More on Non-Physcial Existence

This is the kind of reasoning we get when we assert that non-physical, non-material things exist. You may recall that over the past couple threads I have argued that concepts (like the number 2) are physical because they exist as ideas in our heads — and ideas in our heads have a physical component. They are structured by the interconnection of neurons in our brains — something I think we can all agree is physical. Outside of the “idea” of 2, I am not willing to say that 2 exists… but I am, as always, open to arguments!

In any case, here is a Young Earth Creationist using the notion that ideas (logical proofs in this case) are non-physical, non-natural “objects” and therefore necessitate, among other things, the existence of God, the truth of the Bible, and a 6000 year old earth.

If naturalism were true, it would be impossible to prove anything. Proofs involve use of the laws of logic, such as the law of non-contradiction, which says that you can’t have A, and not-A at the same time and in the same relationship. The laws of logic are not part of nature. They are not part of the physical universe. So, if nature ( the physical universe) is all that exists and if laws of logic are not part of nature, then they can’t exist. But they are required for rational reasoning. So, the naturalist view is actually self-refuting. So the naturalist view is actually self-refuting. If it were true, it would be impossible to reason. Yet naturalism is what secular scientists use as the foundation for their thinking. We will show why this explains many of the incorrect conclusions drawn by secular scientists, such as evolution and an old Earth.

The bold and underline is mine. You can read a full review of the book this quote came from here.


12 Responses

  1. i would like to know what the “laws of logic” are….i guessing this author has no idea either.

  2. … yet, would any evidence show up concerning religious statements, in this case I would guess concerning christianity, the NOMA argument (Nonoverlaping Magisteria) would be thrown out the window without any hesitation.

    Of course the fallacy is exactly what Koska underlined. Because if a statement is not a logical observation of how the world is, how can it say to represent the world at all?

  3. But this is not the ONLY kind of reasoning we get when we assert that some components of reality are non-physical or non-material. Why pick a proponent of YEC (which we all know is quackery, right?? I hope?) instead of thinkers like Roger Penrose, G. E. Moore, Robert Kane, Kurt Godel, Plato, Bertrand Russell, Alfred North Whitehead, Thomas Nagel, Penelope Maddy, Russ Shafer-Landau, Alan Turing, etc etc who also argue(d) for realism when it comes to non-physicals like mathematics and ethics?

  4. But I am not saying those things aren’t “real” I am simply saying that they exist as ideas — and I think that ideas are physical. Again, I’m open to arguments which give “existence” status to something non-physical — but that quote was just too silly for me to resist!

  5. so would you say the emotions are physical as well? getting back on physical vs. non-physical we could argue the basic definition of something physical would be able to be detected by any of the 5 senses.

    there have been documented cases in the paranormal of an EVP (electronic voice phenomenom, or just catching a voice or sound on a recorder that wasn’t orginally detected by human ears) where an emotional event occured and plays much like a recording on a loop. the most extreme (and interesting) case was a woman’s scream in a bathroom where an open parking lot once was. the woman had been shot by a hired killer by her husband but she survived. supposedly the emotional imprint had remain. this would be an example of a residual haunt…..if you believe that!

  6. Yeah, I would certainly say emotions are physical. They are created situationally and manifest based on our individual brain/body (and our past experiences, which have left us with physical imprints such as memories, or non-conscious dispositions to certain situations). The emotion even expresses itself physically — certain areas of our brain/body become excited, chemicals are released, etc… Furthermore, without a physical body, could there be an emotion?

    I rush to add, this does not make emotions any less intense or important. It doesn’t change the power of them. It doesn’t change their value to the human experience. Emotions may be more important than intellect to our happiness and survival.

    And no, I would not agree that our 5 senses dictate what is physical, can you smell, see, hear, touch, taste an xray? But an xray is physical energy. We know its wave length, how to create it, what it does, etc… There is nothing, to my mind, non-physical or paranormal to an xray.

    Lastly on the EVP. I have seen programs on it. They turn the mics to ultra-sensitive levels so that the buzz of a fly sounds like a huey (at least that’s what they did on the couple shows i saw). Under those conditions, you can can get all sort of wacky sounds. A scream could be someone walking on a linoleum floor so quietly that the human ear couldn’t pick it up… Of course it could also be someone accidently rubbing up against the microphone with courdory (which wouldn’t even require the sensitivity of the mic to be turned up)…

    Again, I’m not saying such things can’t or don’t exist. I simply have not seen reliable examples of evidence that they do… “audible screams from a past murder” is such a fantastic explanation for an unidentified noise from a microphone, that i could only believe such a thing with a fantastic amount of proof…

  7. “I rush to add, this does not make emotions any less intense or important. It doesn’t change the power of them. It doesn’t change their value to the human experience. Emotions may be more important than intellect to our happiness and survival.”

    so does it matter that we call them real or imaginary or ideas?

  8. I think it matters if we use our categorizations to dismiss emotions in favor of processes which seem more intellectual and which allow us more of a sense of control.

    The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio (“Descartes’ Error”) recounted the tragedy of a patient of his whose brain damage left his patient’s intellect intact, but took away the man’s ability to feel emotions. The patient was a highly intelligent man with a high level career; after his accident, he could think perfectly logically and understand complex things, but he could no longer make decisions, because everything and everyone seemed equally important (or unimportant) to him. The man could no longer prioritize, and if I recall, he lost his job and damaged his relationships as a result of being completely incapable of deciding what matters.

    I think a lot of times — and this is just speculation on my part, from observing my own preferences — a lot of times we prefer to put more value on our intellectual processes than our emotional ones, perhaps because they seem more objective and hopefully more reliable; and engaging in analysis is certainly far more under our control than dealing with our feelings, which sometimes seem subversive to our conscious ends. So at least for me the temptation has been to consider my intellectual analyses more trustworthy than my feelings. But Damasio’s patient shows that both emotion and cognition are essential to good judgment.

  9. yeah, i totally agree and i’d like to submit Anna’s eloquent example to represent what i meant when i said that science was arrogant. what i really meant was when a someone is not ready to believe a theory or personal experiance of another that seems too fantastic for belief, it’s a convient crutch for the skeptic to rely fully upon only intellectual evidence. i feel that emotional “red flags” that are raised in response to a strange (out of the ordinary) experiance are just as valid as objective analysis of what “is” and “is not”.

    and Brain, i like where you’re headed (pun?)……are thoughts and creative ideas part of reality since they garner emotional responses? i would say yes. i would say Benjamin Franklin is as real as Robin Hood.

  10. Anna: Wow…you were able to read all of Descartes’ Error?! I tried but was only able to read a few chapters. The example you gave was an excellent one! 🙂 Phineas not only had problems vacillating between what mattered but the balance between his intellect and social/emotional behavior was destroyed. This manifested itself with anger, lack of restraint and inappropriate behavior. ( ) Phineas lived 11 years after the accident but his change in personality pretty much ended his ability to relate to the world. Dismissing emotions in favor of the process is easy and seemingly logical but I completely agree with you that you need both emotion and cognition for good judgement!

  11. I may be missing the point, but I do totally agree that the idea of “2” does exist as a neuronal pathway in my head. And that the idea of “2” was physically transmitted to me via acoustic waves by my parents (can SteelyKid Count?). But the idea of “number” is probably inherent in our DNA. So far all physically real and objective.

    But a complete structure of number theory and all the rest of mathematics has been derived by human society and beyond that all the laws of science have been discovered by our brains.

    However did our brains bring all these laws into existance? If so does that mean our universes is totally anthro-centic? To me this is an absurd conclusion. This whole structure of logical, mathematical and scientific laws had to exist independently of the evolution of concious reasoning humans.

    So is there some sort of pre-existing template that contains this logical structure? This seems to drive me into some sort of neo-platonism. Or the concept of a creator being. Or the admission that neither religion nor science have the final answer.

    It seems easiest for me to hold open the door to the possibility that “non-physical” things can exist, but that does not mean we have to open it enough to drive the truck of creationism through it. There is enough self-contradiction in the Book of Genesis to rule it ought as a source of “scientific” evidence without engaging in further metaphysics.

  12. Upstate said: “However did our brains bring all these laws into existance?”

    I would say the word “law” is the problem here. Our brains have discovered the mathematical relationships between different physical entities (energy, matter, etc). If i have two loaves of bread, and i take one away, i now have one. Is this a law?

    The term law implies anthropomorphism, so in the sense we view these relationships as “law” then yes, i would say it is a purely anthro-centric concept. However, regardless of our conception of the mathematical structure behind the ways matter and energy interact, that relationship (quite likely) does not depend at all on our conception of it…

    As far a I can tell there really isn’t an “absurd conclusion”. If we were to say that the ways matter and energy interact are themselves dependent on human conceptions and mathematical descriptions, then yeah — that is pretty absurd… but to create a “language” around such interactions and to call that language purely man-made imo is not…

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