#485…SCI, RELIG, etc: “Is There a ‘Ghost in the Machine’?”


Our feelings…What exactly are they?


According to Francis Crick¹,


   “You, your joys and sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve-cells and their associated molecules.”


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   This is the opening sentence in More than Matter? (by Keith Ward², Lion Hudson Pub.,2010, quoting from Francis Crick, The Astonishing Hypothesis, Simon & Schuster, 1994, p.3).

   Here’s the second sentence:

   [Says Ward] “This book exists to put a different view.”

   [And from the second paragraph]:  “I believe that this picture of human life is both scientifically questionable and philosophically naive…it undermines the belief that human beings, with their thoughts, feelings, ambitions, and moral challenges and ideals, have intrinsic worth, and their worth lies in their mental lives, not in the behaviour of their nerve-cells, however complicated.”

   Here we see, if you will, the war of not just religion but philosophy with science. This book provides an excellent introduction to the problems and limitations of materialistic (or naturalistic) science as it faces thinking outside the box of science. Oxford professor Ward with simple logic (that on occasion goes deep) identifies 5 different ways of thinking philosophically in the modern world, concluding that it makes much better sense thinking of “mind” as much more than a “ghost” that draws mythic, vacuous conclusions about what goes on in one’s head.

   The term “the ghost in the machine” was coined by Gilbert Ryles, one of Ward’s teachers–who was a friend, but one he came to strongly disagree with.


   ¹ Crick is best known as co-discoverer of DNA and winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1962.

   ² Ward (b. 1938) is a British philosopher, theologian, priest, and former professor at Oxford. This is one of several writings about these matters.

Author: John Knapp