The Temple

You Are Not Your Brain

Philosopher and professor at UC Berkeley Alva Noe has written a book entitled “Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness”.  This is a fascinating topic that spans the disciplines of biology, psychology, neuro-science, philosophy and theology.

Noe has a video on Edge the Third Culture website (hardly a Christian site) which is interesting because the conclusions drawn from this discussion mitigate against a materialistic universe held by most of the Edge crowd (Dawkins, Dennett, Gould, et al).  Materialists want to make consciousness merely a function of the brain.

“The reason we have been unable to  explain the neural basis of consciousness is that it does not take place in the brain…Consciousness is not something that happens inside us but something we achieve.  To understand consciousness – the fact that we think and feel and that a world shows up for us – we need to look at a larger system of which the brain is only one element.  Consciousness requires the joint operation of brain, body and world.  You are not your brain.  The brain rather is part of what you are.”

The question will be how do they link this idea with a materialist worldview.

Of course the Christian worldview has always answered this question with the soul and body composition of man.  We are made up of a material and immaterial part.  We are not gnostics who attribute superiority to the immaterial part, we view man as created in original holiness and good.  Depravity has distorted the image of God in man, and has affected both the material and immaterial parts of man.  Regeneration primarily deals with the immaterial part of man, and resurrection finalizes redemption as it is fully applied to us – the resurrection of the body being the primary focus.  Consciousness resides in the immaterial part of man and uses the brain to communicate between body and soul.

Thanks to Jim O. for the heads up on the Scientific American book review of Noe’s soon to be released work.

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March 10, 2009 Posted by | Christianity, Philosophy, Theological | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aleksander Solzhenitsyn

Aleksander Solzhenitsyn died yesterday.
I have such vivid memories of his remarkable accounts of suffering in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago. The Gulag has been noted as one of the most telling indictments of any government and he has been characterized as the most dominant writer of the 20th century.

Maybe the most memorable of his criticisms was aimed at the materialism he witnessed during his years in America. He called us spiritually weak and noted that we were mired in vulgar materialism.  How right is that?  What a great discussion for our comments section.  Is America spiritually weak and in what ways is our materialism vulgar?

Read Father Raymond J. De Souza’s article on Solzhenitsyn on Full Comment, and the NY Times Obituary.

August 4, 2008 Posted by | Culture - Values, Politics, Politics and Religion | , , , | 5 Comments