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What Are Thoughts?


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#21 Adam Nagy

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 11:01 AM

The reason that electrical wires in your house do not simulate an emergent behavior like thought is because the electrical wires in your house to not form a complex system.  Emergent properties arise in complex systems - like neural networks. You cannot measure the temperature of an atom because temperature is also and emergent behavior of a system of atoms.

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So do you agree with William Provine as well? Can you accept the implication that freewill and personality are really just wonderful illusions of very complex physical/electrical/chemical processes?

#22 A.Sphere

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 11:07 AM

So do you agree with William Provine as well? Can you accept the implication that freewill and personality are really just wonderful illusions of very complex physical/electrical/chemical processes?

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I'm not sure who Provine is. I would say that personality is an emergent behavior of a complex system and that freewill is a concept and concepts are thoughts and thoughts are emergent behaviros of complex systems. Emergent behavior of complex systems are not illusions - what gave you that idea? They are real and their effects on matter are measurable.

#23 Adam Nagy

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 11:11 AM

I'm not sure who Provine is.  I would say that personality is an emergent behavior of a complex system and that freewill is a concept and concepts are thoughts and thoughts are emergent behaviros of complex systems.  Emergent behavior of complex systems are not illusions - what gave you that idea? They are real and their effects on matter are measurable.

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So immaterial concepts have effects on matter? Then you agree that something immaterial is a cause and the measurable empirical result is indeed the effect. Very good.

#24 A.Sphere

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 12:10 PM

So immaterial concepts have effects on matter? Then you agree that something immaterial is a cause and the measurable empirical result is indeed the effect. Very good.

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No. Emergent properties are the effects of matter interacting in a complex system. Thoughts are the emergent behavior of neurons interacting with each other via electrochemical impulses. Sorry if I said it backwards in any post above.

#25 JudyV

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 12:28 PM

Isn't it interesting though that here the tables are turned. Something immaterial is causing the emergent properties of the physical.

I would like your opinion on the proposition that I gave Arch. It's a simple cause and effect argument that is empirical and demonstrable.

http://www.evolution...indpost&p=35229

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I want to get this straight.

You believe thoughts exist independently of the physical (brain). And you believe thoughts are what cause electrical impulses in the brain. IOW, thought first, electrical impulse next.

#26 Adam Nagy

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 03:35 PM

You believe thoughts exist independently of the physical (brain).  And you believe thoughts are what cause electrical impulses in the brain.  IOW, thought first, electrical impulse next.

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You are speaking to the heart of a much larger issue when you answer that question and I already expounded on what falls out of this dilemma. If electrical impulses dictate thoughts then mind is an illusion. How come people can cognitively control these impulses if the impulses are running the thoughts and therefore the show. You see the question is, what is steering the ship? Is the immaterial mind driving the physical brain, if not then all thoughts, and all decisions only have the illusion of being choices because the chemical reactions dictated by these impulses are producing thoughts. You can believe that if you want but if you wish to be unassumptive, jump in line with Willy Provine and acknowledge that the most important things in life are illusory at best.

I know you won't want to do that either though do you? Atheists want their cake and eat it to. They want to pretend that this earth is truly important and what we believe and what we do is really important but them say because of reality only being represented by the physical that every immaterial thing is a meaningless illusion. Stuff like this, once understood, makes the whole proselytizing effort of atheists very contradictory.

#27 Adam Nagy

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 03:42 PM

Along the same front...

Was yesterday reality? You can't test and demonstrate it. The only thing left from yesterday is the memory of some organisms. Those memories are actually neurons arranged in a specific way to recall something that is impossible to access. People have dreams that sometimes seem real. It must all be one big complex illusion... I think... or maybe I just think that I think. :rolleyes:

#28 JudyV

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 03:47 PM

You are speaking to the heart of a much larger issue when you answer that question and I already expounded on what falls out of this dilemma. If electrical impulses dictate thoughts then mind is an illusion. How come people can cognitively control these impulses if the impulses are running the thoughts and therefore the show. You see the question is, what is steering the ship? Is the immaterial mind driving the physical brain, if not then all thoughts, and all decisions only have the illusion of being choices because the chemical reactions dictated by these impulses are producing thoughts. You can believe that if you want but if you wish to be unassumptive, jump in line with Willy Provine and acknowledge that the most important things in life are illusory at best.

I know you won't want to do that either though do you? Atheists want their cake and eat it to. They want to pretend that this earth is truly important and what we believe and what we do is really important but them say because of reality only being represented by the physical that every immaterial thing is a meaningless illusion. Stuff like this, once understood, makes the whole proselytizing effort of atheists very contradictory.

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So do you believe this quality of thought preceding electrical impulse is unique to human beings?

#29 JudyV

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 03:49 PM

Along the same front...

Was yesterday reality? You can't test and demonstrate it. The only thing left from yesterday is the memory of some organisms. Those memories are actually neurons arranged in a specific way to recall something that is impossible to access. People have dreams that sometimes seem real. It must all be one big complex illusion... I think... or maybe I just think that I think. :rolleyes:

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I wouldn't say that the only thing left from yesterday is the memories. That would be pretty insufficient evidence that yesterday happened.

There's plenty of physical evidence that yesterday happened, other than my memories.

Just like there's plenty of evidence that evolution happened, in spite of the fact that we weren't even there to remember it.

#30 Arch

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 04:55 PM

Hi Adam,

First of all thanks for splitting this forum off. This is a question that's been bugging me for a while and I'd really like to come to some consensus on it.

I'm pretty much in agreement with William Provine, although I'm not sold on his idea of lack of free will, which I can see now is where you have issues with me saying thoughts and electrical signals are one and the same.

If impulses are what drives us, and the environment drives these impulses, then we are nothing but slaves to cause and effect. We lose the ability to make choice.

I need a little bit of time to puzzle over this point as I think answering this too quickly will only cause more confusion.

Let me know if we're on the same wavelength now, and I'll get back to you shortly ;)

Regards,

Arch.

#31 Arch

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 05:20 PM

No arch, there is no such agreement. But if you’re attempting to paint thoughts as physical as well, then please paint one pink and provide a photograph of it here.

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Ah, so have we fallen back on the "if I can't physically observe it it isn't scientific" argument? I thought we've been over this before? You don't need to physically observe something, as long as you can observe its effects.

Showing you a photo is going to be extremely tricky. Even if we had equipment that could photograph something so small, you still have the problem of needing to be inside someones head whilst they are still alive and thinking. A slight problem to say the least.

Now, if you want me to show you an image of a machine detecting these thoughts and displaying them in a graphical sense, then that I can do. I have my doubts this will be sufficient for you though. Would this be satisfactory?

Regards,

Arch.

#32 Adam Nagy

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 06:41 PM

Hi Adam,

First of all thanks for splitting this forum off. This is a question that's been bugging me for a while and I'd really like to come to some consensus on it.

I'm pretty much in agreement with William Provine, although I'm not sold on his idea of lack of free will, which I can see now is where you have issues with me saying thoughts and electrical signals are one and the same.

If impulses are what drives us, and the environment drives these impulses, then we are nothing but slaves to cause and effect. We lose the ability to make choice.

I need a little bit of time to puzzle over this point as I think answering this too quickly will only cause more confusion.

Let me know if we're on the same wavelength now, and I'll get back to you shortly ;)

Regards,

Arch.

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My electrical impulses confirm the stability and compatibility of your neural discharges... Check... wave length locked in synchrony, over and out. B)

#33 performedge

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 07:00 PM

OK guys,

Now I'm really going to blow you away.......

Thoughts are physical, but inmaterial. There are several inmaterial entities in the universe that are inmaterial yet physical. (gravity is just one)

I also believe that this is related to the spirit. The spirit may be a physical yet inmaterial force that does several things....

1. It ties breathing, respiration, the heart, and the brain all together.

That's why throughout scripture the spirit and the heart are tied to emotions and the mind.

2. The spirit is a force that allows oxidation to take place in a beneficial way within an animal organism which allows the reverse of entropy and life to pepetuate for a while.

3. The spirit is a phenomena within all animals. (nephesh) All animals breath in one way or another. All animals have neurons, and most have brains.

4. When the spirit leaves, respiration ceases, and death occurs.

And it's all Biblical....

#34 Adam Nagy

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 07:04 PM

OK guys,

Now I'm really going to blow you away.......

Thoughts are physical, but inmaterial.  There are several inmaterial entities in the universe that are inmaterial yet physical. (gravity is just one)

I also believe that this is related to the spirit.  The spirit may be a physical yet inmaterial force that does several things....

1.  It ties breathing, respiration, the heart, and the brain all together.

That's why throughout scripture the spirit and the heart are tied to emotions and the mind.

2.  The spirit is a force that allows oxidation to take place in a beneficial way within an animal organism which allows the reverse of entropy and life to pepetuate for a while.

3.  The spirit is a phenomena within all animals.  (nephesh) All animals breath in one way or another.  All animals have neurons, and most have brains.

4.  When the spirit leaves, respiration ceases, and death occurs.

And it's all Biblical....

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;)

So spiritual things are so scientific it's that easy. Great post.

#35 Arch

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 07:52 PM

OK guys,

Now I'm really going to blow you away.......

Thoughts are physical, but inmaterial.  There are several inmaterial entities in the universe that are inmaterial yet physical. (gravity is just one)

I also believe that this is related to the spirit.  The spirit may be a physical yet inmaterial force that does several things....

1.  It ties breathing, respiration, the heart, and the brain all together.

That's why throughout scripture the spirit and the heart are tied to emotions and the mind.

2.  The spirit is a force that allows oxidation to take place in a beneficial way within an animal organism which allows the reverse of entropy and life to pepetuate for a while.

3.  The spirit is a phenomena within all animals.  (nephesh) All animals breath in one way or another.  All animals have neurons, and most have brains.

4.  When the spirit leaves, respiration ceases, and death occurs.

And it's all Biblical....

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Hi Performedge,

I'd love to discuss the existence of the spirit with you at some stage, but first can we please try and cover 'thoughts'. As I said to Adam it's been brought up multiple times, I've rebutted it every time and it still keeps coming up. So I'd really like to get this out of the way first.

Several points I'd like to cover in your post would be that all you've done is suggested that the spirit connects all sorts of physical organs, but you've done nothing to prove it.

Your assertion that gravity fits this definition is shaky at best. Gravity is meant to be a warping of space, as in it physically bends.

The large hadron collider is searching for gravitons...gravity particles. If this is found it would confirm gravity as a physical force.

But...can we finish off 'thoughts' before we move onto spirits, please?

Regards,

Arch.

#36 Arch

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 07:26 PM

My electrical impulses confirm the stability and compatibility of your neural discharges... Check... wave length locked in synchrony, over and out. :)

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So sad, I had to read that twice before I understood you were saying "yes". :lol:

Okay, so I've taken some time to think about the free will issues of this question and I've come to the conclusion that at this stage I don't think it matters.

What we're trying to figure out here is whether or not 'thoughts' are physical or metaphysical. Whether thoughts implicate free will (due to cause and effect) does not change this. Even if thoughts are metaphysical we still know they happen as an effect of something happening in the surrounding environment. Being physical or metaphysical does not get around this implication.

I'm happy to discuss the implications of cause and effect on free will, however as it doesn't matter whether thoughts are physical or metaphysical to be discussed, I'd rather get the former question out of the way first.

Regards,

Arch.

#37 Adam Nagy

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 08:42 PM

So sad, I had to read that twice before I understood you were saying "yes". :P

Okay, so I've taken some time to think about the free will issues of this question and I've come to the conclusion that at this stage I don't think it matters.

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Let me explain to you why it matters. We can see brain waves and we can measure brain activity. The question of cause and effect is very important to determine if what you are observing is the cause or the result. If brain activity is the cause of thoughts, then what is driving the brain patterns to behave the way they do? Are we really just difference engines that are chemically responding to our environments? Are our ideas of choice just an illusion when really our thoughts are just a complex cascades of chemicals and electrical discharges doing what chemicals and electrical discharges do?

On the other hand if brain patterns are caused by thoughts we suddenly have a whole new bag of questions don't we?

#38 Arch

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Posted 16 July 2009 - 09:59 PM

Let me explain to you why it matters. We can see brain waves and we can measure brain activity. The question of cause and effect is very important to determine if what you are observing is the cause or the result.

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Everything is a both a cause and an effect. The only possible exception to this would be an initial cause / singularity, which goes back long before thought. Every thought is an effect of something in the environment. It then becomes the cause for someone trying to change the environment.

Just to be sure, you're not trying to say 'thoughts' are without their own causation?

If brain activity is the cause of thoughts, then what is driving the brain patterns to behave the way they do? Are we really just difference engines that are chemically responding to our environments?

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In the most simplistic of senses yes. But you need to remember the environment in this case includes previous experiences, memories, current mental state etc.

Are our ideas of choice just an illusion when really our thoughts are just a complex cascades of chemicals and electrical discharges doing what chemicals and electrical discharges do?

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I don't think it is an illusion. Our past experiences make us who we are. When we are confronted with a decision our experiences help us determine the best course of action. This is a choice.

On the other hand if brain patterns are caused by thoughts we suddenly have a whole new bag of questions don't we?

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Yes we would, but the main question it leads to is what causes those thoughts. When you do this you discover that your thoughts are either completely random (and probably not much good to you), or they are caused by something else. This means they are slaves to cause and effect and in all probability, physical.

I think you've raised some interesting questions regarding cause and effect, as well as free will. But I don't think this is addressing whether or not thoughts are metaphysical or not.

Regards,

Arch.

#39 performedge

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 06:19 PM

I think you've raised some interesting questions regarding cause and effect, as well as free will. But I don't think this is addressing whether or not thoughts are metaphysical or not.
Regards,

Arch.

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I addressed this in my earlier post which you clearly ignored the main answer to your question...

I will repeat....

Thoughts are physical, but inmaterial. There are several inmaterial entities in the universe that are inmaterial yet physical. (gravity is just one)


I think you don't properly understand the terms "physical", "metaphysical", "material", and "inmaterial"

Thoughts are clearly physical. we know they exist, they are a reality.
Thoughts are in-material. They have no material content.

Thoughts are not metaphysical.

Thoughts are partially caused by material things. However it is fallacious to consider that matter is cognizant or conscious. Or that some matter is cognizant and other matter is not.

#40 Arch

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 09:08 PM

I addressed this in my earlier post which you clearly ignored the main answer to your question...

I will repeat....
I think you don't properly understand the terms "physical", "metaphysical", "material", and "inmaterial"

Thoughts are clearly physical.  we know they exist, they are a reality.
Thoughts are in-material.  They have no material content.

Thoughts are not metaphysical.

Thoughts are partially caused by material things.  However it is fallacious to consider that matter is cognizant or conscious.  Or that some matter is cognizant and other matter is not.

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Okay, I think I see the difference there. Could you explain what thoughts are made from then, if not material? I want to understand how something can be non-material and yet physical at the same time.

Thoughts are partially caused by material things.


What is the other thing(s) they are caused by?

Regards,

Arch.




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