If our decision-making faculty was indeed an illusion of the brain it should be impossible to physically affect the brain through our own willful decisions and yet research has demonstrated that the “I” can and does alter brain activity through the agency of free will as described by Canadian neuroscientist Dr. Mario Beauregard:
“Jeffrey Schwartz … a UCLA neuropsychiatrist, treats obsessive-compulsive disorder — by getting patients to reprogram their brains. Evidence of the mind’s control over the brain is actually captured in these studies. There is such a thing as mind over matter. We do have will power, consciousness, and emotions, and combined with a sense of purpose and meaning, we can effect change.”
Why then should we not consider the possibility — the one that satisfies our deepest, most powerful and intuitive sense — that the “I” that we all experience is the human soul? And that the reason that science has not discovered its whereabouts is not that it doesn’t exist, but rather that it is not part of physical reality as we know it and as such is undetectable and unmeasurable by material means.
As Beauregard & O’Leary document in The Spiritual Brain, we see here a reality that does not go away and is not explained away by increasingly implausible current accounts.
Calling the soul or mind “mystical” can be evasive. It can’t be measured using the same scales as the ones used for matter or energy, but that’s all. Some aspects are far more usefully described than measured, for the same reasons as traditional works of art are more usefully described than measured. Classical thinkers assumed the existence of the soul for rational reasons, not due to religious revelations (but for many people, revelation has supported reason in this matter.)
Also: Jerry Coyne chooses his rabbis with as great care as his sandwiches