The Souls of our Ancestors

2 posts were split to a new topic: Human-Animal Hybrids and Chimeras

OK, whew, that’s a relief.

Yes, this is what I meant when I said I thought Christians were mostly in agreement that there IS a soul in modern humans (what we’ve traditionally known humans to be) and that it’s God that has to bestow this upon us in some way. And, yes, realize that there are many disagreements on exactly when/where/how that soul is granted to modern humans.

Thanks for the C.S. Lewis piece on this, yes a very wise man and these are decent questions to use as guiding principals for Christians, but few of those “questions” would be on the minds of our non-Christian friends when looking at the issue of “personhood.” This is the greatest issue of all: we may not agree on what a person is, so how do we go beyond this first step?

Also, in line with my prior post on timing of these things, Lewis (and St. Augustine) seemed to say, “since these things are far off, we’ll deal with them when they get here…”:

“But let us thank God that we are still very far from travel to other worlds…we are also very far from the supposed theological problem which contact with other rational species might raise… but who except a born gambler ever risks five dollars on such grounds in ordinary life? …I think a Christian is sitting pretty if his faith never encounters more formidable difficulties than these conjectural phantoms… St. Augustine…decided it could wait till we knew there were any. So can this… I have an idea that when this ceases to be so, the world will be ending. We have been warned that all but conclusive evidence against Christianity, evidence that would deceive (if it were possible) the very elect, will appear with the Antichrist. And after that there will be wholly conclusive evidence on the other side. But not, I fancy, till then on either side.”

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Not everyone. There is absolutely no science that supports any notion of a soul that remains after the brain has ceased functioning. Certainly not neuroscience.

One definition of a soul is our consciousness. May this lives on after we die, or not. This is the definition used frequently in SciFi, see for example Altered Carbon. @Patrick, do you not agree we have a consciousness?

And I agree, there is no science that supports it lives beyond our body. Even some Chrisitians believe that, thinking that human minds can’t exist independent of a body! I never said everyone believes in an immortal soul, just that everyone affirms a soul of some sort or another.

Now @Patrick

See how nuanced things can be here at PeacefulScience.Org?

When you see something that offends your Atheist neurons… you have to add one more layer of response to it … is it something that Christian supporters of Evolution might actually believe?

If the answer is Yes… then move along.

if the answer is No … then “have at it”.

Do you think your neurons are up considering such distinctions?

( @swamidass )

Sure, Daniel Dennett new book “From Bacteria to Bach and Back - The Evolution of Minds” is the latest in the scientific study of consciousness. If soul is equated to consciousness, no problem. When the brain no long functions, consciousness is lost forever. If soul is equated with something that survives beyond the active synapses in a living brain, well there is zero evidence of anything like that kind of soul.

no offense taken. Just stating the current state of science w.r.t. souls


I respectfully reject your deflection.

This just collapses into the question of the existence of God.

If God existed, we can agree that he could recreate us after we die, with our consciousness intact. Imagine a StarTrek transporter with a memory of passenger, that can recreate that passenger at will. One does not even need to grant that there is some non-physical soul “stuff” (other than information that is), just that God has the power and knowledge to recreate us. Then we have an immortal soul.

Such a view is 100% consistent with the evidence of science. There is no evidence for it, but no evidence against it. It all comes down to whether we believe God exists or not, and if He would care enough to bring us back.

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16 posts were split to a new topic: Evidence of Afterlife or Not?

There are scenarios where that’s actually killing the person who steps into the transporter, being taken apart atom by atom, and creating a new individual elsewhere. While the new individual at the end of the process is left with a sense of continuity, the person who provided the template actually ended. And in the Altered Carbon story, the original person who provides the template dies. And what do we make of the situation in the story when a ‘template’ is used to create two copies at the same time?

Can we say that a copy of the original is really the same individual or a new, separate person?

Related: Our atoms gradually get swapped out over our lifetimes. Are we the same people from birth through death?

I suppose we could go with the practical: if you can’t tell the difference, it shouldn’t matter.

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Integrated information theory of consciousness predicts that a sophisticated simulation of a human brain running on a digital computer cannot be conscious - even if it can speak in a manner indistinguishable from a human being. Consciousness cannot be computed: it must be built into the structure of a biological system.

Except we have no idea if this is correct. Moreover this is no way even in principle (with advanced tech) to verify this claim:

Nor is this verifiable, even in principle,

Moreover IIT has well known incoherence. It is almost certainly a false theory of consciousness, even though it is all we have.

This raises a well known philosophical problem, the problem of “continuity of the self.”

It is somewhat related to the the Delphic Boat: “about whether a boat whose rotted planks have all been replaced is still the same boat.”

Or, more relevant is the The Prestige (film):

Well, we are trafficking in science fiction here, or theological imagination. It is questions like this, however, that convince many philosophers to take a substance-dualism view of the soul. Though, if the only entity capable of doing this is God, substance dualism may not be necessary, because God might just only do this in a way that does not violate our sense of self.

Yep. To be honest, I tend to ignore the philosophy on the subject. I’m waiting for a better characterization of the biology and physical phenomena. Then we can pick out the more relevant philosophical possibilities. I expect to be surprised. :grinning:

The subject of the soul is very important for me. For Christians who accept the declarations of the ecumenical councils, some of the debate over thr incarnation was over whether Christ had a human soul. I think Catholic and Orthodox Christians need to take this discussion very seriously. There is a lot that carries over into dogmatic theology. I’m not sure Nancey Murphy’s views are simpatico with traditional Christian views of the soul. But maybe they are. I need to look at this much more closely at some point. I tend toward some form of substance dualism, but I need to understand more the church fathers’ views as well.

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Oh? I haven’t read much about IIT, though it is intriguing. What is its well known incoherence?

Everything has some non zero level of consciousness in IIT, including your doorknob.

Also correlation is not identity. While we can (for the moment) grant brains exhibit IIT, it is not clear this is sufficient to determine they are conscious. We can construct and identify objects with high IIT that do not appear conscious.

For that reason IIT appears to be descriptive, but not salient.

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I feel the way Aristotole and Thomas Aquinas did. All creatures have souls, because that is what makes one live. However, lets let that human souls are immortal. The question is: are other souls eternal.

Edward Miller de Wynns

Is this you talking or is it this “Edward Miller de Wynns”?

And if it’s you, do you have any empirical basis for your feeling?

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