Monday, 6 December 2010

Prof. Colin Blakemore - Humans do not have free will

The Case For God?
BBC1 6th September 2010

With religion coming under increasing attack from atheists and sceptics, The Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, goes into the lion's den, putting his faith publicly on the line by debating with some of the sharpest critics of his faith. Howard Jacobson believes ritual demeans religion, Alain de Botton doubts that any one faith has the truth, Professor Colin Blakemore thinks science makes religion redundant, and Professor Lisa Jardine questions why God allows evil and suffering in this world.

Here Sacks interviews Colin Blakemore:-

Sacks 'Colin Blakemore says rationalist explanations made by science make faith obsolete.'

Sacks 'Once science has explained something does science 'explain it away'?'

  • Blakemore 'their are explanations & accounts that are verifiable, testable of how things happen
  • Sacks 'the beauty of Beethovens cannot be explained away by science explaining the music centre in the brain'
  • Blakemore 'wait and see what science is capable of delivering; their are many things that science has beautifully explained, for which there could not have been a conventional explanation in the past, for instance Biochemistry has explained much of what we understand about 'Life' - their is no 'life force' need to explain these things '
Sacks 'could we be anything other than what we are?

  • Blakemore 'I am the sum total of all the causal influences on me at the moment; events have anticedal causes; humans are not set aside from the rest of other living beings or the universe. The curious sense of a 'self' or of choice or a helmsman deciding absolutely what to do something irrespective of what the world tells them - is wrong.
Sacks 'science JUST explains things away

  • Blakemore ' TBC

1 comment: said...

Professor Blakemore aknowledged his stark reductivism, agreeing that "electrical impulses in the brain" are there but not "I" or "you". But as if to sweeten this, he takes exception to Rabbi Sacks' use of the word "just", to re-iterate that in using this word Sacks makes of the belief that we are indeed completely causal machines and without free will "trivial". But if Professor Blakemore also wants to point to - in case we should feel any despair - the beauty (he uses the word "advisedly", he tells us) we can appreciate in the stupendous complexity and wondrousness that it is in fact the case that "I" and "you" are an illusion, surely it is this very capacity to appreciate beauty that is trivialised? The freedom of claiming that this, and not that, is beautiful is denied to me, because (according to Professor Blakemore's lights) I am not free. So there can be no beauty.