Introducing myself
  • exchemist March 2012
    Exchemist has a degree in chemistry and was/is specially interested in quantum chemistry and the philosophy of science. He was brought up Catholic, is now borderline agnostic but is appalled at current attempts in the US, and now in the UK, to polarise religion and natural science and stir up warfare between the two. He hopes to find through this forum information about good and bad developments in this area, in order to lend support to the good and help argue against the bad. 
  • SimonSimon March 2012
    Hi exchemist - welcome to the forum.

    This isn't the busiest forum around however we have only been going for a few months. There are a few of us who monitor it regularly as you'll probably see from the posting pattern!
  • exchemist March 2012
    Thanks Simon. I've had a look around. It seems that thankfully you don't get too many Andy R types - most contributors seem to have the intellectual equipment to carry on an interesting argument. I'll try a test....

  • GavinM March 2012
  • JudeStephen March 2012

    Hi Every one,

    I am Jude Stephen from India. Would like to know if there any CIS church in India? Guide me please.



  • AnthonySmithAnthonySmith March 2012
    Hi Jude,

    Welcome! CIS church? Do you mean that?

    There might be some groups for Christians in science in India. I'm not personally aware of any, but others may be able to help.

  • Hi:

    I live in Canada, I have a Master's degree in engineering, and I also play violin professionally.

    I have just finished writing a book which should appeal to the members of this forum, entitled God, Theology & Cognitive Modules, which is available in both kindle and paperback versions on Amazon.com.

    The starting point for the book is a simple model of the mind based in seven interacting cognitive modules, with each cognitive module corresponding to a physical region of the brain. This concept of seven cognitive modules originally came from a system of seven cognitive styles based in the list of 'spiritual gifts' in Romans 12, which was expanded through an in-depth analysis of 200 biographies.

    If one asks the computer programming question of how these seven interacting cognitive modules can be developed so that they all function in an integrated manner, then one ends up deriving the core doctrines of Christian theology. And, if one examines how the mind can be programmed so that some of cognitive modules function in a partially integrated manner, then one derives other religious doctrines, as well as common Christian heresies.

    In addition, the same model of the mind can be used to explain the various aspects of scientific thought. I examine Thomas Kuhn's Scientific Revolutions as well as doing an almost paragraph by paragraph explanation of Willard Quine's Web of Belief. Plus, this mental theory can also explain other topics, such as economic activity, logic, math, music, and even throw light on some unsolved problems of philosophy. Finally, I also discuss cognitive reasons for believing in the theory of evolution.

    In brief, this volume presents both Christian theology and scientific thought as aspects of a single paradigm, which members of a forum such as this should find interesting.

  • AnthonySmithAnthonySmith April 2012
    Hi Lorin (mentalsymmetry) - welcome!

    Thanks for your introduction. Fascinating stuff, and it's great that you have apparently stumbled across the key to understanding everything.

    It would be very interesting to know what people with expertise in cognitive science think of your research. What kind of response have you got when you've spoken to them? Do they understand what you are saying?
  • Good question. I tried to get some feedback on an early draft, and the main comment I received was that it lacked coherence and did not reference the work of others--which is because I was trying to describe highlights of the model using the simplest language possible.

    So, I took a year to tighten up the logic and extended the model to include the philosophy of science. Some people on LinkedIn suggested that I look at Kuhn and Quine and I discovered that what they were saying lined up very well what I had independently concluded.

    My model is fairly simple and I can describe concepts reasonably clearly, But it is a complete interlocking paradigm and not just a few isolated findings, therefore it takes some time and effort to learn how to think in that manner. And, one is dealing of course with all of the factors which Kuhn outlines when describing paradigm shifts, plus the additional emotional factors that come into play when discussing God and religion. The basic premise of the book, though, is that one can postpone dealing with the question of whether or not God exists and focus instead upon how the mind forms an image of God.

    Answering your question more specifically, I am starting to get positive feedback on my latest work from those who do take the time to go through the book (it's been out less than a month). But, I am facing two hurdles: First, I only have a Master's degree and not a PhD, even though the book is at least at the level of a PhD thesis. Second, I don't know what discipline it falls into. I've tried theology (eg. Regent College in Vancouver) but theologians generally don't know how to evaluate the model because I am not basing it in the Bible (though the model is consistent with Scripture) or quoting all of the appropriate theological experts. I've also tried the cognitive science of religion and that may eventually lead somewhere. The problem there is that I am starting from a paradigm and comparing my paradigm with the philosophy of science rather than doing experiments and quoting the theory of evolution.

    As for cognitive science itself, I don't know who to contact, which is why I am talking to people on forums like this. When I look at the various topics that people are working on in cognitive science, I don't see anyone else doing high level modeling (especially with religious overtones).

    If you go to Amazon.com you can click on the cover of the book and read part of it. The introduction describes my methodology and contains a detailed summary of what the book covers. The way this model ties various concepts together is frankly rather stunning.
  • AnthonySmithAnthonySmith April 2012
    I'm not sure, but I think philosophy of mind might be the area to look at. I get the impression that's a big area of research these days, with lots of links into cognitive science etc. There's really no substitute for the kind of rigorous discussion and communal sharing of ideas that is available within the academic community. And there's really no better way to prepare yourself to enter that community than to do a PhD (and continue from there).

    You may generate a small amount of interest by having a website and a self-published book, but if you want your ideas to do more than create a few transient ripples in the water, they need to be presented within the academic discourse - either by yourself, or by someone else.

    I'd suggest trying to get enrolled on an MA programme in philosophy, as an MA can lead quite smoothly into a PhD (and with no academic background in philosophy you might struggle to get accepted onto a PhD programme). Have a look at some universities near to yourself, e.g., UBC seem quite strong on philosophy of mind.
  • SimonSimon April 2012
    You could of course try to write a more succinct paper and submit it to a journal. How about:

  • I'll check out those two leads. A succinct paper is always a problem because presenting a paradigm in summary form feels like trying to lop off an arm or leg from a living creature and then dressing up the disembodied limb. The beauty is in the complete package.

    Philosophy of mind may be an option, and I have been heading more in the direction of philosophy, but again there is an interesting problem--which my model describes and analyzes. Philosophy focuses upon using rigorous logic. But, in order to generate rigorous logic, the mind must use abstract thought in a restricted and limited form. The end result is that it is impossible to use rigorous logic to describe the function of the entire mind, because rigorous logic is only one aspect of thought. It's like attempting to describe the entire house in terms of the kitchen.

    In order to understand the entire mind, one must step back to a looser form of logic which is analogy. The reason that analogy works is that one is dealing with cognitive
    modules. Each module functions in a specific way, but applies its functioning to a wide range of information. Analogy uncovers the underlying similarity in function. One could
    compare Kuhn's normal science (which uses math and logic) to his revolutionary
    science (which uses analogy and induction). Analogy can be tightened up to be fairly rigorous (by comparing the details of one situation or process with another) but it still works with the partial certainty of science and not the total certainty of logic. Thus, philosophy of mind is somewhat of an oxymoron.
  • SimonSimon April 2012
    You do a good job of describing analytical philosophy but remember there is also continental philosophy. It sounds like this might be more down your street!

    (BTW if we go any further with this it might be worth starting a new thread under the Philosophy section)
  • GavinM April 2012
    Mentalsymmetry -  just a few quick thoughts from myself as someone who is working in the area of neuroscience.

    I would be very cautious about tying regions of the brain so closely to higher order concepts such as the ones you say you have derived from your reading of Romans. The brain doesn't tend to work exclusively with one area for this and another area for that. Whole brain connectivity, networking and interactions are much more the order of the day and given the plasticity and variation of subtler brain structure in the human population it would be perhaps foolhardy to link definite cognitive experiences and understandings with such strict definitions of brain locations let alone linking them absolutely to human activities such as music etc.

    There has been a lot of work done in the last couple of decades on brain structure and cognitive experience (most notably using fMRI and Functional Connectivity MRI methods) and it might be worth familiarising yourself with some of the literature around that. This research is starting to assess more subtler areas of human activity but it is way too early to call one way or other.

    There is limited literature on religious experience and brain structure/organisation because it is frankly so damn difficult to do well as there are so many influences going on and creating a lot of 'noise' around what you are interested in investigating. The same goes for many other higher cognitive processes.

    Another problem I would suggest you might want to consider is that much of the hardware of the human brain is closely mirrored in other animals (my own area of research), notably in other primates and rodents. Aspects of higher order behaviour and reasoning also exist to varying degrees in other animals including a number of invertebrate species that have a radically different neural architecture to ourselves. Your theory would have to encompass this as well.

    I have to say (and I do say this without having read your book!!) that I am not convinced by your premise or evidence base as you have outlined it here. Your ideas should be testable though so I would encourage you to look into this. I would also second Simon's suggestion of submitting a paper on your work (or even a part of) to Science and Christian Belief or a similar journal as there are a handful of neuroscientists with a Christian background and philosophical skills who could assess your work more closely and hopefully provide you with some interesting comments from reviewing your paper for you to follow up.
  • We could continue this thread on another topic.

    1) I checked through the research of all the profs in philosophy of mind at UBC. Nothing in common with what I am doing.

    2) From what I understand, I'm an not sure that continental philosophy
    would be any better. (Though I am willing to be corrected.) The problem
    is that my topic is philosophy but my method is not. In other words, I  am looking at philosophy in order to find clues about how the mind
    functions. For instance, when Kant  says that the mind imposes a
    structure of space and time upon events, then I interpret that in terms
    of cognitive modules: There is a cognitive module that does spatial
    processing and a cognitive module that does sequential processing.

    3) My knowledge of neurology is quite good (better than my philosophy). I
    went through 200 books and a few thousand papers in order to learn
    neurology back in the 80s and I have been keeping up reasonably well
    with the imaging stuff. Here is a summary I put together about a year ago. And, yes, I do know the main differences between human, monkey, and rat brains.

    4) As for my methodology, I discuss that in the introduction to my book,
    including the matter of extrapolating from neurology. You can read that
    for free by just clicking on the cover of the book at Amazon.com. And,
    please don't tell me that what I have done is impossible without looking
    at what I have done.


  • Sorry, formatting is messed up.