22 December 2007

Complex enough for a soul?

Dad is writing a presentation for an ethics council he's in. He came in just now and asked me if there's room in neuroscience for talking about something truly valuable and unique emerging at the global level in the human brain, at the top, where the many networks of the brain pool their power. I said neuroscientists speak of complexity; of neurons, each containing billions of years of information, forming networks that are irreducible to their individual components, such that the full force of the 10^11 neurons in any one human brain is something that the science of many years to come can only dream of modelling.

But the intuition I keep coming back to is that materialism - a genuine acceptance of a completely mechanical reality - leads to a world-view that is absurd. When, as Laura writes "the human mind is no longer a mystery", we loose our innosence, and if, to quote Vonnegut, "all persons, living and dead, are purely coincidental", then the situation is simply unacceptable, and the sacrifices we will make to escape the human condition will become ever more severe. Very few people take this challange seriously, Richard Dawkins and his fellow God-bashers certainly don't.
This post will seem more relevant when the Chinese start growing spare organs and experimenting on fetuses on a mass scale.
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