Evolution is a fact. But I do not understand how matter can create mind. Is the phenomenon of "mind"(in the sense of self-awareness) a sudden threshold after the accumulation of a certain number and kind of brain cells, or is the process a gradual awakening? And what precisely is the relationship between the physical actions of the brain to a "thought"? One is physical, the other mental--two very different things unless mentality or physicality is a sort of illusion.
Mind is a synonym for spirit. This is why there are religions in the world. The mind is the spirit-world.
As regards "spirit" and "mind." I say that mind is a synonym for spirit because if not, there is no evidence of spirit. In order for religious belief to make any sense, we have to be able to imagine minds without bodies. Well, at least we know we have a mind, but to have this other category called "sprit" which is supposed to be something different from mind requires an additional leap of faith. We want to take as few leaps as possible.
If mind created matter, that means there's a God. If matter created mind, I suppose that means there's no God unless God is something "emergent."
Evolution suggests that brains when they get complex enough somehow produce "thoughts." But what does complexity have to do with being self-aware? It's like we've made a sudden transformation from the quantitative to the qualititative. 2 + 2 + 3=hate.
Rationalist, I feel like you are giving me a good answer here, but I don't quite get it. My main problem is, how does the physical become the mental? Or are you suggesting that those two categories--the physical and the mental--are misleading? "circuitry in the brain" is something physical--or sounds like it to me. A "thought" is very different-- or maybe not?
I think there's some confusion about the word "emergent." When I said that if matter created mind, that means there's no God, I was refering to the Big Bang and evolution--at the back of it all, if there's a God, then there is a mind (God's mind). If not, it is an automatic development that just happens. When I used the word "emergent" I was thinking of Bergson and such people--creative evolution--God is developing himself, so to speak, and consciousness (people) are the spearhead of God's emergent development. So God is "emerging."
Quetzal, what I am saying is that "mind" and "spirit" are the same thing. We know what mind is--we've got one--but if spirit is something different, then there's no evidence that there is any such thing as spirit. "Mind" means self-awareness, the ability to imagine, the process of logic, memory--the usual qualities we associate with "mind." Now mind is something quite different from the physical, or at least appears to be. Thoughts are no doubt events, but they are very peculiar events. For one thing, they are always "about" something. Objects are not "about" anything until a mind comes along and invests them with significance.
The only thing we know of that is not physical, the only other type of reality--is "mind." That is the only evidence of the spirit-world.
John, traditionally, there are 3 different beliefs you can have about the nature of reality (and only 3): You can believe that nature consists of one type of reality, the mental (or spiritual)--that is idealism. You can believe that reality consists of two kinds, the mental and the physical (that is dualism). Or you can believe that reality is totally physical (that is materialism).
The problem with dualism is that, if there are 2 types of reality, what is the relationship between these two types? Did matter create mind or did mind create matter?
The problem with materialism is that there does seem to be a mental world that is quite different from the physical and we are all aware of it. It is in this world that we have a sense of self-identity. A computer, being purely physical, presumably has no self-awareness.
To tell you the truth, I think quantum physics has struck a blow for idealism with its weird interaction between perceiver and perceived.
As far as there being a difference between the physical and the mental, I can't conceive of an electrical impulse in the brain being the same thing as a thought, even though without the electrical impulse there would be no thought. Light bulbs have no thoughts.
About other species being self-aware. I have my doubts about that. Because an animal learns in rote fashion does not necessarily indicate self-awareness. But chimps might be self-aware in some primitive sense. There's no way to know for sure, since we can't get inside the head of a chimp.
In my view, higher animals have feelings but not thoughts. For example, if you leave your pet for awahile he will feel something--a lack. But he will not be consciously thinking, "Where is he? When is he going to come back?"
Karl, I agree totally with your comment that we don't know if sheer complexity can produce "mind" or not. And if more advanced computers will have "minds." Of course, if that happened, it would mean that the physical can produce the mental. There's only one catch. It took a mind to manufacture these computers. In evolution it happened naturally--which to me is the main difficulty of evolutionary theory. Not that I'm disputing it--but that is something difficult to imagine.
Quetzal, don't get so bent out of shape. There are two points you brought up earlier that I will try to address.
"spirit"--yes, spirit, being equivalent to mind, could be present in higher animals such as chimps. My point about spirit was to suggest that the recognition of mentality as something different from physicality might have given rise to religious beliefs. But Pavlov's dogs do not suggest that they have memory in the sense I mean it. I mean conscious memory.
thoughts-- I said thoughts are "about" something. You can't have a thought that doesn't have a topic. Now physical events have no topic. A leaf falls from a tree--that's a physical event but it's not about anything. A mind comes along and has a thought about the leaf falling--It means, say, the beginning of Fall. A thought is not a physical object obviously--it doesn't have a certain size or width or length or any other physical attribute. It doesn't have a positive or negative charge. It has no mass or velocity. Time, of course, is another matter. Thoughts presumably take time to happen. So thoughts are present in time but not in space. That makes them peculiar, and unlike physical things.
"feelings"--an emotion as opposed to an abstract idea. My dog whimpers because it feels sad. But I don't think the dog is thinking. It doesn't know why it feels sad. I think a dog's whole consciousness is one feeling after another--feelings of comfort, pain, lacks, cosiness, etc. Without language, we cannot think.
John, I didn't know I had to prove that thoughts have no physical qualities. I thought it was obvious. So you think that thoughts are physical. Tell me about some of these physical qualities. How much does an average thought weigh? What color is it? How far does it extend in space?
John, if thought is a "type of electrical impulse," as you say, then it's physical and there is no mystery about the matter whatsover. In evolution, we've got the physical creating more physical things if you are right. This idea also means that there is nothing but the physical. The physical is the only reality we know of. "mind" is an illusion--it cannot be distinguished from "brain," except in the hardward/software sense. Both are physical.