RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 138 Paul Churchland, Univ of Calif, San Diego, Phil Dept, “In order to buy needed authority [religions] have bought too much and it is self defeating. If you laws are infallible, if your laws are already perfect then you can’t possibly anything more from experience. Any creature that stops learning dies.”

 

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.

Harry Kroto

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 AhmedHaroon Ahmed,  Jim Al-Khalili, Sir David AttenboroughMark Balaguer, Horace Barlow, Michael BateSir Patrick BatesonSimon Blackburn, Colin Blakemore, Ned BlockPascal BoyerPatricia ChurchlandAaron CiechanoverNoam Chomsky, Brian CoxPartha Dasgupta,  Alan Dershowitz, Frank DrakeHubert Dreyfus, John DunnBart Ehrman, Mark ElvinRichard Ernst, Stephan Feuchtwang, Robert FoleyDavid Friend,  Riccardo GiacconiIvar Giaever , Roy GlauberRebecca GoldsteinDavid J. Gross,  Brian Greene, Susan GreenfieldStephen F Gudeman,  Alan Guth, Jonathan HaidtTheodor W. Hänsch, Brian Harrison,  Stephen HawkingHermann Hauser, Robert HindeRoald Hoffmann,  Bruce HoodGerard ‘t HooftCaroline HumphreyNicholas Humphrey,  Herbert Huppert,  Gareth Stedman Jones, Steve JonesShelly KaganMichio Kaku,  Stuart KauffmanMasatoshi Koshiba,  Lawrence KraussHarry Kroto, George Lakoff,  Rodolfo LlinasElizabeth Loftus,  Alan MacfarlaneDan McKenzie,  Mahzarin BanajiPeter MillicanMarvin MinskyLeonard Mlodinow,  P.Z.Myers,   Yujin NagasawaAlva NoeDouglas Osheroff, David Parkin,  Jonathan Parry, Roger Penrose,  Saul PerlmutterHerman Philipse,  Carolyn PorcoRobert M. PriceVS RamachandranLisa RandallLord Martin ReesColin RenfrewAlison Richard,  C.J. van Rijsbergen,  Oliver Sacks, John SearleMarcus du SautoySimon SchafferJ. L. Schellenberg,   Lee Silver Peter Singer,  Walter Sinnott-ArmstrongRonald de Sousa, Victor StengerJohn SulstonBarry Supple,   Leonard Susskind, Raymond TallisMax TegmarkNeil deGrasse Tyson,  Martinus J. G. Veltman, Craig Venter.Alexander Vilenkin, Sir John Walker, James D. WatsonFrank WilczekSteven Weinberg, and  Lewis Wolpert,

Paul Churchland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Paul Churchland
Born October 21, 1942 (age 73)
Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Alma mater University of Pittsburgh
Era 20th, 21st-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Analytic Philosophy
Institutions University of Pittsburgh
Main interests
Neurophilosophy
Philosophy of science
Philosophy of mind
Artificial intelligence
Epistemology
Notable ideas
Eliminative materialism

Paul Churchland (born October 21, 1942) is a Canadian philosopher noted for his studies in neurophilosophy and the philosophy of mind.[1] He is Professor Emeritus at the University of California, San Diego, where he held the Valtz Chair of Philosophy[2] and a joint appointment with the Cognitive Science Faculty and the Institute for Neural Computation.[3] He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1969 under the direction of Wilfrid Sellars.[4] Churchland is the husband of philosopher Patricia Churchland, and it has been noted that, “Their work is so similar that they are sometimes discussed, in journals and books, as one person.”[5] He is also the father of two children, Mark and Anne Churchland, both of whom are neuroscientists.[6][7][8]

Professional career

Churchland began his professional career as an instructor at the University of Pittsburgh in 1969;[9] he also lectured at the University of Toronto from 1967-69.[10] In 1969, Churchland took a position at the University of Manitoba, where he would teach for fifteen years: as an assistant professor (1969–74) and associate professor (1974–79), and then as a full professor from 1979-1984.[11] Professor Churchland joined the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 1982, staying as a member until 1983.[12] He joined the faculty at the University of California, San Diego in 1983, serving as Department Chair from 1986-1990.[13] He is a member of the Board of Trustees Moscow Center for Consciousness Studies of Philosophy Department, Moscow State University.[14]

Philosophical views

Along with his wife, Churchland is a major proponent of eliminative materialism, the belief that everyday mental concepts such as beliefs, feelings, and desires are part of a “folk psychology” of theoretical constructs without coherent definition, destined to simply be obviated by a thoroughly scientific understanding of human nature.

Just as modern science has discarded such notions as legends or witchcraft, Churchland maintains that a future, fully matured neuroscience is likely to have no need for “beliefs” (see propositional attitudes). In other words, he holds that beliefs are not ontologically real. Such concepts will not merely be reduced to more finely grained explanation and retained as useful proximate levels of description, but will be strictly eliminated as wholly lacking in correspondence to precise objective phenomena, such as activation patterns across neural networks. He points out that the history of science has seen many posits once considered real entities, such as phlogiston, caloric, the luminiferous ether, and vital forces, thus eliminated. In The Engine of Reason, The Seat of the Soul Churchland hypothesizes that consciousness might be explained in terms of a recurrent neural network with its hub in the intralaminar nucleus of the thalamus and feedback connections to all parts of the cortex. He says his proposal is probably mistaken in the neurological details, but on the right track in its use of recurrent neural networks to account for consciousness. This is notably a reductionist rather than eliminativist account of consciousness.

In  the third video below in the 143rd 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)

Below is both a letter I wrote to Dr. Churchland back in 1994 and one I wrote him on July 9, 2016 and I respond to his quote in the second letter.

Adrian Rogers is pictured below and Francis Schaeffer above.

Watching the film HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? in 1979 impacted my life greatly

Francis Schaeffer in the film WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMAN RACE?

Francis and Edith Schaeffer

 

_______

July 9, 2016

Dr. Paul Churchland, University of California San Diego,

Dear Dr. Churchland,

I would to do two things today.

FIRST, I wanted to respond to your quote from the You Tube series “Renowned Academics Speaking About God.”

SECOND, I would like to send you a portion of the letter I sent to you back in 1994.

YOUR QUOTE

If you think you already have the answer of truth whether scientific or moral and it is given to you from God, then you have a problem. You can no longer learn. Absolute truth is immutable and that is the most tragic thing of all.  In order to buy needed authority [religions] have bought too much and it is self defeating. If you laws are infallible, if your laws are already perfect then you can’t possibly anything more from experience. Any creature that stops learning dies.

My first response is to challenge you to watch the WOODY ALLEN movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS and just simply answer the question HOW CAN AN ATHEIST CONVINCE JUDAH NOT TO MURDER HIS TROUBLESOME MISTRESS?

Second let me just put before this short article that deals with the idea of an INFINITE REFERENCE POINT.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Star to Steer By – Revised!

The beautiful Portland Head Lighthouse on the Maine coast.

It was the flash from this lighthouse I could see from the

balcony of my hotel in Ogunquit, far to the south.

No finite point has meaning without an infinite reference point.

                    Jean-Paul Sartre

I am the light of the world.

                    Jesus Christ  (Matthew 5:14)

I stood outside on the deck of my hotel listening to the surf quietly lap the beach. It was a beautiful Maine evening, with stars blazing overhead and a gentle breeze blowing warm for early October. Out in the darkness my eyes traced a dim line of lights running along the shore of the peninsula that jutted far out to sea. Where the lights ended, I assumed, was lands end and where the open sea began. I was curious then, when I saw a light flash much farther out to sea. It didn’t take long to realize that the flash was from a lighthouse, which marked the true end of land. It was plain to me then how a lighthouse could make the difference between life and death to a ship sailing off the coast.

My friends and I had to laugh when
we saw this sign in Beijing, China,
north of the Forbidden City. It reminded
us all about the perilous journey of life.

A Point of Reference
As I thought about a ship sailing along the coast in rough waters without a reference point to warn it where it could run aground, it occurred to me how similar this is to navigating through life. Who could argue that life is not perilous? And how many lives have been shattered on the rocks of despair, meaninglessness, alcohol and drug addiction, bitterness, anxiety, etc.

How helpful it would be to have a point of reference to warn us of the dangers in life.

Even John-Paul Sartre (quoted above), a famous atheist existentialist, recognized that we finite human beings need an infinite reference point in order to have meaning. However, because Sartre didn’t believe there was an infinite reference point (God), he concluded that life is meaningless. “Man is absurd”, he said, “but he must grimly act as if he were not”. Sartre had worked through the implications of life without God, and his conclusion perfectly illustrates the hopelessness of the atheistic and secularist worldview.

The flash of the lighthouse interrupted my thoughts. Each time I saw it, I was amazed at how far out the shore really ran.

Worldview
All of us have worldviews that, consciously or unconsciously, guide us through life and affect our daily decisions…decisions that could move us closer to or farther away from dangers that could destroy our lives. Francis Schaeffer noted that our worldviews are based on “presuppositions” (1). For example, the presupposition that is championed at the secular university (and widely in our culture) today is the “uniformity of natural causes in a closed system”. Because, it is believed, the system is closed, then there can be nothing outside the system (i.e., God) and therefore, intervention from the outside (miracles or revelation from God) is impossible. With this presupposition, as Oxford mathematician John Lennox so eloquently stated, “we can’t even answer the simple questions of a child: Why am I here? What’s the meaning of life? And so on” (2). This is why Sartre, who believed in the closed system model, concluded that man is absurd.

If, on the other hand, you believe in the “uniformity of natural causes in an open system”, into which God can act, then revelation and miracles are entirely possible. We can receive answers to the simple questions of a child because there is a God who can speak into our system (such as through the Bible). He is our lighthouse.Then the statement by Jesus Christ that he is the light of the world (quoted above) makes sense.

View from my hotel balcony on the coast of Ogunquit, Maine.
At night I could see the Portland Head Lighthouse flashing in
the distance at the far right.

A North Star
Francis Schaeffer went on to say that the Bible gives us an adequate reference point, a North Star for our lives in the infinite-personal God. God is infinite (and thus, provides us a needed infinite reference point), and at the same time personal. How was he personal? The apostle John wrote that God came into the world as a human, a person, whose name was Jesus Christ (3). Jesus reached out and touched the lepers (4), which everyone else was afraid to do because they didn’t want to catch leprosy! He restored the lame (5) and even brought the dead back to life (6). Its hard to imagine getting more personal than that. In fact, read the New Testament and you will learn of many broken lives that, when touched by him, were healed and restored. Truly his mission had profound implications for those whose lives had been shattered on the jagged rocks of life.

Amazingly, the good news for us is that Jesus is still at work, healing and restoring life to all who accept him!  (7)

The lighthouse flashed again. Its no accident that Jesus described himself as the light of the world, or that John called him “the true light that gives light to everyone” (8).

It was getting late and I was growing tired. But I went back into my hotel room with a supernatural assurance that God was with me. As John wrote about Jesus: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (9)

Footnotes:

(1) He is There He is not Silent, by Francis Schaeffer
(2) An interview with John Lennox, Professor Lennox discusses Christianity, atheism, and science
(3) John 1:1,14,17.
(4) Matthew 8:1-3.
(5) Mark 3:1-6.
(6) Mark 5:21-43; John 11:1-44.
(7) Romans 8:10-11.
(8) John 1:9.
(9) John 1:5.

posted by at 6:00 PM

You will notice in the above article that Francis Schaeffer is referenced. On May 15, 1994 on the 10th anniversary of the passing of Francis Schaeffer I sent a letter to you and here is a portion of that letter below:

I have enclosed a cassette tape by Adrian Rogers and it includes  a story about  Charles Darwin‘s journey from  the position of theistic evolution to agnosticism. Here are the four bridges that Adrian Rogers says evolutionists can’t cross in the CD  “Four Bridges that the Evolutionist Cannot Cross.” 1. The Origin of Life and the law of biogenesis. 2. The Fixity of the Species. 3.The Second Law of Thermodynamics. 4. The Non-Physical Properties Found in Creation.  

In the first 3 minutes of the cassette tape is the hit song “Dust in the Wind.” Below I have given you some key points  Francis Schaeffer makes about the experiment that Solomon undertakes in the book of Ecclesiastes to find satisfaction by  looking into  learning (1:16-18), laughter, ladies, luxuries,  and liquor (2:1-3, 8, 10, 11), and labor (2:4-6, 18-20).

Schaeffer noted that Solomon took a look at the meaning of life on the basis of human life standing alone between birth and death “under the sun.” This phrase UNDER THE SUN appears over and over in Ecclesiastes. The Christian Scholar Ravi Zacharias noted, “The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term UNDER THE SUN — What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system and you are left with only this world of Time plus Chance plus matter.”

Here the first 7 verses of Ecclesiastes followed by Schaeffer’s commentary on it:

The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again.  

Solomon is showing a high degree of comprehension of evaporation and the results of it.  Seeing also in reality nothing changes. There is change but always in a set framework and that is cycle. You can relate this to the concepts of modern man. Ecclesiastes is the only pessimistic book in the Bible and that is because of the place where Solomon limits himself. He limits himself to the question of human life, life under the sun between birth and death and the answers this would give.

Solomon doesn’t place man outside of the cycle. Man doesn’t escape the cycle. Man is in the cycle. Birth and death and youth and old age.

There is no doubt in my mind that Solomon had the same experience in his life that I had as a younger man (at the age of 18 in 1930). I remember standing by the sea and the moon arose and it was copper and beauty. Then the moon did not look like a flat dish but a globe or a sphere since it was close to the horizon. One could feel the global shape of the earth too. Then it occurred to me that I could contemplate the interplay of the spheres and I was exalted because I thought I can look upon them with all their power, might, and size, but they could contempt nothing. Then came upon me a horror of great darkness because it suddenly occurred to me that although I could contemplate them and they could contemplate nothing yet they would continue to turn in ongoing cycles when I saw no more forever and I was crushed.

Let me show you some inescapable conclusions if you choose to live without God in the picture. Schaeffer noted that Solomon came to these same conclusions when he looked at life “under the sun.”

  1. Death is the great equalizer (Eccl 3:20, “All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.”)
  2. Chance and time have determined the past, and they will determine the future.  (Ecclesiastes 9:11-13 “I have seen something else under the sun:  The race is not to the swift
    or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant  or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.  Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times  that fall unexpectedly upon them.”)
  3. Power reigns in this life, and the scales are not balanced(Eccl 4:1; “Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed—
    and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors—  and they have no comforter.” 7:15 “In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: the righteous perishing in their righteousness,  and the wicked living long in their wickedness. ).
  4. Nothing in life gives true satisfaction without God including knowledge (1:16-18), ladies and liquor (2:1-3, 8, 10, 11), and great building projects (2:4-6, 18-20).
  5. There is no ultimate lasting meaning in life. (1:2)

By the way, the final chapter of Ecclesiastes finishes with Solomon emphasizing that serving God is the only proper response of man. Solomon looks above the sun and brings God back into the picture in the final chapter of the book in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, “ Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

The answer to find meaning in life is found in putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible is true from cover to cover and can be trusted. In 1978 I heard the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas when it rose to #6 on the charts. That song told me that Kerry Livgren the writer of that song and a member of Kansas had come to the same conclusion that Solomon had and that “all was meaningless UNDER THE SUN,” and looking ABOVE THE SUN was the only option.  I remember mentioning to my friends at church that we may soon see some members of Kansas become Christians because their search for the meaning of life had obviously come up empty even though they had risen from being an unknown band to the top of the music business and had all the wealth and fame that came with that.

Livgren wrote, “All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”

Both Kerry Livgren and Dave Hope of Kansas became Christians eventually. Kerry Livgren first tried Eastern Religions and Dave Hope had to come out of a heavy drug addiction. I was shocked and elated to see their personal testimony on The 700 Club in 1981.  Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible Church. Hope is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida.

Thank you Dr. Churchland for taking time to read this letter.

Everette Hatcher, everettehatcher@gmail.com, http://www.thedailyhatch.org, cell ph 501-920-5733, Box 23416, LittleRock, AR 72221

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