Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Whole Existentialada Is A Top-Down Operation

Denyse O'Leary has a post in which she says

Beyond that, all I really want to say nowadays is that the universe is either top down or bottom up. That is, either mind comes first and creates matter or matter comes first and creates mind. The evidence for bottom up is actually quite poor but Darwinism (from goo to zoo to you in a zillion easy steps) is the bottom-up creation story.

In the comments to the Uncommon Descent thread referencing her post, commenter SteveH asks (snarkily?) "What’s the evidence for mind creating matter like?" The comment that I gave in answer is as follows:


It’s pretty darned good, SteveH. We have many converging lines of evidence. Philosophical evidence, like the Kalaam argument. The inconsistency of a worldview which insists that free will is an illusion and yet vociferously casts moral blame on people for their “unscientific” beliefs. The principle of sufficient reason, which says that there is nothing in the effects (consciousness, intelligence) that is not in the cause. The scientific fact that the Universe (and the matter in it) began to exist, requiring a cause for its beginning to exist.

In addition to these, we have revelation that came from the mind that created the matter, most clearly in the coming of Jesus Christ, who claimed to be the incarnation of God The Son (aka The Logos), through whom all things were made. He attested to this by His character, His teachings, His miracles, His rising from the dead, and His founding of a Church, which has stood for two thousand years, bearing witness through its Scriptures of His coming.

There is the testimony of history, which displays the flowering of Western Civilization as it took this Mind seriously, and its accelerating decline (the Third Reich, the Gulag, child sacrifice via abortion, Reality TV, the dumbing down of the populace, Dhimmitude) as it turned away from this Mind.

There is the testimony of properly understood science, which points to cosmic and biological design, which comes from a mind.

There is also the personal experience of the Saints and ordinary people who have a direct, immediate, ongoing, and undeniable relationship with this mind which created matter. People who have been morally transformed in miraculous ways through this relationship, and who regularly experience a profound joy from the contact. And who can see the utter weakness of a position that considers scientific evidence to be the only valid kind.

That’s what the evidence is like.

Regardless of the evidence for Darwinistic evolution, the evidence that matter can create mind is precisely nil. Matter knows how to do its stuff just fine without the superfluous epiphenomenon of consciousness. Under the materialistic conception of reality, there is nothing that happens in the nervous system of a human being that is not completely caused by the underlying physics. Consciousness provides nothing extra, and as such, is not a separate cause of anything. Since it is not needed to explain the workings of the physical system, then it can hardly be maintained that the workings of the physical system somehow explain it. There is simply no materialistically explainable connection. If physics can handle the job, consciousness is superfluous and thereby unexplained. If physics can’t handle the job, then consciousness is necessary, yet non-physical, and thereby unexplained via materialism.

So, I submit that the overall evidence for mind creating matter is pretty darned good, while the evidence for matter creating mind is non-existent.

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