I recall as a boy (not long after dinosaurs roamed the earth), watching a movie on our thirteen inch black and white TV called “Donovan’s Brain.” The movie had been made in 1953, and was a sci-fi horror flick about a scientist who keeps the brain of an evil dead tycoon (Donovan) flourishing in a vat of formaldehyde. Donovan employs his muscular will to manipulate his hapless keeper to murder those who were his adversaries during his lifetime. Fast forward to 2009, and we find that this movie was unintentionally quite prescient. Today we live within the constraints of a scientific ideology that would 婚姻輔導員 largely agree with the implied premise of this classic horror flick. Donovan was his brain, and so are we.
The advances of neuroscience in mapping the activity of the brain have been enormous since the middle of the last century. Not only have neuroscientists mapped the sources of basic physical behaviors in the brain, but they have made progress in locating centers of moral behavior as well. For example, there is the case of a man who had been convicted of pedophilia. It was discovered that an egg-sized tumor had displaced his right orbitofrontal lobe. When the tumor was removed, the man’s lewd behavior disappeared with it. Also, pathological lying has been associated with maladies of the prefrontal cortex. And in the realm of other types of brain driven disorders, we have all become quite used to treatments for mental and neurological illnesses for which no help existed but a few decades ago.
But along with these great advances has come a philosophical cost. Many brain scientists, largely under the influence of Darwin’s evolutionary presuppositions, have stepped outside of their legitimate role as researchers to proclaim the death of traditional theological and philosophical notions of 關係輔導 the human mind and soul. They argue that natural science is the only discipline that gives us knowledge and have declared that their findings lead inevitably to the conclusion that we live in a closed universe of natural causes. There is no God or other supernatural beings, and there is no such thing as an immaterial soul or mind in human beings. We are our bodies, and in particular, we are our brains, and nothing more. Human neurological capacities are not different in kind from other animals, but only in degree. Human identity is otherwise wholly physical, and any other story is a fable.
The notion that we live in a closed universe of natural causes is called Naturalism. The position that claims science as the only source of knowledge is called Scientism. The idea that human beings are nothing more than their bodies or brains is called Physicalism. There is no scientific research that leads to any of these conclusions, and the statements that include these claims are not scientific statements. Statements about the nature of the universe, the nature of knowledge, and the nature of human beings are not scientific, but philosophical, and scientists speaking as scientists are out of their league when they make such statements. So it appears that the question about human nature is still open. We will pursue this question further in Part 2 of our investigation.