Vince's "Why Believe?" Website

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This page has been created for two types of people: Christians who are struggling with their faith, and honest inquirers of any persuasion who are seeking spiritual truth. The articles below were selected for their outstanding quality. I have found them especially helpful in resolving difficulties for my own Christian belief. I hope you find them as useful as I did.

2. The human soul and other spirits (angels and demons)

2.1 Can a Christian be a Materialist? 2.2 Hylomorphism: An Alternative to Materialism. 2.3 Answers to Materialist Arguments.
2.4 Good Arguments Against Materialism. 2.5 Heaven - Our Final Destination. 2.6 When Does a Human Person Begin?
2.7 The Creation of the Human Soul. 2.8 Angels and Demons. 2.9 The Difference Between Humans and Other Animals.
2.10 The Difference Between Humans and Computers.

2.1 Can a Christian be a Materialist?

Good News, Your Soul Hasn't Quite Died Yet by Professor Alfred Freddoso.
Freddoso rejects both materialism (of whatever stripe) and dualism (including Cartesian dualism as well as property dualism), as incompatible with traditional Christian teaching. He puts forward a metaphysical alternative: Aristotelian hylomorphism.

Restoring the Soul to Christianity by Professor J.P. Moreland.
Moreland argues convincingly that Christianity is incompatible with materialism, and that the Bible presupposes some sort of soul-body dualism. I should caution the reader that while Moreland's Scriptual exegesis is persuasive, Moreland (like Augustine) is a substance dualist: he maintains that each of us is a soul, whereas the proper view, I believe, is that each of us has a soul. For a refutation of substance dualism, see the articles below by O'Callaghan and Oderberg, which expound Aristotle's hylomorphic dualism. Each human individual is one being, not two: the only "duality" is that of matter and form. This was the view adopted by St. Thomas Aquinas.

Converting Matter into Mind: Alchemy and the Philosopher's Stone in Cognitive Science by Professor William Dembski. In PSCF 12, (December 1990).
Some excerpts:

Matter by itself, notwithstanding how well it is dressed up with talk of holism, emergence, or supervenience, notwithstanding with what complexity it is organized, is still matter and cannot be transmuted into spirit.

Earlier I described three approaches to the mind-body problem: the substance dualism of Descartes, the monism of Spinoza, and the historic Judeo-Christian position. I want now to focus on a fourth option which has of late been gaining currency in theistic circles. I shall refer to this view as semi-materialism. By semi-materialism I mean a philosophical position which on the one hand acknowledges the God of Scripture, but on the other denies that man's soul and spirit have an ontology distinct from (i.e., not derivative from) the body. Semi-materialism is a melding of traditional theology and supervenience. God is still creator, sovereign, and transcendent, but man is now fully realized in his human body....

The problems of trying to reconcile a supervenient anthropology with a traditional theology invade the whole of theology. Thus much of what MacKay calls the "traditional imagery" associated with death has to be discarded or reinterpreted. What are we to make of the incarnation of Christ? Do Jesus' soul and spirit fit into the semi-materialist's hierarchy of levels? What about miracles? If we accept that God can interact causally with the material universe, why should it be inconceivable that a human spirit can interact causally with a human body? I am, however, committed to viewing computers and the programs they run as tools for my intellect, much as hammers are tools for my hands, and not as my peers. (Emphases mine - VJT.)

Conflating Matter and Mind by Professor Willim Dembski. From PSCF 43 (June 1991), p. 107.
Some excerpts:

When a materialist or physicalist claims that mind supervenes on brain he is saying that the brain fully determines the mind. If you will, the mind can do nothing without the brain's approval.

Now my point in Converting Matter Into Mind was that the claim that mind supervenes on brain (which is the position of such diverse figures as Jerry Fodor, Willard Quine, and Donald MacKay) is not a substantive or empirical claim, but rather a bald assertion which rests solely on materialist presuppositions....

The key theological question for me is not a matter of dogmatic or systematic theology. The key question is a personal one and might even appear impudent. It is this: What must be true about myself and about God for me to want to worship him? To put it more crassly, What's so great about God that I should want to serve him? Why should I want to be with him in eternity? ...

Frankly, when I consider the way God is frequently portrayed, even in Christian circles widely regarded as non-heretical, I have no desire to spend eternity with him. One God in particular I have no desire to spend eternity with is the God of the semi-materialists (cf. Converting Matter Into Mind, pp. 215-219). Let us recall Donald MacKay's recommendation to all good semi-materialists that they "not hunt for gaps in the scientific picture into which entities like 'the soul' might fit." For the purposes of this discussion, semi-materialists are those Christians who hold that mind supervenes on brain. Why is this bad? If God decides to create us as physical systems whose consciousness and intelligence flow strictly from the constitution and dynamics of those physical systems, what's wrong with that? Is our value diminished because semi-materialism deprives us of a spirit or soul (spirit and soul being conceived as aspects of our person whose ontology transcends the physical organism)?

To this last question I answer, Yes. Nevertheless, by diminished value I'm referring primarily to my own, personal valuations, not necessarily to God's. I know my mind and I know what I value. I frankly know very little of God's mind, and I'm loath to attribute valuations to God except in cases where the valuations I attribute to God are crucial to my valuation of God himself. If humans are no more than carbon-based machines (and here by machines I include any physical system of arbitrary complexity), if God loves and values such machines, if Christ died for such machines, so much the worse for God - I'll look for another religion. I cannot worship any old God and I cannot worship God while maintaining a warped view of myself. A great God can properly be worshipped only by a great creature. Machines are wholly inadequate for the task. (Emphasis mine - VJT.)

The Mind-Body Problem in Biblical Perspective by Dr. Greg Bahnsen.
An excerpt:

Our conclusion... then, is that mentalistic language is a different game from physicalistic language, and that both are warranted by our form of life as creatures made in God's image. Consequently we reject both dualism and mechanism; there exists no mental substance in the anthropological constitution (what could a mental substance be?), and empirical explanations do not cover the whole range of events or language in the world (e.g. volitions, personalistic utterance). Corollary to this is the affirmation of mental processes (acts, events, states and interaction between them and physical-bodily states (etc.). Although the two function in correlation with each other they are not denotatively identical or reducible. Man is different from the animals not in virtue of an extra added substance in his constitution, but in virtue of his unique capabilities for rational and moral behavior. Man is a very special kind of body (although not by reason of physiological complexity), that is a personal body - as our form of life and language tell us. Man's dignity above the beast (i.e. his capabilities) is the result, not of a donum superadditum of mind-substance (which in many theologians borders on divinization, for God is taken to be the Mind-Substance par excellence) but of his creation as (or "in") the image of the personal God.

A Physicist's Reformed Critique of Nonreductive Physicalism and Emergence by Associate Professor Arnold Sikkema.
"Essentially, the problem with 'nonreductive physicalism' is that it is, after all, a physicalist position: it reduces everything to the physical; it elevates this one aspect of created reality as being fundamental, basic, uniquely essential, primary, foundational." - Professor Sikkema.

Neurology, Theology and Unintended Consequences by Dr. David Siemens, Jr.
Most contemporary neuroscientists hold that soul or mind is no more than what emerges from complexly organized matter, that is, is strictly a function of brain. While not necessary, this view has been adopted by some evangelicals who seek current relevance. They, of course, have to posit a nonmaterial deity, something clearly not part of science. Their claims have been disputed on grounds of incompatibility with the resurrection, with spiritual beings, with free will, and with eternal life. None of these criticisms has noted an even more fundamental problem: non-reductive physicalism apparently makes the Incarnation impossible. If the human soul is only a function of the physical body, we cannot join it to the nonphysical divine substance.

2.2 Hylomorphism: An Alternative To Materialism

2.2.1 A crash-course in Aristotelian metaphysics (essential to a proper understanding of human nature)

Background Paper: "A Brief Introduction to Scholastic Ontology" by Professor Alfred Freddoso.
This presentation of scholastic ontology focuses on the notions of substance and accident and on the types of ontological composition commonly invoked by scholastic metaphysicians, along with the principal motivations for positing these types of composition.

Suarez on Metaphyical Enquiry, Efficient Causality and Divine Action by Professor Alfred Freddoso.
This is a densely argued paper with a lot of "meat" in it, dealing with the metaphysical writings of the Scholastic theologian Suarez (1548-1617), who is generally considered to have been the greatest scholastic after Aquinas. Freddoso explains his intent in writing the paper:

[I]n the last twenty years positions that can justifiably be described as Aristotelian have been proposed and defended across a wide range of philosophical disciplines... My goal is to put the reader in a position not only to understand what [the philosopher] Suarez is saying but also to appreciate the fact that his conception of metaphysical inquiry and his treatment of efficient causality are viable wholesale alternatives to what is currently dominant in Anglo-American philosophy. In other words, my intent is to help readers comprehend the systematic depth and power of Suarez's overall intellectual project, of his account of efficient causality...

How to Win Essence Back from Essentialists by Professor David Oderberg.
Professor Oderberg contrasts contemporary essentialism, which is ontologically "thin", with a metaphysically more robust, neo-Aristotelian or real essentialism which attributes real essences to kinds of object. After rejecting some common Quinean arguments against the very idea of de re necessity, Oderberg outlines and defends three tenets of real essentialism derived from the relation between: essence and identity; essence and existence; and essence and property.

Background Paper: "Top Down, Bottom Up or Inside Out? Retrieving Aristotelian Causality in Contemporary Science" by Michael Dodds, O.P.
"Bottom up" thinking - which says that to find the real nature of things, one must break them down into their fundamental components - has become the creed of modern science. This creed goes hand-in-hand with metaphysical reductionism: the conviction that the most basic stuff of the universe is also the most real, and that the rules that govern its behaviour can ultimately explain everything else. However, this philosophical view has been challenged in the 20th century, by discoveries coming from within science itself. In physics, chemistry and biology there is a growing conviction that characteristic activities of whole entities or systems in nature cannot be explained by the behavior of their parts. This "top down" thinking is now seen by many as a necessary complement to the "bottom up" approach of modern science. In this paper, Dodds briefly reviews these "bottom up" and "top down" ways of thinking, before arguing that top down thinking is itself liable to "bottom out," - to slide into reductionism - unless it can show that the "wholes" of which it speaks are anything more than conglomerations of parts. Finally, Dodds suggests that the Aristotelian understanding of substantial form can provide an ontological foundation for the whole, explaining its causality not from "bottom up" or "top down" but from "inside out."

Teleology in Aristotle and Contemporary Philosophy of Biology: An Account of the Nature of Life. An unpublished but brilliant Ph.D. thesis written by (now) Assistant Professor Richard Cameron.
This thesis argues that finality (or teleology) is a basic, irreducible category in the world, which has contemporary relevance to biology, and that one can recognise this fact and still be a perfectly good Darwinist. Cameron's thesis has ethical implications too, although Cameron himself does not explicitly draw any ethical conclusions from his thesis. In particular, if finality is a basic category in nature, then the fact-value distinction highlighted by Hume is at once undermined.

2.2.2 Hylomorphism: What is is and what is is not

Hylemorphic Dualism by Professor David Oderberg.
The author, a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Reading, U.K., rejects Cartesian dualism (according to which man is a ghost in a machine) in favour of an Aristotelian-Thomistic version of dualism, which can be summed up in the following nine theses:
(1) All substances, in other words all self-subsisting entities that are the bearers of properties and attributes but are not themselves properties or attributes of anything, are compounds of matter (hyle) and form (morphe).
(2) The latter is substantial since it actualizes matter and gives the substance its very essence and identity.
(3) The human person, being a substance, is also a compound of matter and substantial form.
(4) Since a person is defined as an individual substance of a rational nature, the substantial form of the person is the rational nature of the person.
(5) The exercise of rationality, however, is an essentially immaterial operation.
(6) Hence, human nature itself is essentially immaterial.
(7) But since it is immaterial, it does not depend for its existence on being united to matter.
(8) So a person is capable of existing, by means of his rational nature, which is traditionally called the soul, independently of the existence of his body.
(9) Hence, human beings are immortal; but their identity and individuality does require that they be united to a body at some time in their existence.

From Augustine's Mind to Aquinas' Soul by Fr. John O'Callaghan.
The thinking contained in this article is exceptionally perspicuous. The author demonstrates that belief in a soul does not imply substance dualism - the belief that soul and body are two things. On the contrary, every human being is a unity. An organism's soul is simply its underlying principle of unity. The human soul, with its ability to reason, does not distinguish us from animals; it distinguishes us as animals. The unity of a human being's actions is actually deeper and stronger than that underlying the acts of a non-rational animal: rationality allows us to bring together our past, present and future acts, when we formulate plans. When Aquinas argues that the act of intellect is not the act of a bodily organ, he is not showing that there is a non-animal act engaged in by human beings. He is showing, rather, that not every act of an animal is a bodily act.

Thomist Realism and the Linguistic Turn. By Fr. John O'Callaghan. Review by Susan Brower-Toland.
In recent years, the "representationalist" school of philosophical thought, which attempts to explain the representational properties of expressions in our language in terms of the ability of mental states to represent events occurring in the outside world, has come under attack. A movement called the Linguistic Turn has cast serious doubt on the long-accepted priority of thought over language. makes a strong case that Aquinas' philosophy of mind is immune to these new attacks; in other words, Aquinas is not a representationalist. O'Callaghan contends that Aquinas offers us an enriched account of language which solves a number of outstanding philosophical problems relating to language and knowledge.

2.2.3 The immateriality and immortality of the human soul

Good News, Your Soul Hasn't Quite Died Yet by Professor Alfred Freddoso.
Freddoso rejects both materialism (of whatever stripe) and dualism (including Cartesian dualism as well as property dualism), and describes a metaphysical alternative: Aristotelian hylomorphism.

Converting Matter into Mind by Dr. William Dembski.
Cognitive science condones an unhealthy alliance between philosophy and science. The philosophy driving cognitive science is a materialism committed to explaining man via computation. To justify this philosophy the cognitive scientist writes computer programs that attempt to capture intelligent human behavior. Computers are not cheap, however. To justify sizable research grants, cognitive scientists often make promises they cannot keep. The result is a conflict of interest. Overstatement, sloppiness, and tendentious jargon come to blur the distinction between genuine scientific progress and spurious philosophy. This essay examines the scientific and philosophical merits of cognitive science in light of the historic Judeo-Christian position on mind and body.

2.3 Answers to Materialist Arguments

2.3.1 The Dependence of Mental Processes on the Brain.

2.3.2 Free will: how is it scientifically possible?

2.3.1 The Dependence of Mental Processes on the Brain

Good News, Your Soul Hasn't Quite Died Yet by Professor Alfred Freddoso.
Freddoso argues that the dependence of thought on physical processes in the brain should come as no surprise to adherents of hylomorphism.

Hylemorphic Dualism by Professor David Oderberg.
The author, a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Reading, U.K., rejects Cartesian dualism (according to which man is a ghost in a machine) in favour of an Aristotelian-Thomistic version of hylomorphism. Professor Oderberg argues that even though human reasoning depends on the occurrence of events in the brain, the dependence is extrinsic rather than intrinsic, and hence presents no difficulty for hylomorphism.

Giving Dualism Its Due by Professor William Lycan.
A refreshingly honest paper by a materialist philosopher who subjects the philosophical arguments for materialism to critical scrutiny, and finds them wanting. Lycan's position is that "[t]hough the arguments for dualism do (indeed) fail, so do the arguments for materialism. And the standard objections to dualism are not very convincing; if one really manages to be a dualist in the first place, one should not be much impressed by them." Lycan's grounds for being a materialist seem to be that he finds Cartesian dualism implausible. (Hylomorphic dualism is not discussed in this paper.) Regarding the arguments against materialism, Lycan now believes that "intentionality is a much greater obstacle to materialism than is anything to do with consciousness, qualia, phenomenal character, subjectivity, etc."

2.3.2 Free will: how is it scientifically possible? Arguments that free will is incompatible with determinism Arguments for free will, based on Godel's Incompleteness Theorems. Refutation of Neurological arguments against the possibility of free will. Physicists' arguments against the possibility of free will.

Philosophical arguments in support of free will Arguments that free will is incompatible with determinism

G. E. M. Anscombe. Article on The Information Philosopher Website.
The article neatly summarises Anscombe's philosophical arguments in her 1971 essay, Causality and Determination. An excerpt:

Ever since Kant it has been a familiar claim among philosophers, that one can believe in both physical determinism and 'ethical' freedom. The reconciliations have always seemed to me to be either so much gobbledegook, or to make the alleged freedom of action quite unreal. My actions are mostly physical movements; if these physical movements are physically predetermined by processes which I do not control, then my freedom is perfectly illusory. The truth of physical indeterminism is then indispensable if we are to make anything of the claim to freedom. But certainly it is insufficient. The physically undetermined is not thereby 'free'. For freedom at least involves the power of acting according to an idea, and no such thing is ascribed to whatever is the subject (what would be the relevant subject?) of unpredetermination in indeterministic physics. (p.26)
In other words, indeterminism is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the existence of human freedom.

Remarks on Anscombe's Causality and Determination by Professor Alfred Freddoso.

This paper is to my mind a classic, though we have already discussed at length most of its central themes. In Part I of the paper Miss Anscombe attacks the notion that causality must involve necessity and argues to the contrary that the central element in the notion of causality is the derivativeness of the effect from the cause; any necessity or universality is a further element and may be entirely absent. In the second part of the paper she argues that it is not mere ignorance of full causes that warrants the separation of causality from necessity, universality, and determinism. I will just make a few comments.

Aquinas' Sheep by Bernard G. Prusak. A discussion of Anscombe's views on animals, intention and freedom.
Response to Denis F. Sullivan, "Anscombe on Freedom, Animals, and the Ability to Do Otherwise," presented at the American Catholic Philosophical Association Conference on "Freedom, Will, and Nature," Marquette University, November 10, 2007. Prusak argues that according to both Anscombe and Aquinas, non-human animals are capable of having intentions, but are not free. Arguments for free will, based on Godel's Incompleteness Theorems

Minds, Machines and Godel by Professor J. R. Lucas.
First published in Philosophy, XXXVI, 1961, pp. 112-127; reprinted in The Modeling of Mind, Kenneth M. Sayre and Frederick J. Crosson, eds., Notre Dame Press, 1963, pp.269-270; and Minds and Machines, ed. Alan Ross Anderson, Prentice-Hall, 1954, pp.43-59.

Satan Stultified: A Rejoinder to Paul Benacerraf by Professor J. R. Lucas.
From The Monist, vol.52, no.1, January 1968, pp.145-158.

Minds, Machines and Godel: A Retrospect by Professor J. R. Lucas.
(A Paper read to the Turing Conference at Brighton, on April 6th, 1990). In P. J. R. Millican and A. Clark, eds., Machines and Thought: The Legacy of Alan Turing, Oxford, 1996, pp.103-124.

The Godelian Argument: Turn Over the Page by Professor J. R. Lucas.
(A talk that Professor Lucas gave on 25/5/96 at a BSPS conference in Oxford, in which he replied to critics of his original argument.) Refutation of Neurological arguments against the possibility of free will

Mental Causation after Libet And Soon: Reclaiming Conscious Agency by Alexander Batthyany. In: Batthyany, Alexander & Elitzur, Avshalom C. 2009. Irreducibly Conscious. Selected Papers on Consciousness. Heidelberg: Universitatsverlag Winter.
An excerpt from the conclusion:

Contrary to the reductionist interpretations of the findings of Libet and Soon et al., it is no objection to conscious causation that it does not entail causing urges or desires. For urges or desires are passive experiences rather than actively and consciously chosen mental events; both empirical psychology and our everyday experience tell us that much, and so do Libet's subjects when they report that they did not consciously bring about their urges to move, but that the urges came "out of nowhere". Importantly, non-reductionist agency theories, too, predict that desires and urges are not consciously chosen and brought about. I therefore conclude that neither Libet's original experiment, nor the follow-up study by Soon et al. can be legitimately interpreted to provide empirical evidence in favour of agency reductionism.

More generally, the lesson we can draw is that it is highly problematic to study conscious causation in cases where the subjects themselves state that they did not consciously cause the act in question.

Free will is not an illusion after all by Anil Ananthaswamy. In New Scientist magazine, 23 September 2009.
"Champions of free will, take heart. A landmark 1980s experiment that purported to show free will doesn't exist is being challenged."

Brain preparation before a voluntary action: Evidence against unconscious movement initiation by Dr. Judy Trevena and Dr. Jeff Miller.

Benjamin Libet has argued that electrophysiological signs of cortical movement preparation are present before people report having made a conscious decision to move, and that these signs constitute evidence that voluntary movements are initiated unconsciously. This controversial conclusion depends critically on the assumption that the electrophysiological signs recorded by Libet, Gleason, Wright, and Pearl (1983) are associated only with preparation for movement. We tested that assumption by comparing the electrophysiological signs before a decision to move with signs present before a decision not to move. There was no evidence of stronger electrophysiological signs before a decision to move than before a decision not to move, so these signs clearly are not specific to movement preparation. We conclude that Libet's results do not provide evidence that voluntary movements are initiated unconsciously.

Abstract & Review of "The Volitional Brain" edited by Benjamin Libet, Anthony Freeman and Keith Sutherland.
Do we really choose to get out of bed in the morning or is our sense of free will merely an illusion? In an age of functional imaging can philosophy still offer any solutions to the problem of volition? Is free will compatible with the laws of quantum physics? The subject of free will, once the province of philosophy and theology, is now fair game for neuroscience, psychology, and physics. This diverse collection of articles covers all of these disciplines, old and new, providing a ringside seat for the current arguments about the nature of free will - and even whether it exists. You are left to use your own free will (or lack of it) to judge the final outcome. (Excerpt from a review by Jon Stone in J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatry 2001; vol. 70, p. 710.)

Note: the link contains an abstract of each article in this collection of essays.

A Dualistic Theory of Consciousness by P. Flury-Kleubler.

A dualistic theory of consciousness is presented which is compatible with the phenomena of conscious subjective experience and the findings of neurobiology. It is argued that qualitative phenomenal differences cannot be explained by differences in the underlying neural activity. Therefore, monistic models can never be sufficient for understanding consciousness. Arguments from phenomenology and functional neuroanatomy are presented to support the hypothesis that only brain events within a few selected brain areas have a subjective correlate. If any information processed in the brain shall be consciously accessible, it must build up a representation within those brain areas whose activity is accompanied by phenomenally concrete experience, that is by sensorymodal or emotional phenomena. In addition, it is argued that brain output cannot be fully explained physically.
The author concludes that "the assumption of subjective influence on physical events does not necessarily lead to a violation of physical laws. On the contrary, modern physics is entirely compatible with a dualistic view of man as an individual who - to a limited extent - has an impact on his experience and behaviour and is therefore - to a limited extent - free and responsible for his behaviour."

Does the reality of unconscious processes undermine Christianity? (two-part series) edited by Glenn Miller.
Recent findings by researchers (Bargh, Gollwitzer, Chartrand and others) that ethically relevant behaviour (e.g. rudeness, politeness) can be generated by subconscious priming techniques appears to cast doubt upon the notions of responsibility and free will. In this lengthy reply, Miller examines the relevant literature and concludes that "[t]he published statements of the relevant researchers support the existence of, and majority-control of composite behavior by, what is popularly called 'free will'." Physicists' arguments against the possibility of free will

The Cogito Model. From The Information Philosopher Web site, by Dr. Roddy Doyle.
This site represents a bold philosophical attempt to reconcile the valid insights underlying both determinism and indeterminism. The authors of the model argue that it accords well with the findings of quantum theory, and guarantees humans libertarian freedom, but at the same time avoids the pitfall of making chance the cause of our actions. An excerpt:

Our Cogito model of human freedom combines microscopic quantum randomness and unpredictability with macroscopic determinism and predictability, in a temporal sequence.

Why have philosophers been unable for millenia to see that the common sense view of human freedom is correct? Partly because their logic or language preoccupation makes them say that either determinism or indeterminism is true, and the other must be false. Our physical world includes both, although the determinism we have is only an adequate description for large objects. So any intelligible explanation for free will must include both indeterminism and adequate determinism.

My own comments: I originally construed Doyle's Cogito Model as being friendly to the idea of libertarian freedom. However, after reviewing the Cogito Model in more depth, I feel compelled to say that I mis-interpreted Doyle's views, which was careless of me.

I think my misunderstanding arose partly because Doyle used terminology that I would endorse myself (albeit in a different sense, as I will show below), and partly because he made a point of disavowing determinism, upholding indeterminism, championing Aristotle, admiring Aquinas and upholding libertarian free will (as I do). Still, he's no Aristotelian, and certainly no Thomist. Indeed, he isn't even a bona fide indeterminist. Nevertheless, Doyle's Cogito Model is a highly instructive one, for it points the way to how a science-friendly, authentically libertarian account of freedom might work.

There are passages on Doyle's current Web site (see for instance paragraphs 3 and 4 of his page on Libertarianism ) where he appears to suggest that our character and our values determine our actions. This is of course absurd: if I could never act out of character, then I could not be said to have a character. I would be a machine.

Misleadingly, in his Web page on Libertarianism, Doyle conflates the incoherent view that "an agent's decisions are not connected in any way with character and other personal properties" (which is surely absurd) with the entirely distinct (and reasonable) view that "one's actions are not determined by anything prior to a decision, including one's character and values, and one's feelings and desires" (emphases mine). Now, I have no problem with the idea that my bodily actions are determined by my will, which is guided by my reason. However, character, values, feelings and desires are not what makes an action free - especially as Doyle has made clear in his Cogito Model that he envisages all these as being ultimately determined by non-rational, physicalistic causes:

Macro Mind is a macroscopic structure so large that quantum effects are negligible. It is the critical apparatus that makes decisions based on our character and values.

Information about our character and values is probably stored in the same noise-susceptible neural circuits of our brain...

The Macro Mind has very likely evolved to add enough redundancy, perhaps even error detection and correction, to reduce the noise to levels required for an adequate determinism.

The Macro Mind corresponds to natural selection by highly determined organisms.

There is a more radical problem with Doyle's model, which I now recognize, as he has spelt out his views more fully: he acknowledges the reality of downward causation, but because he is a materialist, he fails to give a proper account of downward causation. He seems to construe it in terms of different levels of organization in the brain: Macro Mind ("a macroscopic structure so large that quantum effects are negligible... the critical apparatus that makes decisions based on our character and values") and Micro Mind ("a random generator of frequently outlandish and absurd possibilities") - the latter being susceptible to random quantum fluctuations, from which the former makes a rational selection.

Doyle goes on to say:

Our decisions are then in principle predictable, given knowledge of all our past actions and given the randomly generated possibilities in the instant before decision. However, only we know the contents of our minds, and they exist only within our minds. Thus we can feel fully responsible for our choices, morally and legally.

Having read that, I am now of the opinion that Doyle is a sort of compatibilist, even though he himself denies this.

So how do I envisage freedom? I'd like to go back to a remark by Karl Popper, in his address entitled, Natural Selection and the Emergence of Mind, delivered at Darwin College, Cambridge, November 8, 1977. Let me say at the outset that I disagree with much of what Popper says. However, I think he articulated a profound insight when he said:

A choice process may be a selection process, and the selection may be from some repertoire of random events, without being random in its turn. This seems to me to offer a promising solution to one of our most vexing problems, and one by downward causation.

Let's get back to the problem of downward causation. How does it take place? The eminent neurophysiologist and Nobel prizer winner, Sir John Eccles, openly advocated a "ghost in the machine" model in his book Facing Reality, 1970 (pp. 118-129). He envisaged that the "ghost" operates on neurones that are momentarily poised close to a threshold level of excitability.

That's not how I picture it. Reasoning and choosing are indeed immaterial processes: they are actions that involve abstract, formal concepts. (By the way, computers don't perform formal operations; they are simply man-made material devices that are designed to mimic these operations. A computer is no more capable of addition than a cash register, an abacus or a Rube Goldberg machine.)

Reasoning is an immaterial activity. This means that reasoning doesn't happen anywhere - certainly not in some spooky soul hovering 10 centimeters above my head. It has no location. Ditto for choice. However, choices have to be somehow realized on a physical level, otherwise they would have no impact on the world. The soul doesn't push neurons, as Eccles appears to think; instead, it selects from one of a large number of quantum possibilities thrown up at some micro level of the brain (Doyle's micro mind). This doesn't violate quantum randomness, because a selection can be non-random at the macro level but random at the micro level.

1 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 1
0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1

The above two rows were created by a random number generator. Now suppose I impose the macro requirement: keep the columns whose sum equals 1, and discard the rest. I now have:

1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 0

Each row is still random, but I have imposed a non-random macro-level constraint. That's how my will works when I make a choice.

For Thomists, a human being is not two things - a soul and a body - but one being, capable of two radically different kinds of acts - material acts (which other animals are also capable of) and formal, immaterial actions, such as acts of choice and deliberation. In practical situations, immaterial acts of choice are realized as a selection from one of a large number of randomly generated possible pathways.

On a neural level, what probably happens when an agent decides to raise his/her arm is this: the arm goes through a large number of micro-level muscular movements (tiny twitches) which are randomly generated at the quantum level. The agent tries these out over a very short interval of time (a fraction of a second) before selecting the one which feels right - namely, the one which matches the agent's desire to raise his/her arm. This selection continues during the time interval over which the agent raises his/her arm. The wrong (randomly generated quantum-level) micro-movements are continually filtered out by the agent.

The agent's selection may indeed reflect his/her character, values and desires (as Doyle proposes) - but then again, it may not. We can and do act out of character, and we sometimes act irrationally. Our free will is not bound to act according to reason, and sometimes we act contrary to it (akrasia, or weakness of will, being a case in point).

So I agree with a lot of what Doyle has to say, with this difference: I do not see our minds as having been formed by the process of natural selection. As thinking is an immaterial activity, any physicalistic account of its origin is impossible in principle.

Free Will - You Only Think You Have It by Zeeya Merali. Article from New Scientist, 4 May 2006.
This article discusses the endeavours of Nobel Physics Laureate Gerard 't Hooft of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, to unify quantum theory and general relativity. Two mathematicians have established that 't Hooft's theories entail that free will is an illusion - an implication which they regard as absurd. 't Hooft, on the other hand, regards the quantum mechanical idea that the universe can't be completely described by physics as profoundly unsettling and counter-intuitive - but then, if his theory is right, his metaphysical intuitions are also pre-determined!

Free Will - Is Our Understanding Wrong? by Zeeya Merali. Article from New Scientist, 1 August 2007.
Antoine Suarez, a physicist at the Center for Quantum Philosophy in Zurich, Switzerland, has performed an experiment that he claims proves t'Hooft wrong. Suarez is submitting his paper to Foundations of Physics, a journal that is edited by 't Hooft. "I think it will spark an interesting debate," Suarez says.

2.3.3 Is neuroscience at odds with belief in an immaterial soul?

Mind does really matter: Evidence from neuroimaging studies of emotional self-regulation, psychotherapy, and placebo effect by Mario Beauregard. In Progress in Neurobiology 81 (2007), pp. 218-236.
This article reviews neuroimaging studies of conscious and voluntary regulation of various emotional states (sexual arousal, sadness, negative emotion). The results of these studies show that metacognition and cognitive recontextualization selectively alters the way the brain processes and reacts to emotional stimuli. Neuroimaging studies of the effect of psychotherapy in patients suffering from diverse forms of psychopathology (obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, unipolar major depressive disorder, social phobia, spider phobia, borderline personality) are also examined. The results of these studies indicate that the mental functions and processes involved in diverse forms of psychotherapy exert a significant influence on brain activity. Neuroimaging investigations of the placebo effect in healthy individuals (placebo analgesia, psychostimulant expectation) and patients with Parkinson's disease or unipolar major depressive disorder are also reviewed. The results of these investigations demonstrate that beliefs and expectations can markedly modulate neurophysiological and neurochemical activity in brain regions involved in perception, movement, pain, and various aspects of emotion processing. Collectively, the findings of the neuroimaging studies reviewed here strongly support the view that the subjective nature and the intentional content (what they are "about" from a first-person perspective) of mental processes (e.g., thoughts, feelings, beliefs, volition) significantly influence the various levels of brain functioning (e.g., molecular, cellular, neural circuit) and brain plasticity. Furthermore, these findings indicate that mentalistic variables have to be seriously taken into account to reach a correct understanding of the neural bases of behavior in humans. An attempt is made to interpret the results of these neuroimaging studies with a new theoretical framework called the Psychoneural Translation Hypothesis.

The Vulcanization of the Human Brain: A Neural Perspective on Interactions Between Cognition and Emotion by Professor Jonathan D. Cohen.
Article in Journal of Economic Perspectives, Volume 19, Number 4 (Fall 2005), pages 3-4. Professor Cohen, who is a brain surgeon, argues that people possess the capacity to override their emotional responses. This capacity largely relies on the most recently evolved parts of our brains, which support rational behaviour. Neuroscientists are gradually coming to understand the neural mechanisms involved in both emotional responses and higher cognitive processes. This effort offers the promise of a deeper understanding of how and why emotions impact decision making.

Brain Science and the Soul by Professor Robert Reno.
Professor Reno discusses the moral and religious significance of Professor Cohen's article (see above). An extract:

Our solutions to ethical problems, Cohen's work shows, are influenced by the intercommunication between different parts of the brain. Subjects with a high degree of neural activity linking the brain stem to the frontal lobe tend to allow emotional responses to override rational assessments of moral dilemmas. Subjects make more rational decisions, he reports, when the neurological activity from the primitive part of the brain is blocked from interfering with the frontal lobe. Cohen then concludes that these patterns of open and blocked communication are not fixed by nature. They solidify over time. Our brain patterns are vulcanized, as he puts it, and this occurs by the constant repetition of these patterns. The river cuts its channel. When I read Cohen's results and analysis, I felt as though Aristotle and his views of the soul were being vindicated rather than overturned. As Aristotle makes clear in his Nichomachean Ethics, virtue depends on the formation of good habits, and they require careful and comprehensive discipline of the soul. Now, contemporary brain science and Cohen's picture of the vulcanized brain lead pretty much to the same, Aristotelian vision of the soul shaped by virtues or vices.

Neuroscience and Hylomorphism by Professor Michael Egnor.
Michael Egnor is a neurosurgeon. He has been a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Stony Brook University since 1991. Here is an extract from his article:

My own view of the relationship between the mind and the brain tends to hylomorphism, specifically the variant of traditional Aristotelian hylomorphism called Thomistic dualism, which is the view that the soul (of which the mind is a part) is the substantial form of the body (of which the brain is a part). Thomistic dualism has much strength, not the least of which is that it offers a intrinsic explanation for the interaction between mind and brain and it is entirely consistent with the correlation between mental states and brain states that is evident in neuroscience. Correlation between mind and brain states, but not identity or reduction, is precisely what is predicted by Thomistic dualism. Furthermore in the Thomistic view the 'rational' soul is that aspect of the soul (i.e. that aspect of the form of the body) that is in some respects independent of matter. Thus the Thomistic view incorporates subjective properties of the mind, and can give rise to the uniquely mental properties of intentionality, free will, qualia, etc. on which materialist theories crumble.

Challenging Materialism's "Chokehold" on Neuroscience by Dr. William Dembski.
Review of The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force by Jeffrey Schwartz.
Schwartz is a research professor in psychiatry at UCLA who believes that neuroscience has been subverted by materialist philosophy. In this book, he attempts to argue that mind and brain are ontologically distinct. Schwartz arrived at his position by studying the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

If the Spiritual Soul were Beyond the Scope of Physicalism by Dr. Thaddeus Trenn.
Given the full human condition it is far too easy to forget who we are and who God is. Becoming entangled in external things that seem so promising we tend to ignore and forget what we already have and who we already are. This is particularly true under the sway of the "false self". The crux of the modern problem can often be traced to an overt and inappropriate reliance upon faith in science rather than faith in Christ Jesus. As Christians we ought not to suffer such perplexity. We have gradually come to know that deep inside us, at our innermost core, is God in Whom we live, move and have our being. God's love, God's Spirit is always there. This is the essential human condition though we may sometimes forget this hidden reality.

2.3.4 Are Cognitive Blindspots A Good Argument Against Belief In An Immaterial Soul?

Daniel Kahneman. Wikipedia biography.
Kahneman and Tversky are the co-founders of Prospect Theory, which orovides psychologists and economists with a cognitive basis for common human errors, using heuristics and biases.

Amos Tversky Wikipedia biography.

Daniel Kahneman - Links to Lectures and More.
Lectures on talks on human intuition, decision-making and rationality.

The Monty Hall Problem. Wikipedia article.

The Collapsing Choice Theory: Dissociating Choice and Judgment in Decision Making Theory by Stibel, Jeffrey, Dror, Itiel, & Ben-Zeev, Talia (2008) in Theory and Decision.
The authors argue on the basis of experiments that choice and judgement do not always go together, and that this dissociation can actually lead to better decision making. The authors conclude by approvingly quoting the words of another researcher, Evans (1989):

The view that I wish to argue here is that errors of thinking occur because of, rather than in spite of, the nature of our intelligence. In other words, they are an inevitable consequence of the way in which we think and a price to be paid for the extraordinary effectiveness with which we routinely deal with the massive information-processing requirements of everyday life.

Cognitive bias. Wikipedia article.

List of fallacies. Wikipedia article.

Cognitive Closure. Wikipedia article.
This refers to the idea that there might be certain kinds of philosophical problems, like the hard problem of consciousness, which human beings are by their very nature unable to resolve.

2.4 Are there any good arguments against materialism?

2.4.1 Philosophical Arguments Against Materialism. 2.4.2 Empirical Arguments Against Materialism.

2.4.1 Philosophical arguments against materialism

Online Theses Refuting Materialism and Arguing for Substance Dualism

The Plausibility of Substance Dualism as an Approach to the Mind-Body Problem by Richard J. Bernier. M.A. thesis, Department of Theological Studies, Concordia University, Canada, 2003.
Abstract (extract). This thesis presents an argument that would posit a substantial non-physical principle of cognition and consciousness, i.e. a mind or soul, ontologically distinct from the physical brain and its properties. The case consists of, first, a series of arguments that seek to establish the rational foundation for this Cartesian or substance dualism and, second, an attempt to reply to some of the major objections to it.

In Defence of Interactionism by Ole Andreas Klaeboe Koksvik. M.A. thesis, Department of Philosophy, Monash University, Australia, 2006.
Abstract (extract). Mind-body dualism is intuitively a plausible position, the important contemporary varieties of which are epiphenomenalism and interactionism. The former acknowledges causal relations only from the body to the mind; the latter insists that the causal relations go both ways. This thesis defends interactionist dualism against a set of commonly raised objections.

Encyclopedia Articles on Dualism

Mind-Body Relationship. Article by Gianfranco Basti. In Interdisciplinary Encyclopedia of Religion and Science.

Dualism in the philosophy of Mind. Article by Carl Zimmerman. In Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition.

Good Websites With Collections of Essays Refuting Materialism

Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview by J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig.
An excellent starting point for undergraduate students. Scroll down to chapters 11 (Dualism), 12 (Alternatives to Dualism), 13 (Free Will and Determinism) and 14 (Personal Identity and Life After Death) (pages 228 to 306).

New Dualism Archive.
A philosophical archive for the constructive study of substance dualism.

Dualism on the Web.

New Theory of Dualism.

The Best-Argued Online Philosophical Articles Which Refute Materialism and Argue for Substance Dualism

The articles below were chosen for their very high academic quality. They fall into four general categories, which I have provided links to here:

MySpace Codes Formal Arguments, Which Are Based On Special Features Of Mental Operations, Which Preclude Our Identifying Them With Material Processes: "Transcendental" Arguments, Which Are Based On The Reliability of Mental Operations: If Our Mental Operations Were Identical With Material Processes, Then We Could No Longer Be Sure That Our Logical Arguments Were Valid Or Invalid, Based Purely Upon Their Formal Features. But Since Formal Logic Is Universally Valid, That With Which We Reason Cannot Be Immaterial. Phenomenological Arguments, Which Are Based On The Irreducibly First-Person Features of Subjective Consciousness. Reductio Ad Absurdum Arguments, Which Endeavour To Show That Materialism Entails Absurd Consequences, Such As The Non-Existence Of A Self, Or The Absence Of Freedom.

MySpace Codes Formal Arguments, Which Are Based On Special Features Of Mental Operations, Which Preclude Our Identifying Them With Material Processes:
  • Universality - the fact that we are able to form universal concepts;
  • Infinite Cardinality - the fact that we can form infinitely many concepts;
  • The Intentionality or "Aboutness" of our thoughts - whenever we are thinking, we are thinking about something;
  • The formal specificity of our intellectual operations (e.g. the mental operation of squaring a number);
  • The specific propositional content of our thoughts (e.g. "It will rain tomorrow");
  • The complete lack of isomorphism between that our memories and states of affairs in in the world; and
  • The ability of our thoughts and memories to be triggered by indefinitely many different kinds of events in the world.

Arguments based on the Universality of our Concepts

Is Intellect Immaterial? by Dr. Mortimer Adler. For Part 2, click here.
Dr. Adler argues that the brain is only a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for conceptual thought. That is, we cannot think conceptually without our brains, but we do not think conceptually with our brains. The brain is not the organ of thought as the eye and the brain together are the organs of vision, or the ear and brain together are the organs of hearing. An excerpt:

I will try, as briefly as possible, to summarize the argument that I think supports the view that the intellect is the immaterial factory needed, in addition to the brain, for the occurrence in the human mind of conceptual thought. The argument, as stated, is not to be found in the philosophical writings of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, but its main tenets can be found there.

The argument hinges on two propositions. The first asserts that the concepts whereby we understand what different kinds or classes of things are like consist of meanings that are universal. The second proposition asserts that nothing that exists physically is ever actually universal. Anything that is embodied in matter exists as an individual, a singular thing that may also be a particular instance of this class or that.

From these two propositions, the conclusion follows that our concepts, having universality, cannot be embodied in matter. If they were acts of a bodily organ such as the brain, they would exist in matter, and so could not have the requisite universality to function as concepts that enable us to think of universal objects, such as kinds or classes, quite different from the individual things that are objects of sense perception, imagination, and memory. The power of conceptual thought, by which we form and use concepts, must, therefore, be an immaterial power, one the acts of which are not acts of a bodily organ.

Concepts, Dualism, and The Human Intellect by Professor David Oderberg.

[A]n older way of arguing for dualism, based on the Aristotelian tradition, does not invoke anything subjective, first-personal, or phenomenological. Instead, it identifies a feature of human beings more amenable to third-personal investigation - the activity of reason. According to this kind of argument, human beings engage in a kind of activity that resists materialistic reduction, a position that can be established without appeal to anything necessarily subjective or perspectival in what each person knows about themselves.

The idea is that intellectual activity - the formation of concepts, the making of judgments, and logical reasoning - is an essentially immaterial process. By essentially immaterial is meant that intellectual processes, in the sense just mentioned, are intrinsically independent of matter, this being consistent with their being extrinsically dependent on matter for their normal operation in the human being. Extrinsic dependence, then, is a kind of non-essential dependence. For example, certain kinds of plant depend extrinsically, and so non-essentially, on the presence of soil for their nutrition, since they can also be grown hydroponically. But they depend intrinsically, hence essentially, on the presence of certain nutrients that they normally receive from soil but can receive via other routes. Something similar is true of the human intellect...

A problem arises for the view that the mind, considered just as the brain (or some other physical entity or system), acts in a purely material way. For if the abstracted forms - the concepts - are literally in the mind so conceived, we should be able to find them, just as we are able to find universals in rebus by finding the things that instantiate them or the things of which they are true. We can find triangularity by finding the triangles, and redness by finding the red things. But we cannot find the concepts of either of these by looking inside the brain. Nothing in the brain instantiates redness or triangularity; when Fred acquires the concept of either, nothing in his brain becomes red or triangular. Yet these concepts must be in his mind, and if the mind just is the brain they should be in his brain; yet they are not. It seems that concepts are not located anywhere in the brain. But they must be in the mind since concepts are precisely what the mind acts upon in order to make judgments and inferences. Concepts are the matter of intellectual operation, but they do not seem to be materially located, whether in the brain or any other part of the person. This is what I call the "storage problem."

For a start, concepts and what they constitute - propositions and arguments - are abstract, whereas potential material loci for them are concrete... Again, concepts are unextended; brains are extended. Here the idea is that concepts are not even categorially capable of location in a brain due to lack of extension... Further, concepts are universal, whereas material loci are particular. So the problem is how anything that is abstract, unextended, and universal could be embodied, located, or stored in anything concrete, extended, and particular.

Minds and Machines by Dr. Gerald Casey.
In this article, Dr. Casey addresses the question: Can a machine be said to think and, if so, in what sense? Dr. Casey concludes that it cannot: the power of conceptual thought is an immaterial power.

Aquinas's Proofs of the Immateriality of the Intellect from the Universality of Human Thought by Professor Gyula Klima.
An ingenious reconstruction of Aquinas' argument that acts of understanding cannot be bodily acts. Scroll down to page 19 to read the article. See also the comments by Robert Pasnau on page 29 and Professor Klima's reply on page 37.

Arguments based on our ability to form an Infinite Number of Concepts

Hylemorphic Dualism by Professor David Oderberg.
Professor Oderberg argues here that our capacity to entertain an infinite number of concepts is at odds with the brain's finite storage capacity. He concludes that human beings' capacity to think cannot be explained purely in terms of their brains.

Arguments based on the formal specificity of our intellectual operations, (e.g. the mental operation of squaring a number), as well as the specific propositional content of our thoughts (e.g. "It will rain tomorrow.")

Immaterial Aspects of Thought by Professor James Ross. In The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 89, No. 3, (Mar. 1992), pp. 136-150.
In this article, Professor Ross argues that thought is immaterial because it has a definite, determinate form. As he puts it: by its nature, thinking is always of a definite form - e.g. right now, I am performing the formal operation of squaring a number. But no physical process or sequence of processes, or even a function among physical processes, can be definite enough to realize (or "pick out") just one, uniquely, among incompossible forms. For example, when I perform the mental operation of squaring, there is nothing which makes my accompanying neural processes equivalent to the operation of squaring and not some other mental operation. Thus, no such process can be such thinking. On the last page, in a footnote, Ross makes a similar argument for the propositional content of thought: when I think that it is going to rain tomorrow, there is nothing in my brain which unambiguously corresponds to this thought, as opposed to some other thought. Ross is responds to the objection that computers can add and perform other abstract operations: "Machines do not process numbers (though we do); they process representations (signals). Since addition is a process applicable only to numbers, machines do not add. And so on for statements, musical themes, novels, plays, and arguments." A more up-to-date, expanded version of Ross's arguments can be found here.

Some brief arguments for dualism, Part IV by Professor Edward Feser.
This is a highly readable summary of Ross's argument, for the benefit of anyone who might find Ross's essay rather heavy going. Feser sums up Ross's argument in a nutshell: "The point is that an abstract concept could not, even in theory, be material, given that concepts are determinate and material things are indeterminate."

Arguments based on Intentionality

Intentionality by Dr. Pierre Jacob.
Article in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, (Fall 2003 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.). Scroll down to section 9 - Can intentionality be naturalized? - for a balanced discussion of the relevant issues.

Some brief arguments for dualism, Part I by Professor Edward Feser.
In this blog entry, Feser gives a brief, non-technical exposition of the problems that intentionality poses for a materialistic account of thought: "Thoughts and the like possess inherent meaning or intentionality; brain processes, like ink marks, sound waves, and the like, are utterly devoid of any inherent meaning or intentionality; so thoughts and the like cannot possibly be identified with brain processes."

Some brief arguments for dualism, Part II by Professor Edward Feser.
In this blog entry, Feser continues his discussion of the problems that intentionality poses for a materialistic account of thought. Here, Feser poiunts out that ever since the "Scientific Revolution" of the 17th century, materialists have steadfastly denied the reality of final causes as a feature of the natural world. He then argues that it is impossible to deny the reality of final causes, while at the same time affirming the reality of intentionality: "If materialism is true, then (given that it is committed to a mechanistic conception of the material world), there are no final causes, and thus nothing that inherently 'points to' or is 'directed at' anything beyond itself; and in that case, there can be no such thing as intentionality; but there is such a thing as intentionality; therefore materialism is not true."

Dennett Denied: A Critique of Dennett's Evolutionary Account of Intentionality by Professor Angus Menuge.
Professor Daniel Dennett has developed a sophisticated naturalistic account of intentionality, according to which our intentionality is derived from that of our genes, which have been shaped by the winnowing process of natural selection. In this essay, Professor Menuge identifies four problems with Dennett's account, and then presents positive grounds for saying that intentionality is a real but non-naturalistic quality, which is best explained by positing an Intelligent Designer of nature.

Intentionality and Causality in John Searle by David Thompson, Dept. of Philosophy, Memorial University, 1985.
Professor John Searle's account of intentionality is by far the most sophisticated account of intentionality from a materialist perspective. Searle has argued in his book Mind, Language and Society that intentionality can be a property of physical systems, such as our brains. In this article, David Thompson examines Searle's account of intentioanlity and finds it wanting. He concludes that Searle's attempt to naturalize intentionality is unsuccessful.

Immateriality and Intentionality by Dr. Gerald Casey, University College, Dublin.
In this paper, Dr. Casey investigate the notions of immateriality and intentionality with a view to clarifying their relationship. He concludes that intentionality is immaterial in this sense: even though it is a mode of being which supervenes upon a material base, it can be actualised only in the presence of a being with an immaterial receptive capacity.

Meta-Arguments (critical evaluations of arguments for the distinctness of soul and brain) based on Intensionality

Intelligibility and Intensionality by Professor David Oderberg.
A common argumentative strategy employed by anti-reductionists involves claiming that one kind of entity cannot be identified with or reduced to a second because what can intelligibly be predicated of one cannot be predicated intelligibly of the other. For instance, it might be argued that mind and brain are not identical because it makes sense to say that minds are rational but it does not make sense to say that brains are rational. The scope and power of this kind of argument - if valid - are obvious; but if it turns out that 'It makes sense to say that' creates an opaque context, such arguments will fail. Dr. Oderberg analyses a possible counterexample to validity and show that it is not conclusive, as it depends on what syntactical construction is given to the premises. This leads to the general observation that the argument form under consideration works for some constructions but not others, and thus to the conclusion that further analysis of intelligibility is called for before it can be known whether the argumentative strategy is open to the anti-reductionist or not.

Arguments based on the impossibility of reducing memories to traces in the brain, due to: (i) the complete lack of isomorphism between that our memories and states of affairs in in the world; and (ii) the ability of our thoughts and memories to be triggered by indefinitely many different kinds of events in the world.

Memory Without A Trace by Dr. Stephen Braude.

Ever since Plato proposed that memories are analogous to impressions in wax, many have suggested that memories are formed through the creation of traces, representations of the things remembered. That is still the received view among most cognitive scientists, who believe the remaining challenge is simply to determine the precise physical nature of memory traces. However, there are compelling reasons for thinking that this standard view of memory is profoundly wrongheaded - in fact, disguised nonsense. This paper considers, firstly, what those reasons are in detail. Secondly and more briefly, it considers how trace-like constructs have undermined various areas of parapsychological theorizing, especially in connection with the evidence for postmortem survival - for example, speculations about cellular memory in transplant cases and genetic memory in reincarnation cases. Similar problems also emerge in areas often related to parapsychology - for example, Sheldrake's (1981) account of morphic resonance.
From the essay:
Wolfgang Kohler... proposed that [memory] traces must be isomorphic with the things of which they're traces - that is, the things they represent (e.g., Kohler, 1947, 1969). But what Kohler and others have failed to grasp is that this kind of intrinsic connection is impossible, because nothing can function in one and only one way. As I'll argue shortly, this is especially clear when the function in question is one of representation or meaning. Nothing can represent unambiguously (or represent one and only one thing); representing is not something objects can do all by themselves; and representation can't be an intrinsic or inherent relation between the thing represented and the thing that represents it. (Emphases and square brackets mine - VJT.) "Transcendental" Arguments, Which Are Based On The Reliability Of Mental Operations: If Our Mental Operations Were Identical With Material Processes, Then We Could No Longer Be Sure That Our Logical Arguments Were Valid Or Invalid, Based Purely Upon Their Formal Features. But Since Formal Logic Is Universally Valid, That With Which We Reason Cannot Be Immaterial.

Arguments Based on the Reliability of Critical Thinking

Defining Critical Thinking by Michael Scriven & Richard Paul for the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking Instruction.
The Center for Critical Thinking and Moral Critique and the Foundation For Critical Thinking, two sister educational non-profit organizations, work closely together to promote educational reform. They seek to promote essential change in education and society through the cultivation of fair-minded critical thinking. The Critical Thinking Web site has a collection of articles and resources relating to critical thinking.

Naturalism Defeated by Professor Alvin Plantinga.
Plantinga takes an interesting tack here and argues that naturalism (the idea that there are no gods or supernatural beings) and evolution, far from going hand-in-hand, actually contradict each other. You cannot believe in both theories without fatally undermining your grounds for believing that your own cognitive faculties are reliable - which in turn undermines your grounds for believing the two theories you endorsed in the first place. However, it is possible to recast Plantinga's article as a powerful argument against materialism. If materialism is true, then we have no reason to believe that our cognitive faculties are reliable (except regarding purely practical questions like where our next meal is going to come from).

A Response to Richard Carrier's Review of C.S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea (2007) by Darek Barfoot.
C. S. Lewis's argument from reason (AfR) claims that the process of inference by which consideration of premises causes us to adopt a conclusion cannot be coherently conceived of in terms of physical cause-and-effect alone. In C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea, Victor Reppert maintains that the argument still poses a strong challenge to naturalism. However, Richard Carrier has attempted to refute Reppert's version of the AfR by invoking developments in cognitive science and computational theory. In this essay Darek Barefoot argues that advances in cognitive science do not affect the AfR since there is an absolute conceptual divide between rational mental causes and physical computational ones. Furthermore, if the AfR is successful, it reveals that rationality is fundamental to the universe, not simply a by-product of physical cause-and-effect; and this, in turn, is readily explicable on theism, but problematic for naturalism.

Critical Review of Victor Reppert's Defense of the Argument from Reason (2004) by Dr. Richard Carrier.

In a nutshell, an argument from reason (hereafter AfR) argues from "the existence of rational thought" to the necessity of theism and the nonphysicality of the human mind, such that "our very thinking" can "provide evidence that theism is true" (45). Reppert traces the AfR back even beyond C.S. Lewis, but concedes that even Lewis needs improvement, providing which is the function of Reppert's book.

In this critique I will not address every scientific and philosophic objection one could raise against Reppert's case. Rather, I will point out what I believe are the most important conceptual flaws in his arguments, and explain in detail how his arguments are ineffective against my own personal worldview. The organization of this critique is in two parts: the first is all one needs to read to get a gist of what's wrong with Reppert's defense of the Argument from Reason; the second part elaborates with more details and other issues not central to the main points made in the first part.

C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea: a philosophical defense of Lewis' argument from reason by Victor Reppert. Some of the book can be viewed on Google here. Phenomenological Arguments, Which Are Based On The Irreducibly First-Person Features of Subjective Consciousness.

Arguments Based on the Irreducibility of Statements about Persons to Statements about their Bodies

Interview with Science and Religion News (2006) on Mind-Body Dualism by Professor Richard Swinburne, of Oxford University.
To read the interview, click on the "Mind-Body Dualism" link. In this interview, Swinburne argues that the soul must be a distinct substance from the body, because there are bizarre cases (such as split brain experiments) in which you could know everything that had happened to my body (i.e. what had happened to every atom of what used to be my brain) without knowing what had happened to me. Swinburne believes that every conscious creature has a soul that was created by God.

Arguments Based on the "Hard Problem of Consciousness": How Do You Distil First-Person States Out Of Third-Person Processes?

The Mind-Body Problem and Promissory Materialism by Dr. Michael Egnor.
On this episode of ID the Future, CSC's Logan Gage interviews professor of neurosurgery at SUNY, Stony Brook Michael Egnor on the mind-body problem and promissory materialism. Dr. Egnor explains how materialism has not been able to answer the "hard problem of consciousness." Instead, as promissory materialism, it claims that materialism as a theory will eventually be able to explain what it has yet to explain at all.

Some brief arguments for dualism, Part III by Professor Edward Feser.
This is a non-technical article for anyone who is fairly new to philosophy. Feser expresses the argument as follows: "Given the materialist's own (mechanistic-cum-quantificational) conception of matter, colors, odors, tastes and the like as we experience them do not exist in the material world itself; but these qualities do exist in our perceptual representations of the material world; therefore, there exist features of the world - namely these sensory qualities or 'qualia' that characterize our perceptual experiences ¡¦that are not material or physical features."

Arguments Based on the Irreducibility of Conscious Phenomena and Paranormal Phenomena to Material Processes

Metasubjective cognition beyond the brain: Subjective awareness and the location of concepts of consciousness by Titus Rivas.

Consciousness has irreducible qualitative and subjective aspects that cannot be represented in a physical, purely quantitative system. This implies that an exhaustive conceptual 'metasubjective' representation (i.e. a representation of the defining properties of conscious experiences) in the brain as an exclusively physical system is impossible. Similarly, individual memories of conscious experiences must contain information about qualitative and subjective aspects as well, since concepts of consciousness ultimately derive from such information abstracted from episodic memories. Therefore, the stored bases from which such individual memories of conscious experiences are reconstructed must also contain elements that cannot be represented in the brain.

Both metasubjective concepts and bases of our individual memories of subjective experiences can only be stored in a personal non-physical memory linked to consciousness. There must be a personal mind or psyche that embraces consciousness, metasubjective concepts and bases of episodical memories of one's subjective experiences.

What are Minds For? by John Beloff (1977).
Quote from the Abstract:

Two positions on the mind-body problem are here compared: Materialism, which is here taken to mean the thesis that mind plays no part in the determination of behaviour so that, for all the good it does us, we might just as well have evolved as insentient automata, and Ineractionism which is here taken as its contradictory.

It is argued that Materialism is more consonant with scientific knowledge and practice, Interactionism with common sense and morality, hence which we favour must depend for the time being on our personal philosophical bias. However, the suggestion is made in conclusion that if the parapsychological evidence were ever to gain general scientific credence the balance of plausibility might tilt decisively in favour of Interactionism.

The Mind-Brain Problem by John Beloff (1994).
Quote from the Conclusion:

One lesson that should be clear from the foregoing discussion is that there just is no comfortable solution to the mind-brain problem. Weak dualism, as we have seen, is bound to be paradoxical and counter-intuitive while strong dualism remains shrouded in mystery. As for the monistic position, even though it has been defended by some of the most powerful intellects of the past hundred years, it must be dismissed as sophistry. Reductio Ad Absurdum Arguments, Which Endeavour To Show That Materialism Entails Absurd Consequences, Such As The Non-Existence Of A Self, Or The Absence Of Freedom.

Arguments based on the Absurd Consequences of Accepting Materialism: A Mistaken View of Causality, Loss of Freedom, and Loss of the Self

Five Dangers of Materialism by Jon Mills.

Contemporary theories in cognitive science and the philosophy of mind lend burgeoning support for the materialist position regarding the mind-body problem. That is, naturalism, physicalism, and material monism are the preferred theories that explain the relationship between mental processes and physical brain states. While dualist and spiritualist approaches offer counter-arguments to materialism (Vendler, 1994; Warner, 1994), the preponderance of current research in the philosophical, natural, and social sciences concludes that mental states are nothing but physical states (Armstrong, 1968; Bickle, 1998; Churchland, 1981; Dennett, 1991; Dretske, 1995; Searle, 1994). From these accounts, mind is brain.

Throughout this article, I highlight five central dangers associated with materialism that ultimately result in (1) the displacement of an ontology of consciousness, (2) a simplistic and fallacious view of causality, (3) the loss of free will, (4) renunciation of the self, and (5) questionable judgments concerning social valuation practices. I will attempt to demonstrate that the physicalist position eliminates the possibility of free agency and fails to adequately account for psychic holism.

Buddhist Arguments Against Materialism

Arguments Against Reductionism, Materialism and Epiphenomenalism by Sean Robsville.
A Web site which critiques materialism from a Buddhist standpoint. Has links to some interesting articles.

2.4.2 Empirical arguments against materialism

General Overview of the Evidence

Is there evidence for the existence of the soul? by Glenn Miller.
Includes the following:

Near Death Experiences
News and articles of mediumship, psi and survival every week.

Near Death Experience Foundation. NDERF Is the largest Near Death Experience Website in the world with over 2000 full-text published NDE accounts.

Is there life after death? An interview with oncologist Dr. Jeffrey Long in Time magazine (22 January 2010), who has just published a book, Evidence of the Afterlife summarizing the results of a decade's worth of research on near-death experiences.

American Society for Psychical Research. For research, click here. For research on Near Death Experiences, click here.

British Society for Psychical Research. Vlick here for good research links.

Scientific Evidence for Survival of Consciousness After Death by Kevin Williams.
A massive collection of empirical evidence for life after death. NOTE: The personal views expressed by the author of this particular Web site regarding Christianity and the spiritual significance of NDEs are not my own. For a summary of the risks of relying on NDEs for concrete information about the afterlife, see this article by Glenn Miller of

International Association for Near-Death Studies.
Another massive collection of empirical evidence for life after death. For an overview of research on near-death experiences, click here. To read an article criticizing the theory that REM intrusion and NDEs are one and the same, click here. For video and audio accounts of individuals' near-death experiences, click here, but see this cautionary article by Christian apologist Glenn Miller.

You Tube Sample clip "Near Death Experiences" VER71.The speaker discusses a Near Death Experience described in detail by pediatrician and neuroscientist Dr. Melvin Morse. It concerns a young girl named Katie who was admitted to a mid Western American emergency room. She was said to have been under water for nineteen minutes and was comatose. She was hooked up in the ICU but was not treated. She came to three days later, and remembered the two doctors who worked on her. She described the operating procedure in detail and even drew pictures of it. (Go to Dr. Morse's Web site and click on "Children's NDE Drawings".)

Medical Evidence for NDEs by Pim van Lommel.
In his "Skeptic" column in Scientific American in March, 2003, Michael Shermer cited a research study published in The Lancet, a leading medical journal, by Pim van Lommel and colleagues. He asserted this study "delivered a blow" to the idea that the mind and the brain could separate. Yet the researchers argued the exact opposite, and showed that conscious experience outside the body took place during a period of clinical death when the brain was flatlined. As Jay Ingram, of the Canadian Discovery Channel, commented: "His use of this study to bolster his point is bogus. He could have said, 'The authors think there's a mystery, but I choose to interpret their findings differently'. But he didn't. I find that very disappointing" (Toronto Star, March 16, 2003). Here, Pim van Lommel sets out the evidence that Shermer misrepresented.

A Lawyer Presents the Case for the Afterlife - Irrefutable Objective Evidence (4th edition, online, 2006).

Papers on Survival Research and Reincarnation Research by Titus Ravas, Athanasia Foundation.
Note: the viewpoint presented in these papers is not a Christian one, but they nevertheless serve well to cast doubt upon materialism.

The Survivalist Interpretation of Recent Studies Into the Near-Death Experience by Titus Ravas. In The Journal of Religion and Psychical Research, 26, 1, 27-31, January 2003.
There is serious evidence for veridical perceptions during the stage of flat electroencephalogram (EEG) in so called Near-Death Experiences (NDEs). This paper addresses common counter-hypotheses for a survivalist interpretation of these experiences. The only possible alternative which would account for veridical NDEs is the false memory through retrocognition-hypothesis. It is shown why this alternative is less parsimonious than a straightforward survivalist interpretation of NDEs.

Why it Makes Sense to Explain Near-Death Experiences by the Survival of Consciousness by Titus Ravas.

Part 1 Part 2 and Part 3 of a radio debate between Dr. Gary Habermas and Keith Augustine (Executive Director, Internet Infidels) on Near Death Experiences.
From "The Things That Matter Most" live radio program. Interviewers Rick Davis and Aaron Edwards - 700 AM KSEV, Houston, TX.

Is there life beyond death? by Hans Eysenck and Carl Sargent.
Hans Eysenck (d. 1997) was Head of the Department of Psychology at the Maudsley Hospital Institute of Psychiatry, University of London. Carl Sargent gained his Ph.D. in Experimental Parapsychology in 1979. He was widely regarded as an authority on the paranormal. Note: Neither of the authors is a Christian. In the article, the authors cite evidence which they claim supports reincarnation. For a counter-balancing Christian article discussing how much credence we should place in revelations by psychics, see Evidence of the supernatural in experience by Glenn Miller..

Extra-Sensory Perception (ESP)

Extra-Sensory Perception. Article in Wikipedia.
A balanced summary of the evidence for ESP.

Articles on survival after death and psychical research by
A collection of articles about psychic research and survival after death. was started by Thomas Jones of Wales and David Duffield of West Virginia on April 11th 2002 with the aim of publishing articles, books and photographs relating to survival after death and psychical research. It is an independent group which regularly cooperates with several distinguished psychical researchers and parapsychologists. Please note that this Web site is not a Christian Web site. I have included a link to it here, simply because it has an excellent collection of evidence undermining materialism. For a counter-balancing Christian article discussing how much credence we should place in revelations by psychics, see Evidence of the supernatural in experience by Glenn Miller.

2.5 The Afterlife and Heaven

Life After Death by Dinesh d'Souza. His new bestseller. Excellent reading.

Afterlife by Professor William Hasker. Article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Hasker argues that if some sort of dualism is true, then there are no good arguments against the possibility of disembodied survival. Someone who entertained a materialistic conception of the human person could still believe in the possibility of resurrection; however, Hasker argues that in the absence of an immaterial soul, there are formidable philosophical difficulties regarding how a resurrected body could be the same body as that of a person who lived on earth previously. Hasker then argues that the truth of some version of dualism does not guarantee the possibility of an afterlife. Without a benevolent God, it is difficult to see how a satisfying picture of an afterlife could be made to work. This creates problems for Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, all of which posit a godless mechanism (karma) to ensure that each of us reaps what we sow. If there is no God, then what is this "karma program" and how was it initiated? Nature is amoral; it doesn't keep track of individuals' good and bad deeds. Hasker also argues that near-death experiences offer good empirical evidence for life after death. Finally, he proposes that the "argument from desire" (which is why most people believe in a hereafter) is in fact a valid one, if one assumes that the God of traditional theism is real. On this account, belief in God and an afterlife come as a two-in-one package.

Heaven by Professor Peter Kreeft.

Is there Sex in Heaven? by Professor Peter Kreeft.

Heaven by Professor Jeffrey Russell.
An inspiring description of heaven, from the author of the bestseller A History of Heaven: The Singing Silence, Princeton University Press (1997).

Heaven. Article from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910.

How Can We Be Free in Heaven and Not Sin? by ComeReason Ministries.

The Christian Way of Death by Fr. Victor Potapov.
In this inspiring narrative, an Orthodox priest records a conversation he had with his mother Parasceva, shortly before her death from cancer at the age of 66.

The Shadow of Death (Part One) by Dr. Michael Sabom.

The Shadow of Death (Part Two) by Dr. Michael Sabom.

Incarnation and Redemption by Professor Fr. George Florovsky.
A theologically erudite discussion of human destiny, which takes the Incarnation as its starting point. The role of Christ's Resurrection in our own redemption is explored.

Your Spirit Powered Resurrection Body by Dr. N. T. Wright, who is a bishop as well as a Scripture scholar.

The Last Judgment by Professor Jeffrey Russell.

2.6 When does a human person begin?
An excellent pro-life Web site, with lots of factual information, testimonials, articles and videos.

Human Life International.
Human Life International is the largest international, pro-life, pro-family, pro-woman organization in the world.

Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research: What's Wrong With It? by Professor David Oderberg.

Articles by Libertarians for Life.
Libertarians for Life was founded by an atheist, Doris Gordon, in 1976. The arguments against abortion on this Website are secular, philosophical arguments which do not in any way appeal to religion.

Was I Ever a Fetus? by Professor Eric Olson.
Professor Olson is a non-believer, yet he marshalls powerful arguments to utterly discredit the standard view among philosophers, that my life as a person began when I first became sentient (able to feel pleasure or pain), about six months after conception.

Femninists for Life.

"Sweeter even than to have had the joy of caring for children of my own has it been for me to help bring about a better state of things for mothers generally, so that their unborn little ones could not be willed away from them." - Susan B. Anthony, pioneer of the American suffragette movement and an ardent pro-lifer, who once described abortion as "child murder".
It may come as a shock to realise that the early feminists, some of whose names are very familiar to you, and others whom you have yet to meet, were overwhelmingly pro-life. This Web site has been created to offer pregnant women a genuine choice.

Unstringing the Violinist by Christian apologist Gregory Koukl.
Judith Jarvis Thompson's "Violinist" argument is one of the most compelling ever offered in favor of abortion on demand, but it's deeply flawed. Here's where it goes wrong. Excerpt:

I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard Judith Jarvis Thompson's "Violinist" argument. I was driving south on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles listening to a radio talk-show. It shook me up so much I almost had to pull over.

Not only was the argument compelling, but Thompson made a stunning concession when she acknowledged the full personhood of the unborn. Having conceded what pro-lifers were trying to prove, she short-circuited their argument from the outset.

My first impulse was to throw in the towel. The argument couldn't be answered, I thought. This is often the case with carefully worded philosophical treatments. At first glance they appear compelling. On closer inspection, though, the flaws begin to show. In this instance, the problems with Thompson's argument are fatal.

Twenty-Five Years After Roe vs. Wade: Sliding Into Infanticide by Rick Hinshaw, writing in Catalyst, 1/1998.
Some leading intellectuals are now publicly claiming that not only do unborn children lack a right to life, but newborn babies don't have one either.

A Pro-Life Public by Kate O'Beirne, writing for Catalyst, January/February 2006.
Argues that the American public is much more pro-life than most journalists are willing to admit. Case in point: in 2003, a poll by the pro-choice Center for the Advancement of Women found that 51 percent of women thought abortion either should not be allowed or should only be available in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother. Another 17 percent thought abortion ought to be available but with stricter limits. Only 30 percent supportd the pro-choice position, which was down 4 points from two years earlier. Opinion polls also show that American men typically favor abortion more than women do. News from a pro-life perspective.

2.7 The Creation of the Human Soul

Gert Korthof's review of "The Language of God" by Dr. Francis Collins.
Collins is a top geneticist, and also a believing Christian, who argues in his book that there is overwhelming evidence for the common descent of humans and other organisms. Korthof is not a Christian, but does an excellent job of summarising Collins's evidence for human evolution. The evolution of the human body should now be considered as an established fact.

Reflections on Human Origins by Dr. William Dembski.
Dembski makes a convincing case that science has utterly failed to explain the origin of the human intellect and the origin of the moral code we live by.

Good News, Your Soul Hasn't Quite Died Yet by Professor Alfred Freddoso.
Freddoso argues that both the teachings and practices of traditional Christianity require that the human soul be created by God.

Tempo and Mode in Evolution: Genetics and Paleontology 50 Years After Simpson (1995) by the National Academy of Sciences.
The article shows that human ancestral populations could never have been smaller than two or three thousand individuals at any time over the last several million years. Click on the chapter entitled "Molecular Genetics of Speculation and Human Origins" (pp. 187-212). It follows that the human race is not descended from an original couple, though there could certainly have been two individuals (Adam and Eve) at the dawn of history who, as chosen representatives of the entire human race, were responsible for the Fall.

The Antiquity and the Unity of the Human Race Revisited by Davis Young.
Young addresses the question of when our prehistoric ancestors first acquired human souls, in the light of science and Genesis.

2.8 Do disembodied spirits (angels, demons) exist?

2.8.1 Angels

Angels by Professor Peter Kreeft.

Angels. Article in The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.
The article discusses the nature, hierarchical organization and mission of angels in the Old Testament and the New Testament, as well as the devlopment of Christian doctrine regarding the angels. The role of angels in Zoroastrianism and in Babylonian literature is also discussed.

Angels and Demons by Professor Alfred Freddoso.
In this highly illuminating essay, Professor Freddoso sheds light on vexed questions regarding the angels, such as: How are angels different from us? What is it like to be an angel? And why did the demons rebel against God?

Handouts: Aquinas on Angels by Professor Alfred Freddoso.
A collection of useful online articles from the Church Fathers on the angels.

St. Thomas Aquinas on Angels. From the Summa Theologica.
Questions 50-64, 106-114 in Part I cover Aquinas' writings on angels in the Summa Theologica.

Is there evidence for the existence of "spirits" and some "spiritual dimension"? by Glenn Miller.

Angels Online.
Since the launch of Angels Online in 1994, it has become a popular reservoir of stories about extraordinary experiences that are submitted by people from every walk of life and from all over the world. The Angels Online stories include angel encounters, spiritual awakenings, self discoveries, and healing miracles. The stories are told in the contributors' own words, and they have produced a profound effect not only on the lives of the authors, but also on the lives of their friends, family, and those who have visited the website.

2.8.2 Demons

Do Demons Exist? So What? by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts.

The facts about exorcism, possession, deliverance, and Satan's evil army by Fr. Cliff Graham.

Evidence of Satan in the Modern World by Leon Cristiani.
Documented cases of exorcisms in the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of the accounts of exorcisms given here purport to have been taken verbatim from the notes made by a witness to them, as they were taking place.

Exorcist shares past experiences with demonic possession by Katie Palmer.
Fr. Vincent Lampert discusses his experiences as one of 12 officially trained exorcist priests in the United States.

Excerpts from The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis.

Invisible Encounter by Igor Sikorsky (1947).
Mr. Sikorsky, the world's foremost plane designer in his day, opens with an original and interesting study of Christ in the wilderness when He was tempted by the Devil three times. There a decision was made for good against evil, for the spiritual rather than the material. The author draws a very apt parallel in history and shows how again and again mankind has chosen the material when confronted with a decision.

2.9 The Difference Between Humans and Other Animals.

Are Humans Unique?

Darwin's mistake: Explaining the discontinuity between human and nonhuman minds by Derek C. Penn, Keith J. Holyoak and Daniel J. Povinelli.
In Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2008), 31(2): 109-178. Abstract:
Over the last quarter-century, the dominant tendency in comparative cognitive psychology has been to emphasize the similarities between human and nonhuman minds and to downplay the differences as "one of degree and not of kind" (Darwin 1871). In the present paper, we argue that Darwin was mistaken: the profound biological continuity between human and nonhuman animals masks an equally profound discontinuity between human and nonhuman minds. To wit, there is a significant discontinuity in the degree to which human and nonhuman animals are able to approximate the higher-order, systematic, relational capabilities of a physical symbol system (Newell 1980). We show that this symbolic-relational discontinuity pervades nearly every domain of cognition and runs much deeper than even the spectacular scaffolding provided by language or culture alone can explain. We propose a representational-level specification of where human and nonhuman animals' abilities to approximate a PSS are similar and where they differ. We conclude by suggesting that recent symbolic-connectionist models of cognition shed new light on the mechanisms that underlie the gap between human and nonhuman minds.

Origin of the Mind by Professor Marc Hauser. Article in Scientific American, September 2009.
Marc Hauser is a professor of psychology, human evolutionary biology, and organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard University. Click here for a discussion of Hauser's article in the journal First Things in a review by Wesley J. Smith, entitled "Human Exceptionalism Proved by the Human Mind" (5 September 2009). Excerpts:

"[M]ounting evidence indicates that, in contrast to Darwin's theory of a continuity of mind between humans and other species, a profound gap separates our intellect from the animal kind. This is not to say that our mental faculties sprang fully formed out of nowhere. Researchers have found some of the building blocks of human cognition in other species. But these building blocks make up only the cement footprint of the skyscraper that is the human mind... Recently the author identified four unique aspects of human cognition... [These are:]
  • "Generative computation," that allows us to "create a virtual limitless variety of words, concepts and things."
  • "Promiscuous combination of ideas," meaning the ability to mingle "different domains of knowledge," e.g., art, sex, causality, etc.
  • "Mental symbols" allow us to enjoy a "rich and complex system of communication."
  • "Abstract thought," which "permits contemplation of things beyond what we can see, hear, touch, taste or smell."
"What we can say with utmost confidence is that all people, from the hunter-gatherers on the African savanna to the traders on Wall Street, are born with the four ingredients of humaniqueness (Hauser's term for "human uniqueness" - VJT). How these ingredients are added to the recipe for creating culture varies considerably from group to group, however... No other animal exhibits such variation in lifestyle. Looked at in this way, a chimpanzee is a cultural nonstarter...

"Although anthropologists disagree about exactly when the modern human mind took shape, it is clear from the archaeological record that a major transformation occurred during a relatively brief period of evolutionary history, starting approximately 800,000 years ago in the Paleolithic era and crescendoing around 45,000 to 50,000 years ago...

"[Other animals'] uses of symbols are unlike ours in five essential ways: they are triggered only by real objects or events, never imagined ones; they are restricted to the present; they are not part of a more abstract classification scheme, such as those that organize our words into nouns, verbs and adjectives; they are rarely combined with other symbols, and when they are, the combinations are limited to a string of two, with no rules; and they are fixed to particular contexts...

"Still, for now we have little choice but to admit that our mind is different from that of even our closest primate relatives and that we do not know much about how that difference came to be. Could a chimpanzee think up an experiment to test humans? Could a chimpanzee imagine what it would be like for us to solve one of their problems? No and no. Although chimpanzees can see what we do, they cannot imagine what we think or feel because they lack the requisite machinery. Although chimpanzees and other animals appear to develop plans and consider both past experiences and future options, there is no evidence that they think in terms of counterfactuals - imagining worlds that have been against those that could be. We humans do this all the time and have done so since our distinctive genome gave birth to our distinctive minds. Our moral systems are premised on this mental capacity.

"I Had No Intention to Write Atheistically": Darwin, God, and the 2500-Year History of the Debate by Edward J. Larson.
Larson is the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion (Basic Books, 2006).
Larson documents how for Darwin, the psychological differences between humans and other animals were mere differences of degree, and not of kind. Unlike his evolutionist contemporary Alfred Russel Wallace, who discovered the idea of natural selection independently, Charles Darwin did not believe in human equality. Even as a young man, he regarded some "primitive" peoples as not much cleverer than apes. Excerpt:

Darwin's earliest private notebooks on evolution are peppered with comparisons between the strikingly primitive peoples of Tierra de Fuego, whom he met during his Beagle voyage, and pampered primates in the London zoo, suggesting that humans and human morality were akin to other animals and their behavior. He wrote in 1838, "Let man visit orangutan in domestication, hear expressive whine, see its intelligence, then let him dare to boast of his proud preeminence." Here Darwin inserted the phrase, "not understanding language of Fuegian[s], puts [them] on par with Monkeys." In a later entry, he demanded: "Compare, the Fuegian & Orangutan, & dare to say difference so great." As for the vaunted "mind of man," Darwin concluded, it "is no more perfect, than instincts of animals." Human thought itself (like animal instincts) he attributed to brain structure, chiding himself "oh you Materialist!" for thinking so.

Please note that Larson's humorous dialogue at the end of his satirical piece does not accurately reflect Catholic doctrine, and presumably is not meant to. (Torture is never morally justifiable, and not even God could make it so.)

Are Animals Capable of Having Concepts and Beliefs?

Concepts, Dualism, and The Human Intellect by Professor David Oderberg.
Dr. Oderberg argues that our capacity to form concepts (a capacity which he regards as unique to human beings) is an immaterial capacity, and is therefore not realised in the brain. Excerpt:

[A]n older way of arguing for dualism, based on the Aristotelian tradition, does not invoke anything subjective, first-personal, or phenomenological. Instead, it identifies a feature of human beings more amenable to third-personal investigation - the activity of reason. According to this kind of argument, human beings engage in a kind of activity that resists materialistic reduction, a position that can be established without appeal to anything necessarily subjective or perspectival in what each person knows about themselves.

The idea is that intellectual activity - the formation of concepts, the making of judgments, and logical reasoning - is an essentially immaterial process. By essentially immaterial is meant that intellectual processes, in the sense just mentioned, are intrinsically independent of matter, this being consistent with their being extrinsically dependent on matter for their normal operation in the human being. Extrinsic dependence, then, is a kind of non-essential dependence. For example, certain kinds of plant depend extrinsically, and so non-essentially, on the presence of soil for their nutrition, since they can also be grown hydroponically. But they depend intrinsically, hence essentially, on the presence of certain nutrients that they normally receive from soil but can receive via other routes. Something similar is true of the human intellect...

A problem arises for the view that the mind, considered just as the brain (or some other physical entity or system), acts in a purely material way. For if the abstracted forms - the concepts - are literally in the mind so conceived, we should be able to find them, just as we are able to find universals in rebus by finding the things that instantiate them or the things of which they are true. We can find triangularity by finding the triangles, and redness by finding the red things. But we cannot find the concepts of either of these by looking inside the brain. Nothing in the brain instantiates redness or triangularity; when Fred acquires the concept of either, nothing in his brain becomes red or triangular. Yet these concepts must be in his mind, and if the mind just is the brain they should be in his brain; yet they are not. It seems that concepts are not located anywhere in the brain. But they must be in the mind since concepts are precisely what the mind acts upon in order to make judgments and inferences. Concepts are the matter of intellectual operation, but they do not seem to be materially located, whether in the brain or any other part of the person. This is what I call the "storage problem."

For a start, concepts and what they constitute - propositions and arguments - are abstract, whereas potential material loci for them are concrete... Again, concepts are unextended; brains are extended. Here the idea is that concepts are not even categorially capable of location in a brain due to lack of extension... Further, concepts are universal, whereas material loci are particular. So the problem is how anything that is abstract, unextended, and universal could be embodied, located, or stored in anything concrete, extended, and particular.

A Philosophical Analysis of Recent Ape-Language Studies by Professor Dennis Bonnette. First published in Faith & Reason, 19:2, 3 (Fall 1993), pp. 221-263. Dr. Bonnette mounts a vigorous defence of human uniqueness, arguing that apes are incapable of language and that they lack the wherewithal to formulate concepts. In particular, he argues that modern animal researchers fail to grasp the vital distinction between images (which animals certainly possess) and concepts (which they lack). Click here for Part II of the article.

Animal Belief by Dr. Roger Fellows.

If Mary believes a bone is on the lawn, then she literally believes that, though her belief may be mistaken. But, if her pet Fido rushes up to what is in fact a bit of bone-shaped plastic, then Fido does not believe that there is a bone on the lawn. However, the best explanation for Fido's behavior may be that he initially believed there was a bone on the lawn. Unless we are methodological or analytical behaviorists, the claim that we can best explain the behavior of dumb animals by treating them as if they literally held beliefs (and desires) subject to various rationality constraints is hardly surprising. I argue that this instrumentalism does not support the realist view that dumb animals are literally to be credited with beliefs. In particular, I focus on Davidson's argument that a creature can have beliefs only if it can be the interpreter of the speech of another. Davidson's argument, which has not won wide acceptance, is the most subtle examination to date of the relation between belief and language. I examine the premises of his argument, indicate two major criticisms, and attempt to defend his conclusion that dumb animals lack beliefs by adducing supporting arguments.

Are Animals Capable of Concepts? by Dr. Achim Stephan. In Erkenntnis 51: 79–92, 1999.

What Are Other Animals Capable Of?

Moti Nissani's Web page.
Professor Nissani teaches at the Department of Biological Sciences, Wayne State University. His Web page is an excellent resource on animal intelligence.

Meet the Brains of the Animal World. BBC news report by Rebecca Morelle, 7 May 2009.

Behavioural Ecology Research Group - Crow Research.
This Web page is dedicated to research on tool use in New Caledonian crows. To see how they select tools, click here. To see how they manufacture tools, click here.

Tool-related cognition in New Caledonian crows. Bluff, L. A., Weir, A. A. S., Rutz, C., Wimpenny, J. H. & Kacelnik, A. (2007). In Comparative Cognition & Behavior Reviews 2: 1-25.
This article is probably the best online summary of the state of current research into tool-making in crows.

Crows use multitools, but do they plan ahead? by Ewen Callaway. In New Scientist, 5 August 2009.
Crows can sculpt twigs into hooks and wield multiple tools in succession to obtain an otherwise unreachable snack. This kind of behaviour has prompted some scientists to conclude that the birds plan their actions ahead of time to achieve a goal. However, new experiments led by Joanna Wimpenny and Alex Kacelnik at the University of Oxford cast doubt on that conclusion.

Cognitive Processes Associated with Sequential Tool Use in New Caledonian Crows by Joanna H. Wimpenny, Alex A. S. Weir, Lisa Clayton, Christian Rutz and Alex Kacelnik. In PLOS One, 4(8): e6471. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006471 (August 2009).
The study's conclusion is as follows:

While the ability of subjects [i.e. crows - V.J.T.] to use three tools in sequence reveals a competence beyond that observed in any other species, our study also emphasises the importance of parsimony in comparative cognitive science: seemingly intelligent behaviour can be achieved without the involvement of high-level mental faculties, and detailed analyses are necessary before accepting claims for complex cognitive abilities.


We don't need a microscope to explore the chimpanzee's mind by Dr. Daniel Povinelli and Dr. Jennifer Vonk. In Mind & Language, Vol. 19 No. 1 February 2004, pp. 1–28.
The question of whether chimpanzees, like humans, reason about unobservable mental states remains highly controversial. On one account (espoused by the authors), chimpanzees are seen as possessing a psychological system for social cognition that represents and reasons about behaviors alone. A competing account by Michael Tomasello allows that the chimpanzee's social cognition system additionally construes the behaviors it represents in terms of mental states. The authors (Povinelli and Vonk) provide an excellent summary of the current state of the controversy, and make some practical suggestions for its resolution.

Michael Tomasello's Home Page

Prelinguistic Infants, but Not Chimpanzees, Communicate About Absent Entities by Ulf Liszkowski, Marie Schafer, Malinda Carpenter, and Michael Tomasello in Psychological Science (2009), Vol. 20 No. 5, pp. 654-660.

One of the defining features of human language is displacement, the ability to make reference to absent entities. Here we show that prelinguistic, 12-month-old infants already can use a nonverbal pointing gesture to make reference to absent entities. We also show that chimpanzees - who can point for things they want humans to give them - do not point to refer to absent entities in the same way. These results demonstrate that the ability to communicate about absent but mutually known entities depends not on language, but rather on deeper social-cognitive skills that make acts of linguistic reference possible in the first place. These nonlinguistic skills for displaced reference emerged apparently only after humans' divergence from great apes some 6 million years ago.

Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind? 30 years later by Josep Call and Michael Tomasello in Trends in Cognitive Sciences (2008) Vol.12 No.5, pp. 187-192.

On the 30th anniversary of Premack and Woodruff's seminal paper asking whether chimpanzees have a theory of mind, we review recent evidence that suggests in many respects they do, whereas in other respects they might not. Specifically, there is solid evidence from several different experimental paradigms that chimpanzees understand the goals and intentions of others, as well as the perception and knowledge of others. Nevertheless, despite several seemingly valid attempts, there is currently no evidence that chimpanzees understand false beliefs. Our conclusion for the moment is, thus, that chimpanzees understand others in terms of a perception-goal psychology, as opposed to a full-fledged, human-like belief-desire psychology.


Even if chimpanzees do not understand false beliefs, they clearly do not just perceive the surface behavior of others and learn mindless behavioral rules as a result. All of the evidence reviewed here suggests that chimpanzees understand both the goals and intentions of others as well as the perception and knowledge of others. Moreover, they understand how these psychological states work together to produce intentional action; that is, they understand others in terms of a relatively coherent perception-goal psychology in which the other acts in a certain way because she perceives the world in a certain way and has certain goals of how she wants the world to be... But chimpanzees probably do not understand others in terms of a fully human-like belief-desire psychology in which they appreciate that others have mental representations of the world that drive their actions even when those do not correspond to reality... Why chimpanzees do not seem to understand false beliefs in particular - or if there might be some situations in which they do understand false beliefs - are topics of ongoing research.

Chimpanzees know what others know, but not what they believe by Juliane Kaminski, Josep Call, Michael Tomasello in Cognition 109 (2008), pp. 224¡¦34.

There is currently much controversy about which, if any, mental states chimpanzees and other nonhuman primates understand. In the current two studies we tested both chimpanzees' and human children's understanding of both knowledge-ignorance and false belief - in the same experimental paradigm involving competition with a conspecific. We found that whereas 6-year-old children understood both of these mental states, chimpanzees understood knowledge-ignorance but not false belief. After ruling out various alternative explanations of these and related findings, we conclude that in at least some situations chimpanzees know what others know. Possible explanations for their failure in the highly similar false belief task are discussed.

Apes may imitate but they struggle to innovate. Article in New Scientist magazine by Ewen Callaway, 22 July 2009.
Technological innovation and improvement seem to be uniquely human traits, despite culture and ample tool use in chimpanzees and other animals. New research on children and chimpanzees is helping to explain why. Apparently children imitate a sequence of bodily movements far more faithfully than chimps, who tend to just focus on outcomes. This is a useful trait when the outcome can only be reached by performing a complicated sequence of actions. Also, children are much more willing than chimps to upgrade their approach to solving a problem, when a better solution is at hand.

Which Animals Are Conscious?

Blindsight in Man and Monkey by Petra Stoerig and Alan Cowey.In Brain (1997), 120, 535-559.
The authors present strong evidence that monkeys suffer from the same visual illusions as we do. Most philosophers interpret this as evidence that they are conscious.

Do Lobsters Feel Pain When They're Boiled Alive? by The Straight Dope Science Advisory Board.

The Neurobehavioral Nature of Fishes and the Question of Awareness and Pain by Professor James Rose. In Reviews in Fisheries Science, 10(1): 1-38 (2002).

2.10 The Difference Between Humans and Computers.

Why Minds Are Not Like Computers by Ari N. Schulman. In The New Atlantis, Number 23, Winter 2009, pp. 46-68.

Minds and Machines by Dr. Gerald Casey.
In this article, Dr. Casey addresses the question: Can a machine be said to think and, if so, in what sense? Dr. Casey concludes that it cannot: the power of conceptual thought is an immaterial power.