Thursday, October 05, 2017

The Psychopath Inside

Most atheists are physicalists. The brain generates the mind. So morality is located in the brain. Consider this example:

James Fallon admits he has a lot in common with serial killer Ted Bundy and Columbine assassin Eric Harris. He is aggressive, lacks empathy and is a risk-taker.

Fallon, a professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the University of California Irvine, accidentally discovered what friends and family have suspected for years -- he has all the genetic traits and brain scan patterns of a psychopath.

"I don't have special emotional bonds with those who are close to me -- I treat everyone the same," he said. "I am involved in a lot of charities and good works, and my intentions are good for the world. But I don't have the sense of romance or love I am supposed to have for my wife. It's not there."

For years Fallon has worked with criminologists and other legal experts to evaluate the brain for abnormalities. But while volunteering with his own family for a study of Alzheimer's disease, Fallon learned on his PET scan that he has all the features of a psychopath.

"The last scan in the pile was strikingly odd," he writes about the 2005 discovery. "In fact it looked exactly like the most abnormal of the scans I had just been writing about, suggesting that the poor individual it belonged to was a psychopath -- or at least shared an uncomfortable amount of traits with one. ... When I found out who the scan belonged to, I had to believe there was a mistake. ... But there had been no mistake. The scan was mine."

"Looking at my genetics, I had lethal combination, but I just had the happiest childhood growing up," he said. Fallon's mother had four miscarriages before his birth and, as a result, he said he was, "treated well because they didn't think I would be born."

"There were dark periods I went through, but they didn't bring me to a psychiatrist, but they told my sisters and teachers to watch out for me," he said. "My mother instinctively knew there was a problem."

Although psychos have abnormal brains, they don't have defective brains, since–according to naturalism–there's no way the brain is supposed to be. And psychopaths can be highly functional. 

On this view, morality is arbitrary. Morality is an artifact of brain structures. If you change the wiring, you change morality.

In theory, evolution might have made psychopathic brains normal rather than abnormal. The majority might have psychopathic brains. Empathetic humans would be abnormal. From a naturalistic perspective, that's all there is to morality. Rewire the brain and you get a different moral code. There's no right or wrong way the brain is supposed to be wired. That's the outcome of the blind watchmaker. 

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