This May Be the Worst Academic Paper You’ll Ever See… and It Was Published in a Creationist Journal June 12, 2014

This May Be the Worst Academic Paper You’ll Ever See… and It Was Published in a Creationist Journal

Suppose you had to write an academic paper and you had no idea what you were talking about. And on top of that, you had to relate everything back to the Bible.

What would you do? You’d probably use a lot of big words. And then you’d break out a thesaurus and turn every short sentence into a long meandering paragraph.

In other words, you’d do what Callie Joubert (below) did for his recent paper published in the (Creationist) Answers Research Journal:

Just check out these excerpts from a paper that is so hilarious and verbose and laughable and loquacious and garrulous, it cites Ken Ham as a source when it isn’t repeating itself repeatedly (see what I did there?):

Now if a person is not a brain, and a brain is not the thing that perceives, thinks, interprets, feels, desires, decides, and so on, which is what I will argue, then it has serious implications for what Christians are teaching about the person and brain in the light of Scripture.


If I reach for a broom to pick it up, then one of the things I do is just that: I decided to reach for the broom and pick it up. But if that is something I do, then it follows that it is something I know that I do. If you ask me why I am doing what I have just done, I will immediately be able to tell you. However, by lifting up the broom, which is what I do, I made a whole lot of things to happen which are not in any sense things that I do, but which I am nevertheless the cause of: I would have made air-particles to move; I may have freed an ant heap from the pressure that had been upon it by the broom; I may also have caused a shadow to move from one place to another. Now, if these are merely things that I made to happen, as distinguished from what I do, then I may know nothing about them. But, and this is the crucial point, it is not to say that if I am unaware of making things to happen in my brain (or body) when I think a thought, experience an emotion, or will an act that I am not the cause of the events happening within it…

Secondly, a hypothesis is an unconfirmed (or unproved) proposition, assumption, or tentative explanation for some facts, and serves as the basis for reasoning, an argument, a supposition, or conjecture to account for the facts. But a hypothesis, to be understood by others, must be knowable. Now if the brain hypothesizes based on what it knows, how will the person come to know his brain’s hypothesis, and know what it knows, given that a person is neither able to access his brain nor able to perceive it? More seriously, what has happened to the person while his brain hypothesized about what it perceives? Commonsensically speaking, the person who knows is the same being as the one who learned the things he knows.

Thus, if a painter is looking at a tree and thinking about it, then he is consciously directing his mind at the tree, which his mental state of thinking is of or about. But that cannot be said of a brain, simply because a brain, like any other physical object, lacks intentionality. Therefore, one brain can never be about another brain; neither is one brain able to transfer thoughts to another brain.

I am the bearer of my own properties, and my mental states are immediately and directly present in me by virtue of me being a self-conscious, self-reflective, and self-knowing person. To show this, I shall briefly focus on sensation, emotion, thought, reasoning, and imagination, knowing and belief, understanding, memory, desire, volition, and conscience, in that order. But first, I must ward off confusion and clarify the meaning of “mental state.”

Neuroscientists (and many Christians) assume that the brain has a wide variety of capacities: the brain interprets and stores information, recognizes symbols, analyzes, thinks, believes, knows, designs computers, determines what is true, paints pictures, deciphers images, analyzes, prioritizes, learns, understands, remembers, and makes decisions. I have attempted to show why I think all such thinking and talking is incorrect, incoherent, and unintelligible, and what some of the implications are if Christians adopt the thinking and way of talking about the brain as most neuroscientists do. The initial reaction of readers may well be indignation and incredulity.

So that’s what passes for quality (peer-edited!) research at Answers in Genesis. I read through that thing twice and I still can’t tell what the hell it’s about.

I guess it’s not very surprising. Creationists will publish anything you hand them, won’t they?

(Thank to Paul for the link)

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