 See the latest issue of Philosophy Now, Nov-Dec. 2011.The theme is “Brains and Minds.”

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17 thoughts on “The God Debates #1: Less Than Meets the Eye

  1. Hi Ian. I’m confused by your computer analogy. Are you saying that because a computer doesn’t have emotions that there is a part of the brain (the part that does feel emotions) that must be non-physical?

    I’m also confused as to why you assume that a non-physical entity that created minds would have any wishes for mankind. Isn’t it possible that non-physical entities might themselves not be concious?

  2. Sorry for the confusion. No, I am not saying is “that because a computer doesn’t have emotions that there is a part of the brain (the part that does feel emotions) that must be non-physical?”

    My basic point is that meaning is non-physical and that purely physical entities cannot understand meanings. In a computer (or a brain) all we have are physical processes and physical marks. These marks do not inherently carry meaning. If the computer or the brain tries to interpret these marks to find meaning, all it will do is engage in more physical processes to create more marks on the screen or in the neurons. But these do not have meaning either. And so on ad infinitum. Reason tells us that purely physical entities will never understand meaning. It’s all one to a computer whether I type is “I love you 4ever” or “I hate you.” The computer is not capable of caring because it cannot understand what was written.

    To find the non-physical meaning, we need a non-physical entity because we know that no physical entity – computer or brain – can decipher meaning. In the Baha’i Writings, this is called the “rational soul” which is the kind of soul all people have.

    Is it possible that non-physical entities might not be conscious? I don’t think so.

    If we examine the “great chain of being” we find that every level includes and surpasses the previous level and adds a new capacity. For example, a mineral has the capacity to exist as it is; a plant includes this and adds the power to absorb the mineral and grow; animals have the capacity for growth and add movement and and sensible consciousness; the human has all these capacities plus the rational soul and consciousness associated with it. Non-physical entities no longer depend on the material at all but have their capacities as well as higher forms of consciousness.

    In other words, the structure of the cosmos suggests that non-physical entities are not just conscious but super-conscious, i.e. not limited by material conditions.

    I don’t assume that a non-physical entity (God) has wishes for us. It’s an observation of its behavior.

    The most obvious evidence is that the universe exists and has universal laws of physics as well as particles and waves with capacities to do certain things. These cannot be explained by physics because they are the pre-conditions for the physical world (and physics) even existing. How did these laws and capacities come into being? They can’t be created by matter because matter is dependent on them already existing: that’s why they are a pre-condition.

    Thus, the non-physical reality wished us – and other things – to exist. It created the pre-conditions that allow material reality to exist.

  3. Ian Kluge:

    Great argument! I love it.

    My argument for the viability of belief in God is both similar and different. My argument is that intelligent exists – we know that because of our life experiences – and therefore we can say that intelligence is a known existent quantity.

    Being a known existent quantity, we can then consider it to be spread throughout the universe, much in the same way that we consider our experience with tossing around balls, dropping things, etc. and the resulting conviction that there is something called gravity makes it legitimate to view gravity as existing throughout the universe.

    If intelligence exists throughout the universe, it is then viable to think about universal intelligence, much as we think about universal gravity. Of course, it is on the other end of the complexity spectrum, but that doesn’t invalidate the argument.

    Then, the question becomes, as we move into scientific methods, how do we test the idea?

    Stephen Friberg

    1. Hey Steve,

      I’m not sure why you think intelligence should be similar to gravity.

      When Newton first discovered gravity he was questioning why objects always fell towards the earth. It was only afterwards he demonstrated that this seemed to be true of planets and space objects also.

      I certainly agree that intelligence is known to exist on Earth, but why do you think this can be extrapolated to the rest of the universe? Newton mathematically demonstrated that gravity works this way, but why should intelligence?

      All examples we currently have of intelligence seem to require a brain. To say intelligence exists elsewhere in the universe it’s reasonable to assume it would need some kind of brain as well. But why should we think brains exist anywhere but on earth? Brains are a byproduct of evolution and natural selection on living matter. You’d need to assume that living matter exists elsewhere, then you need to assume this living matter evolved similarly enough to develop brains, then that those brains were complicated enough to develop intelligence. That’s a lot of assumptions and although it’s possible it seems to be pretty rare. I don’t think you can conclude there is some kind of ‘law of intelligence’ in the law way there is a ‘law of gravity’.

      1. Arch:

        You wrote:

        I’m not sure why you think intelligence should be similar to gravity.… I certainly agree that intelligence is known to exist on Earth, but why do you think this can be extrapolated to the rest of the universe? Newton mathematically demonstrated that gravity works this way, but why should intelligence?

        It’s a great question. Here is the logic:

        1. First of all, anything existing on earth is also part of the universe. This is because the earth is part of the universe and a part cannot contain anything that is not in the whole. In other words, if intelligence exists in us, it also exists as part of the universe.

        2. Any account of the universe must therefore take into account intelligence, because intelligence is a part of universe.

        3. If we assume that the laws of the universe are the same everywhere, then it follows that we also can assume that intelligence can exist anywhere in the universe. Either one of our kind possessing intelligence can go to any given place, thus demonstrating that intelligence can exist at the place, or another being with intelligence can be there. So intelligence is potentially existent anywhere where the laws of the universe allow life.

        This is clear and partially answers your point about the mechanics of the development of brains with intelligence being a complicated affair. (To connect the issue directly to the law of gravity, note that no mass need be present for gravity to exist at any point in space and time. Einstein goes further, describing gravity as being an intrinsic part of the space-time continuum.)

        But actually, that is almost beside the point for the issue I’m raising as I’m not thinking so much about a spatial distribution of the intelligence, but rather the structure of the universe. I.e., what are it’s laws, and how are they connected and how do they work together. From this perspective, where you are spatially located is immaterial.

        So to get back to gravity. Gravity is one of the basic forces in the universe, like the electromagnetic force, the weak force, the strong force, or any other forces lurking out there responsible for, say, dark matter or dark energy. It is everywhere and in whatever dimension or scale you like. Its an intrinsic feature of the universe.

        It is this that animates my view of intelligence. If intelligence is found anywhere – and my argument is that it is something that is found in humans – then it is part of the structure of the universe. Given that it is part of the universe, we can abstract to the idea of the existence of a universal intelligence – God.

        In effect, I’m saying that intelligence exists, so we can assume that intelligence is a feature of the universe. And God is intelligence writ large.

        Stephen

        1. “To connect the issue directly to the law of gravity, note that no mass need be present for gravity to exist at any point in space and time.”

          I think this line kind of gets to the heart of my problem. We know that gravity exists everywhere, all the time and doesn’t require mass. However, we know that this ISN’T true of intelligence. Beyond Earth we have absolutely no proof intelligence exists anywhere, and more to the point, we have proof it doesn’t exist in certain places. Certainly we can pick up intelligence (or at least, the human that embodies it) and move it somewhere else, but that is very different to gravity being present everywhere.

          The problem with this extrapolation of intelligence to a universal intelligence is that you can say the same thing about ANYTHING found on earth. There’s no reason roses couldn’t exist anywhere intelligence can. We can even dig up a rose plant, and re-pot it on another planet, or in a spacecraft that can travel the stars. Using your logic, we could then abstract that to a universal rose…I’m not actually sure what that means.

          I just can’t wrap my head around why you give these attributes to intelligence, but don’t apply them to other Earthly things.

  4. Hi Ian,

    Thanks for the further breakdown. It certainly seems logically consistant within itself, but there’s a couple of points that I’m struggling with. I think I understand them, I’m just not sure why you think them.

    -“My basic point is that meaning is non-physical and that purely physical entities cannot understand meanings.”
    Why do you think this is true? I understand why you think this is true with computers; at present they are certainly unable to comprehend meaning. But that’s to be expected, computers aren’t programmed to understand meaning. Why do you think that the human brain has the same limitations? I mean I get that when broken down ‘meaning’ inside the brain is a combination of electrical impulses that, by themselves don’t have meaning. But perhaps this is a case of “the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts”. Have you considered that, although computers may not be set up to obtain meaning, that a different setup in the brain might allow meaning to develop?

    -“Non-physical entities no longer depend on the material at all but have their capacities as well as higher forms of consciousness.”

    I’d agree that non-physical entities obviously don’t depend on the material, but why have you ascribed any form of consciousness to them? I understand your ‘chain of being’ example, but why do you think non-physical entities are at the top of that chain? Perhaps they should be placed right at the bottom, because they don’t have a material dependancy?
    It just seems like a massive jump to assume they should have consciousness, especially considering the example we are working with at present (meaning) probably doesn’t have consciousness.

    -“These cannot be explained by physics because they are the pre-conditions for the physical world”
    Regrettably I don’t know enough about the subject to argue it, but apparently there are explanations for how the physical laws came to be. It’s one of the things I hope to research in the future.
    That aside, why do you think this non-physical entitiy was a deity with wishes?

    -“Thus, the non-physical reality wished us – and other things – to exist.”

    Assuming that it was in fact a non-physical entity that gave rise to say, gravity, I’m still not sure why you think it has any wishes or goals in mind. Despite being non-physical, perhaps it was just another force that behaves as unintelligently as magnetism? Why do you ascribe intelligence to this entity?

    P.S. Loving the new background to the website 😉

  5. I think this is true because no physical object or product of a physical process has any intrinsic meaning. No amount of scientific physical analysis can ever reveal what a sentence means. If sentences have meaning, *we* assign it to them from outside the language.

    Even if a computer can give the proper responses to certain combinations of letters/word, it does not understand them. As the famous Chinese Room experiment shows, a machine can *appear* to know what a sentence means but really has no clue about what it is doing just as the man in the Chinese room answering in Chinese has no knowledge of Chinese. See my previous example of “I love you” versus “I hate you and plan to cook you slowly in a giant wok.”

    What is true of the limitations of the computer is true of the brain – which is just ‘wet circuitry’. It never transcends the physical domain, whereas meaning does, which is why the computer/brain just doesn’t get it. This is one of the inherent limitations of all matter. Like the computer, the brain produces nothing but physical actions and responses because it is nothing but a physical organ.

    What you are suggesting is known as emergentism, which has never been able to show how non-physical consequences can come from physical processes. Indeed, how could science even known about, measure such non-physical consequences?

    The bottom line: the rational soul by which we apprehend non-physical meaning is itself non-physical.

    I haven’t ascribed consciousness to non-physical objects – I have simply observed the obvious: the rational soul *is* conscious. We’re both proving that right now! Then I argued, that since the rational soul is conscious (and includes previous powers) the next step up would include our consciousness and go on to higher forms of consciousness. You can place them at the bottom if you like, but that won’t change the nature of the order and what follows what.

    Hawking tries to show how physical laws came to be but as I showed in my review of his book, it’s a total bust (and there are others who think so.) By ‘bust’ I mean his arguments are logically untenable. His argument about gravity is circular – he presumes what he intends to prove. How can there be gravity without matter, and if there is matter, then the laws of matter also exist by implication. What would matter be without the laws of matter?

    The non-physical source obviously had something like wishes in mind because it did not have to provide existence for this universe. Hence our radical contingency. Consider: if the rational soul and consciousness cannot arise from matter (see above), the fact that they have arisen in us proves that they must have their source in something else. The same is true of intentionality – which is an essential trait of consciousness. If we have consciousness and intentionality then the non-physical source does too – and that combined with giving us existence when it did not have to indicates a conscious intentional act.

    PS I’ll be gone for a week to a give a philosophy of religion paper at a conference in LA. I’ll try and answer your responses when I get back.

    1. “If sentences have meaning, *we* assign it to them from outside the language.”

      Interesting, I was trying to avoid going down this path as I was worried it could muddy the conversation. But since you brought it up you clearly understand it, so I’m going to tangent off with this idea.

      I actually don’t think ‘meaning’ exists as a force or entity unto itself. I don’t think there is any intrinsic meaning to anything, and that meaning only gets ascribed by intelligent beings such as ourselves. It’s similar to the tree falling in the woods analogy; if there’s no one around to ascribe meaning to it, is it still meaningful? Personally I don’t think so.

      Now, if this is true then it’s also true that meaning exists only in the brains of intelligent beings, like any other idea. This then means that ‘meaning’ is actually a physical process made up of electrical impulses, rendering all this following talk of non-physical entities largely irrelevant.

      If it’s true that we ascribe meaning to things rather than them having intrinsic meaning, why do you think the following statement is true?

      The brain…”never transcends the physical domain, whereas meaning does”.

  6. My take on the “intelligence requires a brain” quandary is this.

    The brain facilitates the appearance and function of human intelligence in the bio/physical/temporal world we currently find ourselves in. But to say it “requires” a brain — insofar as implying that the brain causes intelligence, is an example of mistaking mechanism for cause, IMO.

    By way of rough analogy, my CD player, or radio, or iPOD can facilitate the manifestation of Pink Floyd’s music in a particular place at a particular time. However, they did not cause the music, and if any of these devices are damaged or destroyed, the music itself won’t cease to exist. They will just fail to manifest the music, or fail to manifest it fully (such in the case of a fuzzy speaker or garbled radio signal), in that particular time and space.

    Hence, if the brain is damaged, or destroyed, a person’s intelligence and other attributes will fail to manifest fully — or cease to manifest at all — in the particular space and time they occupy in this life.

    So, IMO, saying intelligence “requires” a brain (in the sense that the claim is intelligence simply can’t exist without it,) would be like saying the existence of Pink Floyd’s music hinges upon the existence and functionality of my iPOD.

    1. Mark, I love that analogy (and Pink Floyd, too, actually), and I think that’s a very good metaphor to convey that meaning (or essence) is extrinsic to the mechanism (the ghost in the machine!)

      I’m both a musician and a writer, so the idea of stories or song lyrics having meaning that transcends the “murmur of syllables and sounds” (as Baha’u’llah puts it) is something I “get”.

      Consider a story: it exists on a printed page in letters and sentences, but the story (much less the intentions of the writer of it) isn’t IN the letters and sentences. They’re only a vehicle for the transmission of meaning. They have no meaning in and of themselves.

      IMO, the materialist view of the universe is like insisting that the meaning of the book is in the ink, paper, binding and form of the letters rather than what the writer has used them to convey.

    2. Hey Mark. I like your analogy, but I feel you’ve stretched it too far.
      In your example it seems the CD is the soul, while the player is the brain/body. Now IF the soul exists then your analogy is sound, but I don’t see any reason to think the human body works that way. Our bodies are more akin to old fashion players where the song was hardwired into the device; the device could only play one or two songs and if the device broke so too did the song. (Obviously the song still exists as an idea and can be rebuilt, but then you’re talking about making clones of people).

      With our current understanding of biology I see no reason to think that the mind and the brain aren’t the one device, just like the old fashion music box.

      1. Arch, first, I don’t think Mark was saying the CD was the soul. I think he was saying the music was the soul and that it exists even if the CD and the player are destroyed.

        I recently heard a scientist (a neurologist who dealt with addictions) talk about what happens in a human’s brain when the drinker has reached a certain point. “At this point, the mind is saying ‘I really should stop now’, but the brain wants more and tells you to keep drinking.” The commentator of the piece was taken aback by this. “What?” he said. “Aren’t mind and brain the same thing?” The scientist said that the more our understanding of the human mind grows, the more it appears they are not the same thing.

        Whatever this means scientifically, I think the point is that if I write a book or a song, the meaning is not in the physical device used to deliver it. It’s not even in the squiggles on the page or the sentences that the squiggles make up; it’s not in the notes or the rhythm, or the combinations thereof. The meaning is extrinsic to the vehicle used to convey it.

        Einstein commented that: “It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure.”

        We DO ascribe meaning. But to me, saying that this is in an entirely physical process—just the firing of synapses—is like saying (and meaning) that if you put 10,000 chimps with laptops in a big room for 1,000 years, you’d end up with Hamlet (adjust for number of chimps and duration of process). You would end up enough letters to make up a manuscript of Hamlet, but you would not have Hamlet. The meaning of Hamlet is not in the letters, syllables and sounds. It’s not even, strictly speaking, “in” the physical brain of Will Shakespeare, else it would have died with him.

        Or take a look at the analogy you used of the old fashioned music box—the music box did not create the tune that it played. It had flanges that, when struck, would play the notes, but the notes and the song they represent did not come from the music box. Nor is the composition destroyed if the music box becomes broken.

        Hamlet is an evidence of the existence of Shakespeare’s intellect. The words I write are an evidence of my intellect. In the same way, our intellect and the things we are able to do with it is evidence of the existence a greater intelligence. In the Baha’i writings is a passage that says, that “Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth is a direct evidence of the revelation within it of the attributes and names of God, inasmuch as within every atom are enshrined the signs that bear eloquent testimony to the revelation of that Most Great Light. Methinks, but for the potency of that revelation, no being could ever exist. How resplendent the luminaries of knowledge that shine in an atom, and how vast the oceans of wisdom that surge within a drop! To a supreme degree is this true of man, who, among all created things, hath been invested with the robe of such gifts, and hath been singled out for the glory of such distinction. For in him are potentially revealed all the attributes and names of God to a degree that no other created being hath excelled or surpassed. ”

        The very process by which you are able to argue against the existence of the soul is, itself, an evidence of its existence. So is the fact that even our closest relations on the mammalian family tree are not “almost people” they are animals. The thing that makes us different from other animals is that thing Baha’u’llah refers to as the rational soul, and which allows us to reflect the attributes of God as well as merely physical animal qualities.

  7. Maya,

    Correct — I’m not trying to assert that the music (or soul/intelligence) is bound to any physical entity, such as brain matter, or the CD/radio/iPod.

    Or, in other words, the essence of the music, or story, is separate from an physical/biological device or organism by which it is manifest on the physical/temporal plane. As a writer myself (journalist), I clearly understand this.

    Back to the music analogy, even if every musical playback device and instrument on the planet was destroyed, Pink Floyd’s music would still exist — it just could not be made to manifest here. To say the music itself had ceased to exist simply because we had been left without the means to make it immediately manifest would be nonsense.

    Likewise, it’s non-sensical, I think, to say a human being’s intelligence and essence (what we might call “soul”) has ceased to exist, simply because the damage or destruction of their brain disallows it from being manifested “here” (in this time and space).

    And yes, I think that Pink Floyd’s work rises to the level of something students at university will study hundreds of years from now — just as they study Bach and Beethoven today. 🙂

    1. Mark & Maya:

      The problem you are both making is that you’re equating an idea to a non-physical entity, in this case the soul.
      I think Marks quote gives the best example:

      “if every musical playback device and instrument on the planet was destroyed, Pink Floyd’s music would still exist”

      Actually it wouldn’t. If you were to broaden your definition of ‘musical playback device’ and ‘instrument’ in this case to include all human beings, as well as any written copies that may have been made, Pink Floyd’s music would indeed vanish from the face of the universe.

      The point is that music needs to be recorded in some physical form, whether that be in written words, or written in the neurons of a person. Without it being physically recorded somehow, it ceases to exist.

      I still see the soul/mind as something similar. A process that is greater than the sum of its parts, but still something that is very much bound to the physical.

      1. Neither of us is equating the music with the source of the music.

        We’re saying (correct me if I’m wrong, Mark, in your case) that the music is non-material, non-physical and is not the result of a physical process. It is the product of a non-physical, non-material process and source. It can, however, be manifested in the physical world through physical means.

        I would not, logically, expect a physical process to generate a non-physical product. And as a writer, I can tell you that the physical process of writing—which I’m doing right now—is not the source of the stories I write. The genesis of stories—and their meaning—is not a physical process, it only manifests itself in an end product that is a material entity that conveys non-material ideas. Most of the writers I know (if not all) recognize that how stories come into being at times defies explanation. It is not a matter of simply rubbing a couple of synapses together or moshing together bits and pieces of what’s “in your head” collected from your physical experiences (that’s the combination physical and non-physical process I’d call “craft”).

        That capacity to create spontaneously, to spin worlds and characters out of star stuff—a capacity that only human beings have—has to have come from somewhere. And if Occam’s Razor suggests simplicity of explanation, then that the capacity reflects a similarly creative consciousness. As every scripture I’ve ever read puts it, no matter how new or old: we were created in God’s image.

  8. Arch,

    We might have gotten to the point of splitting hairs. But I still think you’re making the basic mistake of trying to equate mechanism with cause, or perhaps even with primary existence.

    Sure, if you eliminate all people — human intelligence — the music would probably cease to exist. At least on planet Earth.

    But you might have missed a subtle point there. And in doing so, actually made the point by missing it.

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