Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Michael Egnor Gives Meat a Bad Name

Discovery Institute meat-sack Michael Egnor has a big problem with meat. Apparently, he doesn't like the fact that he is meat, and he announced this to the world in his latest attack on PZ Myers and materialism:

By all means, use neuroscientific jargon. The only way you could even hope to convince a room full of thoughtful people (or even conscious people) that their minds are merely the secretion of a couple of pounds of meat is to cloak the assertion in jargon. Assert confidently that ‘phase locked oscillations in neurons in the hippocampal CA1 region and the subinculum give rise to sophisticated molecular regulators and sensors and effectors and modulators that generate highly organized chemistry and patterned impulses in pathways throughout the brain yielding states of arousal we that interpret as consciousness …,' or something like that. Dress your ideology up, or it won’t sell, even to atheists.

Emphasis mine.

Let's look once again real carefully at that bold part: "...that their minds are merely the secretion of a couple of pounds of meat..."

Merely the secretion of meat? Excuse me?

What does Egnor propose a mind is the secretion of instead of "mere meat"? An immaterial God?

What is more "mere" in this case? Rather, what is more remarkable and more awe-inspiring given the materialist and immaterialist choices? That our limited minds gradually developed through the nonconscious, self-organizing behavior of physical matter? Or that our limited minds were secreted by some super space ghost with unlimited power and absolute knowledge of everything?

I submit that between these two choices, the "mere" label applies to the immaterialist explanation for the existence of the mind.

There's nothing "mere" about the human mind developing over time out of complex meat structures. It’s totally fucking amazing! Go meat! Talk about coming up in the world, eh?

But if God is the one responsible for the existence of our minds, well what's so special about that? That isn't a challenge for God! God is a conscious, all-knowing being of absolute and total power, and all he did was create "mere" human minds? That's the best He could do? What a fucking underachiever! Talk about a downward spiral!

If meat had the power that God has, I bet that it would "secrete" something way more fucking cool than a human mind. Consequently, there would be far less (perhaps none at all) Egnors in the world. Oh, if only we could somehow imbibe a few pounds of meat with unlimited God-power!

When I read Egnor's arguments, all I can think is "Where's the beef?"

P.S. A few other excellent (and a bit more serious) responses to Egnor's meat bashing can be found here, here, and here.


breakerslion said...

Egnor has earned the right to call himself a meathead, and that's all.

Ectoderm, Mesoderm, Endoderm. If you're too ignorant to know the difference, shut the fuck up about the human brain. Yours is too empty to contain an opinion.

And finally, the cry of the closet Nazi: "Don't confuse us with your facts, you evil Intellegentsia! We don't understand you, so we don't have to believe you! Knowledge smoledge to your neurons and protons and photon-motons! So there! Print your thesis and we'll burn it!"

helensotiriadis said...

what? sentient meat??

Aaron Kinney said...


Well put!


I love the sentient meat story. It gets me every time! :D

Anonymous said...

Christian apologist C.S. Lewis talked about "Mere Christianity," religious nuts condemn "Mere Science," and now Egnor is talking about "Mere Meat!"

It's damn near enough to make a man want to become a Science-loving, Vegetarian, Atheist! Oh, hell...too late!

Aaron Kinney said...

Well said, Habitualheretic.

Perhaps we should start throwing around some of these phrases:

Mere creation
Mere immaterialism
Mere God

Anonymous said...

I've heard this kind of ridiculous reductionism from theists of various stripes. They're so used to thinking that only a god can give them dignity that they cannot figure out that we have dignity solely by being human. The concept of human dignity is pretty much absent from the bible, of course...

The weasel words are "mere" and "just" and "only." They say, "If we're JUST the products of random evolution, and there is ONLY this life, and we are MERE meat, why aren't we killing and raping all the time?" Ewww... just what is going on inside these people's heads?

Aaron Kinney said...

Great point Will E.

They sneak in words to smear their opponent. Mere, just, only, limited to, accidental, etc.