On November 21, 2014 I received a letter from Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto and it said:
…Please click on this URL http://vimeo.com/26991975
and you will hear what far smarter people than I have to say on this matter. I agree with them.
I have attempted to respond to all of Dr. Kroto’s friends arguments and I have posted my responses one per week for over a year now. Here are some of my earlier posts:
Arif Ahmed, Sir David Attenborough, Mark Balaguer, Patricia Churchland, Aaron Ciechanover, Noam Chomsky,Alan Dershowitz, Hubert Dreyfus, Bart Ehrman, Stephan Feuchtwang, David Friend, Riccardo Giacconi, Ivar Giaever , Roy Glauber, Rebecca Goldstein, David J. Gross, Brian Greene, Susan Greenfield, Stephen F Gudeman, Alan Guth, Jonathan Haidt, Hermann Hauser, Roald Hoffmann, Bruce Hood, Herbert Huppert, Gareth Stedman Jones, Shelly Kagan, Michio Kaku, Stuart Kauffman, George Lakoff, Lawrence Krauss, Harry Kroto, Elizabeth Loftus, Alan Macfarlane, Peter Millican, Marvin Minsky, Leonard Mlodinow, Yujin Nagasawa, Alva Noe, Douglas Osheroff, Saul Perlmutter, Herman Philipse, Robert M. Price, Lisa Randall, Lord Martin Rees, Oliver Sacks, John Searle, Marcus du Sautoy, Simon Schaffer, J. L. Schellenberg, Lee Silver, Peter Singer, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Ronald de Sousa, Victor Stenger, Barry Supple, Leonard Susskind, Raymond Tallis, Neil deGrasse Tyson, .Alexander Vilenkin, Sir John Walker, Frank Wilczek, Steven Weinberg, and Lewis Wolpert,
|Born||Nicholas Keynes Humphrey
27 March 1943
|Institutions||London School of Economics|
|Alma mater||Trinity College, Cambridge|
|Doctoral advisor||Lawrence Weiskrantz|
|Doctoral students||Dylan Evans|
Nicholas Keynes Humphrey (born 1943) is an English psychologist, based in Cambridge, who is known for his work on the evolution of human intelligence and consciousness. His interests are wide ranging. He studied mountain gorillas with Dian Fossey in Rwanda, he was the first to demonstrate the existence of “blindsight” after brain damage in monkeys, he proposed the celebrated theory of the “social function of intellect” and he is the only scientist ever to edit the literary journal Granta.
Humphrey played a significant role in the anti-nuclear movement in the late 1970s and delivered the BBC Bronowski memorial lecture titled “Four Minutes to Midnight” in 1981.
His ten books include Consciousness Regained, The Inner Eye, A History of the Mind, Leaps of Faith, The Mind Made Flesh, Seeing Red, and Soul Dust. He has been the recipient of several honours, including the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, the Pufendorf medal and the British Psychological Society’s book award.
He has been Lecturer in Psychology at Oxford, Assistant Director of the Subdepartment of Animal Behaviour at Cambridge, Senior Research Fellow in Parapsychology at Cambridge, Professor of Psychology at the New School for Social Research, New York, and School Professor at the London School of Economics.
Humphrey is the son of the immunologist John H. Humphrey and his wife Janet Humphrey (née Hill), daughter of the Nobel Prize–winning physiologist Archibald Hill. His great uncle was the economist John Maynard Keynes. He married Caroline Waddington, daughter of C. H. Waddington in 1967 (divorced 1977). From 1977 to 1984 he was the partner of the English actress Susannah York. He married Ayla Kohn in 1994, with whom he has two children Ada 1995 and Samuel 1997.
His doctoral research at Cambridge, supervised by Lawrence Weiskrantz, was on the neuropsychology of vision in primates. He made the first single cell recordings from the superior colliculus of monkeys, and discovered the existence of a previously unsuspected capacity for vision after total lesions of the striate cortex (a capacity which, when it was later confirmed in human beings, came to be called “blindsight“).
On moving to Oxford, he turned his attention to evolutionary aesthetics. He did research on monkey visual preferences (especially colour preferences) and wrote an essay “The Illusion of beauty”, which, as a radio broadcast, won the Glaxo Science Writers Prize in 1980.
Work in evolutionary psychology and philosophy of mind
He returned to Cambridge, to the Sub Department of Animal Behaviour in 1970, and there met Dian Fossey, who invited him to spend three months at her gorilla study camp in Rwanda. His experience with the gorillas, and a subsequent visit to Richard Leakey‘s field-site on Lake Turkana, set Humphrey thinking about how cognitive skills – intelligence and consciousness – could have arisen as an adaption to social life. In 1976 he wrote an essay titled “The Social Function of Intellect”, which is widely regarded as one of the foundational works of evolutionary psychology and the basis for Machiavellian intelligence theory. This paper formed the basis of his first book Consciousness Regained: Chapters in the Development of Mind (1983).
In 1984 Humphrey left his academic post at Cambridge to work on his Channel 4 television series “The Inner Eye” on the development of the human mind. This series was finished in 1986 with the release of a book of the same name.
In 1987, Daniel Dennett invited Humphrey to work with him at his Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. They worked on developing an empirically based theory of consciousness, and undertook a study on Multiple Personality Disorder.
Humphrey’s next book A History of the Mind (1992) put forward a theory on how consciousness as feeling rather than thinking may have evolved. This book won the inaugural British Psychological Society’s annual Book of the Year Award in 1993.
His writings on consciousness continued in The Mind Made Flesh: Essays from the Frontiers of Evolution and Psychology (2002), Seeing Red: A Study in Consciousness (2006), and most recently Soul Dust: the Magic of Consciousness (2011). In this last book he puts forward a radical new theory. Consciousness, he argues, is nothing less than a magical-mystery show that we stage inside our own heads – a show that paves the way for spirituality, and allows us to reap the rewards, and anxieties, of living in what he calls the “soul niche.”
In the third video below in the 141st clip in this series are his words and my response is below them.
50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 1)
Another 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 2)
A Further 50 Renowned Academics Speaking About God (Part 3)
Richard Dawkins interviews Prof. Nicholas Humphrey (Enemies of Reason Uncut Interviews)
Below is a letter and I respond to Dr. Humphrey’s quote:
London School of Economics
September 29, 2015
Dear Dr. Humphrey,
In the popular You Tube video “Renowned Academics Speaking About God” you made the following statement:
As a scientist and as a scholar I am completely confident I don’t find that there is anything added by the postulate of a God at the beginning of the universe or as the designer of consciousness. It doesn’t make any difference if God created the Big Bang, that hasn’t added anything to our statement, unless you want to say he went on to live and die amongst us and bring us to the path of the New Testament. That is a very different kind of God.
Victor Stenger in this same You Tube clip refers this type of God as a capital “G” type God and that is exactly what I am talking about. Let me respond with the words of Francis Schaeffer from his book HE IS THERE AND HE IS NOT SILENT (the chapter is entitled, “Is Propositional Revelation Nonsense?”
Recently I had the opportunity to come across a very interesting article by Michael Polanyi, LIFE TRANSCENDING PHYSICS AND CHEMISTRY, in the magazine CHEMICAL AND ENGINEERING NEWS, August 21, 1967, and I also got hold of a 1968 talk by Francis Schaeffer based on this article. Polanyi’s son John actually won the 1986 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. This article by Michael Polanyi concerns Francis Crick and James Watson and their discovery of DNA in 1953. Polanyi noted:
Mechanisms, whether man-made or morphological, are boundary conditions harnessing the laws of in
animate nature, being themselves irreducible to those laws. The pattern of organic bases in DNA which functions as a genetic code is a boundary condition irreducible to physics and chemistry. Further controlling principles of life may be represented as a hierarchy of boundary conditions extending, in the case of man, to consciousness and responsibility.
I would like to send you a CD copy of this talk because I thought you may find it very interesting. It includes references to not only James D. Watson, and Francis Crick but also Maurice Wilkins, Erwin Schrodinger, J.S. Haldane (his son was the famous J.B.S. Haldane), Peter Medawar, and Barry Commoner. I WONDER IF YOU EVER HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO RUN ACROSS THESE MEN OR ANY OF THEIR FORMER STUDENTS?
Below is a portion of the transcript from the CD and Michael Polanyi’s words are in italics while Francis Schaeffer’s words are not:
During the past 15 years, I have worked on these questions, achieving gradually stages of the argument presented in this paper. These are:
- Machines are not formed by physical and chemical equilibration.
- The functional terms needed for characterizing a machine cannot for defined in terms of physics and chemistry.
Polanyi is talking about specific machines but I would include the great cause and effect machine of the external universe that functions on a cause and effect basis. So if this is true of the watch, then you have to ask the same question about the total machine that Sartre points out that is there, and that is the cause and effect universe. Polanyi doesn’t touch on this and he doesn’t have an answer, and I know people who know him. Yet nevertheless he sees the situation exactly as it is. And I would point out what Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) and J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904–1967) said and that it needed a Christian consensus to produce modern science because it was the Christian consensus that gave the concept that the world being created by a reasonable God and that it could be found out and discovered by reason. So the modern science when it began with Copernicus and Galileo and all these men conceived that the cause and effect system of the universe would be there on the basis that it was created by a reasonable God, and that is Einstein’s big dilemma and that is why he became a mystic at the end of life…What Polanyi says here can be extended to the watch, and the bridge and the automobile but also to the big cause and effect universe. You have to give some kind of answer to this too and I would say this to Michael Polanyi if I ever have a chance to talk to him. You need another explanation too Polanyi.
3. No physical chemical topography will tell us that we have a machine before us and what its functions are.
In other words, if you only know the chemicals and the physics you don’t know if you have a machine. It may just be junk. So nobody in the world could tell if it was a machine from merely the “physical chemical-topography.” You have to look at the machineness of the machine to say it is a machine. You could take an automobile and smash it into a small piece of metal with a giant press and it would have the same properties of the automobile, but the automobile would have disappeared. The automobile-ness of the automobile is something else than the physical chemical-topography.
4. Such a topography can completely identify one particular specimen of a machine, but can tell us nothing about a class of machines.
5. And if we are asked how the same solid system can be subject to control by two independent principles, the answer is: The boundary conditions of the system are free of control by physics and can be controlled therefore by nonphysical, purely technical, principles.
In other words you have to explain the engineering by something other than merely physical principles and of course it is. You can’t explain the watchness of the watch merely by this. You can explain it on the basis of engineering principles in which the human mind conceives of a use for the machine and produces the machine. But notice where Polanyi is and that is in our argument of a need of personality in the universe though Polanyi doesn’t draw this final conclusion, though I thought that is the only explanation.
If you look at the watch a man has made it for the purpose of telling time. When you see the automobile a man has made it for the purpose of locomotion and the explanation of the difference is not in the chemical and physical properties but in the personality of a man to make these two different machines for two different purposes out of the same material. So what you are left here is the need of personality in the universe.
Thank you for your time. I know how busy you are and I want to thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
P.O. Box 23416, Little Rock, AR 72221, United States, cell ph 501-920-5733, firstname.lastname@example.org