Monday, 23 June 2008

Is there a soul at all?

I have been having a very interesting discussion in the OBOD message board, about the existance of the soul. Every single religion of the world, despite of the differences between beliefs, accept that there is something trascendental, call it soul, spirit, phsyche. That is not just part of the material world.

Materialist claim that feelings, emotions, and consciousness are just produced by the Brain. I reject that hypothesis because three main reasons:

1) As far as I know there’s no single experiment that can recreate the feelings of one person. We can’t artificially make a person to love another, we can’t make artificially to make a person hate another, etc, etc. And I'm not talking of reduced moments of anger or joy that could be artificially made, I'm talking about the feelings itself, everyone who had love can say that is not just a moment of biochemical joy, even when that effect is reached. We have reached a moment when we are able to understand and even recreate the effects of certain feelings in our body and our brain. We know what part of the brain are stimulated when we feel something, and the biochemical processes that are created because of that feelings; that only can demonstrate the effects of them, not its causes.

2) Even when some sensations are produced just as a reaction, and we can recreate them very accurately, they are the ones that do not involve consciousness, that is, the instincts. For example, if you put boiling water and make people touch it, they all will react in the same way, that is held apart the hand by instinct. How ever, with feelings and emotions is not that simple, the same scenario could create different feelings in different persons, what in a person could make to love other in another could create only indifference or even a negative feelings. They are not just a mechanical actions with predictable effects.

3) Claim that electric impulses can create something more that electric charges and electromagnetic fields; and therefore create something as consciousness, and therefore feelings and emotions, is going to far from effects to causes. There we are saying that something ordinary under specific and not proved circumstances have a propertie that can create something as our psyche; pretty much the same as when a child say that under specific and not proved circumstances their toys can speak to them, that’s an ordinary object to develop an extraordinary property as pshyche.

Now the second argument is, well if they are not created by the brain which is the “obvious” conclusion, then, where are the proofs of them be generated outside of the brain?. To answer that I’m going to tell a little story.

Back in 1957, Hugh Everett formulate a theory that states that every single decision that we make opens the way to a parallel universe, that is there is one universe for every single scenario that is possible, by the way, it was stated pretty much as the same in Borges tale The Garden of Forking Paths, but I'm digressing... Most of the scientific community reject that theory, because of the fact that will be impossible to prove it by experimentation, for them it sounds pretty much as when some people claim that there are other worlds where "fairies or spirits" live, so it was just filed away. After more than 30 years, some physics where investigating one of the more elusive forces of our universe, gravity. We know what its effects are, but we do not know its causes; and among the properties we understand of it, we know that this is one of the more weak forces of the universe. There have been no ways of know why.
Then they turn their heads to Everett’s theory and say, well, let’s have a look, let’s assume that parallel universes exists; and then they propose a hypothesis, the generation of gravity could be done in another universe, It was said that the reason for gravitational force being weak as compared to the other forces is that it is confined mostly to higher dimensions and that we feel only the effects of it in the known dimensions, somehow the idea doesn’t seems too bizarre, if we also compare it with other theories as the superstring ones; and even when some scientist still don’t see it as a good explanations another do. So basically a theory emerged based on a hypothesis that can not be proved, and is only assumed.

So basically we are now dealing with something similar, we haven’t been able to proof that consciousness is just the product of the fluxes of electricity in our brain, we can only assume that they are, with no single proof, and just a risky assumption to equal effects to causes; on the other hand we have the other theory, that assumes that consciousness is generated outside of the brain, by something that someone may call, soul, or spirit, or just psyche. Both theories make its final assumption based on no proofs, just that, an assumption; both trying to explain some observed phenomena, that we know it’s real, that it’s consciousness itself.

As with the gravitational weakness, we are not in position to say that the theory and its hypothesis are true, or dismissed, we can only see them as possible explanations. We can for certain agree or disagree with it, with some arguments; but we cannot possible say without any reasonable doubt that "that's the way the things are", in one way or another.

The fact that some scientist have been interested in support the “soul” theory, as with this two books: The God theory and Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World , that were written by scientist; prove that is not something just illogical or irrational, albeit not demonstrable at the current development of science. Is just a posibility, and until we have a sound proof that discard that theory, we can neglect it just "because".

For some it will be not of any importance to know that their beliefs are based on something rational, for me it is, and I have spend a lot of time thinking on the subject for many years. I have reach the conclusion that the lack of evidence do not implies that something is impossible or irrational.


Anonymous said...

Google "Electric Universe". Scientists are finding that the universe operates more on electromagnetism than anything else. In the medical world, scientists have found that we emit vibrations, even our organs have different types of vibrations. So again, electromagnetism. Everything from the molecules in our bodies, to the stars and planets in the cosmos are moved by the same force. Interesting, huh? :)

Anonymous said...

Consciousness, as overarching Witnessing Consciousness, is said to be experiencing through its own self-created reflection, ie. the universe. It is One, mirrored within itSelf. The old teaching texts written in dialog between god and goddess are deliberately set up in this format to reflect this higher process.
Science has its limitations, it is limited by need for material instrumentation to prove non-material existences. And observation disrupts the experiment.... Great subject, lol, don't let it tangle your mind. Observe, instead, with your spirit.

Santosh said...


I would like to point out something that could counter your counter-argument (1). You have mentioned that the parts of the brain and the biochemicals stimulated are only the effects of the person's feelings and not causes.
I would like you to please note that
(1) the feelings just won't arise if those parts of the brain are removed
(2) deep brain stimulation techniques exist -- electrically stimulating certain parts of the brain can induce different types of feelings in the person.


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