Thursday, January 26, 2006

Blasphemy Inc

Daniel Dennett has some choice reprimands for all believers out there:

Why does our craving for God persist? It may be that we need it for something. It may be that we don't need it, and it is left over from something that we used to be. There are lots of biological possibilities.

I certainly don't believe in the soul as an enduring entity. Our brains are made of neurons, and nothing else. Nerve cells are very complicated mechanical systems. You take enough of those, and you put them together, and you get a soul. (This comment was preceded by a strategically placed Ugh!)

Love can be studied scientifically, too. (Oh, yeah?) How about if we study hatred and fear? Don't you think that would be worthwhile?

When asked if he visits the church,
Sometimes I go to church for the music. Churches have given us great treasures. Whether that pays for the harm they have done is another matter.

Another evolutionary darling. (No, not that way!)


Frank Wilson said...

Hi Vikram,
I harbor the notion that Dennett is one of the most over-rated thinkers around, too apt to substitute rhetoric for logic (though I don't have time to go into this just now).
The brain is an electrical pattern that discerns other electrical patterns (see my posts about neurologist Russell Brain's "Mind, Perception and Science"). The question is, from what do the patterns derive?

Vikram Johri said...

You are right, Frank. it's not only the question of where the patterns emerge from but also of how much work remains to be done before the Dennetts of the world can even begin to put a biological spin on human behaviour and thought processes.

If indeed all my perceptions can be explained by a set of neural networks, how does one account for the complex set of cognitive patterns that I harbour and respond to?

Also, if it is these disparate clusters that determine my responses, how do I as an entity experience a unified perception? (the Binding problem.)

There are things we are yet to discover.