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Abdul Fattah
06-25-2005, 02:20 AM
From my point of vieuw the most basic question a materialistic atheist should be asked is: “Do you believe in a soul?” In this very forum a lot of arguments have been discussed, but not once I felt like we touched the origin of atheism, rather people go back and forth with subjective arguments. (No offence to anybody specific here , I’m speaking generally ;) )

So do you believe in a soul?

Perhaps we should first define the word soul before answering. There is Aristotle's notion of soul, which is a kind of principle of organization of the body. Others refer to soul when just talking about the mind. But there's another definition of soul--which we get from Descartes, and dualists, and so on--which says that there's this thing attached to your body, and when your brain and body are destroyed this thing is going to cut loose and have a life of its own.

Why is this question so important?

Well wether or not the soul is present can be a major influence in the recognition of free will. Some materialistic atheists would come to conclude the human brain functions only by causalistic proceses. Therefore people simply follow a strict road. This way of thinking totally dismisses any form of responsability over actions, since any action would then be the fysical consequence of an action. This chain of action and reaction could be trased back as far as the big bang. Putting all responsibility of everything to this event.

Is this lack of human responsibility proven by science?

No. Far from it. It is correct that most events we witness follow a very strict path layed down by the scientific laws. An apple falls down because of gravity, I drink coffee the caffeine makes me ”jumpy”, I’m cold therefor I start shivering. I said most events, but not all events! When one looks at quantumfysics, this causality is no longer a fact. There we witness “probabilitys” and “chance”. Now some people swear to the idea that chaos is a word we invented to define an order we fail to understand. And that the only reason we’r not able to fit certain processes in laws is due to a lack of knowledge. While this is a perfect logical thought I do object. What I object to is science always being an open-ended process--always saying, "Let's keep looking at the data," "Here's what we make of it," "This is our best guess at the time." What I object to is when these "best guesses" turn into a religion. Consider a situation where someone has a spiritual experience and he or she mentions the experience in front of someone who's "scientific," and the listener says, "That's impossible! You must be crazy!" That attitude I don't like. That dismissal of people's actual experiences is not good science. It's arrogance in the guise of science. That's scientism. Like the man in the story by H. G. Wells, I thought that in the country of the scientifically blind, the one-eyed man would be king. In fact, I was the one who was blind. I was intellectually incapacitated. As long as I held on to my scientific view, I couldn't see. I thought I saw everything; I didn't see anything. So I had to give up much of what I previously held as real, in order to see what these people saw. And when I was finally able to attain this new vision, it totally changed my view of science. And I began seeing science as a tool--not the be-all and end-all of the universe, but a tool to help us begin to dig deeper into the nature of what it means to be a human being.

So does this "chance" factor actualy occur in the processes of the human brain?

Absolutely, for example every electron that bounces of another uses this probability factor. No all-existing-outcome can be premenised with absolete certainty.

So basicly no one knows, and all we can do is speculate?
Well yes and no.

Yes: Lets get back to defining a soul. If it enables us free will, it is beyond the laws of science. This insinuates it isn’t even materialistic. So since it’s not material, we can’t have any material indication proving it’s existance. So basicly to assume a soul exist, one has to assume it’s also indetectable. That takes faith I agdmit, but then again, so does believing the opposite.

No: Well it’s not because it can’t be scientificly proven, one can’t search for an indication of it. Because if it does exist, it’s present must be obvious in some way wright? This isn't a philosophical position, it's experimental science; the mind can do things that the brain can't do. Here’s three out of many:

1. The assumption that only the physical is real is false. Consider we have 7 dimensions (according to string theory, the universe consists out of 11 dimensions rather then 3 spacial and one time) in this universe that we don’t even feel, see hear, winess.... It's now clear that what's physical can't even be contained in the physical. For example, a magnetic field exists in space and time, and there's no physicality to a magnetic field. It's not mass and it's not energy, in that sense, yet we describe it and construct metaphors for it--it's wavy, it has lines of force, and so on--because description and metaphor is what we do. So we have a metaphor for the body--that it's a massive thing--and everything else has to be contained within it. But there's clear evidence of a subjective nature, of a spiritual essence, which indicates that people have memories feelings of things that they could not possibly have from their life experiences. How come every human being has te same “instinctive” notion of things to be “wrong” and “wright”?

2. The way we think of therapeutic problems is already corrupted by our philosophical, religious, and scientific tradition. For example, we think that there's a mind and a body and therefore there are diseases of the mind and diseases of the body--and that's already a massive confusion. And it does an enormous amount of harm. For example, consider the placebo effect. You give a patient a sugar tablet, and if the patient gets better then the assumption is that there was nothing wrong in the first place. It doesn't follow. You can have some very serious illnesses that are helped by placebo effects, and the assumption that therefore "there was nothing wrong with you" is based on the mind-body dualism that we should be militant against.

3. Lets get back to scientific dimensions. Einstein teached us how time should be considered a dimension. It’s not something absolete, not the speed by wich processes/changes occur, but rather a space. Envision that....
Hard isn’t it? Because we humans do not have the ability to change the way time passes. We cannot go backwards, make jumps, fast foreward through time, so we feel it passifly. This however does not mean that it is in fact an active dimension. Try picturing it like a film. A film consist of many pictures.
This film is the universe, and every picture represents a second in that universe. Now this means that two consecutive seconds of this universe actually exist simultaniously next to eachother. Try invisioning it without time. Thousands of universes laying next to eachother, each one frozen in time. The only way any motion or any feeling of time can be witnessed is by moving from one universe to another over the dimension of time. Just like the only way to watch a movie is to let the film be played by a projector. Visualised it? Ok, now tell me, what’s missing in the picture?....

Exactly, something that alows us to move trough those dimensions without interacting with them. I don’t know about you, but if this would exist, I’d call it a “soul”

About 50% of this text is a copy of a discussion between scientist that I found on.
http://www.closertotruth.com/topics/mindbrain/113/113transcript.html
I do however stand behind every claim I made here and invite everyone to discus them with me. Basicly I just used their words to comment on thoughts I already had but failed to decribe in sush an elegant way.

root
06-25-2005, 11:19 AM
The delusion of the "soul" is a curious one, like most religious delusions. We are asked to believe that there is some kind of immaterial cloud in our head which is the real "self" (whatever that means) and guides our material brain into thinking, feeling and acting. For the longest period in history, theologians have argued over the location of the soul. For Descartes, the contact point between brain and soul was located in the pineal gland.

This soul persists even after our death, since it is immaterial and therefore incorruptible - or so we are asked to believe, even though this is a blatant absurdity. But never mind. We should rather start by asking, what is this soul supposed to do ?

Various theories have been proposed, from the expansive "all conscious brain functions" to a small set of functions such as reasoning, the imagination and memory. Without memory, one can hardly claim the continuity of experience that seems to be the salient feature of life, without reasoning one cannot grasp anything, and without imagination little abstract thought is possible - therefore it seems reasonable to take these three properties as a starting point.

The obvious problem with such assertions is that, plainly speaking, it contradicts established science. These properties have all been observed and tested as being the role of various parts of the brain.

Long-term remembrance of information is predicated on the perirhinal cortex (which keeps the context of the memory) and the hippocampus (which keeps the memory itself). Short-term memory is contained in the temporal lobe, while muscle memory is contained in the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is an integral part in our capacity to reason. Without it, we lose mental flexibility and the capacity to focus. The main site for the imagination is the prefrontal association area, a region near the ear.




Given these facts, what is left for the soul ? Without memory, reasoning or imagination, how could it ever be "us" in any sense whatsoever ?

Apart from simple-minded religious denial, there is little leeway to deal with this rebuttal. It has been argued, however, that the soul may still exist in parallel with the body. That is to say, that change in the physical mind coexists with change in the immaterial soul. This argument has also been used to explain the supposed existence of "astral bodies".

However, this leads us nowhere. Since all the features we are examining can be explained by the brain, this soul has no explanatory power. It is superfluous, and thus per Occam's Razor it is irrational to posit its existence.

Another glaring problem of this "parallel processing" idea is the modus operandi problem. Modus operandi problems are present when an entity or process crosses different "modes of operation" (hence the name). In this example, any material processes is supposed to have a dual effect, one on the material brain and one on an immaterial soul. But how a material process could affect an immaterial entity is a problem which has to be addressed before we even consider this hypothesis.

The modus operandi problem is not exclusive to the idea of parallel processing. Obviously, the notion of a soul itself falls into the same trap. The soul may well be connected to the pineal gland, but how can a connection even exist ? Of course, this opens up the fundamental issue, that is, the undefined nature of the words "immaterial" and "supernatural". The absence of a positive definition for "supernatural" completely destroys the rationality of positing supernatural beings or processes.

Coming back to our subject, it is unlikely that the "self", that which is unveiled by our sentience, is anything but an illusion. While we would like to believe that there is some kind of "center", a "Cartesian theater", where our consciousness rests, all we observe is a complex group of computational modules which we call the brain. As the brain becomes more and more complex, brain functions become more and more acute, including sentience and the other functions we talked about earlier. There is nothing to indicate that humans are special in that sense, and it would be pretentious to think so.

The sense of self seems to be a pleasant illusion - its function, to decuple our capacities of adaptation. All brain functions are, for sure, evolutionary advantages, although most of them are hardcoded knowledge or capacities, not flexibility advantages.

Why is the notion of soul (and in general, the notion of central consciousness) so pervasive, even in modern thinking ? Well, I think there are two reasons for that.

The first is simple - as for any other religious idea, or anti-scientific opposition such as Creationism, the notion of soul promotes specialness. If one has a soul, or is a soul, then we are apart from nature and natural laws. We are transcendent beings whose destiny can then be detached from natural law. But this is nothing more than yet another delusion of specialness inherent in religion.

The second is called the "diaphanous model of perception" by David Kelley. From our point of view, all we observe is our experience of thinking, not the functioning of our brain. Because of this, it appears to us as if consciousness is an ethereal, almost immaterial, element, and that any material explanation is incongruous. We know that this is an illusion, but it does not make it any less powerful.

In the end, the "soul" is pretty much in the same bag as the "heart" : a useless metaphor which diverts mental effort from the real issues. If we ever hope to understand the human mind comprehensively, we must shed these old religious ideas.

Abdul Fattah
06-25-2005, 03:09 PM
Given these facts, what is left for the soul ? Without memory, reasoning or imagination, how could it ever be "us" in any sense whatsoever ?
Apart from simple-minded religious denial, there is little leeway to deal with this rebuttal. It has been argued, however, that the soul may still exist in parallel with the body. That is to say, that change in the physical mind coexists with change in the immaterial soul. This argument has also been used to explain the supposed existence of "astral bodies".

Well I’d say Your already subjective in stating that after memory, reasoning and imagenation there’s nothing left to define as soul. How about a recognision and pupose. Think of a computer program able to make memories, able to imagen and able to reason. It would do absolutely nothing, for it would lack the capacity of remembering this memories, of making sense out of the reason, and of imagening things outside of memory. It would lack intelligence able to use it’s features. It would lack understanding of purpose.


However, this leads us nowhere. Since all the features we are examining can be explained by the brain, this soul has no explanatory power. It is superfluous, and thus per Occam's Razor it is irrational to posit its existence.

This is exactly what I meant by scientism. There is currently no need for a soul in psychology so lets not consider it. Please keep in mind psychology is not rocketscience. There’s a lot of gaps,a lot of assumptions. But more importantly. Even if one would say that every corner is looked upon, and nothing is found. I could state there’s places we didn’t even contemplate to search. Don’t forget that science fails to tell us why things happen. For example why does gravity work? Or as Einstein would ask himself: why does matter causes curves in timespace? Why do message-particles have a certain effect on matter? Science only explains us HOW things work, not what lies behind it.


Another glaring problem of this "parallel processing" idea is the modus operandi problem. Modus operandi problems are present when an entity or process crosses different "modes of operation" (hence the name). In this example, any material processes is supposed to have a dual effect, one on the material brain and one on an immaterial soul. But how a material process could affect an immaterial entity is a problem which has to be addressed before we even consider this hypothesis.

Ok, fair enoughf. Consider this. I show you a picture wich makes u want to vomit due to it’s content. I will not do this, but I’m sure one can use his imagenation. Now how does the picture I showed you have this effect? Is it simply because of the photons that enter your eye? Are these ray’s of light any different from the light that reflects from any other picture? Or is it the interpretation? Is there not a step missing between “percieving the picture” and “the mind making me vomit”. Is it only the mind that interprets it as disgusting or is there an instinctive feeling of wrong and wright that causes this? Can this proces be subscribed by scientific laws alone?


The modus operandi problem is not exclusive to the idea of parallel processing. Obviously, the notion of a soul itself falls into the same trap. The soul may well be connected to the pineal gland, but how can a connection even exist ? Of course, this opens up the fundamental issue, that is, the undefined nature of the words "immaterial" and "supernatural". The absence of a positive definition for "supernatural" completely destroys the rationality of positing supernatural beings or processes.

Well this is what I said earlyer about assuming the soul is undetectable. It takes faith but this doesn’t mean it’s scientificly impossible. What is it exactly that causes strings (scientific strings, the bases of quarks) to move in a certain pattern?


Coming back to our subject, it is unlikely that the "self", that which is unveiled by our sentience, is anything but an illusion. While we would like to believe that there is some kind of "center", a "Cartesian theater", where our consciousness rests, all we observe is a complex group of computational modules which we call the brain. As the brain becomes more and more complex, brain functions become more and more acute, including sentience and the other functions we talked about earlier. There is nothing to indicate that humans are special in that sense, and it would be pretentious to think so.

Why is it unlikely that such a thing exists? I think you’r giving opinions not arguments. Psychology is far from declaring the brain as self-maintaining only in chemicel balances and fysical inductions of electrical charges.


The sense of self seems to be a pleasant illusion - its function, to decuple our capacities of adaptation. All brain functions are, for sure, evolutionary advantages, although most of them are hardcoded knowledge or capacities, not flexibility advantages.

Pleasant? I tend to disagrea. Yes it’s true we don’t have to face the depressing notion of mortality. But then again, a soul insinuates freedom of choice and with it responsability for the choices we make. I don’t know wich idea is most mind easing. But it’s not about what seems most pleasant, but rather a search for the truth. Furthermore, assuming these charesteristics to mutations in DNA is quite a statement. Does psychology not tell us how we devellop charesteristics troughout life and not based on our genetic information?


Why is the notion of soul (and in general, the notion of central consciousness) so pervasive, even in modern thinking ?

Good question, but I think you won’t like my answer. :p


The first is simple - as for any other religious idea, or anti-scientific opposition such as Creationism, the notion of soul promotes specialness. If one has a soul, or is a soul, then we are apart from nature and natural laws. We are transcendent beings whose destiny can then be detached from natural law. But this is nothing more than yet another delusion of specialness inherent in religion.

Tell me how is it a delusion? How can you prove the absence of it? I mean you can proof a presence, but logicaly speaking it’s impossible to prove the absence of anything. If it’s only a religiously based misconception. How come every human being has this notion? Every primitive religion has this soul without knowing of each other. Is that in fact not argument for the soul?


The second is called the "diaphanous model of perception" by David Kelley. From our point of view, all we observe is our experience of thinking, not the functioning of our brain. Because of this, it appears to us as if consciousness is an ethereal, almost immaterial, element, and that any material explanation is incongruous. We know that this is an illusion, but it does not make it any less powerful.

NO, we don’t know it’s an illusion. In fact I even tend to think I feel my soul. You might think those feelings are a misinterpretation of my conscience, my morality or whatever. I might argue that they arigenated throuh my soul. It’s a matter of interpretation.


In the end, the "soul" is pretty much in the same bag as the "heart" : a useless metaphor which diverts mental effort from the real issues. If we ever hope to understand the human mind comprehensively, we must shed these old religious ideas.

Maybe the problems that occur with current psychology, the holes in the theory comes from freud being an atheist. This is again what I was talking about when I used the word scientism, a fundamental atheistic believe based on science. You believe that it doesn’t fit into science and therefor conclude it’s unscientificly. Thinking in circels again?

Preacher
06-25-2005, 03:30 PM
:sl:

Please read my post on other thread, titled "Creation from Clay" by clicking here. (http://www.islamicboard.com/showpost.php?p=47067&postcount=41)

Regards

Abdul Fattah
06-25-2005, 04:23 PM
This may be the hardest of the 3 points to understand. The place where I was a bit confused was where you said that we need something to move through the dimensions without interacting with them. Why is it that we need that, i.e. what would interacting with them mean and what are the implications of this?

Well one can assume that the soul leaves his marks on the universe it passes and vice verca that the soul does not stay unchanged by moving through it. Then again this would bring some difficulties. To assume the soul interacts with the universe our concept of time could be changed by our surroundings. Just as my computerscreen starts blurring when my cellphone goes of.

On another note. When looking at time like that, and a creator not dependent to it. That brings another perspective to:

Al-'Awwal The First, The One whose Existence is without a beginning.
Al-'Akhir The Last, The One whose Existence is without an end.

Bittersteel
06-25-2005, 06:41 PM
I found this in a site: Also the Quran does not clearly state whether Adam & Eve were physically transported from Heaven to Earth, or just their souls were put into the already living homo sapiens.

Well my question is whether they were transported physically or just their souls?

Source:http://islam.speed-light.info/islam_creation_evolution.htm

Abdul Fattah
06-25-2005, 11:12 PM
Hmm, I guess we can only speculate to such things both seem possible.

Ansar Al-'Adl
06-25-2005, 11:14 PM
:sl:
From an islamic perspective, the belief that they were physically trasported is more accurate with the details in the Qur'an and Ahadith.

:w:

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