All Brain, No Mind

I've been watching a new TV show, Perception, on TNT.  It's the latest variation of one of my all-time favorties, Monk, where the main character's disability gives him a unique edge in solving crime.  The character Dr. Daniel Pierce is an accomplished professor of neuroscience who struggles with schizophrenia himself.  And he makes a mistake that expresses a logical fallacy common in science today.

The beginning and end of each episode, so far, has Dr. Pierce lecturing a classroom of students on neuroscience.  And what he tells them is that some variation of the brain state is all there is, reducing the experience or mental state to the physical state.  So our mental states, our experience of consciousness, is merely a brain state.  Nothing more than the physical phenomena takes place.  In one episode he told his class that our experience of time is just the way our brains arrange things.

This reductionism is fundamental to the materialism that dominates modern science because nothing like immaterial minds can exist.  One of the ways science explains away mental states is to identify the brain state that is associated with it, and reduce it.  Since a brain event happens at the same time as a mental state, the mental state is just phenomena of the brain state.  But the logical mistake is to equate correlation with identity.  Because brain states and mental states occur together only means that they're correlated, or that one may cause the other, but not that they are the identical thing.

This sleight of hand is done all the time now to explain away the mind, the soul, even God.  Because religious beliefs and experiences are correlated with brain states, science tells us that's all God is.

Greg explains more here about this common move.  Keep on the lookout for mistaking correlation with identity.

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Melinda Penner