P.Z. Myers' reply to my observation that ideas like altruism have no physical properties, like location, leaves a thoughtful observer to wonder: why do materialists have so much difficulty with this basic philosophical principle? It’s clear that ideas share no properties with matter. Ideas have no mass, or length, or temperature, or location. They’re immaterial. Clearly, under ordinary circumstances the brain is necessary for our ideas to exist, but, because matter and ideas share no properties, it’s hard to see how the brain is sufficient for ideas to exist.
Yes, and the magnetic charges on your hard drive have no mass, length, temperature, or location. I’m also quite sure that the electrons traveling through your brain also have no mass, length, temperature, or location.
Imagine that we can do complete split brain operations. We can separate the hemispheres of the brain completely, and not just partially as we can do now with corpus callosotomies. We can then further subdivide the tissue, keeping the brain parts biologically alive, in quarters, eighths, etc. Ignoring for the time being what would happen to the person’s consciousness (which brain part would mediate the first person experience of the original person, if any?), what would happen to the original person’s altruism? Would each one-eighth brain have one-eighth the altruism? Would each lobe contribute one-eighth of the previous brain’s annual contribution to the United Way? Would the altruism stay in one of the lobes- the left occipital lobe, and leave the other lobes heartless? What if we kept dividing? Is there an altruism neuron? The question seems nonsensical. Altruism, as an idea, doesn’t have ‘parts’. Unlike matter, ideas can’t be divided or localized.
Yes, and next lets open up my USB memory stick and "look" for the electronic documents stored within it. Ooops! I can't see my excel spreadsheets stored on my USB memory stick when I disassemble the thing! I guess that means that my excel files have no mass, length, temperature, or location.
In everyday life, the brain is clearly necessary for ideas, but there are good reasons to think that that brain is not sufficient to cause ideas. This observation is very old; philosophers from Plato to Aquinas to Descartes to Popper and Eccles have known it. Myers seems not even to understand this basic paradox of the mind-body problem. The materialist assertion that ideas are caused entirely by brain matter, with no need for the existence of a soul or other incorporeal substance, is philosophically and scientifically incoherent. It is a materialistic dogma, an act of faith.
Of course! It makes perfect sense! The brain is not sufficient to cause ideas! And neither is my computer sufficient to process data and store it on flash memory! God has been doing it all along!
Michael Egnor is an absolute fucking retard. Thoughts are no more immaterial than data on a computer disk. Does a materialist view of the functions of a wristwatch, or a cellphone, require some crazy leap of faith?
UPDATE: PZ Myers provides a far better analysis than I can.