souls...................oh Boris

Unicron,

Last time I checked, Evolution was still a theory.

Everything is just a theory. But some theories are better than others, for a variety of reasons that I'd covered repeatedly in numerous posts before.

Yes, but who created the 'energy' and the 'matter'? It's better to say God did it than to say it came out of nowhere, because something dosn't come out of nothing!

Well, first of all nobody is claiming that spacetime and its matter/energy content came out of nothing. What we are saying is that currently there is no known evidence to point to the precursor of the universe. In consequence, we cannot make any kind of an educated guess as to where it all came from. To say that God did it is not "better" than to say any other random thing -- because in absense of all evidence, and without ways to test hypotheses, all theories are equiprobable at this time (all, therefore, having a 0 chance of being correct).

Though I'd say that given how the workings of everything inside our universe are observed to be mechanistic, many people (including myself) tend to be biased toward a suggestion that the precursor to the universe also was entirely mechanistic. Such a complex and in many respects self-contradictory entity as God, with no evidence to support even one of God's many purported attributes or actions, as the origin of the universe just rings like a very contrived and unlikely scenario. Remember, all things being equal the simplest explanation tends to be the right one; and since in this case all theories are equally likely, and since God is about as complex and incomplete a theory as you can propose -- it is highly unlikely that God is indeed the correct explanation.

------------------
I am; therefore I think.
 
There are a whole lot of topics raised (as usual) so I will pick a few.

First of all there is a way out of the discussion where does a soul first becomes a soul. It was proposed by Teilhard in the first part of this century. He proposed that in 'dead' matter 'life' and 'consciousness' is already there but in a dormant state. He further proposed that consiousness, in order to become awake, made matter evolve into complexer structures until it could manifest itself in modern man. He further proposed that man was not the end of this evolutionary chain but merly a stepping stone to even more complex and more conscious matter that he called the point omega. This point omega was some kind of convergence in which man would find its true furfilment and could be termed as God. So what he is saying is that there is a fourth dorment mode in us namely the 'divine' which is working its way through evolution to become active.

About who or what created the universe (here we go again) there is a very simple question one should ask after answering the first with 'God' : Who or what created God ? This question is as valid as the former, if you say it has no answer then why bother answering the former one ?

About holistic philosophies :
I think it is quite clear that humans are more then simply a collection of cells or leptons and hadrons. The magic lies in the ordering : for example take three strait lines. Throw them together and thay are just a pile, put them in a certain configuration and they become a triangle ! Suddenly the amount of information gets increased, of the lines you only have lengths to worry about, of the triagle you suddenly have angles between the lines, certain angles can even lead to more information like the theorem of Pythagoras.
Here you have a small example of what Teilhard meant by a dorment mode of complexity : the line has the potential of becoming something more, something complexer : a triangle for example.

------------------
"If I have been able to see further, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants."
Isaac Newton
 
Hello everyone!

Interesting, interesting...

Okay, so the human brain has been compared to a computer a couple of times in these threads. I think that's a terrible comparison to make, really. Our brains are so much more complex, so much less straight-forward... Human beings cooked up the computer, so it is necessarily within our current grasp. I can walk down to the local JC and learn everything I could possibly need, pop into Radio Shack & build a PC, write my own darn operating system and be up and running in a couple of days. (Theoretically, of course. Reality-wise I hate programming) I cannot hop on down to the local body-mart, pick up a couple legs, arms, various organs, brain matter and veins, hook 'em up in my garage and write a personality for this body, not even theoretically. I doubt humans will EVER have the ability to create a sentient, organic being from scratch. We might be able to make a close copy, we may even be able to create a very good emulation of sentience, but somehow I'm not really convinced "Artificial Intelligence" will ever be truely alive.

Perhaps my definition of a "soul" is a bit different than what we're talking about here, but I don't think us silly humans are the only ones with a "soul". My opinion is that the soul is our "living" part - it's the part of us that isn't there when we're dead, and by that reasoning, I believe every living thing, from the single-cell floaties I found in the kitchen sink this morning, to earthworms, to palm trees, to turtles, to humans has a soul. Your soul is the continuity of that spark that animated you way back in the womb. If that continuity is lost, or divided, the body dies, or changes.

Boris -

As always, I have great respect for your knowledge. But I might ask this - if you can't measure something, does that necessarily mean it's not there? Maybe we're just using the wrong instruments! Maybe the "soul-meter" just hasn't been discovered yet. I would weigh just as much dead as I do alive - if you were using only a scale to measure, you would say there was no change in my status, right? I know that's an overly simplistic example, but I think it will suffice.

Those split-people you described earlier is very interesting, I hadn't realized there were cases so extreme. I think it makes perfect sense, though. Think of it more like a river maybe. The river has a source (conception). It flows along the terrain, changing in size and shape, but still recognizable as the same river. Suppose it splits - half flows east, half flows west. The east river is very rocky and tumultuous, the west river is wide and serene. Still the same river, though, right? You can trace the tributaries back to the source, and if you could dig a new channel somehow, you could link the two back together into the original form.

I am also inclined to say that personality is independant of the soul. INDIVIDUALITY is part of the soul, but the personality you have is (to my mind, anyway) a manifestation of your physical body, your upbringing, your friends, your environmet, etc. DNA and the soul are not part of eachother, in my opinion, so this isn't a "nature vs. nurture" type question.

I have said that comparing humans to computers isn't very accurate, so please pardon me, but I'm going to tromp on my own words and use it again anyway. I think the soul is more equivalent to the power supply on the PC than it is to the RAM, hard drive or chip. :)
 
Hey MoonC,
remember this? I am reposting it because it naturally follows your last post and I know that Boris wasn't around to read it back in December '99.


Quote:
SkyeBlue,
-I believe in a general life-force that permeates the entire universe. We are animated by that same life force, just as all the other animals, alien life, and even the stars and comets.-
unquote.


Yes, I agree with that, absolutely!
In my mind, the life force is like an invisible light which continually sweeps through the universe, at a speed faster than light. It is like string. Its source is at the beginning of time itself and it connects every single thing, including time (past/present/future) as each lifeform has its own share of the light within it.
The invisible light enters a life form at the moment of conception. The lifeform lives its physical life and dies, the invisible light then leaves the physical plane, hurtles through space, is re energised and goes on to give new life somewhere in the cosmos, most probably near the place it was at before.
During its life, the lifeform acquires an invisible aura, containing information which is an accumilation of all its thoughts, deeds, needs, wishes and actions. This aura is actually existing in the invisible light and is therefore 'outside of time'.
Auras exchange their information with each other continually and I believe play a crucial role in phenomena such as wish fulfilments, the power of prayer, affective curses, divination, prophecy, karma, reincarnation and evolution to name but a few.
I suppose what I've been describing could also be called the 'spirit'.
Chill!
 
Dave, Boris,

You know, you may very well be correct in what you say regarding schizophrenics and the voices that they hear in their heads. I guess it all boils down to who it is that's talking to you, and how inclined you are to hear it. We all have those little voices in one form or another. A weak form you call intuition. A strong for you call schizophrenia, I call demonic. Or if it's the right voice, I guess you would have the same answer, and I would call it the Holy spirit. And 2*2=4 because God said so, and that's the only reason. If he had said that it equalled 5.25, then it would. But that's just not how He designed it. I don't see how it is that you can discover soooooo much beauty and miraculous wonder and order in this universe, and especially in regards to us as humans, and think that it all just exploded and landed this way by chance.

------------------
You may think I'm a nut, but I'm fastened to the strongest bolt in the universe.
 
Tab'-

*whistles and stomps* Yes! That's just the kind of thing I'm talking about. :D

It's very slippery to describe - invisible light, soul, life force...I think we're all talking about the same energy, we all just perceive it slightly differently depending upon our differing experiences, our differing frames of reference. My perception differs in detail, but overall, I think we're touching the same elephant. :)

For example - you see it as rushing about, I think I would describe it more like a big lake, or cloud - it is all places at once, yet each individual atom is in its' own distinct spot (body). Neither is really correct, but that's just the way we describe it - we don't have the proper words, so we have to use words like "force", "energy", etc. Electricity and gravity are both "forces" and "energies", but they aren't the same thing, this makes it even more confusing. So we clumsily gesture at what we're trying to describe, with varying degrees of success. I'm glad you were able to understand my thrashing arms on this one! :) :)
 
I wanted to chime in on the 2+2=4 debate, if that's OK. Perhaps I'm simplifying this, but doesn't 2+2 equal 4 because we, humans, say so?

Let the O stand for a stone, a coin, or any object.

O O

How many objects are there? We arbitrarily assign a word, "two", and a "numerical" representation of "2".

"Plus" is a word we have, in the mathematical sense, which conventionally refers to combining the two, getting another arbitrary word, "sum".

Thus, if we designate that there are two objects, and apply "plus" another two objects, a quantity exists which we have chosen to call 4.

That any quantitative distinction at all is made is purely of consequence to living systems. My cat seems to recognize three, but that could be Pavlovian. But if we see a number of coins on the ground ...

O O

... and call that quantity "three", then 3+3 equals whatver number we choose to represent O O combined with O O so that we have O O O O.

The mathematics are our artificial way of explaining what simply is. The universe continues without the concept.

So I would have to assert that 2+2=4 is a human fiction that well-enough represents what most of us agree is real.

But that's just me, and it doesn't help anything at all.

thanx,
Tiassa :cool:

------------------
The whole business with the fossilized dinosaur eggs was a joke the paleontologists haven't seen yet. (Good Omens, Gaiman & Pratchett)
 
MoonCat,

Be very, very careful when you say that the comparison of a brain to a computer is "terrible." Claims like that will suck you down into the netherworld of information processing and computation -- where you will find yourself slowly consumed by demon spawn of Shannon and Turing. For now, lest you ignore my fair warning, I will reseve myself to the following observation. The modern computers are a manifestation of what is more generally known as a universal machine -- they are specifically built, and mathematically assured, to be capable of simulating any other process in the universe. This means that a general-purpose computer is indeed fully capable (at least theoretically, provided we build the right hardware) of fully emulating every single process of the brain. This means that as a machine that processes information, the brain is not quantitatively different from a computer -- the difference is merely qualitative, and in the enterprise of computation you don't judge anything by mere appearances.

I doubt humans will EVER have the ability to create a sentient, organic being from scratch. We might be able to make a close copy, we may even be able to create a very good emulation of sentience, but somehow I'm not really convinced "Artificial Intelligence" will ever be truely alive.

Well for one, you may be right with respect to creating a sentient, organic being from scratch. Though I'd wager that we indeed will engineer our genome, possibly create entirely new genomes from scratch (thus in effect creating new beings, but not by hooking legs to arms or anything like that), as well as create sentient, inorganic beings from scratch.

As to your latter comment, I'd ask you to consider a rather plausible hypothetical situation. You are faced with an android, who claims to be alive in all the same respects that you are. He claims to have replicated all of your cognitive mechanisms to a 100% level of detail in his hardware. He is even able to reproduce and mature in much the same way that you do (say, for example, that his body is composed of self-replicating nanobots, which are the equivalent of your cells.) Your task is to demonstrate to him that while you are alive, he isn't. Question: how do you proceed? Should you take up this challenge, I will agree to play the role of the android, and answer all your challenges from his perspective. The first move is yours...

My opinion is that the soul is our "living" part - it's the part of us that isn't there when we're dead, and by that reasoning, I believe every living thing, from the single-cell floaties I found in the kitchen sink this morning, to earthworms, to palm trees, to turtles, to humans has a soul.

All right then, let's get down to the real basics. Do viruses have souls, in your opinion?

But I might ask this - if you can't measure something, does that necessarily mean it's not there? Maybe we're just using the wrong instruments! Maybe the "soul-meter" just hasn't been discovered yet. I would weigh just as much dead as I do alive - if you were using only a scale to measure, you would say there was no change in my status, right? I know that's an overly simplistic example, but I think it will suffice.

If you can't measure something, you cannot be aware of it. If souls cannot be measured, then how do you know of them?

And if you do propose a possibility of a "soul-meter", then you propose that the material interact with the immaterial. This brings us back to the "Argument from Interaction".

Finally, there is indeed a difference between being dead and alive -- and we don't need a "soul-meter" to detect it. Activity in the brain means life; absense of activity in the brain means death.

Those split-people you described earlier is very interesting, I hadn't realized there were cases so extreme. I think it makes perfect sense, though.

So, in your opinion, the soul can indeed be split into independent halves (and through material means, no less)? Notice that the two halves have no remaining point of contact at all -- unlike the rivers in your example, which still flow from the same source. Which makes me wonder -- if we can split the soul in two, maybe we can split it in 10? Or, how about 10^100? Does that not conflict even a little bit with the general sovereignty ascribed to the soul?

I am also inclined to say that personality is independant of the soul. INDIVIDUALITY is part of the soul...

Could you please clarify what you mean by "INDIVIDUALITY"? Do the unicellular slime in your sink have "INDIVIDUALITY"?

I think the soul is more equivalent to the power supply on the PC than it is to the RAM, hard drive or chip.

If the brain is to be compared to the PC, then the equivalent of the power supply consists of the sugars stored in your body and carried through the circulatory system (which would then be the equivalent of the electrical power grid.)

------------------
I am; therefore I think.
 
Lori,

A strong for you call schizophrenia, I call demonic.

Funny how demonic influences can be mitigated by psychoactive drugs, and manifest themselves as an abnormal arrangement of pyramidal cells in the fourth layer of the cerebral cortex, as well as undersized thalamic nuclei...

And 2*2=4 because God said so, and that's the only reason. If he had said that it equalled 5.25, then it would. But that's just not how He designed it.

I love the stubborn conviction. It's even cute in a way. Say, if you take two apples, and place them next to two other apples, and then count the bunch, what will the total be?

I don't see how it is that you can discover soooooo much beauty and miraculous wonder and order in this universe, and especially in regards to us as humans, and think that it all just exploded and landed this way by chance.

See, that's the difference between you and a scientist. To you, it's miraculous. To a scientist, it's merely complex. To you, it's beautiful. To a scientist, it merely has structure. To you, it's order. To a scientist, it's growing disorder. To you, we just exploded and landed here. To a scientist, we are just a tiny part of the evolution of matter/energy within the universe. It's funny how your perspective changes when you actually understand the causes behind the phenomena -- they are no longer magical, but they are also far more real.

------------------
I am; therefore I think.
 
Boris,

As a fellow scientist, I would disagree that finding out how things work takes out the 'magic', it just makes it more detailed. What I love about gaining scientific knowledge is that the most important thing you learn is how ignorant you are; every good experiment should lead to more questions than answers. This is my magic (albeit, a non-theist magic).

Unicron,

In this post you continually ask of science 'why', 'who', and 'prove it'; all three of these questions in the tense you are using them are meaningless to science. Why (as Boris mentioned) translates to 'how' in most scientific theories. As to fundamental reasons behind creation and the universe, these are issues beyond science because any possible answers are based on too great leaps of faith (including induction). The question of 'who' assumes that there must be a who; i.e. a final personification of the universe. This again is a leap of faith and more in the realm of theology and philosophy (although philosophers often avoid this issue too since deus in machina is a weak philosophical foundation).

My favorite pet peave (as those who remember my posts prior to my hiatus); science does not PROVE anything! Experimental design is such that one determines a hypothesis, and carefully designs experiments to attmept to disprove the null hypothesis. Indeed, the lack of proof in science makes it a difficult pill to swallow sometimes. However, continous experimental data disproving a null hypothesis leads to the assumption that the hypothesis is a fact (e.g. the law of gravity). However, such unilateral laws are rare (albeit significant) advances in science.

Further, even though science has no real solid answer for the questions you pose (although Boris did a great job giving examples of data that do not support your hypothesis), Unicron, it does not 'prove' your points. I mean your logic smacks of Neanderthalic thinking ['me not understand, must be God(s)'].

Lastly, I would like to point out that science is not necessarily 'atheist', I would more likely consider 'non-theist'. The difference being is that in modern science, the issue of whether there is a god or not is almost irrelevant, we are busy enough trying to figure out what's going on between two cells, proteins, molecules, subatomic particles, etc., to keep us busy for a long, long time.




------------------
Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.
-Mark Twain
 
Back to the 2+2 debate (are you guys sick of this yet)

I think that 2+2=4 can be used more conclusivley to prove that God and creationism doesn't exist then to say it does. Let me clarify the idea before I lose it.

OK According to natural laws which we have quantified and proven to be true, matter can not be created or destroyed it can only be manipulated. So if 2+2=5.25 then I would say thats a good argument for the existance of God. For it would be clear that a natural law of this universe was manipulated and an extra 1.25 was infact created from nothing. Something had to make that happen. However what ever the universe was before it evolved into its present state it still had the same amount of matter it does now, and when you SUM any two quantities you will always end up with no more or less then what you started with. It demonstrates that nothing is being created all that happens is we interpret the result as a new quantity, this is evident in every science, every action, every natural process...its like a lifeless unintelligent process with absloutley NO EVIDENCE OF INTEVENTION. So I say 2+2=4 because of the abscence of devine creation, and not the design of a God....do you guys follow what I'm trying to say.

------------------
work to LIVE...don't live to WORK.
 
Boris,

Thanx for posting up your thesis for us, what did your prof give you as a mark ? I’ll bet my bottom dollar that you burnt the midnight oil in the wonderfully resourced library at the big university you attend when putting this one together for all our enlightenment

Only thing is that in the intro under Argument from interaction it starts to unwind and I’d be surprised if your prof didn’t pick it up.

Quote:

Clearly, for a soul to have a meaningful connection to the body, it must be capable of interacting with matter. Yet, souls are defined as immaterial and not subject to the laws that govern matter. Hence, the paradox arises: by its definition, a soul must be both capable of interacting with matter, and not capable of interacting with matter.

It is because matter is so "interactive", that we can make measurements, conduct experiments, and observe phenomena associated with matter. The soul, on the other hand, is by definition immaterial. Hence, with our scientific instruments we cannot detect it. For if we could detect it, we could then determine its properties and structure; we would be able to materially interact with it, which would make the soul material.


And this is where it starts to unravel.

You make a statement that claims to be fact that a soul is immaterial, what references can you quote to support this argument? What scientific evidence is there of this? I’m just turning things around a bit and asking you to substantiate claims like you normally do to us believers.

You then go on to state that due to this it is not subject to natural laws. A statement of fact again based on assumption of fact.

OK so now its by definition immaterial and hence unmeasurable. Umm, ever stopped to consider that we may just not be quite advanced enough with our measurement apparatus to do so? Example point being we don’t have devices capable of entering the suns core but based on mathematical calculations which include assumptions about surface temp, gravitational forces, density, mass etc we guesstimate a result for the core temp, pressure, energy consumption and transfer rates……. Blah, blah blah. And hold to them as gospel truth, but the thing is we’ve never measured it, and probably never will. Yet we swear black and blue that its true.

Just because the soul has not been measured according to your knowledge don’t assume a stance which is the common held definition that it is not measurable. I thought you were much more througher than to just regurgitate the common held text book views and notions about these things.

So you then go on to reinforce your stance from various view points and I’m sure that if I had the time we could burn up a lot more time and find some assumptions about them also that we could argue through. Unfortunately I don’t have the luxury of that time.

So have fun spitting chips at this lack of respect for your genius :D and I’m sure you’ll have a stab at trying to make it look utterly silly.

In good humour and fun…… :D

Tony H2o
 
Out of body experiences are great ways to explore the unknown non-physical worlds. These experiences require a soul. These experiences can often put you in contact with spiritual forces and entities that can help you enhance your psychic skills, learn more about yourself and others, and expand your awareness of the universe. Many first out of body experiences dramatically change the individual's perception of the world and of life and death, and bring about a kind of comfort, with knowledge that anything is possible in the universe.
 
A so called outer body experience is not a proof for a soul because we are dealing with very fluid definitions here.
First of all there needs to be proof that the outer body experience is true and valid. If this is the case there is still no connection between this experience (that is experienced while you are alive) and a soul which is supposed to be the left over when you are dead.

------------------
"If I have been able to see further, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants."
Isaac Newton
 
Boris~

Boy, you sure went through my post, didn't you? Have some peach tea while I work on this. c(_) :)

Okay. Lesse. Do viruses have souls? I haven't really thought about it, but I suppose they might. They are alive, so I guess if a houseplant has one, the virus would also.

"If you can't measure something, you cannot be aware of it" - now I have to disagree with that one. Cave man was surely aware of gravity, but I doubt he had any way of measuring it. I doubt he even would have had the concept that gravity originates with the earth, instead of thinking it's the weight of the club in his hand that draws it downwards. Romans were aware of the sun, but they were convinced it was a god on a chariot. So no, I don't think you have to be able to measure something to be aware of it. You just have to feel, see, taste, or any other way sense something to be aware of it. I think you're too much of a scientist, Boris, you want to be able to stick a thermometer up the beast's rear and get it's temperature before you'll say it's real or not. (My husband is the same way sometimes, I'm not picking on you, by the way.) :)

Regarding the soul splitting - yup, I think it could be split even more, take schizophrenea for example.

I think I'll have to ask you to clarify what you mean about the "soverignty" of the soul - perhaps that is something that others believe in relation to the soul...the "soul" I believe in is called that just for convenience's sake, it's not the "soul" a Christian would believe in. My general feeling is that outside of a lifetime (lifetime meaining when the soul is attached to an individual body) the "souls" of all the currently non-living mix and mingle with eachother, and rarely remain 100% intact from incarnation to incarnation. Does that help any?

What I meant by individuality is this: individual as in seperate from the others, as in a discrete entity, at least for the duration of life. Yes, those single cell gobs in my sink are individuals, you can take one and take a second one, and you can clearly see that they are seperate from eachother. They might behave identically, but that behavior what I meant when I said "personality". I'm probably using the wrong words, but that's part of this whole problem - I think the words I would like to use just don't exist yet, or I'm just not aware of them.

Coming around to your android...well, as soon as you can ACTUALLY present me with an android that can argue the state of his soul, I'll take up that argument. My argument is that I don't think it will happen (building a sophisticated enough machine that it becomes "self-aware"). If it DID happen, as you describe...I don't know, actually. That is definitely a tough question. Would that android be alive? Would he be aware of mortality? Would he HAVE mortality?? Could programming create genuine feelings, emotions, etc?

I don't know, I'm thinking about this, and it seems to me that an android wouldn't have a soul, the way I believe a soul exists. I think their version of a "soul" would be simple electricity. Electricity behaves in much the same way as I believe souls behave - though I must admit I don't know a whole lot about electricity as it interacts with the earth. So perhaps an android would have somethink LIKE a soul, just as he has something LIKE a brain, LIKE a circulatory system, LIKE cells. Similar in function, but different from our setup just like their bodies.

Have you ever heard the saying "only a being with a soul would wonder if they had one"? Of course that doesn't prove anything, but still, food for thought.
 
Hi, boy Boris you really have a way with words and knowledge! But how do you reconcile the cold, loveless universe that you consistently describe with the love that you surely must have felt for another person, whether they are your family or your girl? Is this gift just the organisation of another set of neurones? Nothing more? Love is a tangible emotion, yet almost impossible to describe. But it is definitely real. I`d prefer to live in my slightly delusional world of love and the ongoing discovery and the awe of the milk of human kindness. (which is very difficult at times)
But at least one finds a sense of purpose.

Cheers.
 
Boris..
I'm ridin' into the sandstorm with the Moon Cat on this one.

Imagine the possible existence of an invisible type of energy, one with even smaller molecules than light.
Imagine that the invisible energy travels faster than light. Like the light is a body of water and the invisible energy is the wind.

Imagine this energy present everywhere and reverbarating through the whole of time.Relatively quickly.
(like the winds above the oceans)

Now imagine that each molecule of this energy is like a very sophisticated and advanced self powered/programming computer program and each one is connected to the others like a wireless internet.Collectively the invisible energy has total knowledge and wisdom.
Next, just assume that every single lifeform in the universe (from anaerobic bacteria to viruses to Boris and beyond)is like a (biological?) computer!

At the moment of conception or generation of any lifeform, a single grain of invisible energy enters the originating cell and proceeds to grow with the body.
Like a computer getting booted up and connecting to the www.

The invisible energy in a lifeform, while being within and without the body, is always connected to the universal energy and constantly transmitting and receiving information. From time itself.
I think that this intelligent energy is what might prompt individual genes to evolve. Perhaps explaining the occassional rapid pace of evolution one witnesses from time to time.

The power (if any) of prayer, wishes, curses, blessings and genuine supernatural phenomena probably works by the same medium.

I don't think that souls can have memories but what they might contain is the 'essence' of 'you', the real you, whether you're in touch with the real you or not.Perhaps explaining child prodigies.

Probably, the more self aware, gifted and spiritually peaceful a lifeform is, the more its invisible energy/soul can control the outcome its next incarnation. Perhaps explaining the dogma of karma, heaven and hell.

Well, it's all possibly maybe isn't it?
Chill!
 
Now I know how Lori feels when a whole gang piles up on her. :)

Before I start responding to individual posts, I thought I needed to clarify something. It seems that we don't all agree on the definition of a "soul". In retrospect, that's not at all surprising, and it's probably my fault for not defining my own terms from the start.

When I speak of a "soul", I indeed speak of the classical, dogmatic soul that is involved in the mythos of afterlife. The "standard doctrine" would be something like this:

Each human being is linked to a distinct soul. This soul is what embodies our consciousness, thought, knowledge, feelings, and many other aspects of the mental human experience (i.e. under this doctrine, mind = soul). When the body dies, the soul persists, and so we don't really die -- rather, we "exit" our body, and move on to whatever awaits us next (depending on religion). The transition is supposed to be rather smooth, in that what we internally perceive of ourselves as individuals does not change when we leave our bodies (except for the part that we no longer feel or need our bodies) -- ala out-of-body experience.

Given that definition, which is, at least as far as I perceive it, the opinion of the overwhelming majority of those who believe in souls -- it should be a little more clear what I've been and will be talking about.

------------------
I am; therefore I think.
 
Tony, MoonCat (for latter part of the post),

This is to Tony:

Well, actually my professor would be rather peeved if he found out how much time I'm wasting on this board. ;)
And no, I am not here to prove my genius, or to boost my ego; I've been past that kind of a motivation since the high school days. Quite frankly, it's been a long time since I cared what other people think about me -- my life is mine to live, and I shall do so according to what I believe at any particular time is the right way.

As to your criticism, I have several things to say before I start splitting chips. First, I really would like you to read the rest of that post and critique it, if you ever do find the time. Secondly, some of your objections may be addressed by another post I just made to this thread, where I clarified what I meant by "soul". Remember that this thread started as a reply to Unicron, and I do believe that what I assumed is meant by the word "soul", is pretty close to what Unicron means by that word. Now, on to the chips.

You make a statement that claims to be fact that a soul is immaterial, what references can you quote to support this argument? What scientific evidence is there of this? I’m just turning things around a bit and asking you to substantiate claims like you normally do to us believers.
You then go on to state that due to this it is not subject to natural laws. A statement of fact again based on assumption of fact.

Well, I have indeed seen it in many places and by many people assumed that the soul is immaterial -- although I can't quote the sources since I simply don't remember them. The reason I arrived at such a conclusion is based more on how the soul is constrained by its alleged attributes than by what others say. To wit:

This is to both of you:

The soul is indestructible (immortal, eternal -- choose your favorite adjective). This is clearly not the property of matter. Matter is a condensed and frozen form of energy, and thus it slowly evaporates (similar to how ice sublimes). This "evaporation" is the ponderous decay of all elementary particles into photons, as predicted and measured in quantum physics. But even on the far shorter time scales, nothing made of matter persists forever. Anything made of matter is atomic, and is as such susceptible to accumulation of defects over time as the object comes under various stresses. If the soul was material (or indeed divisible, and thus made up of constitunents), it would similarly age and deteriorate, which would render it quite mortal. Additionally, in Biblical terms (as well as in many other religions) the soul transcends matter, in that it exists even prior to the existence of matter, and will continue to exist when all matter is gone. Traditionally, the soul is invoked to account for the properties that dead matter does not possess. The claim is that the mind is a manifestation of the soul, since matter does not possess the properties exhibited by minds. Next, the soul is commonly assumed to be made of the same "stuff" that God is made of, and God is assumed to be immaterial. Then, there is the problem of energy conservation. If the soul is to exist (and function!) forever, it will need to consume an infinite amount of energy to do so -- if the soul were material, that is. Clearly, not even God can thus sustain himself or the souls of his creations indefinitely, if either exhibit the inertial properties of matter/energy. Yet, inertia is a cornerstone of what it is to be material or to be able to interact with matter -- since matter in fact interacts <u>only</u> due to its inertia (if matter/energy had no inertia, they would simply pass through each other like ghosts, and never be able to affect each other's state -- since in fact, one way to describe inertia is as a state.) (On further reflection, this appears to be yet another problem with souls and even with God -- given that they are immaterial, they cannot possess or maintain a state. Thus, they are unable to possess a stream of consciousness, or in fact a stream of anything (in other words, they are unable to carry out computation). This would also mean that they are unable to interact with anything causal.)

All right, that's enough for now. Tell me what you think...

------------------
I am; therefore I think.
 
Boris--

I'll stand for you, though my tack takes a slightly different wind.

I cannot deny the soul ... though I cannot write it carte blanche, either. It seems to me, though, that the soul is purely a matter of faith, as intangible as "soul" when played well on a 1959 Fender Strat.

It seems that we have two starting places: One assumes the existence of the soul and seeks proof against, the other notes that it cannot quantify the soul and seeks any empirical indications.

If I have a rock in my hand, it is difficult to prove or otherwise demonstrate that the rock doesn't exist without invoking Descartes, at least, as well as a host of others.

It seems even more difficult for me to prove that there is a rock in my open palm when only empty space decorates the flesh. I'm holding out the rock for you in my empty hand--prove it doesn't exist.

What are the physical dimensions of a thought? Presently, they are very difficult to measure; though they have an electrical charge and most likely some sort of mass. But unless you can quantify it for me, thoughts are fictional, so to speak. But someday, with the right instruments, we will be able to determine the mass, velocity, and exact composition of thoughts.

Thus it might be with the soul. But for now, affirming the soul is like finding the rock in an empty hand. If you start out assuming that the soul exists, it is virtually, if not completely, impossible to disprove. If your presuppositions are as objectively neutral as you can manage, then it is very difficult to prove the soul's existence.

I tend to stay ambiguous. Whereas I would normally expect that certain pieces of knowledge (about the universe in general)would reduce my fancy for the spiritual, they have only begged deeper questions.

But the people who generally claim that the soul exists generally aren't looking very hard; most of them have cause to believe that their soul will be safe with God.

And the people who generally argue against the soul, or at least the idea that we know it exists, also happen to be the people who spend their time challenging the riddles of God so we can know exactly what those answers are.

But who here, arguing for the existence of the soul, disbelieves it?

Rather, before we advocate the existence of the soul, should we not establish first exactly--or as near-to as we can get--what it is? After all, religious definitions of the soul are, literally, dime-a-dozen.

* * * * *

All said, though, you're doing just fine, and I think you know that. My feelings on the soul may differ from yours, but I'd rather know that when/if I do determine the nature of the soul, it's because humanity actually found it, instead of simply finding something and calling it a soul.

thanx,
Tiassa :cool:

------------------
The whole business with the fossilized dinosaur eggs was a joke the paleontologists haven't seen yet. (Good Omens, Gaiman & Pratchett)
 
Back
Top