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Do We “Think”?

While looking up the definition for “Evolution” on Wikipedia, you will see the following sentence: “In chemistry, the term evolution is often used to refer to the production of a gas in [...]

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Leave17 Responses to testDo We “Think”?

  1. Joe Shlabotnik September 6, 2010 at 7:34 am #

    Eric,
    I respect your efforts and often read your site, but sometimes you leave me wanting more.

    You said, “Our thoughts are not highly evolved and adaptive chemical reactions taking place in the brain.”

    Then from where do our thoughts originate?

    Thanks in advance for your consideration on this.

    Joe

  2. Julie Collins September 6, 2010 at 8:32 am #

    yeah, i do not trust the people who say their thoughts are just chemical reactions responding to certain conditions in the brain… as if that was true… what if they had a imbalance?

  3. andrew Ryan September 6, 2010 at 10:04 am #

    “The very fact that you have the ability to “think,” to “change your mind,” to experience and control your “emotions” shows that we are not the product of random chance over time.”

    No, it just shows that your ability to change your mind and chose one option over another is part of the same causal chain.

    I don’t see how being a creation of a God gives one any more free will than if we simply evolved. Positing a designer, and one who already knew everything any of us were ever going to do before we’re even born, makes us seem MORE like machines.

    “When you teach that our thoughts are simply chemical reactions that take place in the brain, then you do not control your thoughts, chemicals do.”

    Who is the ‘you’ here? Are you picturing a little homonculous in your head making the decisions? You ARE your brain. You ARE the chemical reactions. You’ve got free will in that no-one is controlling you. If you want a coke, go and get one. Explaining the chemical reactions that led to that decision in no way means that you didn’t have a choice to get that coke.

    And anyway, what do you mean by ‘simply’? You’re talking about a vastly complicated organ with trillions of connections. I think we can all agree that there’s nothing ‘simple’ about it.

  4. Jack Napper September 6, 2010 at 10:39 am #

    Here we go with the assertions. I actually covered this in a comment to one of another posters blog entries. This entry also proves that this is the new fad argument copied and pasted by Creationists.

    Do you REALLY have free will? Think about it for one second. You know how to do that right. If you are all part of some DIVINE PLAN set forth by God, do you indeed have free will? How so?

    What’s the point of having a divine plan if anyone with a $2 Bible can come and screw it up praying for something to happen. Oddly enough if you pray for something and it doesn’t happen you say it ‘wasn’t part of God’s plan’. If it does happen it was already part of His plan so what was the point of asking/praying? Was he suddenly going to change his plans just for you?

    Do you indeed have free will or merely the perception of free will? I ask that you explain your position intelligently and skip the assertions and statements like “God is God and He gave us free will so we have free will”.

  5. Geno Castagnoli September 6, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    Many, if not most, words have multiple meanings. The Hovinds are simply playing a game with definitions. In the context they are using the term “evolution” it merely means: “change over time”. I don’t think anyone disputes things change over time.

    Oh yeah…. one more thing…. “free will” in the presence of an omniscient perfect being is a logical contradiction. I’ve watched logicians and theologians debate this one for hours and the best they could do is that “free will” is a matter of faith. (Note: In order to prove me wrong, simply demonstrate we can do anything God does not already know we will do. If we must do what God already knows, there can be no real choice.)

  6. Felix September 6, 2010 at 1:12 pm #

    “You see, when you teach that our thoughts are simply chemical reactions that take place in the brain, then you do not control your thoughts, chemicals do. ”

    Actually, physics does, as there are countless interactions within the brain that do not involve chemical events (the breakdown or formation of molecules). The brain structure as a whole, the processes that lead to our decisions and actions, occur at a much larger scale than the interactions of molecules.

    “If this really is the case, then we have no free will. We are subject to the whims of chemicals reacting in our brain based on our environment.”

    No, we are subject to the operations of a trained neural network.

    “If this really is the case, then we have no free will. ”

    This idea has been argued, yes. Of course it depends on how you want to frame your free will model, philosophically and logically. Our brain gets trained based on experience. This experience can have external sources contacted through our senses, or it can be an internal, chemical and physical process. Both together create the way we perceive ourself and others as agents. This is where morality and conscience emerge.

    “The very fact that you have the ability to “think,” to “change your mind,” to experience and control your “emotions” shows that we are not the product of random chance over time. ”

    That is partially correct. We are the product of random chance plus nonrandom selection. To assume that a thinking being, any being at all, could emerge up by completely random processes is ludicrous.
    It is not an established fact in every sense, that we actually do have the ability to “change our minds”, or control our “emotions”. We cannot observe ourselves think, although that is an ability that some mental disciplines try to achieve through meditation. The physical laws our mind adheres to are a strong foundation to make a case that the concepts or actions you mention – as exerting will on our will – are an illusion. Physiologically, the input plus the training result in decisions. The better we train our thinking, the better our morality gets, the more influence our conscience will have.
    Someone who neglects this training by relying on commands instead of reason will make harmful or at least flawed decisions. The Nuremburg trials were an example to demonstrate to the world that our societies do not accept command morality. “I was just following orders” is not a tolerable excuse.
    Therefore the conclusion you draw, that the facts of nature should lead us to accept divine command, is absurd.

  7. Joakim Rosqvist September 6, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    >> You see, when you teach that our thoughts are simply chemical reactions that take place in the brain, then you do not control your thoughts, chemicals do.

    Of course I still control my thoughts, since I *am* those chemicals.

  8. Nigel McNaughton September 6, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

    Your position on science doesn’t change anything about the fact that your thoughts are chemical reactions going on in your head.

  9. Mike Ayala September 6, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    God created this little bubble in eternity called “Time” for a reason: that each and every human may exercise their executive authority given to them by God to make a choice:

    Do we believe the testimony of the Father about His Son, Jesus, that in Him is life, and he (and she) who has the Son has life, or do we reject the witness of the Spirit of God effectively calling God a liar?

    God said,

    “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”

    One of the attributes of God He gave to man is the power of choice. We can chose to honor God or reject God. We can chose to love God or ignore God.

    But with that power of choice also comes accountability for the choices we make:

    “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

    For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”

    Therefore,

    “…chose you this day whom you will serve…, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

    Grace to you all.

    Mike Ayala

  10. James` Brady September 7, 2010 at 11:36 am #

    They like to have it both ways, if you love God, then your just a stupid Christian functioning blindly off evolved brain chemicals, I bet the evilutionists don’t use that as a pick-up line very often though… oh wait… then they wouldn’t get dates to fornicate with and destroy the virtue of, but those are just irrational feelings spawned by “chemicals” anyway, so why value them?

    The evilutionists have made a terrible mistake, too bad Man gave himself the ability to distuingish between right and wrong “like Gods”, eh?

  11. Doktor Benway September 8, 2010 at 9:10 am #

    They like to have it both ways, if you love God, then your just a stupid Christian functioning blindly off evolved brain chemicals, I bet the evilutionists don’t use that as a pick-up line very often though… oh wait… then they wouldn’t get dates to fornicate with and destroy the virtue of, but those are just irrational feelings spawned by “chemicals” anyway, so why value them?

    What are you talking about James. You make absolutely no sense at all.

    The evilutionists have made a terrible mistake, too bad Man gave himself the ability to distuingish between right and wrong “like Gods”, eh?

    You still make no sense.

  12. Stephen Holshouser September 8, 2010 at 11:46 am #

    Jack,

    You are reasoning it out further than most nominal Christians, sadly enough. You have come to the crossroads where all should arrive if they think about it for more than 1 minute. “If God’s plan will be fulfilled regardless of what we do or pray, then why pray or obey Him at all?”

    You have a couple different paths to follow here; 1. You can say, “Why waste my time? He already has it set in stone. I would do it differently if I were Him, so I’m going to reject Him altogether.” OR 2. You can realize He knows a bit more than we do and has commanded us to pray and obey His revealed will and simply trust Him and obey what He has said. It’s for our own good, not for our harm or to be burdensome to us.

    “Do we REALLY have a free will?”

    Well, not in the sense that God does. We can act or react freely based on our surroundings or circumstances (knowing that we, not God, are accountable for our actions), but have no real control of the things around us. You are free to act according to your nature, but if our will conflicts with God’s, then Who do you think wins out? Our will is subordinate to His… might as well try to align our will with His. God is sovereign, yet man is responsible/accountable to Him. If the One with the most power Who has given me everything says, “Do it,” who am I to make reasons why not to? Sorry for the lengthy post and I know it doesn’t solve all the answers, SH

  13. Jon Richt September 9, 2010 at 8:21 am #

    Quantum Mechanics reveals that strict determinism is dead as a scientific philosophy. That’s why.

  14. younger brother September 9, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

    Dear fellow commentors and attn Jack Napper

    I have to say Mr. Napper that you in fact did not adress this argument in annother post. I know this because I was the one who made the similare post in Kent Hovind’s Blog of Sept 2nd that you are reffering to (my comments within that post were done on Sept 4th and 6th). As I mentioned in those posts, I enjoy these types of discussions as great conversation for the sake of further education, and as in many conversations sometimes things that are said can be not properly understood or listened to. I explain quite clearly and thouroughly in my response to your comment within Ken’ts Blog that you miss understood my point. In fact, I did not make the argument Eric has in this blog at all. What I wrote and what Eric has written here are completely different. In fact, our points are completely different. For the sake of clarification I encourage you and the others here to (re-)read my comments on Kent’s Sept 2nd blog within this forum. I enjoy the interaction and discussion here, however I do mind if my comments are used to argue against or for something while being misunderstood. Essentially, although I don’t beleive you meant to do it, you have put words in my mouth both here and in Kent’s blog of Sept 2nd. I would appretiate if you take note of that. No “copy and paste” argument has been made, my points and Eric’s argument are quite different and, as I explained in my response to you on Sept 6th within Kent’s blog you made many assumptions and incorrect conclusions both against me and on my behalf that I did not make nor assert.

    Thanks

  15. younger brother September 9, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

    I appologise Mr Napper, my previouse comment in this blog to you was in regard to your comment against Eric here on Sept 6th @ 10:39 am

  16. Mike Ayala September 9, 2010 at 7:51 pm #

    The question is “Do We “Think”?”

    If evolutionists are included in the “We”, then it is apparent and demonstrable that at times evolutionists do not think, and neither do they want you to think. A great example of this is a post from Nigel in Kent Hovind’s Blog, If Evolution Is True 2nd September 2010:

    http://www.drdino.com/if-evolution-is-true/comment-page-1/#comment-655

    Nigel McNaughton September 6th at 3:48 pm

    “Evolution depends on the miracle of DNA arising spontaneously fully functioning by random processes and the information encoded on it, the software, arising spontaneously fully functioning, neither with any bugs.”

    And Mike with that one comment we can write off anything you have to say about the issue. What we have here ladies and gents is a classic example of the Creationist Strawman. Evolution depends on no such thing. But here comes Mike with his made up definitions and then gets to tell you how ridiculous they are. The creationist definitions are ridiculous, but they also aren’t the real deal.”

    Nigel’s response is given in typical propaganda form. Propaganda does not require explanation, merely declaration. Nigel makes no substantiation for his opinion. He merely makes a statement absent of facts trying to convince others not to think. It’s kind of like television advertising: the advertisers hope that by you seeing their ads enough times, ads which essentially through covetousness portray your life as deficient because you do not have or have enough of what they have to offer, you will feel so off-balanced in life that you will feel compelled to buy their product in order to be satisfied and content in life. Advertisers and folks like Nigel want to do the thinking for you. Nigel hopes that by making unsubstantiated claims often enough, you and everybody else will not think and not consider the evidence for yourself.

    Now, this is an opportunity to observe the evolutionists’ typical response and tactics when they get confounded. When evolutionists get confounded and cannot intelligently answer an argument as in this example, their usual default tactic is to abandon reason and begin a process of character assassination. If they cannot baffle with blindness, then they attack the person rather than admit they have no evidence to offer. A case in point is in Nigel’s post:

    “And Mike with that one comment we can write off anything you have to say about the issue.”

    The issue was the fact that information does not come into existence by surprise effect. That is basic information theory. If Nigel has any groundbreaking new research showing that information does come into existence by surprise effect, he ought to share it with the world and win a Nobel prize.

    It is interesting that the term used, “write off” does not necessarily mean not true. I think its more of the typical “I wish the facts would go away!” mentality. To clarify that I would have to ask Nigel:

    Is it not true that evolution is based on an 1850’s ignorance of microbiology, metabolism, and information theory?

    Is it not true that evolutionists confuse surprise effect with information?

    Is it not true that surprise effect has merely the appearance of information but no code?

    Is it not true that life depends on information – not surprise effect?

    Is it not true that DNA is a miraculous feat of engineering and super-miniaturization?

    Is it not true that the information used with the DNA molecule cannot appear by random processes?

    Is it not true that information is non-randomness?

    Is it not true that evolution depends on DNA and its code being replicated without fatal error and passed on to replicating progeny?

    Of course all these are true but the evolutionist does not want the truth. The evolutionist also wants to keep you from the truth if you will let him.

    Part of the problem for Nigel is his failure to understand the nature of code and communication and to realize that code is understood by convention. Surprise effect is absent of any code or convention. Now, the code carried on DNA is not only created to be sent and received (that’s an awesome thought!), but the code is made for the DNA and the DNA is made for the code. There is an irreducible complexity with DNA and its code. Either it works right from the start or it does not work at all!

    Evolution does depend on the miracle of DNA arising spontaneously fully functioning by random processes and the information encoded on it, the software, arising spontaneously fully functioning, neither without any bugs.

    Another tactic of the evolutionist when confounded is direct outright lie. Just as the serpent lied to Eve in Genesis Chapter Three by directly contradicting God’s word, “And the serpent said to the woman, you will no surely die.”, so too, Nigel too had lied by contradicting the truth. Without any supporting evidence, both their hope is that you will believe them.

    With Nigel’ statement, one would expect Nigel to present new groundbreaking research on the mechanism of genetics and natural selection. If there was no DNA with which to start life and if there was no code of life, both irreducibly complex together, natural selection would have nothing from which to select and pass on to the offspring.

    Rather, he is just making noise in the absence of any intelligent argument. If he had one, he would have used it. But he is speechless, so all he can do now is what evolutionists generally do when confronted with the truth: he resorted to character assassination.

    I say generally, because sometimes an evolutionist who is honestly seeking the truth, when confronted with the truth will humble himself and embrace the truth and reject the lies and fantasies of evolutionary dogma.

    Evolutionists and folks like Nigel get confused when they get confounded. After Nigel’s robust statement, one would expect Nigel to announce some new breakthrough evolutionary finding that the code and machinery of life do not spontaneously arise. Now, that’s a new twist on evolution! Evolution supposedly happened, life has evolved, but there was no beginning point to life from whence non-living matter first became gifted with what we now call life. Hah! It sounds like the recycled, “First there was nothing and then it exploded” mantra.

    Nigel’s got an insurmountable problem: if evolution does not depend on DNA or its code arising spontaneously, the only alternative is that it is a gradual accretion of new information. That actually creates a bigger problem for Nigel. Now he has to have life without the code and machinery of life, and he has to supply a Supplier of the gradual accretion of new information. He does not escape the problem of the need for the Creator. His name is Jesus.

    I can offer Nigel a suggestion where he can find the Supplier of new information: the Word of God.

    Evolution teaches an increase in new information in living organisms. The difference between the evolutionist and the creationist is that the creationist has a source for the information whereas the evolutionist either sidesteps the issue, claims the new information comes from out of nowhere, or the new information is the result of surprise effect – all contrary to observation. This is an example of the infection of the 1850’s ignorance of information theory alive and well in evolutionary dogma. The creationist reports on the authority of the word of God that the information was put into life in the beginning by God as in Genesis Chapters One and Two when “Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being”, whereas the evolutionist speculates that the new information is increased in life gradually from generation to generation mistakenly through the mechanism of mutations. Mutations mean there had to already be the DNA code there to be mutated.

    Apparently, on the authority of Nigel, there must be some outside source that has the technology and ability to generate code and new information and to construct the necessary storage, retrieval and execution mechanisms necessary to proliferate. So, the ancestors do not have to pass on their genes to their offspring. Sounds like the hopeful monster myth.

    Nigel paints the origin of life the same way as the popular drawing of two hands drawing each other. Even a small child knows that’s not reality. That type of things only occurs in cartoons.

    Nigel, go study a little bit of information theory. You will be surprised. That reminds me of what was possibly the last spoken line in the Planet of the Apes which is something to the gist of: “You may not like what you find”. That is, when you start learning about the world round about you in which you inhabit, the facts of life will crush your evolutionary biases and presuppositions.

    Mike Ayala

  17. Mark James September 10, 2010 at 3:31 pm #

    I posted this a couple of days ago but it hasn’t appeared so I may have done something wrong. Hopefully it won’t appear twice.

    Jack, this is my understanding of free will.

    One thing that Bible believing creationists and humanist scientists seem to have in common is the belief that our universe had a beginning. Admittedly we come to this conclusion by very different methods – for creationists it is the first verse of the Bible, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’, for scientists it is the big bang theory which postulates that space, time and matter came into being as a result of the big bang – but there is agreement none-the-less.

    So, if God exists, He must exist outside of time. This would mean that all human history, past, present and future, would theoretically be available to Him as one huge, infinitely searchable, information ‘database’ (for wont of a better word) and He can know exactly what every one of us is going to be doing today, tomorrow and for the rest of time. It also means that the prayer we pray today could be heard (and dealt with as required) from the beginning of time.

    Does this mean we have no free will? No! We exist inside of our time domain. Just because God already knows every decision we have made, and will make, does not diminish our responsibility for making those decisions.

    The Bible tells us that God has a plan for our lives, a plan for good and not for evil. Free will means that we get to decide whether or not our lives conform to His plan.