It’s a wholesale topic, of course. The brain, like all biology, is obviously intelligently designed. From the elegant coordination of neural activity between neurons and brain regions to the remarkable law-like behavior of the individual molecules and atoms that make up neurons and neurotransmitters, the brain bears the unmistakable imprint of a designer. . But there is another sensible way to deduce the design of the brain that is simple and I think quite compelling – it is based on our belief that our perceptions and concepts are consistent with truth.
To see how this indicates intelligent brain design, consider a very compelling argument for the existence of God offered by the philosopher Richard Taylor (1919-2003) in his book Metaphysical. thomistic philosopher Edward Feser has a beautiful synopsis and commentary here. I paraphrase Taylor’s argument.
Welcome to Wales
Imagine you are on a train in England and you see a collection of stones on a hill that says BRITISH RAILWAYS WELCOMES YOU TO WALES.
In theory, there would be two ways to arrange the stones this way. One way would be for them to be deliberately arranged by an intelligent agent to convey the message that you are entering Wales. The other way would be for the wind and rain to randomly move the stones so that they look like a meaningful message but actually have no intelligent source. The probability of either possibility is irrelevant to the argument.
Now you could believe, based on the stones, either that you had in fact entered Wales or you could not believe it. Whichever you believe is also irrelevant to the argument. Taylor’s view is that you could not rightly believe that the stones appeared by random arrangement and at the same time believe that they carried the message that you are entering Wales. In other words, you are justified in believing in the semantic content conveyed by the material only if the arrangement of the material is intelligently designed.
An analogy with the brain
Taylor now draws an analogy with the neurological processes in our brain. We believe in the messages conveyed by our neurophysiology — by the arrangement of our neurotransmitters and our neurons. If these brain functions evolved through Darwinian evolution – that is, they arose as a result of unintelligent, random, hereditary variation and natural selection – then you could have no belief justified that the perceptions and concepts generated by your brain have real meaning. It would be irrational to attribute semantic content to a material process devoid of an intelligent designer.
Taylor uses this argument to defend the existence of God. When we believe that our perceptions and concepts point to truth, we implicitly recognize the existence of God who designed them. If the neurophysiology that generates our perceptions and concepts were not intelligently designed, we would have no justified reason to believe that they point to the truth, any more than we would have justified reason to believe that a conglomerate of unintelligent stones tells us where we are in England. . That’s a pretty good argument for the existence of God, and of course it’s also a good argument for intelligent brain design.
Note that this argument places those who deny the existence of God in a difficult rhetorical position – if they deny the existence of God, they cannot believe that their perceptions and concepts have an orientation to reality.
Read more on The mind matterspublished by the Bradley Center for Natural and Artificial Intelligence at the Discovery Institute.