Shallice, a neuropsychologist: «mind isn’t a product of neurons»

Timothy ShalliceIn order to deny God it is necessary to deny the human being and his singularity. This is, as we already pointed out, a dogma of the modern atheism which still persists although the scientistic positivism failure. The man is described as “nothing else but”, because the acknowledgement of his singularity and of the qualitative and ontological diversity compared to the rest of nature would require a not so well-accepted justification by those who deny that the human being is the result of a Rational Thought.

Thus far darwinists and neo-darwinists, like Richard Dawkins, were those who made this attempt, whereas nowadays it is a neuroscientists duty. The Evolution and Darwin’s theory, if not exploited, are not in conflict with the subjects of christian faith, or rather they prove to be in conflict with the naturalism. For this reason nowadays the anti-theists rely on neuroscientists: it’s their task to demonstrate that free will is an illusion, that conscience is just a brain epiphenomenon and that the mind is simply (typical term of reducionism) a “bundle of neurons”, according to Francic Crick’s assertion.

Sergio Barbieri, neurologist and director of “U. O. Neurofisiopatologia” at Milano Policlinico Hospital, has affirmed: «Those who reckon, reductionistically, that the brain only generates elettrochemical impulses which automatically are translated to executive decisions, are inclined to believe that freedom does not exist as everything is predetermined. Actually recently even this approach has been quite criticized, fortunately». According to Mauro Cerroni, Neurology research professor at University of Pavia, the assertion that the man is his own brain «has no scientific clue». It’s obvious that «nothing without physiological basis, nothing without attivation of nervous circuits can happen within me, but that doesn’t mean everything is ascribable to the brain».

The daily “La Stampa” has recently interviewed Timothy Shallice, mathematician, professor of Neuropsychology and coordinator of cognitive neuroscience at “Scuola internazionale superiore di studi Avanzati (Sissa)” in Trieste, and winner of the price “Mente e Cervello 2013”, assigned by the dean of University of Turin. He explained: «Cognitive neuroscience allow to inquire beyond organic matter, there where the mind – so anything tangible as a neurons product – produces effects from the body and over the body in a complex game made up of circuits and paths, spreading upon the “theatres” where deseases plot performs». Studying lesions and finding the causes does not mean understanding the origin of these “functions”, «we have only a partial picture of the cause. The problem is not always simply a mechanical cause, but it’s due to much more complex and dynamic systems that manage the memory, but that are not only organic type: there are mental operations that machines still do not draw». And «this machine computational called brain is different from person to person».

Last month Massimo Gandolfini, head physician neurosurgeon, in his book “I Volti della coscienza” (Cantagalli 2013) analysed the problem brain/mind according to the most recent scientific knowledge about it, well bearing in mind the ancient philosophical and theological debate. In these days Mauro Ceroni, a neurologist, Faustino Savoldi and Luca Vanzago, neuroscientists, have pubblished “La Coscienza” (Ares 2013), a book which is the outcome of the last 30 years pubblications regarding this subject, plus it denotes a wide familiarity with the philosophical thinking about the theme; the essay defends the man from «the reduction of his own essence»

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