Music. Biography. Philosophy of Mind. Theology and Spirituality. Christianity

Buy the new, revised, Cascade Books 2nd edition of The Mind and the Machine: What it Means to be Human and Why it Matters (2016) from Cascade Books, a division of Wipf and Stock.


"[A] complex, thoughtful book." --Publishers Weekly

Links to a few Other Reviews of The Mind and the Machine

Here are links to a few of many reviews. Others are not difficult to find.

'The Mind and the Machine' book cover


About The Mind and the Machine: What it Means to be Human and Why it Matters

Are humans just complex biochemical machines, mere physical parts of a causally closed materialist universe? Are we approaching the so-called "Singularity" when human consciousness can (and will) be downloaded into computers? Or is there more to the human person--something that might be known as soul or spirit? As this book makes clear, the answers to these questions have profound implications to topics such as heroism, creativity, ecology, and the possibility of reason and science. In exploring this important topic, Dickerson engages the ideas of some well-known twentieth- and twenty-first-century espousers of physicalism, including philosopher Daniel Dennett (Consciousness Explained), biologist Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), futurist-engineer Raymond Kurzweil (The Age of Spiritual Machines), psychologist B. F. Skinner (Beyond Freedom and Dignity), and mathematician-philosopher Bertrand Russell (Why I Am Not a Christian). Through a careful reading of their works, Dickerson not only provides a five-fold critique of physicalism, but also offers a Christian alternative in the form of "integrative dualism," which affirms the existence of both a physical and spiritual reality without diminishing the goodness or importance of either, and acknowledges that humans are spiritual as well as bodily persons.

"An engaging and probing exploration of some of the fundamental questions humans ask about themselves: Is a human being just a machine made out of protein? Are humans completely determined by the physical processes going on in their bodies? Is the belief that humans are spiritual just a vestige of prescientific thinking? Dickerson attacks these questions--and many others--with verve and elan. The book is a model of interdisciplinary inquiry, drawing on a deep understanding of contemporary philosophy, science, and computers." --C. Stephen Evans, Baylor University

"Dickerson deftly evaluates cutting-edge cultural implications of physicalist treatments of human persons. Refreshingly, he presents a specific dualist alternative and underscores the important entailments of that alternative. I am glad to recommend this wonderful book." --J. P. Moreland, Biola University; author, The Recalcitrant Imago Dei

"Dickerson is one of the most gifted, clear-headed contemporary writers working on consciousness today. He has a command of the philosophical literature, a love for well-crafted, compelling arguments, and a matchless grasp of the deep wisdom that can be found in the work of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. His latest book is both an accessible introduction to central questions about human nature and a sustained, rigorous argument for recognizing the distinctive, overwhelming value of human persons." --Charles Taliaferro, St. Olaf College; author, Consciousness and the Mind of God

"Whether human minds are machines is a central question not only for philosophers and scientists but also for the future of our culture and of the human race itself. This book is clearer, fairer, more helpful, and more reliable than 99 out of 100 others on the subject. Its author knows both halves of his book's title very well." --Peter Kreeft, Boston College

"Dickerson is a thoughtful computer scientist exploring the presuppositions behind the notion that the human mind is nothing more than a complex machine. By pushing this idea to its logical conclusion, he shows the troubling implications for free will, creativity, environmental care, and reason. By contrasting this reductionistic approach with a view informed by the biblical story, Dickerson affirms a holistic view of what it means to be human. This is simply the best book I have found on this important topic--I highly recommend it!" --Derek C. Schuurman, Professor of Computer Science, Redeemer University College; author of Shaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture and Computer Technology

Hammers and Nails: The Life and Music of Mark Heard

'Hammers and Nails' book cover

One of my early books, and the only biography I have written. It is (by intention) not a linear biography, however. It is more thematic--full of stories, memories, and anecdotes from family, friends, and fellow musicians, along with some previously unpublished lyrics.

The best description of the book was suggested by one of the interviews. It is a mosaic, not unlike the cover of Mark Heard's album Mosaics. If you look closely at one one particular square, you don't get a clear picture of the person. But if you look at the whole, the picture emerges.

It is now out of print. Some day I want to revise it for a new edition. Until then, below are some links to sources to learn more about Mark Heard, or to find his lyrics, or to connect with other fans.

There are also numerous YouTube videos of Mark playing his own music as well as covers by other artists.