[LMB] OT: verging on forbidden territory: GOP attitudes about science

Rachel anglerfish at gmail.com
Fri Sep 9 12:50:39 BST 2011

> From: William A Wenrich
> As to evolution, I'm not sure that pure random chance can explain the world
> in all its complexity. I am well aware that I can be wrong. This is a
> difference between me and some others worship "science." (Scare quotes
> intentional.)

Natural selection is not really the same thing as random chance. When
evolution is presented that way, I would agree that it is harder to

> From: "A. Marina Fournier" <saffronrose at me.com>
For instance, some studies that show there are specific parts of the
brain that deal with spirituality/spiritual experience/experience of
Deity. I do NOT subscribe to the possible conclusion that these
aspects of us and our world are simply random signals from a specific
part of our brains. I see no cause and effect, only coincidence.

I find this interesting. If we believe that all of our behaviour,
experience, etc., is driven by our brain (which I do), then all
experiences will be correlated with neural activation somewhere,
spiritual experience included. That doesn't necessarily mean that
spiritual experience is "just" random neural firing any more than any
other experience is "just" random firing (love, for example), though
that firing, after being caused somehow, may result in spiritual

I agree, though, that when you spend a lot of time studying neural
mechanisms it can be difficult to believe in free will. I know people
who don't. I even know people who believe that all of our
consciousness is just a narrative that we build to explain our
behaviour, and has no causal power. I'd never really thought about
free will until strangely late in my life, and when someone finally
asked me whether I believed in it I added up what I knew about how the
brain works and said, "Huh. I guess I don't." That realization didn't
really effect my life--I didn't sink into a well of depression and
apathy (I suppose I wouldn't have had the will to do that). Since then
I've thought more and read more and am now holding the somehow less
satisfying opinion of, "I really have no idea."

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