[Comp-neuro] Discussion - religion

jim bower bower at uthscsa.edu
Sun Aug 24 01:21:53 CEST 2008

Sorry, I pushed send on my last posting by mistake:

This now is far afield, (and I appologize). And I would not have bothered to respond, except that there is a point to be made about the levels of description on accepts and what else one is potentially buying. 

I have said before, in my view, any theory of cognition that denies the relevance of neurons is by definition duelist. Once you accept duelism, then anything is fair game, including "
deeper evolutionary causality" which I assume is another way of saying "directed design"

"This thread is about incipient religious dogmatism in neuroscientific discourse"

No it is not, and I started this thread. The fact that humans have a tendency to be dogmatic, and the fact that religion by definition, and in its essence is dogmatic, are completely seperable facts. No scientific predisposition discussed here can be defended by reference to some higher cosmic authority. Any effort to defend any supposid scientific theory in this way, by definition excludes it from science. 

"Darwin himself was interested in other factors, and indicated that, with time, deeper evolutionary causality would be discovered."

So what? Darwin was trained as an Anglican priest. Another fundamental difference between science and religion, no figure in science no matter how important, speaks with absolute authority. Science has no saints, priests, or popes, and no gods either. To the extent that any of us behave that way, like dogma, is an unfortunate side consequence of the fact that humans do science. Fortunately, in the limit, scientific knowledge transcends individuals - one reason why it has been so succesful. 

Jim bower

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

-----Original Message-----
From: "Malcolm Dean" <malcolmdean at gmail.com>

Date: Sat, 23 Aug 2008 12:28:16 
To: james bower<bower at uthscsa.edu>; CompNeuro List<comp-neuro at neuroinf.org>
Subject: Re: [Comp-neuro] Re: (3) A Matter of Religion

On Fri, Aug 22, 2008 at 4:31 PM, james bower <bower at uthscsa.edu> wrote:

> Sorry, this requires a response.

I did hesitate before venturing into these waters. The phrase "requires a
response" often indicates the entry of dogma.

Selection is the engine of evolution --

No, it is a theory of evolution. Even if it is the *right* theory, it is not
the *only* scientific theory, and many evolutionary theorists who include
Selection in their work place it in one relation or another to other
factors. Darwin himself was interested in other factors, and indicated that,
with time, deeper evolutionary causality would be discovered.

and, I have stated previously, biology specifically organizes across levels
> -- in my view, that is how it attains its efficiency and its performance.

Hierarchy (levels), efficiency and performance, key terms in thermodynamics
and cognition, are factors in several major alternative or hybrid theories
to Selectionism. Selectionists frequently ignore or subsume scientific
alternatives while quietly suppressing publications which propose and
explore them.

Finally, evolutionary theory has nothing to do with religion, although it is
> unfortunately often taught that way to our children.
To confound evolution with religion is to fail to understand either, but
> usually indicates another purpose altogether.

> Jim Bower

This thread is about incipient religious dogmatism in neuroscientific
discourse. Evolutionary theory (of which Selectionism, again, is only a
portion, and the most dogmatic portion) is always present, no matter how
unrecognized, because religions are the cultural forms of evolutionary
theory. The claim that they are separate is a particular view with its own
ancient history, a view which is continuously disproved by cultural
evolution, to this day.

In the neuroscientific literature of recent years, several categories have
evolved concerning the development and function of religious and cultural
cognition. The original observation which began this thread noted how these
phenomena are present, even in a forum such as this.

Malcolm Dean

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