Is the Brain the Mind and God an Illusion?

From an article  in The Imaginative Conservative,titled Materialism: The False God of Modern Science, by George Stanciu:

Trained to believe that every object as well as every act in the universe is matter, an aspect of matter, or produced by matter—that is, schooled to be a materialist—I scoffed at the two fellow students of mine in graduate school who regularly attended church. For me, at that time, the brain was the mind and God an illusion.

Sunday Morning in the Cathedral of Science

Seated in the front pew, my folded hands piously resting upon a worn copy of Newton’s Principia, I hear from the choir loft the voices of neuroscience graduate students droning their mantra, “The brain is the mind; The brain is the mind; The brain is the mind.”[1] The mantra becomes the astonishing hypothesis in the Sunday morning sermon preached by the Reverend Francis Harry Compton Crick, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA:“You, your joys and your 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.”[2] With index finger pointing heavenward, Reverend Crick bellows the crux of the sermon: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.”[3]

In monophonic chant that hypnotizes the parishioners, the choir recites the liturgical reading of the day: “Every decision is a thoroughly mechanical process, the outcome of which is completely determined by the results of prior mechanical processes.[4] Every human action can be explained mechanically.” In a higher octave, biologist Lynn Margulis trumpets, “For all our imagination, fecundity, and power, we are no more than communities of bacteria, modular manifestations of the nucleated cell.”[5] Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins recites the second reading, “[Replicators] swarm in huge colonies, safe inside gigantic lumbering robots, sealed off from the outside world, communicating with it by tortuous indirect routes, manipulating it by remote control. They are in you and in me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rationale for our existence. They have come a long way, those replicators. Now they go by the name of genes, and we are their survival machines.”[6]

…Not one grand pronouncement preached that Sunday in the Cathedral of Science has been established by experimental science. “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons” and “human beings… are essentially bundles of simple quarks and electrons” are for the majority of scientists unshakeable beliefs, ultimately religious dogmas.
One seemingly insurmountable obstacle for a neuroscientist intent upon reducing a person to “nothing but a pack of neurons”[11] is to explain how wiring together 86 billion neurons can give rise to the love of Mozart’s Don Giovanni or to the joy of windsurfing at Maalaea Bay, Hawaii.
…Surprisingly, the first step in applying the principle the brain is the mind falters; brain physiology alone cannot explain the most obvious human experience—we perceive (emphasis added).
…I was astonished to discover that a careful analysis of perception, the bare minimum of human living, easily shows that materialism is dead wrong.
Later in life, I discovered that all human beings suffer from a fatal intellectual flaw, the propensity to take one truth and make it the only truth. For the vast majority of scientists, science is a new religion, and unlike Schrödinger, they refuse, like all true believers, to see that the emperor has no clothes, close their eyes to the limitations of the experimental method, and willfully deny that the philosophy of materialism they embrace gives “silly” answers to the most fundamental questions about human life. For me, and I suspected for a growing number of young people, I had to divest myself of the “silly” ideas instilled in me by science, not religion; in the twenty-first century, science, not the Church, is the oppressor that champions a worldview that has to be cast off.
In my quest for the meaning of human life, I soon grasped that science is only one path to truth, to truths that are not the most interesting part of life, although they are beautiful and surprising. Among J. Robert Oppenheimer’s last written words were “science is not everything, but science is very beautiful.”[30] Physics and chemistry examine the piping, the infrastructure of life, not the ultimate reality of the universe or human life. To hold that the ultimate reality of a performance of Suite No. 1 of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Six Unaccompanied Cello Suites is the scraping of horsehair on cat gut is philosophical absurdity, not to mention human insanity.
The physical world provides an intense, rich interior life, which includes the impersonal, stark beauty of mathematics and physics as well as the pungency of Stilton cheese, the softness of cashmere, the dance of cherry blossoms, the smell of the ocean salt air, the wonder and mystery of nature, and the poetry, drama, and music that touch the transcendent.

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