sábado, 23 de julio de 2016

Physical-chemical changes in the brain are insufficient to explain any sensory perception.

Materialism: The False God of Modern Science

by George Stanciu

"...  all human beings suffer from a fatal intellectual flaw, the propensity to take one truth and make it the only truth. For the vast majority of scientists, science is a new religion... "

Trained to believe that every object as well as every act in the universe is matter, an aspect of matter, or produced by matter—that is, schooled to be a materialist—I scoffed at the two fellow students of mine in graduate school who regularly attended church. For me, at that time, the brain was the mind and God an illusion.

Sunday Morning in the Cathedral of Science

Seated in the front pew, my folded hands piously resting upon a worn copy of Newton’s Principia, I hear from the choir loft the voices of neuroscience graduate students droning their mantra, “The brain is the mind; The brain is the mind; The brain is the mind.”[1] The mantra becomes the astonishing hypothesis in the Sunday morning sermon preached by the Reverend Francis Harry Compton Crick, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA:“You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”[2] With index finger pointing heavenward, Reverend Crick bellows the crux of the sermon: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.”[3]

In monophonic chant that hypnotizes the parishioners, the choir recites the liturgical reading of the day: “Every decision is a thoroughly mechanical process, the outcome of which is completely determined by the results of prior mechanical processes.[4] Every human action can be explained mechanically.” In a higher octave, biologist Lynn Margulis trumpets, “For all our imagination, fecundity, and power, we are no more than communities of bacteria, modular manifestations of the nucleated cell.”[5] Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins recites the second reading, “[Replicators] swarm in huge colonies, safe inside gigantic lumbering robots, sealed off from the outside world, communicating with it by tortuous indirect routes, manipulating it by remote control. They are in you and in me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rationale for our existence. They have come a long way, those replicators. Now they go by the name of genes, and we are their survival machines.”[6]

Physicist Robert Cahn reads from the Book of Standard Model, “Given the masses of quarks and leptons, and nine other closely related quantities, [the current theory of particle interaction] can account, in principle, for all the phenomena in our daily lives.”[7] In the same vein, Murray Gell-Mann, the first theoretical physicist to propose that the fundamental building blocks of matter are not protons, neutrons, and electrons, but quarks and leptons, intones, “All of us human beings and all the objects with which we deal are essentially bundles of simple quarks and electrons.”[8] In a dark corner of the Cathedral of Science, in sotto voce Stephen Hawking murmurs, “The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet.”[9]

The uninvited preacher, Marvin Minsky, a leading proponent of artificial intelligence, shouted from the last pew in the Cathedral of Science “Who am you? You are a ‘meat machine.’”[10]

Not one grand pronouncement preached that Sunday in the Cathedral of Science has been established by experimental science. “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons” and “human beings… are essentially bundles of simple quarks and electrons” are for the majority of scientists unshakeable beliefs, ultimately religious dogmas.

Every sermon, every reading, and every mantra in the Cathedral of Science rests upon a central dogma: The universe, including all aspects of human life, is the result of the interactions of little bits of matter.

I was astonished to discover that a careful analysis of perception, the bare minimum of human living, easily shows that materialism is dead wrong.

Brain Function Alone Cannot Explain Perception

The human brain contains 86 billion neurons, or nerve cells. A large number of little branches, known as “dendrites,” extend from the cell body of the neuron and receive signals from other neurons, while an axon conducts neural messages to other neurons. Each neuron makes electrical connections, or synapses, with as many as 10,000 other neurons. The brain of a three-year-old child has approximately one quadrillion synapses. A quadrillion is roughly the number of people on 140,000 Earths.

One seemingly insurmountable obstacle for a neuroscientist intent upon reducing a person to “nothing but a pack of neurons”[11] is to explain how wiring together 86 billion neurons can give rise to the love of Mozart’s Don Giovanni or to the joy of windsurfing at Maalaea Bay, Hawaii.

Surprisingly, the first step in applying the principle the brain is the mindfalters; brain physiology alone cannot explain the most obvious human experience—we perceive. Textbooks typically gloss over the profound difference between sense perception and its necessary physical components. With regard to vision, Crick confesses, “we really have no clear idea how we see anything. This fact is usually concealed from the students who take such courses [as the psychology, physiology, and cell biology of vision].”[12]

Physicist Erwin Schrödinger argues that science is incapable of explaining how we see: “If you ask a physicist what is his idea of yellow light, he will tell you that it is transversal electromagnetic waves of wavelength in the neighborhood of 590 millimicrons. If you ask him: But where does yellow come in? He will say: In my picture not at all.”[13] Carl von Weizsäcker, also a physicist, agrees: “Light of 6,000 Å wavelength reaches my eye. From the retina, a chemicoelectrical stimulus passes through the optical nerve into the brain where it sets off another stimulus of certain motor nerves, and out of my mouth come the words: The apple is red. Nowhere in this description of the process, complete though it is, has any mention been made that I have had the color perception red. Of sense perception, nothing was said.”[14]


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