In a recent comment, the formidable Mr. Falk said, “The noteworthy thing about the universe is that everything appears to be explainable by immutable laws. As Einstein said, ‘the miracle is that there are no miracles'”
Everything indeed appears to be explainable by immutable laws… Except for people. Psychology, that blessed pseudo-science, and sociology, its ugly step-sister, sometimes have very interesting and even surprisingly explanatory hypotheses, but nothing as of yet near the level of “immutable laws.” Nor is there much hope of finding them via experimental research.
The “laws of human thought and behavior” insofar as they are put forth, are anything but empirical (much though they would like to be!) Insofar as they exist in any universal and agreed-upon form, are they not more intuitive, observational, introspective, and well… psychological?(I know, I know, you’ll say “Neuroscience is still young and developing.” Well, in the meantime, then, we have a lot of certain knowledge about science, and a lot of certain ignorance about scientists…. Unless of course we begrudingly step outside the monarchical realm of ‘immutable laws’ and start talking about relationships, persons, goals, virtues, values, happiness, and the deep demanding desire for knowledge. These are no less real than quarks and supernovas, but are much more mysterious.)
This is a glaring gap in the knowledge acquired by empirical scientific methods. Evolutionists have lots to say about lower life forms. Do they have anything authoritative to say about evolutionists?
You will need to see my response in this other post (specifically the part after “On Souls:”) to understand, in detail, my response to this one.
That previous response contains an abbreviated case that human behavior and people are governed by the structure and material content of their bodies (primarily their brains). I’m going to assume in this comment that the case has been sufficiently made, and build on it. I’m sure it will be challenged, but I’m not going to fully reiterate it here until it is.
A brief synopsis is that what we call life is basically a series of chemical reactions which occur due to a very specific arrangements of amino acids in a polymers like DNA which are capable of being copied by self-replication using chemical properties which are immutable. But that’s just simple life. Complex life, with complex nervous systems, actually respond to stimuli in extremely complex ways by storing memories, creating neural pathways and reinforcing existing pathways in the brain.
Still all this is physical and as such appears to be governed by the immutable laws of the universe. So why do we need psychologists? Why can’t we just MRI someone and fix the problem?
Of course, the obvious reason is that MRIs don’t have near the resolution that would be necessary, but if they did, it still would not be practical to solve psychological ailments by analyzing every neural pathway. Why?
Consider the weather. We have every reason to believe that the weather is guided by natural immutable laws, which via thermal dynamics, and fluid dynamics etc, cause predictable patterns in the behavior of the weather because the physical laws which govern the weather are never subverted. So are weather men so bad at it? The answer is because it is immensely complex and we can’t collect all the variables we need, and if we could, the fastest computer can’t simulate reality faster than reality itself, so we couldn’t use it to predict the future.
The human brain is easily as complex as the weather. Depending on your point of view, it is probably many many times more complex. And the fact that the brain has to attempt to comprehend itself may be a prohibitive factor in ever being able to make a deterministic science out of human psychology.
However, that isn’t to say we can’t learn the patterns to come up with rough predictions. There are things that we do know about how humans react to certain stimuli and some of the variables can affect that reaction. As all sciences, psychology need not be deterministic to be useful.
Oh and “lower life forms” is not what evolutionist say. I presume you meant that to mean “life forms with less complex brains.”
There’s a certain arrogance in the statement of “lower life forms” that is misplaced. It is presently possible for a man to both have the knowledge to build a nuclear bomb and to simultaneously actually think that seventy-two virgins await him in eternity. I think when we nuke our entire planet, the cockroaches will laugh at our big brains. (If cockroaches could laugh).
I remembered an article I read recently on wired.com that is relevant here…
The operative paragraph is quoted below, but you might want to read the whole article for yourself.
“In a study published Sunday in Nature Neuroscience, researchers using brain scanners could predict people’s decisions seven seconds before the test subjects were even aware of making them.”
As is always the case, this is not conclusive proof there is no such thing as a “soul” outside the physical brain, but the pattern so far is that the more we learn about the brain, the less need there is to invoke a “soul” for explanation.