Monday, July 25, 2011

Three Pounds of Meat?

Einstein pointed out that the relationship of subject and object is, ultimately, the greatest of all puzzles, or, more exactly, that our thinking, our mathematical worlds conceived solely in our consciousness, correspond to reality, that our consciousness has the same structure as reality and vice versa. That is the principal ground on which all science rests. It acts as though this were a matter of course, whereas, in fact, nothing is less so. For it means that all being has the same nature as consciousness; that there is present in human thought, in human subjectivity, that which objectively moves the world. The world itself has the same nature as consciousness. The subjective is not something alien to objective reality; rather, this reality is itself like a subject.
Principles of Catholic Theology, 71

Reflection – The brain weighs roughly three pounds. The activity that goes on in the brain is a combination of electric and chemical discharges, secretions, movements. If you are a strict materialist, you must maintain that somehow, these electro-chemical movements yield abstract speculative knowledge about quantum physics and creative insights yielding technological innovations. These same electro-chemical functions also result in poetry, music, humor, love, and a really good recipe for chocolate chip cookies (not necessarily listed in order of importance).
In short, we have consciousness. And this consciousness, which is the most direct experience each of us has in our subjective reality, corresponds to actual reality. Einstein pointed out, and Ratzinger is happy to repeat, that this is not an obvious, self-evident, or necessary fact.
Why should organic processes happening in three pounds of meat create an experience of subjective awareness and activity? Why should the actions of our mind correspond to the actions of inorganic matter, so that we can obtain understanding and even some mastery of it? Why should our minds tell us that 2+2=4… and it is so!
The correspondence of mind to matter, of our thoughts to reality, puts us fairly on the way to the rejection of materialism as a possible system. Materialists use rigorous logical proofs to prove that logic is merely a secretion of chemicals in the brain. They multiply words to prove that language is ultimately no different than the squawking of chickens or the soughing of wind in tree branches. They use their brains to prove that the brain is nothing but three pounds of meat in a fragile shell of bone and cartilage.
That our minds are able to extract the truth of reality at least suggests, if it doesn’t absolutely prove, that something like a mind has shaped the truth of reality in the first place. There is something (someone???) out there who has made the universe such that a rational mind can make rational sense of it, a sense which is proven in our capacity to shape reality according to our intentions and ideas.
Those who, in the words of Mark Shea, ‘worship the intellect rather than use it’ are incapable of seeing the flaw in materialist reasoning. But it is flawed. And the flaw, while it in no way, shape, or form proves the truth of Christianity, certainly does point in that direction. We believe in a God of Logos, of rationality and order. This belief factually corresponds to the most daily experience of every human being. 2+2=4.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.